‘KALIFORNIA’ IS THE LATEST BUILD to emerge from San Francisco’s Untitled Motorcycles workshop. Based on a 1983 BMW R100, the UMC-029 Kalifornia combines Californian bravado with German cool.
The bike was designed and built by Hugo Eccles, a British transplant to California who founded Untitled Motorcycles San Francisco three years ago. It’s been a busy couple of years for Eccles and UMC-SF, with the creation of the UMC-038 Hyper Scrambler and the subsequent media frenzy culminating in an appearance on CNBC’s “Jay Leno’s Garage.” This BMW build is of a different style but typical of the attention-to-detail becoming a trademark of Eccles’s work.
The first thing you notice is the distinctive paint and finish. “I wanted to retain a connection to the original motorcycle so decided to use the BMW Motorsport stripes, but with a twist”. The classic ‘M’ colours have been reinterpreted in a deep metallic flake. “It’s BMW meets Evel Knievel,” jokes Eccles.
The BMW’s metallic blue and red stripes run parallel with the forks and separate the front and the rear of the bike. Ahead of the stripes, the motorcycle is raw metal, stripped, brushed, and clear-coated to preserve the finish. Behind the stripes, the original fuel tank has been painted in a luscious solid cream. “Early in the design process, my client produced a photograph of a beautiful Porsche 356 in ‘Ivory’ with a tan interior,” Eccles says. “That image became a key inspiration for the Kalifornia’s colour scheme”.
Sourcing the Porsche colour proved an unexpected challenge: over the years Porsche has created a number of different versions of ‘Ivory’ varying from warm white to pale grey. “I eventually found a Porsche, in the correct original colour, and matched the paint by hand”, explains Eccles.
The cream color scheme is complemented by a cross-stitched tan leather seat, which matches the Tommaselli natural rubber grips up front. The entire rear subframe and seat are bolt-on items from UMC. (Untitled has developed several parts for airhead BMWs that can be purchased and installed over a weekend.) Tiny, almost-invisible, Motogadget m-Blaze turn signals are integrated onto the frame, while a low-profile LED taillight has been ‘frenched’ into the rear mudguard.
The BMW’s gauges and controls have been completely overhauled and replaced with a custom headlight housing an analogue Motogadget speedometer, modified Posh switchgear, and hidden internal wiring routed through the low-rise Rental handlebars. A modern Nissin master cylinder controls the twin Brembo calipers and EBC deep-dish rotors on the spoked front wheel. The ‘mismatched’ front and rear wheels is intentional, a style borrowed from the cycling world. “I’ve always liked the tension of having a cast wheel paired with a spoked wheel,” says Eccles.
In fact, neither of the wheels is original. The stock cast snowflake wheels were ditched early in the project and the original 19″ front wheel replaced with a 18″ rear rim, laced with stainless steel spokes to a modified BMW 2-rib hub. Both front and rear run the same 4.1 x 18 Michelin Sirac tyres imported from UMC London specifically for the project. “It’s really useful having workshops both in the USA and UK for sourcing difficult–to-find parts,” say Eccles.
The engine, stripped and vapour-blasted to its natural aluminum, breathes through a pair of Dellorto PHM-38 carbs with custom stainless steel manifolds and one-of-a-kind aluminum airbox tubes. The stock plastic airbox cover and starter cover were both replaced with earlier metal versions. The BMW nameplate, normally black, is painted in the same Porsche cream as the fuel tank. The stock headers have been retained, insulated with grey exhaust wrap, and coupled with custom stainless steel silencers by Cone Engineering.
A stainless steel battery box, another UMC item available for purchase, relocates the gel battery under the gearbox. Eccles notes that the box was designed to be easy to install. “It’s a simple system that doesn’t require any cutting or welding and uses the existing engine bolts.” The BMW’s battery is linked to an upgraded EnDuraLast charging system for modern reliability. The bike was completely rewired from head to toe with a Motogadget m-Unit and m-Lock keyless ignition system that is activated by a tiny RFID capsule sewn into the owner’s glove.
“Airheads have become somewhat ubiquitous so it’s increasingly difficult to do something interesting,” says Eccles. “But I think this build strikes a good balance. It’s a daily rider so it can’t have crazily low clip-ons, cardboard-thin seat, and impractical zero rake. It’s about subtle details that work together rather than a single one-liner statement.”
Frame, Suspension, Wheels
– Original main frame, de-tabbed, powdercoated.
– Original swingarm, de-tabbed, powdercoated.
– Reconditioned Koni shocks, powdercoated springs.
– Custom UMC-designed subframe, powdercoated.
– Custom cross-stitched tan leather seat by Acker Leather Works.
– Original 19″ front wheel replaced with 18″ rear rim, stainless steel spokes.
– R65LS 18″ cast ‘Y’ style rear wheel.
– Michelin Sirac 4.1 x 18″ tyres.
– EBC ‘deep dish’ brake rotors.
– Original forks, stripped, custom white reflectors, rubber gaitors.
– Upgraded fork internals, custom nylon spacers.
– Modified BMW ‘2-rib’ front hub.
– Original Brembo calipers, stripped, vapour-blasted, rebuilt, reconditioned.
– Original footpeg mounts,modified to fit /5 rubber rests.
– R65LS rear drive hub, stripped, vapor-blasted.
– Custom hub-mounted license plate bracket with integrated LED plate light.
– Brown side stand, welded to frame.
– Modified centre stand, shortened, powdercoated.
– Custom Dynamics LED tail light, ‘frenched’ into the rear fender
– Motogadget m-Unit control module and m-Lock RFID keyless ignition.
– UMC custom headlight with integrated Motogadget speedometer.
– WestCo gel battery installed in stainless steel UMC battery box
– Custom wiring loom
– Twin dual-tone 120dB horns, hidden under the fuel tank
– Motogadget m-Blaze LED turn signals front and rear
– Motogadget Motoscope Classic speedometer integrated into custom headlight.
– Nissin 13mm brake master cylinder with 1-into-2 braided stainless steel lines.
– Custom direct-mount reservoir.
– Nissin clutch lever with braided stainless steel cable.
– Custom Momo throttle with braided stainless steel cable.
– Classic BSA-style aluminium throttle cable splitter.
– Tommaselli natural rubber grips
– Renthal 22mm (7/8″) ultra low handlebars, modified Posh switches, internal wiring.
– 3″ CRG bar-end mirrors.
– Custom cast aluminium top bracket.
Engine & Exhaust
– Upgraded EnDuroLast charging system .
– Classic metal airbox cover with drilled.
– Metal starter cover with painted ‘BMW’ nameplate
– Original 40mm Bing carburettors replaced with 38mm Dellorto PHMs
– Manual choke levers
– Clear fuel line by Helix Racing.
– Upgraded pistons, pushrods, stainless pushrod tubes
– Wrapped modified headers
– Stainless steel Cone exhausts with custom brackets.
– Engine stripped and vapour-blasted.
– Round valve covers.
– Magnum Shielding braided stainless steel spark leads.
– Custom stainless steel inlet manifolds.
– Custom aluminium airbox tubes.
– Original steel petrol tank, stripped, brushed, clearcoated, painted by Motojrefinish
– Custom-fabricated UMC roundels
– new Karcoma fuel taps
– Custom steel headlight housing, brushed and clearcoated
– Seat upholstered in tan brown leather by Acker Leather Works.
– Brushed steel front fender, welded to fender bracket, clearcoated.
– Custom rear fender, powdercoated in satin black.
– Bell Bullitt helmet, yellow shield, painted by Motojrefinish.
Report by Untitled Motorcycles