Staid to Sleek…
We’ve covered the interesting history of the BMW K-series bikes in the past. They were a radical departure for BMW in the 1980s. After decades of relying on their horizontally-opposed Boxer machines, BMW Motorrad developed an automotive-inspired four-cylinder engine that not only sat fore-and-aft in the frame, but on its side — a layout that quickly earned the K100 four and K75 triple the nickname “Flying Bricks.”
In 1992, the next generation arrived, the BMW K1100. Power output rose to near-as-naught 100 bhp, good for a 0-60 time of 3.8 seconds and top speed of 140 mph for the RS sport tourer version:
“In overall competence from my adult, civilized perspective, the K1100RS just smokes all those other horsepower-heavy monster bikes.” –Steve Engelbrecht, MotorWorld (K1100.org)
The LT (Luxury Touring) version was quite a bit heavier and slower, featuring hard luggage, an electronic windshield, and other niceties for the high-mileage rider.
A client recently asked our friend Dimitri from France’s Lys Motorcycles if he would transform a big ’95 K1100LT tourer into a cafe racer. Dimitri agreed on one condition:
“I said, ‘Yes, but only if I can make a complete new rear frame.’ I don’t like the BMW K cafe racers with the OEM frame — the lines don’t match with the line of the gas tank.”
Truly, we’ve seen a lot of K-series customs whose lines weren’t quite to our liking for this same reason, but with Dimitri on the case, this K1100 was destined for a better look. He gave the bike a completely new rear subframe, allowing the line of the seat and frame to follow that of the gas tank, and he as much of the bike’s electronics as possible — no easy task, given the mass of sensors and relays for the EFI.
The bike is now running a full suite of Motogadget goodies, custom intake tract and exhaust, K1200 wheels, Conti Road Attack tires (170mm rear), Lambo orange paint, and much more. The result is one of the sweetest ‘Bricks we’ve seen, and to hear it told, it’s quite an experience on the road:
“The bike is a lot lighter than the stock bike and the sound is perfect. It sounds like a sportbike but not too noisy.”
Below, we talk to Dimitri for the full details on the build.
BMW K1100 Custom: Builder Interview
• Why was this bike built?
This is a customer project. The customer asked me if I was OK to make a cafe racer with a K1100. I said “yes, only if I can make a complete new rear frame.” I don’t like the BMW K cafe racers with the OEM frame — the lines don’t match with the line of the gas tank.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
For this build, I wanted to have the seat and frame in line with the gas tank. And hide as much as possible the bulk of the electronics of the K1100.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
- Custom new rear frame.
- Custom header and exhaust.
- ABS removed.
- Airbox removed and replaced with 4 custom inlet pipes with DNA filters.
- Custom wiring. It took lot of time with the fuel injection and all the sensors.
- Ignition box is under the passenger seat.
- Motogadget M unit, pump, and fan relay under the gas tank.
- The battery is a small lithium one, hidden under the gas tank.
- Custom seat in black with orange stitching. Motogadget M lock is inside the seat.
- New paint for the gas tank, Lamborghini Orange with black stripes.
- New triple tree with Motogadget Motoscope Pro inside.
- Full motogadget parts: M buttons, grips, mirrors, turn signals, new lenses — 3threefor the tail light mounted on a custom license plate holder.
- The wheels are from a K1200. The rear is plug-and-play. For the front it required new bearings, GS1100 disc brakes, new spacers, and then it fit in the K1100 forks.
- The rear tire is now 170mm instead of the stock 140
- About the forks, I’ve smoothed the tubes.
- The frame is painted is satin black, engine in gloss black.
• Can you tell us about the riding experience of the finished bike? How does it feel?
The bike is a lot lighter than the stock bike and the sound is perfect. It sounds like a sportbike but not too noisy. The bike is very easy to ride, thanks to the weight savings and the Conti Road Attack tires.