From Full Dress to Naked Muscle…
Introduced in 2001, the BMW R1150RT was a full-dress tourer with Telelever front suspension, Paralever rear suspension, and an 1130cc air-cooled flat-twin which put out 95 hp and 63 ft-lbs of torque in RT trim. The 562-lb behemoth was no rocket ship, but it earned a reputation for ruggedness and reliability that many riders continued to trust long after the introduction of newer models with more advanced electronics.
“The BMW R1150RT has a solid construction…Plenty of bikes rack up huge mileages – 100,000 plus without major problems.” –MCN
Recently, we heard from our friend Marcus Drake of Drake’s Speed Shop, who had this custom RT1150 roll into his shop for a little work. After we heard his ride report, we had to learn more:
“Got the chance to take it out for a strop in the hills this afternoon. I bet it weighs 3/4 of what it originally did and it absolutely eats up the TC80’s…spinning the rear or launching the front. Such an awesome build.”
We immediately tracked down the owner, Ollie Klotz (@sixty5.roses), a powerlifter and VW Beetle enthusiast who lives in the West Coast region of New Zealand’s South Island. Though Ollie didn’t build the bike himself, he’s become its faithful and loving caretaker:
“This bike was built by a guy in the North Island [Dale Glover] to enter into bike shows and it won several shows!”
The original builder obviously had the vision and perseverance to unleash the naked beast hiding beneath the fairings, luggage, and other heavyweight accoutrements of the original donor. The tank is from a Honda CB1300, the tail is courtesy of a Ducati Monster, and the bike is now running low-profile lighting, custom alloy side covers, and a John Gemi chip for added pep. Says Ollie:
“The only way I can describe what it’s like to ride is angry. But it all seems to fit together so well, it just works.”
That said, Ollie stresses that the best part of owning this German-made “Mad Max” is the relationships it continues to spark:
“I really like the fact that a motorcycle, essentially some metal and rubber can make new friendships. I think that’s probably the thing I’m most proud about with this build.”
Below, we talk to Ollie for more details on the bike, with the fancy shots courtesy of Marcus Drake (@Drakes_Speed).
BMW R1150RT Custom: Owner Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
I’m Ollie, from the West Coast, South Island, but originally from Nelson, NZ. I’m 29 and love all things petrol. My pride and joy is my ’54 VW Beetle rat and my BMW RT custom! I’ve not owned all that many road bikes. My first road bike was a 1989 Honda CBR400RR, one of those bikes I really should have kept. It was a real gem. Other than the RT I’ve had a couple of Harley Sportsers and loads of dirt bikes.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
I have a 2005 BMW R1150RT (originally); its donor bike was mostly a Ducati Monster and a Honda CB1300.
• Why was this bike built?
This bike was built by a guy in the North Island to enter into bike shows and it won several shows!
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
I think the idea of this build was just to build something wild and different. It has turned out completely that; it’s so unique and everything just seems to work and click together so well — it really is a wicked machine to ride and look at.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
The bike’s been completely stripped of its former self. It features a CB1300 tank, which really really works so well. It’s big and unique but has been painted in BMW style.
The rear end is off a Ducati Monster along with part of the exhaust. With scrambler-style lighting, it just has a very unique look, which you don’t see that often. It’s been fitted with a John Gemi chip and a few other tweaks, and man does it have some torque! It will spin the rear tyre very easily.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
I gave the bike a nickname when I brought it. “Madmax” was the first thing that popped into my head when I brought it and that’s stuck!
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride?
The only way I can describe what it’s like to ride is angry. But it all seems to fit together so well, it just works. The anti-dive system from BMW is magic — when you grab a handful of front brake coming into a corner it feels so stable. The boxer engine throws out so much torque it really is such a pleasure to ride
It’s currently being serviced by a friend, Marcus from Drakes Speed Shop, and he took it for a ride, which was actually really helpful — he has so much experience and has ridden so many bikes and I’ve not ridden all that many road bikes. So he’s going to make a few small adjustments to see if we can get it even better! Such as different tyres; it currently has T80’s on it, which surprisingly corner pretty well, but it just has so much torque it will spin the rear pretty easily.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
My favorite part about this build is that it’s just so unique, from the boxer engine, styling and performance it just works. Looking at it from a distance you almost think it would be horrible to ride. But it’s not — it just all clicks together really really well.
I love the fact that every time you stop at a petrol station someone stops you to talk about it. I have made so many new friends because of this bike it’s unreal! New riding friends, stories from other people about a bike they owned years ago, I really like that. I really like the fact that a motorcycle, essentially some metal and rubber can make new friendships. I think that’s probably the thing I’m most proud about with this build. I also like the fact it fits into my shed perfectly with another boxer engine powered VW Beetle from Germany. It just works I am also half German.
Nice bike! Really different from the donor bike. I agree that the tires need to be thrown out. They might look Mad-Macy, but you want better performing tires. I am amazed at the way the Honda tank and Ducati Monster seat work together. Very good! The only thing that I don’t like is the over-use of the BMW logo. We all know it is a BMW. Hell, what else could it be mistaken for? It is a special build, so give it a special logo.