BMW “Airheads” are mainly those motorcycles which feature the BMW 247 engine — an air-cooled, two-valve, flat-twin boxer engine produced from 1969 to 1995. The “/5” (Slash 5) series were introduced in 1969, “/6” (Slash 6) series in 1974, and “/7” (Slash 7) series in 1977.
The Airheads were never seen as the lightest, fastest, or nimblest motorcycles on the market, but they earned a reputation as soundly engineered, immanently roadworthy machines. In the last few decades, they’ve become a favorite of customizers, who convert their Airheads into cafe racers.
Typically, such a conversion involves stripping the bike of any factory fairings, installing clip-on handlebars, fabricating a performance exhaust, possible suspension and brake upgrades, a solo seat or tail section, and more. Many builders cut off the old subframe and fabricate a new one, and engine performance upgrades are common as well.
Below is a selection of the many Airhead cafe racers we’ve featured.
Project Lethe: BMW R100 Cafe Racer-For many of us, building and riding motorcycles is crucial to our mental and emotional health. Whether it's the ability to swing a leg over the saddle and crack open the throttle, letting the wind… ...read more
“Survivor” Springer: BMW R100 Café Racer-Lord Drake Kustoms builds a BMW R springer... The BMW R100 has become one of the world's most popular donors for custom transformations, appearing in a wide variety of modes and styles: café racer, scrambler,… ...read more
Rust-a-Maan: BMW R45 Cafe Racer-The BMW R45 was the smallest of the BMW airheads, sporting a 473cc / 35-hp version of the iconic boxer engine good for a top speed of 95 mph. Although it looked like a scaled-down… ...read more
Super Sleek: BMW R100S “ØD2” by Ønix Design-A Spanish industrial designer builds an incredibly sleek airhead... The BMW R100 was the largest, most powerful incarnation of the legendary airhead series, featuring a 980cc flat-twin boxer engine that produced 60-70 horsepower. Not only… ...read more
Woodmachine: BMW R80 by Moto Rebuild-The BMW R80, built from 1978-1994, featured an ~800cc version of the venerable "airhead" flat-twin boxer engine, offering 51 horsepower to the rear wheel through a low-maintenance shaft drive. The bike cost nearly 50% more… ...read more
High-Spec: BMW R100-HS by Magnum Opus-The BMW R100 was the last and most powerful of the beloved airheads, boasting a 980cc air-cooled boxer engine that made 70 horsepower at 7000 rpm. When BMW Motorrad tried to cease production in the… ...read more
Blue Racer: BMW R100 by Seb’s Atelier-The BMW R100 was the last of the airheads, with nearly 1000cc of flat-twin punch on tap and all the history of the legendary boxer engine concentrated into a single machine. When Sebastien Ledis of… ...read more
BMW R100 Cafe / Bobber by Magnum Opus-In 1976, BMW introduced the /7 series, including the 980cc, 70-hp R100. The bikes would remain in production for two decades...excluding a brief pause in 1985 when the company tried to cease production in favor… ...read more
Descending Dragon: BMW R75/5 “HaLong”-Introduced in 1970, the R75/5 was the largest BMW motorcycle of the time, offering a 750cc, 50-horsepower boxer engine capable of pushing the machine to 110 mph. The entire "Slash 5" or "/5" series, which… ...read more
BMW R65 Urban Tracker by Duc Tran-Motorcycles have a special way of healing us and preserving our sanity in a world that can be incredibly chaotic and painful. So it was for Duc Tran, a young father in Austin, Texas, who's… ...read more
BMW R65/3 Cafe Racer by Toro Moto-Before opening Tuscany's Toro Moto, founder Riccardo Micheli worked as an official BMW Motorrad technician for 15 years and crewed in various racing championships, most notably the old 2-stroke 250cc MotoGP class. Finally he struck… ...read more
BMW R65 Cafe Racer: “John Player Special”-A single-seat, JPS-inspired tribute to Mario Andretti's days at Team Lotus... In 1976, Mario Andretti joined Team Lotus, driving the John Player Special (JPS) F1 cars into championship winning form. The signature gold-and-black livery of… ...read more
“BSW B40” Cafe Racer by Nexxtoy-Unconventional wedding with a British girl... Thierry Coulon ("Terry") of Bourdeaux's Nexxtoy is a graphic designer and handyman who has been pursuing his motorbike passion for more than forty years -- a passion that came… ...read more
BMW R100R Brat Cafe by Rough Cycles-Rough Cycles of Berlin was founded in 2011. Since then, the shop has grown to include three guys and two dogs. They mainly specialize in repairing and customizing Harley Davidsons. However, after more than a… ...read more