Burly BMW Airhead from Earth Motorcycles…
In a recent episode of The Grand Tour with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May, the trio take a road trip through Eastern Europe, where they learn that Slovakia produces more cars per capita than any country in the world, and has done so since 2007. What’s more, both Slovakia and the Czech Republic are home to several bespoke sports and supercar manufacturers producing vehicles like the K-1 Attack, Matador MH2, and Praga R1.
Obviously, Slovakia has some serious vehicle-building prowess, and we’re happy to see more custom motorcycles coming out of the country. Recently, we heard from Ales Tomis of Earth Motorcycles, who built multiple bikes out of a tiny 70 square-foot workspace in London before moving back to Slovakia to open a much bigger workshop with his friend Vlado Dinga.
Since then, the duo have produced a series of highly acclaimed builds on several different platforms, including BMW airheads, Honda NX650 Dominators, and the Royal Enfield 650. Today, we’re proud to feature their newest creation, a 1981 BMW R100RT nicknamed “Galgan” — old Slovak slang for “Rascal” or “Brat.”
Returning customers are the best customers, and such was the case with this project. The team originally built the client an ’89 BMW R80 café racer christened “Parne Valce” (“Steam Cylinders”), as featured at Pipeburn. However, after a friend asked to buy the bike from him, the owner had just cause to return for a second build, this time in more of a post-war bobber style.
We feature only a handful of the BMW airhead builds we receive, but “Galgan” certainly makes the cut with the incredible execution and attention to detail. The frame and swingarm were detabbed and powder-coated, the forks rebuilt and internally lowered, the engine Cerakoted, the subframe replaced with a custom unit and Milita saddle, the controls and electrics replaced with Motogadget units, and every last gasket, seal, and bolt was replaced or refurbished.
Some commenters may bridle at the combination of drop bars and knobby tires, but the Conti TKC 80’s are proven to work well on tarmac, and Ales says the bike is a treat to ride:
“Surprisingly the tires are very comfortable despite the rough look. The seat is gem. I still wonder that such a small seat could be so good.”
Below, we talk to Ales for the full details on the build, and share more photos from photographer Marian Svitek.
BMW R100 Bobber: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
My name is Ales Tomis. As a teenager I tried to ride small bikes but the quality of these bikes was very poor so my interest became only theoretical for decades. My first project was my Harley Iron 883 in 2015. Then I moved to London and that was the time to start over. I got more into the cafe racer community. My next project was a 1977 Yamaha XS500 cafe racer which I owned for three years.
Shortly after that came my first BMW airhead. At that time I had workshop in my flat. It was ridiculously small with only 6.4m square meters. I built two bikes in there. In early 2020 I returned to Slovakia and founded a company with my friend Vlado Dinga. Now I have 10x larger workshop and finally it is big enough to do serious work. This step was already planned from London.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
BMW R100RT 1981.
• Why was this bike built?
The BMW Galgan project is a customer project.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
The concept came from a customer about a year before. He couldn’t decided kind of bike he wanted — a cafe racer or a bobber-like bike. Ultimately, the first project for him was a cafe racer, “Parne Valce.” After a couple of months, however, he got an offer to sell the bike to his friend. So he did.
So now was the time for the Galgan bobber. He liked our BMW Budzogan seat, so I used the same one. The reversed handlebars was a bit of a challenge to find. All the detail we were discussing on daily basis while building, but the aftermarket components were chosen by the customer with my recommendations and advice.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Frame and swingarm:
– Shaved from all the unused brackets
– Powder-coated frame and swingarm
– New aluminum footpegs
– New welded subframe pan
Forks and shock:
– New top triple tree clamp
– Powder coated forks
– Internally shorten forks by 5cm (2 inches)
– New rear shocks
– Forks completely rebuilt
– New seals, dust caps etc…
Wheels and steering:
– New Continental TKC 80 tires
– New seals, washers, and stainless steel spindles
Tank and seat:
– Professionally coated using a 2k technology
– Custom seat by Milita
Engine, gearbox, and transmission:
– The engine painted with 2k Cerakote paint
– New Walzwerk exhausts and headers
– Engine, gearbox, driveshaft and final drive completely rebuilt
– New gaskets, seal etc…
Fuel and air system:
– K&N air pod filters
– Fuel taps has new seals and paint
– New Discacciati levers
– New discs and brake pads
– New seals and paint
– Completely rebuilt
– New outside wiring harness
– Motogadget M-unit Blue with alarm and keyless ignition and many more features
– Motogadget Tiny speedometer
– Push-button controls from Motogadget
– Highsider, Motogadget lightning, CE certified
Almost all outer bolts, washers, and nuts were replaced with stainless steel ones. All rusted or broken parts were cleaned, repaired, or replaced with new ones. There are no old seals, O-rings, or gaskets on the bike.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
“Galgan” — it’s old Slovak slang for the word Rascal.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
Surprisingly the tires are very comfortable despite the rough look. The seat is gem. I still wonder that such a small seat could be so good. The customer said that the previous seat by Walzwerk (Parne Valce) was not as comfy.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
I like the front headlight bracket I made. However I will make it a bit different in the future.
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