Bay area native Dan Rodarte says that some of his best memories were made back in the 80’s, when he was living in the city and riding his 1981 BMW R65 daily. Some 20 years later he happened to be flipping through the channels one evening, and stumbled upon “Cafe Racer TV”. Spellbound by the custom builds and in depth interviews with the artisans themselves, he decided to go for it. The concept for a custom cafe was born. Six months later his first garage built stunner was complete.
In beginning of the project, Dan was deeply inspired by meeting the legendary Steve “Carpy” Carpenter (from whom he bought the bike’s clubman bars). “I tripped on Steve "Carpy" Carpenters website and was drooling over his builds, and the extensive parts, choices and services he offered. I remember noticing just how good those Clubman bars looked on his builds rather than just attaching clip ons. The bars were a must.”
Meeting Steve initially sparked an interest to try a Honda CB750 build, but after realizing that he knew very little about Japanese bikes Dan switched gears and went to what he knew...BMWs. After that, it was an easy decision that his build would be an older, vintage, airhead.
Dan wanted to do most everything himself, so he did what a lot of determined, first time builders do...bought manuals, and utilized online video tutorials to guide him through unfamiliar aspects of the build. “Prior to this I had never tackled the complete teardown and rebuild of a Bing carburetor, let alone a complete bike, but with the resources immediately available I was able to do it.”
Finding the perfect bike for what some purists would call an abomination was also key. Originally Dan purchased a really nice 79 R100/7 complete with S Fairing and luggage, but he decided the machine should be preserved for someone looking for a clean, original airhead. “I remember thinking...I can't cut this up, this is a survivor.” Dan decided to sell the ‘79 and later found this ‘77 R100/7 that was perfect for his project.
Having always been a big fan of German engineering, he loved the boxer engine and had a clear vision of what he wanted the finished bike to look like. “Boxers aren’t the lightest, fastest looking bikes so giving it a lighter look was a challenge.” He was able to find some custom parts being made by Boxer Metal in Chico, CA to help him realize his vision.
After that he removed the stock air filter and housing, installed rear sets, and replaced the battery with a 4 lb lithium ion replacement which now resides under the seat cowl. He removed the the rear fender with Boxer Metal's fender eliminator kit. This also doubled as the foundation for the battery carrier.
“I wasn't pleased with the stock instrumentation that BMW uses so I sought out an Acewell digital/analog speedo and tach. Airheads aren't known for stopping power so one of the first things I did was locate a donor bike where I took off the front forks and dual disk brakes and installed them on this build.” He replaced all the cables with Motion Pro cables, and all the brake lines with stainless coated lines. The rest was painstaking polishing, plating, and powder coating of key components.
The frame was powder coated, and all the fasteners were replaced with stainless steel. Lastly was the inspiration for the color of the graphics. “I remember seeing this Mango Tango color on a Dodge Challenger, and recalled how I related it to a Hot Wheel car that I was fond of as a kid in the 70's. I just loved the idea of using it.” Ryan from Ryan's Auto Painting in Sacramento ran with it, and the result was extraordinary.
The total build time for this bike was about six months. Not bad, considering Dan had never taken on a project like this before and built the bike at home. With some help from Boxer Metal, Ryan's Auto Body and Forest Hill Upholstery for the few mods he couldn’t do himself, Dan has created a magnificent custom beemer for which he receives daily accolades.
Feeling confident and gratified by what he’s accomplished, Dan is already thinking of another cafe build based on a lighter, smaller, more agile R65. “I’m hooked! Just the feedback, and compliments from daily drivers reassures me that I did something right.”
Dan says that he would like to stick with Airheads, because they're simple machines, and almost anyone with basic knowledge can work on them. He learned a lot about these machines throughout this build and he is eager to apply that knowledge, and learn more, with the next one.
Dan Rodarte, Owner/Builder Rocklin, CA Upholstery by Don Vigarino, Wrocket Products, Foresthill, CA 530 367-2984 Photos by Rob Sharpe, firstname.lastname@example.org Ryan Smith Ryan's Painting and Pinstriping email@example.com Chris Canterbury, Boxer Metal 2555 Zanella Way, Unit G, Chico, CA 95928 www.boxermetal.com & www.facebook.com/boxermetal
Wrenching on somethin'? Want us to show it off on Iron & Air? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.