This 1978 BMW R80/7 has been subjected to a full custom rebuild by Upcycle Motor Garage based in Austin, Texas. It has a rigid frame, a springer front end, and it rides on military-spec Firestone tractor tires.

The bike was completed earlier this year, it was published broadly across the internet, starting with a feature on Bike EXIF, and it’s now being offered for sale directly from Upcycle Motor Garage.

Fast Facts – The BMW R80/7

  • The BMW R80/7 debuted in 1977 as an upgrade over the earlier R 75/7 model that had first appeared a year earlier in 1975. The R80/7 would become one of the German marque’s staple motorcycles during this period, selling until 1983 with almost 18,000 units produced.
  • The R80/7 was powered by an 800cc (actually 797cc) horizontally-opposed boxer twin engine, with pushrods, two overhead valves per cylinder, and air-cooling, mated to a 5-speed gearbox which sent power to the rear wheel via a shaft drive.
  • The most famous R80 variant is undoubtably the BMW R80 G/S that debuted in 1980 using the same fundamental engine as the R80/7. The R80 G/S is widely credited with being the first adventure bike, and it won the Paris-Dakar Rally three times, in 1981, 1983, and 1984.
  • The BMW R80/7 you see here has been completely rebuilt by Johnny Nguyen of Upcycle Motor Garage. He gave the bike a new custom hardtail frame, a springer front end, a sprung solo saddle, and perhaps most noticeably, a pair of military-spec Firestone tractor tires. The bike is now being offered for sale on Bring a Trailer out of Texas.

Johnny Nguyen + Upcycle Motor Garage

Upcycle Motor Garage was founded by fabricator and custom motorcycle builder Johnny Nguyen in Anaheim, California. He later moved the operation to Huntington Beach, before shifting over to Austin Texas where the company remains today.

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Image DescriptionThis is one of those unique custom motorcycles that people will either love or hate, largely due to the chunky military-spec Firestone tractor tires fitted front and back.

Nguyen has built a number of motorcycles over the years including a Suzuki GS650 GL, a Ducati 900 SS, a Ducati 998, a Yamaha XS1100, a pair of BMW R100 cafe racers, and the bike you see in this article which is possibly his most avant garde yet – a custom hardtail BMW R80/7 on tractor tires.

Over the years Nguyen has established a reputation as a top US custom motorcycle builder, his creations have had multiple features on Bike EXIF as well as many other motorcycle publications since 2019, and you can follow him on Instagram here if you’d like to stay abreast of his latest builds.

The BMW R80/7 “Tonka Truck”

This build started life as a standard 1978 BMW R80/7, though it didn’t stay that way for long once Johnny got his hands on it. He had a pair of 16” Firestone tractor tires on hand and he used them to set the tone for the build, this would be a custom motorcycle that would horrify the purists but never fail to elicit a reaction from those that see it.

“One of my first ‘idol’ bikes was a white airhead bobber, built by Mark Van Der Kwaak, that was featured on Bike EXIF. I kept a photo of it as my wallpaper on my laptop for years. This build was my take on the proportions of the wide airhead engine, paired with the long frame of a hard-tailed bobber.” – Johnny Nguyen, Upcycle Motor Garage

Once the teardown was complete Johnny chopped the headstock off the original frame and discarded the rest of it, welding in a new hardtail tubular steel cradle frame and then adding a TC Bros classic springer front end.

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Image DescriptionA new hardtail frame is now fitted, using just the headstock of the original frame, paired with a new springer front end.

A dished 16” Harley-Davidson wheel is fitted up front and paired with a rear Excel rim that was rebuild by the experts over at Buchanan’s Spoke and Rim. The rear wheel then needed to be offset at the time of installation to clear the driveshaft on the right hand side.

The engine was mounted in its new frame so that the sump sits level with the lower frame rails, it was then fitted with a custom two-into-one exhaust with a Werkes USA muffler. The bike keeps its original Bing carburetors and its alloy BMW airbox.

Due to the bike being a hardtail the solo saddle was fitted to the frame with a coil sprung shock absorber to help soak up the bumps that make their way through the hefty tractor tire sidewalls. A 1.25 gallon fuel tank was fitted up top and finished in a two-tone green finish to match the rear fender.

A unique triangular headlight is installed up front on a custom bracket, and split handlebars are mounted via a billet aluminum top yoke, and fitted with Kustom Tech levers and ODI Vans x Cult grips, all sitting just above a minimalist Motogadget speedometer.

The ignition switch and an Antigravity Lithium-ion battery are tucked away inside a custom aluminum box that sits just behind the transmission. The bike using a front disc brake and the original BMW rear drum.

If you look carefully over the bike you’ll note a number of custom brass bushings and fittings, these were all made by Johnny specifically for this bike on his small workshop lathe.

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Image DescriptionThe BMW “Airhead” boxer twin is one of the most instantly recognizable engines of the 20th century. Its reliability, simplicity, and versatility has seen it used in a wild array of different custom motorcycles over the years.

The bike is now being offered for sale directly by Johnny out of Whitestone, Texas. It comes with a clean Texas title and a center stand that matches the frame of the bike, which is designed to be used when showing the bike or storing it.

If you’d like to read more about this unusual motorcycle or register to bid you can visit the listing here on Bring a Trailer.

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Images courtesy of Bring a Trailer

Published by Ben Branch -