Thread: BMW R100RT custom

BMW R100RT custom

Four years ago, Bill Costello became a big name in the classic BMW world. He’d restored a 1958 BMW R50 as a tribute to his father, and before he knew it, the bike was on the cover of three magazines. Bill was even flown to Germany to meet BMW’s top brass.

“Then people started asking me about my next project,” says Bill, faced with Second Album Syndrome. And here it is, revealed for the first time—an absolutely beautiful 1981 R100RT. It also serves as Bill’s daily ride.

“I’m not one of those people who desires a stable full of motorcycles, but there was something else I wanted. When restoring a classic bike, one has to pretty much stick with a factory spec set of options. One does not normally chop up and customize a 1958 BMW. I had a desire to build a custom bike, one that suited my personality.”

The first requirement was more power. “My R50 has only 26 hp, and riding on the highway with a 1958 bike is not something you want to do all the time. So I found a full-faired R100RT donor bike which made a great base for the project; My focus was on building a reliable daily rider, an urban style bike—which is a great excuse to not spend a lot of time cleaning and polishing all the engine parts!”

With 70 hp on tap, the R100RT has all the power Bill needs. But he’s put the bike on a diet, dropping the wet weight from around 525 lbs to 430. Handling is much improved too, thanks to fork internals by Race Tech, including adjustable gold-valve emulators.

At the back, suspension duties are now handled by Works Performance shocks.

The custom spoked wheels, with sealed rims and fitted with Avon tubeless tires, were built by Woody’s Wheel Works. There’s a new triple tree from BMW specialist Toaster Tan, hooked up to Tarozzi clip-ons. The rearsets are from BoxerMetal.


Under the seat hump is a tiny li-ion battery, matched to an equally compact Acewell gauge up front. Bill also mounts his iPhone 5 to the bars for navigation, and if the worst ever came to the worst, he can call upon the full BMW toolkit hidden under the custom seat.

“The same week the bike was finished, I took it for its maiden voyage—a 1,600-mile round trip ride from New York to North Carolina,” says Bill. “The bike proved itself to me on that ride. It really is a blast on the highway: To test the stability, I took it up to 115 mph, which feels like 200 on a naked bike. The bike is everything I hoped it would be.”

Bill’s not 100% satisfied, though. He plans to lengthen and soften the rear shocks a fraction, and dial-in the adjustable front forks, so they’re a little softer too. Then his BMW will be just perfect.

Who can wait to see what Bill’s #3 build will be?

If you want to know more about Bill Costello’s 1958 BMW R50, watch the marvelous video ‘A BMW Motorcycle Story. ‘

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