A trophy-winning roadster from 20-y.o. Cheyenne Keogh of CKM Designs…
Motorcycles have a unique way of binding families together. BikeBound itself started as something of a father-son venture many years ago, and we’ve always had a soft spot for parent-child builds. This one comes our way from Redditch, UK, where Cheyenne Keogh has been designing and building her own bikes since she was 15!
Her father, Mark, says it all started after Cheyenne got a week’s work experience at her mother’s old motorcycle training school, where she caught the motorbiking bug. However, her tastes were very much her own:
“When Cheyenne first asked us as parents if she could have a motorbike, I showed her all the 125 sports models (as I’m more performance-oriented), but she found an AJS Bobber and stated, ‘Want that one’…much to my dismay.”
With his wife’s encouragement, Mark, who has a background in the design and engineering, decided to teach Cheyenne how to build her own custom.
“Cheyenne learned most everything from strip down, visualising her ideas by just sitting staring at the pile of parts coming together, mechanics, and fabrication.”
Her first custom creation, a Honda Rebel 125, earned Cheyenne a feature in 100% Biker magazine, 2nd place in the Kickback Nationals 2019, and a TV spot with Henry Cole! In 2020, her uncle gifted her several boxes of Suzuki GS500 parts, which she and father Mark built into “Kiddo” — a yellow-and-black custom that took first place in her class of the 2021 Kickback Custom Championship and landed a feature in Back Street Heroes.
Now Cheyenne is back with this 1984 BMW R80RT, aka “Problem Child.” The idea was a create a classic-style roadster out of an old Bavarian boxer:
“Her influence for this were the old Triumphs of the 60’s and 70’s. Very much to create a classic look using a bike that has only ever seemed to be altered into a cafe racer or a scrambler.”
The nickname “Problem Child” came quite naturally from the number of headaches the old brute handed out over the four-month course of the build, but the work was worth it. This is one of the classiest airheads we’ve had the pleasure of featuring, and it took home a well-deserved win at the 2022 Kickback competition, completing Cheyenne’s hat trick of trophies.
What’s more, the build only furthered Cheyenne’s experience in the world of custom bike building:
“Equally it’s the first cylinder head build she’s done, so she was really pleased fitting pistons and rings and doing some proper engine assembly. Wheel bearings, forks, and such, she’s an old hand at now.”
While Cheyenne is currently up to her neck in studies, about to complete her second year of a Forensic Psychology degree, we can’t wait to see what future creations spring from this talented young designer / builder. You can see more of her work here: CKM Designs.
Below, we talk to Cheyenne’s father, Mark, for the full details on “Problem Child.”
BMW R80 Roadster: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
When Cheyenne first asked us as parents if she could have a motorbike, I show her all the 125 sports models (as I’m more performance-oriented), but she finds an AJS Bobber and states, “Want that one”…much to my dismay.
Mum’s old motorcycle training school had given Cheyenne a week’s work experience at age 15 for part of the school education program and she was hooked. To that end, Mum says to Dad, “You’ve always said you wanted to build a custom cruiser style bike to see what all the hype is, so why not build something for yourself and then build Cheyenne one?”
My background is design and engineering special-purpose machinery for many companies, including motorsport based, and I decided to teach her to build her own custom creation, after knocking up a bobber for myself and loving the whole change of style.
My experience had always been in car tuning, building cars such as an Ultima Sport, and latterly motorcycles, customisation and tuning in a small way, and the performance that comes with it.
Cheyenne learned most everything from strip down, visualising her ideas by just sitting staring at the pile of parts coming together, mechanics, and fabrication.
But also, after help and encouragement from all our new friends in the custom scene, and me as master mechanic and fabricator (human jack), she created a beautiful, classic looking old Rebel and also gained her first recognition with a full magazine feature in 100% Biker (Blue Miller had been a great source of support), a second place in Kickback Nationals 2019, and a TV spot with Henry Cole…
Buoyed by the success of this first venture, her Uncle Dan gave her three boxes of bits in 2020, which contained a Suzuki GS500 in poor order. She decided to build something special again, and sort of dropped between Cafe racer and street tracker as she definitely likes to avoid being exactly like everyone else…
In 2021 she entered this in the Custom Championship ‘Kickback’ again and won her class this time. She went on to be featured in a couple of magazines, one classic and the other was Back Street Heroes.
We work with basic tools. As I put it, spanners, a hammer, a vice, and a 70-year-old pedestal drill I inherited from my father when he passed away. Lately we’ve also added a welder and some better quality wiring kit.
The workshop is our conservatory on the back of the house, until the smelly oil stuff goes in, as my wife puts it, then it’s commissioned in a 20ft x 7.5ft garage with three other bikes already in there.
So far since passing her CBT test in 2019 and then her full A2 Licence in 2021 at 19, she has covered around 3000 miles, mostly in fine weather.
• Why was this bike built?
The BMW was embarked on after the success of the GS, because she had wanted to make a classic-looking bike for her second bike.
But the free GS was too much to ignore, so plans were put on the backburner. However, we find at this point we’re a little addicted to the whole event thing, and no sooner had we agreed with Mum we wouldn’t be doing another, I agreed to fund a third along classic lines that she had wanted to do.
