This project started the day one of Mike McCann's friends bought a BMW dresser. The full-boat touring machine had all the perks—bags, windshield, fairing, and seat—and the gentleman fully intended to convert it to a café-style rig, even going so far as to remove some peripheral items. Then reality set in and he realized the project was going to be bigger than anticipated, so he stopped all work and took the bike to Mike.

Mike, who runs McCann Customs in Dracut, Massachusetts, had another good customer looking to jump on a unique custom build, and he mentioned the half-disassembled BMW sitting in his shop. Turned out the customer—Rich Legouri—was immediately on board with the idea, and they both agreed the bike's new design would be subtle to the point of looking factory, but with trick details you'd have to really squint at to make out completely.

stock aluminum gas tank
The stock aluminum gas tank was stretched and widened to better accommodate the stock plumbing.Joshua Elzey

Of course, it wouldn't be simple. For starters, the stock K100 was not the prettiest of bikes rolling off the showroom floor in 1985. BWM did engineer a bunch of tricks into the layout of the “Flying Brick” to keep the center of gravity low and improve handling, and the position of the liquid-cooled inline-four engine also allowed better access for maintenance as the injectors and spark plugs were all now on the left-hand side. And even with its ugly-duckling looks, the K100 turned out to be a fairly successful model for its time.

two-piece Arlen Ness fairing
A two-piece Arlen Ness fairing got a windshield up top, which was then painted to make it look like a one-piece unit.Joshua Elzey

Back at McCann's Customs, Mike stripped the bike down to the motor and frame and started on the fabrication. First he stretched the stock aluminum gas tank and welded on panels to better accommodate the stock plumbing; the original tank came up at a sharp angle and left noticeable gaps. Fiberglass side panels were also added to cover the gaping space found on the stocker, and those were painted with the number 49—Rich's racing boat number. With these mods, the bike was already giving off a more streamlined, café racer vibe. All the brackets on the frame were modified or removed to emphasize the bike's now-clean lines, and the frame then smoothed out for paint. For the full café treatment, Mike altered a two-piece Arlen Ness fairing originally meant for a Harley-Davidson, integrating a windshield into the top and painting it to make it one piece. That's a stock Harley headlight inside the opening, with modified brackets holding it all over the front 18-inch wheel.

frenched-in turn signals
Entirely new rear frame and bodywork were fabricated, featuring a widened leftover fender frenched-in turn signals, and new a seat pan with black café seat.Joshua Elzey

But the most noticeable modification is probably the café rear end. Mike cut off the entire rear frame and put in the new section with a random, leftover skinny fender sliced in half and widened to accommodate the 17-inch stock rear wheel. After he frenched-in the turn signals, a seat pan was made to fit the black café seat. Now it was time to turn to the motor.

K100’s original “Flying Brick” motor
The K100’s original “Flying Brick” motor was basically left alone except for paint and cleanup.Joshua Elzey

With the engine apart and revealing no big surprises, Mike just put in a new water pump and oil pump, leaving the motor with its original fuel injection essentially stock. The paintbrush came out next, and Mike slathered some of the lower cases and covers with black textured paint; even the throttle bodies got a dark hue. With the motor reassembled, foot controls could be altered and the mounts cut down. The stock stainless steel exhaust was shortened a bit and painted, with chrome accents added to complement the new style. It even exits on the left side, just like the factory version.

stock stainless exhaust
The stock stainless exhaust was shortened a bit for that café vibe, and painted black.Joshua Elzey

With the bike pulled out into the sun, onlookers can really appreciate the painted silver and gray paint with pearl sparkling under the light. With its stock bits modified for specific use yet still made to be rideable, this BMW custom shows how you don't have to mess with the original too much to get a piece of machinery that’s beautiful and functional in every aspect. Needless to say, Rich gets rave reviews anywhere he rides it, with most folks telling him this is how BMW should have built it in the first place.

A beautiful custom that shows how beautiful, and still functional, the K100 can be with a few essential tweaks.Joshua Elzey