R100/7 Project: The Baron
Motorcycling is by its nature a very personal experience, often just you and the bike. Building, restoring and customising a motorcycle makes this connection grow even deeper. The significance of the bike and the restoration or customisations are unique and personal to every rider.
For many the R100 was an aspirational bike, the motorbike to have of the 70s. Almost half a century later, the R100 has become a true classic and the base for countless customs.
Chris, more commonly known as ‘Baron von Grumble’, is no stranger to exotic and unique riding machines. Despite a customised BMW S 1000 RR and a number of other bikes at his disposal, Chris was still looking for something more – a bike with a more personal connection than the rest. Step in Smokin’ Customs, known for some of the most stylish and clean customisation and restorations in the UK.
With the desire and knowledge in place, all that was left was a base to work around – the R100 was the only bike suitable for such a special and personal project. Just like Chris, the R100 in question was ‘born’ in 1978: “I always wanted a bike from my birth year. I know it’s a bit of a silly and romantic notion but I always liked the idea of having a partner or a friend with you that’s the same age and you go and have adventures together,” outlined Chris when the project began.
The story of this particular R100 can be traced right back to when the bike was first purchased at Parklane BMW in 1978. The stories that come with the bike only add to the heritage and the emotional pull of a classic machine.
Aiming to bring together a hybrid of styles personal to the rider, Smokin’ Customs’ work revolved heavily around refining the look of the bike. Small touches, such as integrating the tail lights under the seat, help to create a truly striking form with no harm to the function of the bike. “This is by far the biggest project that we’ve done. It had to be spot on, useable on the road and meet every requirement and then some. For us it was a huge thing to show what we could do and it had to tick every box,” reflected Joe and Aron of Smokin’ Customs after the build.
The front of the bike remained largely original with the rear of the bike modified to fit the new exhaust system and shock, which is mounted to the side. These two elements alone contribute significantly to the sleek, slender and classical looking rear of the bike. As with all bikes in the BMW Motorrad Heritage family, this R100 combines a classic look and feel with modern touches and upgrades – LED tail lights, a MotoGP style electronic control system and a USB socket to enable charging. The headlight is a standard R nineT part - showing just how seamlessly the new and old blend together on this bike.
Joe and Aron never do things by halves and threw themselves into the R100: “We’ve learned loads doing it, what we wouldn’t and would do again. There’s a lot of it we would do again, it’s all gone to plan and to see it come from paper to a useable and versatile bike is great. You’re really limited when the bikes in the shed, so when we finally saw it on display at the Bike Shed on stage we were taken back. It was quite overwhelming.”
What was revealed at the Bike Shed was one of the most refined and classical looking R 100/7s to date. Classic minimalism but with no harm to the usability of the bike, exactly what Chris was hoping to achieve with the bike. Now it’s time for Chris and his new riding companion to create their own history with the R100.