We do not often get the opportunity to ride the motorcycles that we feature but occasionally the opportunity arises and we literally grab it with both hands. I popped in to V Custom Cycles on a Saturday morning to meet Marnitz who was going to take the photos of our featured motorcycle. He had unfortunately forgotten to bring his memory card, which I found rather amusing and he found a little frustrating. Jaco said that this motorcycle would be at the Zwartkops Raceway the next day, along with several of their creations and we could take photographs at the track. The Sunday event was the annual Day of the Champion historic motorcycle racing event which featured some legendary international motorcycles and riders. An event which is not to be missed. I arranged to ride with the V Custom guys from their shop in Centurion to the race track and duly arrived on my very uncafélike Harley Wide Glide early on Sunday morning. The person who was supposed to ride the motorcycle we were going to photograph failed to arrive. Pat, V Custom’s owner, offered me the opportunity to take this beautiful, freshly finished BMW R100 on its maiden trip. I graciously accepted!
The BMW R100 became available in 1977 and ended its model life in 1984. Only just over 10 000 of these motorcycles were produced. The typical BMW aircooled boxer twin engine pumped out 67 hp through the 5 speed gearbox and shaft drive. Its top speed of 195 km/h was not fast for its time, but BMWs were known for comfort and handling rather than top speed performance. The dual disc front brake had Brembo two piston calipers fitted but still relied on a drum brake on the rear wheel. These BMW R100s make sublime café racers.
This motorcycle was scrutinised, ogled and drooled over by hundreds of people while it was parked at the track. You have to give it to the V Customs crew, their motorcycles can withstand close inspection as their build quality and finishes are excellent. The bumstop seat is an in house creation which was upholstered by Dion the Leatherman. The build was commissioned by Tony, the motorcycle’s owner, based on something he had seen built by an international builder. The ice white paint work by Rudi from Kicker Custom Paintworx is flawless. The wheels were powder coated to an almost standard grey finish.
Although this motorcycle retains almost all of its original components there are some notable changes. The petrol tank is off an older model R75. The small and very accurate digital speedo replaces the bulky and dated original cluster and has a pick-up sensor neatly mounted on the brake disc. Clubman handlebars with bar end mirrors are fitted but all the controls and switches are factory original.
As we have seen on other V Custom BMWs, the rear subframe has been removed and replaced with their unit which allows a less vertical shock absorber angle than original. This still allows the original shocks to be used but gives the motorcycle more appealing and sporty lines. Have you noticed how this BMW shines? It is a polished performance. Every metal surface has been buffed to perfection.
And how does she go? In less than 40 kilometers of riding, I could feel a place in my heart and in my garage opening for this beautiful BMW. Sure, you can tell she is an older model motorcycle but is that not the attraction of owning a café racer or custom like this? The open silencers, at slow speeds and on decelaration, have more snap, crackle and pop than the Rice Crispies factory. Nobody has the right to push the limits on someone else’s motorcycle, but I can say that accelaration is smooth and performance would be more than adequate for anyone who enjoys this style of motorcycle. It was a privilege to have ridden this motorcycle. Thank you.