One can understand the current onslaught of custom builds and cafe's utilizing 35 year old Hondas - they're less expensive, mechanically straightforward, and readily available (at least here in the U.S.) So when you see a shop niche themselves and deliver custom bikes from a cult brand like BMW, you take notice. You pay even more attention when you realize the shop is turning out great looking customs and is run by genuinely good guys.
"Truth be told, I fell for bikes late in life. I wasn't allowed to ride them as a kid. Then I found myself in the middle of some sort of mid-life crisis and you could say bikes caught my wandering eye right away," laughs co-founder Adam Kay.
Rex - owner of Camden, London-based Victory Motorcycles - had been maintaining old British and European motorcycles over that time and happened to have a soft-spot in his heart for BMW's. Meanwhile Adam studied sculpture at the Royal College of Art, finding a career as a product designer in the fashion industry. Upon meeting, they learned that both of them had gone to the same school, five years apart, some 30 years ago yet never knew each other.
"My inspiration at the time came from classic British bikes, American dirt bikes, and flat trackers combined with my background in product design. There are so many great European shops rolling bikes out of their garages - naturally many of them British - but Rex showed me what character these old Beemers had and how good they could look through customization. It didn't take me long to find the inspiration to just dive in."
Adam & Rex got to work collaborating on the first build in 2009 and soon rolled out a custom BMW R80/7 dubbed, UM-2 Scrambler. Taking just over three months to complete, UM-2 included a new custom seat, bars, a stylish reengineered exhaust system and a completely custom headlight. The old engine was also overhauled; adding new big shells, chains, timing and tensioners, piston rings, reground valves and honed bores.
In addition to a few modifications to the sub-frame to adjust for a shorter seat, Untitled then blasted and powder coated, giving the frame a pristine finish. R80 holds 18 inches front and rear (Dunlop K70s—in 4.00), powder coated satin black hubs, and heavy-duty stainless steel spokes to the wheels.
In a nod to their approach, humble posture and name, they leave the metal tank purposefully bare, without a badge. A signature you could call it, Untitled's creations are classic, retro and full of cool. The UM-2 is a nice marriage of form and function - kicking ass on any Sunday through the streets of London or the French Alps - an all-time favorite open road experience for Adam.
In addition to their builds, notice must also be given to Untitled's entrepreneurial gut. In relatively short time, they've proven themselves ambitious contributors to the world of motorcycle aficionados - sharing moto pictures, stories and content daily with their facebook, tumblr, twitter and blog followers.
"Our focus is to grow Untitled Motorcycles this year by riding to as many shows in Europe as possible. My dream in 2012 would be to get one of our bikes up the hill climb at the Goodwood Festival of Speed" Adam relates.
And in the garage, orders are now coming in from around the world for Rex and Adam's creations. "We're currently customizing an American BMW R75/7 for a fellow living in Italy along with cafe'-ing a CB350 for a film set in the South of France. We're also experimenting with fitting a Suzuki GT500 into an interesting frame right now, topping it off with an alloy tank." shares Adam.
Risking, creating, wrenching, learning, failing and succeeding - holed-up in some garage - we're endeared to builders like these around the globe. The world of motorcycle lovers sometimes believes that publications like Iron & Air only feature bikes built and designed by the most renowned builders in the world with the largest budgets. The truth is, many of these shops are bred by good and hard working people - taking their love of motorcycles to the world in a simple yet sophisticated way - while learning what it takes to be an entrepreneur at the same time.
A big thank you to Untitled for resurrecting old unloved motorcycles, and in a way, recycling them into sophisticated classics once again.
Pay close attention to Untitled my friends, for they're what Iron & Air is all about.