Street-legal Blechmann special, rebuilt by Martin Buchmayr…
Bernhard “Blechmann” Naumann is one of the world’s most respected customizers, renowned for his hand-shaped aluminum and sheetmetal work. In the customs world, he’s known simply as “Blechmann” (Tin Man) for his creations. One of the Austrian builder’s most high-profile customs is his BMW Soulfuel bike, “Giggerl,” which prompted high praise from BMW themselves:
“They are works of art made of metal and panels. It’s no wonder that Bernhard Naumann is an avid sci-fi enthusiast. Looking into the future requires special powers of imagination, of which this customizer has plenty. His bikes seem like they come from a distant, far-away time.” —BMW Motorrad
Recently, we heard from one of Blechmann’s friends, Martin Buchmayr, a 35-year-old software engineer and organizer of the Iron Road For Children (IRFC) bike festival — Austria’s largest open-brand festival weekend for bikes, scooters, and US cars. Although Martin is not a professional builder, he has a good bit of experience repairing, maintaining, and building bikes.
“A friend of mine was in a motorcycle club and always had plenty of bikes to maintain. I helped him – which meant also dozens of bikes to try out. Then I was living in Graz and met a lot of people in the scene early, like Titan, Vagabund, and Painter i-flow — the latter I started to build more elaborate bikes with.”
The 1990 Yamaha XV1100 Virago you see here was actually Blechmann’s first personal motorcycle! It was the beginning of a long and storied journey for the now famous builder. Over the years, he crashed the bike, rebuilt it, and set it aside for long periods of time, adding new details when inspiration struck. He called it “Drecksbecher” (Trash Can) — similar to “shitbox” in English. Then Martin had the idea to take it off his friend’s hands:
“For myself: I wanted to ride an original Blechmann bike legally on the streets. A simple dream. So at a Christmas party at Titan’s, I told him I’d take it from him and finish the assembly.”
The bike is running a custom fork bridge courtesy of our friend Wolfgang and his brother from Mayerl Motorcycles, whose custom Sportster we recently featured, and a set of Kawasaki ZXR USD forks. The bike is literally dripping in one-off Blechmann parts, including the custom tank, seat, fenders, key switch, hand controls, headlight surround, and more.
Martin worked to rebuild the bike, making it street legal with a Joost control unit, Motogadget mini speedo, and more. It took him about three years to bring the bike up to speed, working when he could during covid. He says the “Drecksbecher” is quite comfortable for cruising and elicits a lot of appreciation, but it’s still a work in progress:
“I just can say – we are never satisfied. There’s always room for more. Genuinely nothing should be perfect as well – it’s a question of character.”
Below, we talk to Martin for the full details on this street-legal Blechmann, and share more photos from photographer Christian Haas.
Virago 1100 Custom: Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
I’m Martin Buchmayr, 35-y.o. software engineer from Leoben, Austria. I’m not a professional bike builder. A friend of mine has been in a motorcycle club and always had plenty of bikes to maintain. I helped him – which meant also dozens of bikes to try out. Then I was living in Graz and met a lot of people in the scene early, like Titan, Vagabund, and Painter i-flow — the latter I started to build more elaborate bikes with.
Since last year I’ve been co-organizing a bike festival called Iron Road For Children in my hometown – having 40,000 visitors and 6000 vehicles this year.
Bernhard Naumann, who inititally started this bike, is better known as “Blechmann” in the custom scene and probably doesn’t need additional introduction – working on great projects like the BMW Soulfuel bike “Giggerl”. Now a long time friend.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
1990 Yamaha XV1100 Virago.
• Why was this bike built?
That’s a good question. So I asked Blechmann today! Seems like it was Bernhard’s first personal motorcycle. It was the beginning of a long journey for him — his first tries in customizing bikes. He was shy of the money to buy a more popular Harley-Davidson model. Then for years he let it slide, crashed the bike and rebuilt it using aluminium sheets, although his experience with aluminium was not that great at this time.
For myself: I wanted to ride an original Blechmann bike legally on the streets. A simple dream. So at a Christmas party at Titan’s, I told him I’d take it from him and finish the assembly.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
Bernhard was inspired by bobber looks at the time of building. The bike stood around for years and Bernhard always added some new details in the meantime when he got the inspiration from somewhere.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Technically the whole front was changed. Wolfgang from Mayerl Motorcycles (recently featured at BikeBound) and his brother created a front fork bridge specifically for this bike, with a certain offset to slightly raise the bike when using the ZXR USD forks. Design parts are everywhere on this bike by Blechmann: custom tank, seat, rear and front fender, key lock and switch handles, a small mudguard, headlight mask, and battery case. Electronics are reduced to an Ignitech ignition unit, Joost control unit, and a Motogadget mini speedo.
Because it is not my profession and I just touched the bike when I was in the mood for it (during covid) — it took me 3 years to finish the rebuild.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
It was always named “Drecksbecher” — kinda like shitbox in English. I loved the underwhelming name and so I kept it.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
For an 1100 it is really small. It has a pretty neutral riding position, 90 degree knee angle, very convenient. The engine is a perfect match for comfortable cruising.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
I just can say – we are never satisfied. There’s always room for more. Genuinely nothing should be perfect as well – it’s a question of character.
Pictures were just made in September by Christian Haas – on a rainy day in front of the workshop.
Feel a bit proud sometimes when people feel to spend a word of appreciation.
Follow the Builder / Owner
Martin Buchmayr: @martin_buchmayr
Christian Haas, Photographer: @christianhaas_photo
Bernhard “Blechmann” Naumann: www.blechmann.at
Bike Festival: www.irfc.at
That bike is awesome and almost looks like a conversion of my 2000 Yamaha shaft drive VStar! One time when I rode it took off like a Bat outta hell with 3x the power, maybe it mixes the Oil w gas, and had a carburetor issue, or maybe I used mixed gas by accident using my spare jerrycan..i was just gettin by….couldn’t figure out what made it so different that day..
I swear it was meant to run on BioDiesel!