I think as any proud father, I also wanted her to get a hat trick of trophies by this point…
We researched options and, although in hindsight the Beemer was an expensive, and proved to be a difficult to park item for her little legs, she liked the look and had a vision of something that still looked like it could be a production bike, but in reality (and like her previous two creations) was very much all slightly modified in one way of another.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
Her influence for this were the old Triumphs of the 60’s and 70’s. Very much to create a classic look using a bike that has only ever seemed to be altered into a cafe racer or a scrambler.
In fact, this R80 had been put up for sale as a scrambler but was no more than a bike with fairing removed, side panels tie-wrapped in place, some awful tulip exhaust can, and knobbly tires.
So, she set about gathering ideas and with the help of a local classic bike spares shop letting us have all the bits she wanted to look at on sale or return, she set about using old BSA pattern mudguards, Triumph handlebars, AJS covered shock absorbers and all sorts to create the classic Triumph look in a BMW.
Plus it had come with crash bars, so she had to have some spotlights and old Bates lamps were just right in her mind.
• Please list the custom work was done to the bike:
- Frame powder-coated and battery mounts relocated by Dad with his new welder! (I got something out of this too, as it was important!)
- All casings, swingarm, and wheels powder-coated, new bearings and seals throughout.
- Engine stripped, older airbox and valve covers sourced as she wanted the older smooth look.
- New rings and stainless pushrod covers.
- All bearings inspected and found to be perfect still, but new rings as a matter of course due to changing the pushrod covers.
- New regulator rectifier and modified loom to accommodate revised headlight (Lucas type), 3 in 1 taillights, LED front indicators, and Daytona digital clock.
- Seat frame for flat plank seat on original purchase now heated, bent, and reworked to suit aftermarket BMW seat we found when building the GS.
- Having looked at seven other seats, and not been happy with any of her choices for the look she was after, she tried the GS seat (as it was intended for BMW airhead customising) — it looked right-ish, so we bought another and cut it down 5″ and made it fit the look she wanted.
- BSA stainless mudguards, stock front pattern and cut down rear.
- Battery fitted under seat, hidden by cut-down original side panels and fitted to brackets properly welded on my Dad with his new welder…
- Monza fuel cap as I have one fitted on my Harley I’ve customised and she loves the old look it gives.
- Kevils speedshop top yoke conversion, progressive springs in rebuilt forks, and AJS rear shocks because she wanted the covered look.
- Carbs professionally cleaned and Cerakoted by a contact who wanted to help with the project. She specifically wanted these in a graphite so the all-black engine with fin details stood out– didn’t just look like she’d sprayed it with a can of black spray paint.
- Heidenau period-looking tyres
- Keihan exhaust headers with modified megaphone mufflers.
- Triumph T120 handlebars and stock switchgear.
• What’s the story behind the nickname “Problem Child”?
“Problem Child” came about because of the black and yellow GS. She decided that bike needed a show name (as everyone else seemed to do it) so, with Tarantino’s Kill Bill being one of her favourite movies once she was allowed to watch it, she called that one “Kiddo.”
So, the BMW had problem after problem pulling it apart, and the only good part was the engine. The front engine bolt took me two weeks to work on and eventually get out. The rear end didn’t work for the look she envisaged, so the rear mudguard was up, then down, then up, and always looked wrong. That was until I produced my old Harley fender rack and cut it up to add a bit of mass to the rear frame. Then that was sorted.
The clocks and indicator light panel were great when we bought them, but it was a pain for her to get them just looking tidy enough, and we have subsequently changed the setup over this Christmas break to a more suitable 80mm unit with built-in indicator lights.
The wiring is awful on a BMW and trying to get it all to fit in a 7″ headlight instead of the monster housing BMW use is like being a brain surgeon..
So, it went on fighting all the way, it seemed, but in four months we had it all done.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride?
It rides very well indeed. So comfortable and responsive, and I don’t know if it’s the way the engine rotates but it’s almost like it knows where you want to go, as you don’t seem to have to really put any input into steering it. Cheyenne adores the characteristics and finds it very confidence-inspiring, although she’s yet to try it in the wet with those old classic tyres.
The only issue Cheyenne has is parking! The side stand comes out and under the left pot! She can just reach it with her short legs (she’s only 5’4″), so when arriving anywhere she has to be helped to put the side stand down because she cannot make the throw under the cylinder.
It came with one of those Surefoot side stands originally, which we removed as it was ugly; fortunately, I kept it in the spares box, so it was refitted this Christmas and, as it sits further back, she can go out this season without needing to be with someone else.
She cannot lift it onto the centre stand though!
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
We used photoshop, which I’m skilled in, to create different colour schemes to enable her to choose the look she wanted to create. I coloured various parts of the bike from the mock up we had out on the road outside and separated them into layers.
She could just tone colours and with frame, tank and stipes, wheel colour, almost like a car colour selector, until she came up with a design she liked.
Equally it’s the first cylinder head build she’s done, so she was really pleased fitting pistons and rings and doing some proper engine assembly. Wheel bearings, forks, and such, she’s an old hand at now.
I think she’s most proud though then she stands back and just looks at the complete build and has it exactly how see saw it in her head.