Father and son rekindle over a love for motorcycles.
This BMW R 65 started from humble beginnings and was re-built by Deus Ex Machina’s photographer, Thomas Walk and his father. Thomas Walk shares with us the beautiful story behind the build.
My dad and I weren’t on good terms for a long time, in fact, him and I didn’t talk for about 5 years. Thanks to my girlfriend knocking some wisdom into me, I was able to put the past behind me and bury the hatchet between the old man and myself.
“After all, father like son.”
We gave our relationship a fresh start and began to know each other again, we had a lot to catch up on and we soon learned that we both have a love for wheels and engines. After all, father like son.
My dad grew up with a spanner in his pocket – the type of guy who could tell engine oils apart by simply smelling them. No wonder he grew up to become a mechanic for the Volkswagen Group, where he learned the fine art of tuning and repairing air-cooled Porsches.
That’s right, my old man was a Porsche mechanic, something I tell people with a lot of pride. One day we’ll work on a 911 project.
We began riding together on weekends, I had a Honda Café racer and he would always bring his K 75, telling me that German engineering was simply better. “Whatever you say dad,” I’d say.
I started to become intrigued in BMW Airheads. So naturally I began to humor
the idea of perhaps looking at getting an old Airhead project for my dad and I
to wrench on.
I have a soft spot for older bikes, they have more character and as a youngster to the motorcycle world, you always learn more from older bikes.
“I have a soft spot for older bikes.”
Soon enough this all became a reality, I stumbled across an ad on Gumtree for a 1980 R 65 located in Queensland. The pictures looked promising and the description mentioned new brakes, new gaskets, fresh piston rigs, new splines on the shaft drive, fresh oil and a $2,800 price tag.
I called up the old man and told him what I had stumbled across and he was ecstatic, “make him an offer for $2,500 and take it if he says yes!”
The rest is history.
My father and I wanted to create something simple, comfortable to ride and classy, this bike was to be an homage to the old school with a touch of new. Most importantly, it was to be one of a kind – it was to be our R 65.
We got started by stripping the bike down and opened the engine. We wasted no time and began to lighten up the frame back to its bare minimum. We also replaced the motor to create a new roar and bring the R 65 back to life.
The most changeling part of the build was finding a vintage BMW tank. I had my heart set on a /5 Toaster Tank, but finding one in usable conditions isn’t an easy task when you’re on a budget. But on my search, I stumbled on a black 1973 R 60/6 tank. It was a long way from home, located somewhere in Wisconsin USA, buying this tank was going to be a huge gamble.
There was only one photo and very little information, but since most pre-1976 tanks on their own weren’t easy to find, my options were indeed limited. As you can tell, I took the risk and it paid off.
The tank isn’t perfect, but it doesn’t leak and contains no rust, as for the dinks and scratches, I like to think of it as patina, like a good leather jacket, and you just gotta love those hand painted pinstripes.
After the tank landed, things started to come together rather fast. The bike was fitted with custom made rear and front ‘guards, a custom seat, new Cocker tyres, an extra wide set of tracker bars along with new controls and throttle body.
The headlight and indicators were positioned and, my personal favorite, the Motogadget chronoclassic speedo mounted. All these parts were purchased from Deus Ex Machina, huge thanks goes out to Taka, the parts guru for his help.
As a kid, I always saw my dad working on cars and never stopped to appreciate his skills, I was simply too young to understand that what he did, demanded a very particular set of skills.
Building this bike with him, was not only an amazing opportunity for us to bond, it made me appreciate my dad a lot more. I can only hope to become half as wise when I get older. It was humbling to have his know-how passed on to me over such a personal project.
I ride this R 65 every day, she never misses a beat and runs like a bat out of hell. We rebuilt it and we did it right, I’m very proud of what we achieved.
It took approximately 8 months from start to finish, we worked together as a team and made something special. The amount of money spent on this bike can never compare to the sentimental value it gained.
“But most importantly, we learned how to be a father and son again.”
This bike is our bike, we brought it back from the dead one day at a time and made it our own along the way. But most importantly, we learned how to be a father and son again. Airheads will forever old a special place in my heart.
– Thomas Walk, Deus Ex Machina.