Building one-of-one customs for a living would be most motorcyclists’ idea of heaven. However, like an author trying to write the sequel to a smash hit, the pressure must be overwhelming. The team behind Renard Speed Shop in Estonia know all about this, yet it’s never slowed them down.
Their first bike, the Renard GT, was a carbon fiber V-twin dream, offered as a limited production model. Renard followed it up with a slew of world class custom builds, ranging from mild to wild. Now they’re going back to their original formula in a sense, with a series of templated BMW R100 café racer builds.
“We always wanted to build limited run production motorcycles, to continue the same trend we started with the Renard GT,” explains shop manager, William Sarevet. “It’s important that Renard returns to his roots.”
“This doesn’t mean we won’t make any one-off customs. We will—but they must be very special, or offer us a creative challenge and be a pleasure to build.”
Renard has spent the last year prepping this short run of BMW boxer-based machines, to create their interpretation of the ultimate café racer. Each bike starts out as a 1976-1979 BMW R100 touring model, and is then reworked to strike a balance between classic style and modern performance.
Each donor bike gets the full treatment. If you’re claiming to build the ultimate café racer, engine work is a necessity—so Renard have gone above and beyond in this department. The R100 engines are all rebuilt to a demanding spec, using /6 series engine cases and a Renard-designed airbox.
Lighter pistons run inside the new dual-spark cylinder heads, along with a lightened crank and flywheel to help the 1000 cc flat twin spin up even faster. The Bing carbs are overhauled, as are the starter motor and gearbox. Each engine gets blasted and clear ceramic coated, before being fitted with Renard badges.
The exhaust is also custom; 40mm exhaust headers terminate in stainless steel conical mufflers from Hattech. The rear drive is from an early round case airhead, with Renard sticking to a double-sided swingarm over the single-sided options available.
Moving to the rolling parts, Borrani wheels are laced with stainless steel spokes to Renard’s own hubs and bearing carriers. They are wrapped in Bridgestone Accolade tires, which give modern performance to an old-school looking tread pattern.
The front forks are Ceriani replicas, bolted to Renard custom fork clamps. Modern adjustable shocks run at the back, while the brake discs, calipers and master cylinders are all top-shelf Beringer parts.
Up front is an LED headlight, tucked below a custom shroud. Nestled behind it is a pair of matching analog Smiths gauges. These days it’s all too common to see a combined speedo and tacho—but separate gauges will never not look cool, especially on a classic café racer.
Low-slung handlebars are fitted with Beringer levers. There are fluid reservoirs on both sides, because Renard have opted to fit a hydraulic clutch.
The levers are integrated with Renard’s own CNC-machined switchgear—they bolt directly to the Beringer clamps, and are easily some of the best looking switches in the industry. Leather-wrapped grips and bar-end mirrors add a touch of class.
The whole bike is rewired from the ground up around a Motogadget mo.unit blue. The setup includes a keyless ignition and the ability to track your motorcycle via a smartphone app. A small Lithium-ion battery is hidden away inside the bodywork, while the taillight and turn signals are LED units.
The sleek bodywork is all handmade by the Renard team. A huge amount of work has gone into the tank, seat, dashboard and fenders, and it really shows. The factory R100 fuel tank is an iconic piece in its own right, but Renard has nailed their reinterpretation of it.
The perfectly-proportioned tail unit sits on top of a modified subframe, and the leatherwork on the seat shows masterful craftsmanship.
So far, Renard has built four bikes to their own specifications. But moving forward, each build will be tailored to its owner’s taste.
“We’ve already sold the first four bikes to previous clients and club members,” William tells us. “All the bikes are street legal with approved frames, triple trees, suspension, sound, emissions and engine power upgrades.”
If you’re in the market for a custom BMW that will stand out in a crowd, look good and go extremely well for the rest of your life, you might want to get in touch with Renard. But do it quickly. Build slots for 2023 are limited, and these are sure to sell like hot cakes.
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