The 1979 BMW R90/6 – by Spirit Lake Cycles

1 Posted by - 18/09/2014 - Motorcycles

Spirit Lake Cycle’s workshop, based in downtown Los Angeles, creates motorcycles that are not onl functional but have a unique style. According to Brian Sloma, builder and partner with Ken Chan,

A vintage BMW is the quintessential blank canvas for a custom builder.

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Airheads from the ‘70s have become popular base bikes for cropping and bobbing, so when Brian saw the old R90/6, he saw the potential. “It has a strong frame and motor with a large touring style tanks and body work,” he said. Yet he also had a vision. “I wanted it to look wonderful with my favorite Carbon fiber helmet. Also, there seems to be a smaller more agile and attractive bike hiding beneath its frumpy exterior.

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The bike started as a completely stock 1976 BMW R90/6 and went through a preliminary customization stage before being stripped down to the frame. Ken says they liked the smaller lines of a mid-70s Honda CB tanks and found a CB360 tank to fit the bike first. Adding a hooped tail, reupholstered leather seat, new headlight and aluminum fenders, gave it a custom Blitz and Brat feel but it wasn’t a finished project. The bike was ridden for a little while until the decision was made to strip it down completely and do a frame-off build of the bike.

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Brian now had the base bike he wanted. “Once you get all the parts off you can really see what it could be. The motor has such a cool Art Deco, almost aircraft style, and the frame is simple and clean.

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The process began with cropping the tail, welding and many hours of hammering the seat/tail with steel plates. A new seat was fabricated, designed to flow from the fuel tank in a continuous line and—surprisingly—it was decided to go without upholstery. The design called for the tank to flow into the seat almost uninterrupted with the classic BMW-style pin striping running all the way to meet the off-center tail light.

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A new set of shocks was added, necessitating new lower shock mounts to be welded on. The frame was then powder coated black. They chose to nickel-plate the upswept exhaust, front forks, rear hub, kickstand and foot controls for a warmer tone than chrome. The unique shuttered headlight, originally a fog light from a 1960’s truck, and sourced from Garage Company in Inglewood, was then also powder coated and polished.

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The resulting CBMW, as it’s called, being part CB and BMW, shows a respectful tribute to vintage BMW style. Brian says, “With the CBMW I tried to make the beautiful streamline bikes from the early 30s? In my mind it would be the CBMW, a smaller tank and seat with high sweeping exhaust and that classic BMW black and white paint scheme.

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