#310 – “Who needs 9 lives?”

A highly customized vintage Beemer has the appearance of both show and go, and might even turn the heads of judges.

Behold the Sprintbeemer, a podium finisher in the Retro Modified class of the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building. Built on the platform of a 1955 BMW R50, this is the custom work of the men at The Lucky Cat Garage, who report they took inspiration from vintage dragbikes in their design. “Frightening style for the competitors and mind-blowing paint,” are hallmarks of the breed, say the builders.
Frightening and mind-blowing: the Sprintbeemer is definitely all that. But, when you’re over the initial shock of discovery, and now willing to take a closer look, you begin to see evidence that here is a highly customize bike that might be capable of some actual performance. Bored out to 1100cc, the stock motor of the R50, was considered a high-performance touring 500 when it was introduced at the 1955 Brussels Motorcycle Show. Though the NOS-fed mill is largely hidden away by a highly modified streamlined fairing with extended belly pan, the styled headers and megaphone mufflers are suggestive of acceleration.
A Pingel airshifter is standard in the dragbike environment and it aids the rider who takes his position on an alloy seat pan bolted to the R50’s modified loop frame. Directly in front of the rider is a custom red metal flake Malagutti tank with integrated gauges and a flaring scroll that retorts with pure bravado and hints of scorn: “Who needs 9 lives?”
Billet rear struts adjust to the rider’s specs before he steers the 19-inch Avon down the quarter-mile strip, rapidly snicking through all five gears of the bike’s R100R transmission, and finally smoking the R75/R100 drum brake combo at the end of the run. Surely, a motorcycle with this much physical charisma is also capable of performing.
Or so you’d think. Like any custom, the Sprintbeemer poses more questions than it answers. There’s no doubt the builders went through many stages of self-questioning before they felt in their hearts that here was a machine that could compete on a world stage.
Their experience—the questions they asked, the decisions they made—would have been no different than any of you who chose to present your motorcycle for judging, either at the local show ‘n’ shine on Sunday, or at bigger events with greater investments on the line.
And after all the prep work, and the commitment you’ve shown to your project, what then remains is to await the decision of the judges. But what’s going through their minds at this point? What are they looking for?
To gain a greater insight to the weights and balances of the judging procedure turn to page 28 of this issue, and read Ed Pretty’s interview with Ron Szoczei, a pro custom judge certified by the International Master Bike Builders Association. The story may give you some direction as you prepare your own custom for the summer shows.