BMW R 80 Project 4 Is Drenched in Neo-Retro Cafe Racer Charm From Top to Bottom

BMW R 80 Project 4 11 photos
Photo: Christian Motzek Photography via Silodrome
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In the picturesque German town of Neustadt an der Aisch, not far from the bustling city of Nuremberg, you’ll find Elemental Custom Cycles (ECC). Founded back in 2017, the Bavarian bike-modding outfit is the brainchild of Thomas Lambert, who believes there’s no time in life to settle for mundane things. In fact, this ethos has been the main guiding principle for ECC’s custom endeavors ever since day one.
As illustrated by their website, the shop’s philosophy is simple and straight to the point: "Life's too short to ride boring motorcycles." This creed clearly demonstrates their commitment to crafting two-wheeled works of art that not only look great, but are also an absolute blast to ride. Dubbed Project 4, the elegant BMW cafe racer shown above ticks both these boxes many times over.

Its story began when Elemental was paid a visit by a guy named Andi, who journeyed six hours from Frankfurt to discuss his dream airhead build. Ideas were bounced around until Thomas and his crew understood exactly what the client was after, then the hunt for an appropriate donor got underway. As fate would have it, the guys quickly found a well-kept BMW R 80 with just 7,000 kilometers (4,350 miles) on the odo in their local area.

First released in the early '80s and produced for just over a decade, Motorrad’s R 80 Monolever garnered widespread acclaim for its bulletproof 797cc boxer-twin engine. The air-cooled mill came with a respectable 50 hp and 43 pound-feet (58 Nm) of torque on tap, which could translate into speeds of up to 110 mph (177 kph). During the model’s production run, more than 22,000 copies have rolled off the assembly line.

That means the R 80 Mono is fairly easy to come by on today’s second-hand market, so it has long been a go-to platform for customization. Scoring top points for both reliability and retro charm, BMW’s nameplate serves as a perfect basis for a scrambler or cafe racer conversion. While the exact number of surviving Monolevers remains a mystery, they’ve undoubtedly proven their worth to the custom motorcycle community.

BMW R 80 Project 4
Photo: Christian Motzek Photography via Silodrome
With all this being said, let’s dive right in for a closer look at what ECC’s caffeinated R 80 is all about. Right from its inception, Project 4 was envisioned as a harmonious fusion of minimalistic neo-retro looks and thoroughly upgraded performance. Andi was happy to give Elemental free reign over the customization process for the most part, only providing them with a few general instructions before the makeover began.

The task at hand was nothing too complicated for the German firm, but Thomas and his team still found ways to make it interesting and challenge themselves. For starters, Elemental Custom Cycles kicked things off with a complete disassembly, which saw many of the old Beemer’s stock components deleted altogether. Then, the real fun took off with a few structural changes.

Seeing the need to replace the OEM subframe with a more suitable alternative, ECC set to work fabricating the new rear frame tubing from scratch. On the other hand, the R 80’s fuel tank was retained but repositioned to create a perfectly level bone line. Rear-end suspension duties are now managed by a modern adjustable shock absorber, which was sourced from the YSS catalog.

BMW R 80 Project 4
Photo: Christian Motzek Photography via Silodrome
You will still see the motorcycle’s standard forks at the front, but they’re held in place by bespoke triple clamps and equipped with Wilbers internals. Moreover, the entire front end was also lowered by 50 mm (two inches), so as to get the R 80’s posture just right. Improved stopping power in that area is made possible thanks to a fresh pair of Brembo brake discs and a replacement master cylinder.

Clip-on handlebars with adjustable control levers adorn the creature’s cockpit, along with a digital Motogadget dial embedded into the top clamp. The same German brand supplied the grips and bar-end turn signals, as well, and we notice a single underslung mirror on the left-hand side. An aftermarket LED headlight is placed further ahead, while a custom fender can be spotted lower down.

Out back, the cafe vibes continue with a handmade tail section, bearing Motogadget blinkers on the flanks and a small but potent taillight at its rearmost tip. Although the adjustments mentioned thus far were in no way easy to pull off, Elemental describes the footwear-related mods as the most challenging of all. Andi wasn’t a huge fan of the stock alloy hoops, so they’ve been swapped with laced 17-inch units shod in Continental tires.

Custom wheel hubs and many hours of painstaking labor were required to install the new footgear, but the effort was definitely worth it! As a final touch before moving on to the paint job, ECC came up with a bespoke stainless-steel exhaust system that ends in a boxy muffler. Lastly, the specimen’s colorway blends a dark grey base with gorgeous turquoise accents, but the engine, frame, and rims were all painted black.
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About the author: Silvian Secara
Silvian Secara profile photo

A bit of an artist himself, Silvian sees two- and four-wheeled machines as a form of art, especially restomods and custom rides. Oh, and if you come across a cafe racer article on our website, it’s most likely his doing.
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