Custom BMWs at London’s Bike Shed Motorcycle Club III

Custom BMWs at London’s Bike Shed Motorcycle Club III

Have you noticed how many BMW boxer ‘specials’ are popping up at shows and exhibitions all over the world? These bikes are not just the preserve of professional builders but also come from genuine enthusiasts who find the flat-twin German models the ideal starting point for creating their vision of a unique motorcycle. Here are a few of the special BMWs found at the recent Bike Shed Motorcycle Club III in London.

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Bike shed 2Now an annual show, BSMC III was the venue where 5,000 people over the last weekend in May chose to spend their weekend. Located under the roof of Tobacco Dock, a former warehouse close to London Bridge, admirers of café racers, trackers, scramblers and brat-style bikes were delighted by the many display bikes – most of which were BMW boxer-powered.

Bike Shed Motorcycle Club III is a unique show. It has become an annual show that has grown substantially over the past two years to warrant a change of location to the larger floor space of a restored warehouse now dedicated to exhibitions. What makes this particular bike show so different is that the bikes are accessible – no chain barriers or glass cases to human hands investigating the calibre of work that goes into making personal vehicles of joy.

Bike shed 3Furthermore, there is a welcoming air of friendliness that invites you to relax and spend the day chilling to civilized music and street buskers, talking to the builders of the bikes, having a coffee or something stronger from the bar, or taking in a relaxing smoke in the Cigar Lounge.

Quite simply there was something for everyone – and that includes getting a haircut from a gentleman barber; or a permanent memento of the event by Hard Luck Tattoo. Delicious burgers served up by the StreetKitchen kept hunger at bay and racks of cool biking accessories were regularly being topped up. In all it made the Bike Shed Motorcycle Shop show a ‘must-do’ event – something the 5,000 visitors to this year’s Saturday and Sunday show will readily agree with.

Mantra by Sette Nero – 1980 R100T with tuned engine, braced custom swing arm, K75 modified front end, one-off exhaust and custom rims.

Mantra by Sette Nero – 1980 R100T with tuned engine, braced custom swing arm, K75 modified front end, one-off exhaust and custom rims.

To the devotees of urban customization, the BSMC is a one stop urban retro motorcycle website loaded with all manner of bikes to be viewed from around the globe. A ‘bikes for sale’ section is extremely popular, as is the forum area. With links to consumables, advice and associated products, BSMC is a perfect window for self expression, ingenuity, mechanical art and remembering the café racer scene that so many of our parents enjoyed.

Mk 18 Grim Reaper by Motokouture – R100 series-mix with a 1070cc big-bore engine, hand-built fuel tank and exhaust system.

Mk 18 Grim Reaper by Motokouture – R100 series-mix with a 1070cc big-bore engine, hand-built fuel tank and exhaust system.

This year’s show was heavily attended by UK and mainland Europe’s street custom builders and their followers. Jean-Philippe Rayson was one of the many French visitors to the show and his delight was clearly obvious, “My friend and I decided last minute to come over to London to see the usual tourist traps. It was another friend who told us the BSMC III show was happening and now we are here. So many of our friends are jealous! The bikes are unbelievable for their detail and finish. It makes you realize that you do not have to pay big money to have a good looking bike that still has to adhere to speed limits. You can have fun and style for less money. We are coming back here tomorrow afternoon because we can – we will see London tonight.”

"R100 Superleicht" 1979 R100S and "Fast Orange" 1979 R100RS (below) by Pete’s Café Racers.

“R100 Superleicht” 1979 R100S (above) and “Fast Orange” 1979 R100RS (below) by Pete’s Café Racers.

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Exhibitors at the show ranged far and wide in terms of known builders: Spirit of the Seventies, Deus Ex Machina, Untitled Motorcycles, Down & Out Cafe Racers, Kevils Speedshop, Old Empire Motorcycles, Auto Fabrica, Robinsons Speedshop, DeBolex, Gladstone, Cafe Racer Customs, Foundry Motorcycle, Jack Lilley, Warr’s, Kingdom of Kicks, Muff Customs, Moto Strada, Lamb Engineering, Redmax Speedshop, Sette Nero, Krazy Horse Customs, RaceFit, Urban Rider, Moto Kouture, Mr Martini/Giuseppe Starace, Moto Punks, Mokka Cycles, Oily Rag, Volts Mechanix, Pete’s Cafe Racers, Dust Motorcycles, CMBL, Hoxton Motorcycles, Inglorious Motorcycles and many more.

And then there were also the enthusiasts exhibiting artwork and photography associated with the urban movement that is growing like Jack’s Giant Beanstalk… Anthony “Dutch” van Somere, one of the men behind BSMC, summed up perfectly the weekend’s sell out show with “I can’t believe it! Who are all these people and where did they come from?”

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The choice of style and quality of BMW-powered machinery was plentiful.

The choice of style and quality of BMW-powered machinery was plentiful.

But of course, a bike show wouldn’t be a bike show without the bikes. Of which the majority on display were regenerated BMW Boxer machines – the numero uno engine and chassis choice of today’s builders, mainly because of the air-cooled engine’s ‘natural’ authentic style and solid engineering that requires very little attention.

Talks are already taking place on the subject of next year’s show BSMC IV, where, hopefully we can expect the same levels of enjoyment and motorcycle builds.


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