Originally BMW started making the r60/6 in 1973 up until 1976. It was a light weight high performance machine compared to its predecessor the /5. This bike weighed 463 lbs coming off the production line, but, with the modifications by Vintage Steele, it has been trimmed down to bit over 350 lbs. This bike was a dream to ride, however, having the fear-inducing front and rear drum brakes meant that stopping was a side thought for the original designers.
The guys at Vintage Steele (V.S.) were very excited about this build. One reason for the excitement is that the client, Josh Bernbaum, lives in the same town as the shop, that being Brattleboro, Vermont. They are stoked that this was their first local build and the fact that it would be seen around town was a great marketing tool. It’s also insanely convenient for being able to borrow the bike for shows. Josh has owned sport bikes in the past partly because he lives miles out on a dirt road. Armed with this knowledge, he knew the scrambler style was the direction he wanted to go. Josh wanted this bike to be very functional, practical, comprehensible, and look like a piece of art.
For V.S., they knew that taking on this build was going to be the most intricate, inspiring, and challenging project to date. They turned the rear section from the original bolt-on-tail style to a solid welded-on rear piece in order to change the suspension’s angle and to modernize the suspension with the Ohlins. V.S. also decided to replace the faulty drum front brake by installing the more modern 2011 Suzuki GSXR 600 inverted forks with duel front Brimbo brakes. Keeping Josh’s concerns of reliability in the forefront of their minds, they completely replaced the entire electrical system with modern aftermarket non-german made components and a LED headlight. Losing the speedometer drive by installing the GSXR front end forced them to hand make the instrument cluster. Part of that process pushed them to scour the internet for the perfect GPS driven speedometer and tachometer.
When V.S. asked Josh about the color ideas he stated, “just like the goal for the rest of this project, when it came to the paint scheme I wanted to do something no one had really seen before. I’m a newbie when it comes to custom motorcycle concepts, but I’d been doing a lot of research in the past year while planning this project with the guys at V.S., and was inspired by many custom bikes I’d seen on the bike blogs and on Instagram but that also left me thinking there was room for something even more unique and original, especially when it came to paint and color choices. So I sought out the help of Christopher Myott, a buddy and wonderful fine-art painter in Jaffery, New Hampshire who happens to be friends with the crew of V.S. also. Chris Myott does a lot of motorcycle-themed artwork, and I like his color choices, so I asked him to sit down one morning when we sketched out the tank and color scheme of the bike on an iPad program he had and then we sent it to Pat who is V.S. painter. After some griping and head-scratching about technical stuff, Pat did a great job translating Chris and my design to the physical tank.”
Josh is a glassblower professionally and asked about the tank badges, “since we set out to do a bike that’s as unique as possible, and since I make blown glass professionally, owner of V.S., Josh Steele, recommended I start thinking about a way to incorporate some glass into the bike’s design. I put it off for a while but then the thought came to mind to do something for a custom emblem. At first we ground, polished, and glued clear glass I made by hand to some stock BMW roundels to go on the sides of the tank, but after trying one other design option we all agreed that the second idea looked just a bit extra special and unusual and went with that option which consists of the same clear glass “domes” I made that I then adhered to black and white sheet glass pieces behind it. Everyone knows it’s a BMW already, so we all thought this design we went with that only subtly referenced the traditional BMW logo but in black and white and clear glass was the way to go. This was the last piece of the puzzle, and I think we all really feel this personalizes and customizes the bike to a degree even greater than what we already had achieved with the paint scheme, leather, and other design choices.”
To see more of their bikes or for more information, check out VintageSteele.com