Dan’s BMW K100RS: Bavarian café racer with a distinct Italian flavour
“The best advice I can give is to start with a plan and do not stray from it,” asserts Shannons Club member Dan Scott as he reflects on the meticulous planning and hand-building required to create this stunning café racer based on BMW’s iconic K100.
The integration of components from many different sources results in a motorcycle with sublime visual cohesion that could have been created by BMW itself, like a concept you might find on display at BMW’s museum in Munich.
A masterstroke is the iconic Martini Racing livery, with the signature red and two-tone blue stripes of the famous Italian drink-maker set on a silver background. This choice of colour scheme is also reminiscent of BMW’s famous ‘M’ motorsport brand, which only enhances this café racer’s star quality.
“I looked at many things for inspiration and I wanted something different that really stood out. I’ve always liked the Martini colour scheme (seen on many famous race and rally cars) but what really took a lot of time was how to make that work on this bike.”
Dan’s wife Loranda used her photoshop skills to patiently develop his ideas into a final design, which he then printed and hung in the workshop to ensure the build stayed on track. Its design is palpably respectful of the revered Bavarian marque, which is appreciated even by hardcore enthusiasts.
“Some of the best feedback has been from BMW purists, because they’re all about keeping the bikes as the factory created them. I’ve had a few of them say that although they don’t usually like modified BMWs, they do like this one.”
Dan Scott became a qualified mechanic when he left school, but these days he works as a sales manager in the automotive industry. He’s been riding motorcycles since he was four, advancing to junior speedway and later dirt bike enduros before migrating to road bikes, of which he has owned many.
The inspiration to create this wonderful machine came from riding his Triumph Street Triple in the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride in 2019, during which he was surrounded by so many cool hand-built creations that he could not resist doing the same.
Dan admits he wasn’t looking for a K-bike for this build until he found a partly disassembled 1986 K100RS for sale on Gumtree. The advert serendipitously included an image of a custom version the seller envisaged for the bike he was selling, which planted a seed in Dan’s fertile imagination.
Produced from 1982 to 1992, BMW’s K100 sports tourer was created in response to increasingly tough emissions rules and the need to address the perceived superiority of liquid-cooled four-cylinder rivals predominantly from Japan.
Given BMW’s air-cooled twin-cylinder ‘boxer’ engine and shaft-drive tradition, the Bavarian manufacturer’s decision not to follow oriental vertical-cylinder orthodoxy by instead laying the 987cc DOHC fuel-injected inline four on its side across the frame, was inspired.
It provided ease of access to both ends of the engine, created a low centre of gravity to optimise handling, minimised drivetrain power losses by simplifying drive to the rear wheel’s shaft-drive and created ample space for the front-mounted radiator.
The K100 produced 66kW at 8000rpm and was capable of a 220km/h top speed. Numerous variants were released during its decade in production including the sporty RS, on which Dan’s example is based, which was characterised by a unique fairing and lower handlebars.
Dan says his online find in 2020 was the perfect starting point because, although needing some love, it was complete and had obviously been well maintained for most of its 82,000km. After sitting idle and gathering dust for yonks, he easily coaxed the engine back to life with some fresh petrol and a new battery.
Even so, he decided to give the refined one-litre four and its five-speed gearbox a freshen-up inside and out, to ensure they were as pristine as the rest of the build. That included soda-blasting and black powder-coating of all exterior surfaces and using polished stainless steel allen-head and hex-head bolts for the final assembly.
While the engine’s internals adhere to factory specifications, Dan modified many of its ancillaries to create a minimalist look in keeping with the café racer theme. This included cleverly reconfiguring the induction system with a custom inlet manifold, relocated air-filter and MAF sensor.
All wiring was hidden, major electrical components were neatly packaged beneath the seat and tasteful use of vivid blue highlights visually tied the engine to the stripes and powder-coated wheels.
Noel from Pipework Technologies masterfully combined an original set of headers with a Twisted Brothers four-into-one collector and Comp Werkes muffler that exits on the right-hand side, rather than the factory’s left. It looks sublime, like the rest of the engine.
The K100 frame was also given the café racer treatment, with revised foot-peg locations and an All Balls Bearings conversion kit to adapt a complete 2008 Yamaha R1 front-end with its 17-inch wheel, 43mm upside-down forks and six-piston calipers. Improved rigidity and a lower CoG were desirable traits.
Dan’s choice of dual 310mm Metalgear cross-drilled rotors, a Messner Moto custom mudguard from Italy and gold highlights on the disc centres and calipers to match the Yamaha-anodised fork tubes is pure class.
“The K100 forks are longer and run an 18-inch wheel but given a café racer’s more aggressive handling I wanted to drop to a 17-inch wheel with reduced rake to really sharpen the steering response. I also wanted a different brake set-up, so it was just easier to swap the whole front-end.”
The R1’s front wheel is paired with a much wider 17-inch rear from a 1999 BMW K1200, mated with the K100’s single-sided swing-arm. There’s also a custom YSS G-series coil-over mono-shock with powder-coated yellow spring, upgraded Brembo cross-drilled brake rotor and matching gold BMW caliper. Poland’s Scrambler 74 Garage supplied the custom rear numberplate holder, with hidden wiring providing a pin-sharp finish.
The flow of the K100 tank to the elegant contours of the solo seat fairing is a crucial factor in this bike’s appeal, particularly the bold Martini striping that creates visual continuity between them.
To perfect this critical area of the bike, Leo from Brisbane’s Ellaspede custom shop fabricated new tank mounts to move the tank slightly rearwards to provide sufficient clearance for the new R1 front-end and Black Vortex clip-on bars, plus a custom rear frame-hoop that neatly surrounds the seat fairing and provides a housing for the tiny LED taillight.
Paul at Black Diamond Powder Coating finished the frame in high gloss black, while Jeff at MB’Z Trimming created the black leather seat with classy perimeter stitching in the distinctive BMW-M colours.
Look at those stripes on a metallic silver backdrop. There are no decals here. It’s all courtesy of the ‘Paint Doctor’ Hans Kreuzen, famous for his peerless airbrushing on rods and custom bikes, finished in six layers of clear that look deep enough to dive into.
Hans also created the yellow and white Martini Racing logo on the tank and the K100 nameplate on the tail, which pays homage to the original bike that had a small chrome badge with the same font in the same location.
Dan started the build in April 2020 and completed it exactly one year later, with special thanks to his wife Loranda, best mate Jason, a network of quality suppliers and a thriving online community that provided invaluable help and advice. Not surprisingly, Dan thoroughly enjoys ownership of his hand-crafted K100.
“Every time I go for a ride it puts a smile on my face and always generates plenty of looks,” he says.
“With this seating position, I’m leaning forward in a fairly aggressive style, but it doesn’t hurt my wrists too much. It’s quite heavy but you don’t really notice it because of the low centre of gravity. It also has ample performance and the old-school BMW gearbox is silky smooth.
“Above all I wanted it to be the type of bike that, once it was built, I didn’t need to touch it again. Honestly,
I change the oil once a year and put fuel in it and that’s all I really need to do. It’s just a bunch of fun to own.” We’ll drink to that Dan - and make ours a Martini!