This restomod BMW is the custom bike of your dreams | Top Gear
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BBC TopGear

This restomod BMW is the custom bike of your dreams

Who’s up for a quick trip to Africa on a custom-built vintage G/S? Erm, its builder, for one

  • What is it?

    This is what’s commonly known as a motorbike, formally known as the Myth 001 and informally known as the kind of bike we daydream about owning while we’re supposed to be making useful contributions to conversations. Or society, or whatever.

    It’s an ode to the adventure touring warrior that is the 1980s BMW R80 G/S. But as you can see, it’s nothing you can waltz into a vintage bike dealer and buy. Even your very best waltz (or tango, foxtrot or charleston) won’t get you this bike. For that, you’ll need to talk to Matias Corea at Myth Motors. And maybe skip the dancing.

    Photos: Ryan Handt

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  • Who builds it?

    The very same Matias Corea at Myth Motors. What, did you think we were going to give you a bum steer on things? We want to see as many of these in the world as possible. Ideal scenario, we’d have one in our garage. Totally ideal scenario, we’d actually have a garage, not an oddly sloping backyard that our current motorbike sits in like a sad Labrador. But we digress.

    Myth Motors is really a one-man-band. And, to torture that musical metaphor, like Chick Corea was to music, Matias Corea is to motorcycles – taking familiar building blocks and inventing something entirely new, offbeat and deep-niche cool.

    Matias’ background in... ooh, just about everything – design, photography, adventure motorcycling, writing, co-founding a filmmaking company, co-founding Behance (a social media site for actual creatives, not sponsored-content shills) – means he has a pretty damn good feel for what works visually, practically and emotionally. Getting tutelage from “master mechanic Peter Boggia from Moto Borgotaro”, as Matias rightly credits him, means his building skills are up to snuff as well.

  • What’s been done to it?

    In keeping with its builder, just about everything. Pick a spot and it’s been tweaked, improved or replaced entirely to ensure the GS lives up to the ‘Gelande’ part in its name. And it’d want to – Matias is planning to take one of his creations from Barcelona to Africa as a final shakedown run. As you do.  

    The original airbox on the G/S is about as restrictive as the FODMAP diet, so it’s been ditched in favour of an open rally filter. Carburetors from Bing make the most of the extra air, and keep things simple, reliable and easy to fix in the middle of nowhere – in 168 days of hard riding from Brooklyn to Ushuaia on a standard G/S, Matias says its Bing carbs didn’t need a single intervention.

    The original airhead boxer engine has been bored out to 1,001cc and fitted with a racing camshaft, ported heads and a custom exhaust. Compression is up from a sedate 9.2 to 1 to a modern – but still safe – 10.6 to 1, but fuel quality issues are sidestepped with a dash-controlled dual-curve ignition mapper. For good fuel, flick up. For kerosene with bugs in it, switch down. And try to refill the behemoth, 43-litre fuel tank with something better next time. If you’re running good fuel and the full-strength ignition map, there’s more than 70bhp to the rear wheel – a healthy improvement over the original 50-odd horsepower at the crank.

    And reining it all back in falls to a four-piston front brake by Brembo, grabbing a modern-size 320mm rotor. That way, this added oomph doesn’t also equal added oof. Thank you, we’ll be here all week.

    A reinforced frame is mated to WP open-chamber forks that offer between 250 and 300mm of travel, depending on how tall you are and just how far off-road you’re intending to go. Speaking of off-road, Excel’s rims are pretty much the gold standard in that space. And it’s unsurprising to find them here, including a trail-ready 21-incher up front, laced with heavy-duty stainless-steel spokes. To keep the geometry spot on (hint: bad geometry equals bad bike and very likely bad crash), there’s an extended rear swingarm and custom shock. Oh, and there’s a new cockpit, new handlebars, marine-rated USB charger... maybe it would have been easier to name the bits that weren’t changed.

    “These bikes are still customised to the rider,” says Matias. “The client gets the opportunity to be part of the process, from the visual design to their riding style, body type, and personal preferences.” So really, all that we’ve listed so far is just a jumping-off point for you to get a near-as-dammit bespoke bike.

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  • How many are being built?

    The clue here is that it’s called the Myth 001; Matias says he’s keen to build “at least 100” of these wondrous machines, but admits that it’d take a while to get there at the six to eight bikes Myth will build in a given year.

    There’s also something of a catch – Matias says that he’s building them until he’s “no longer excited” by the prospect, so we wouldn’t be waiting to nab build number 100 or anything like that.

  • Is it fast?

    To put it simply: yes. If you’re used to how cars accelerate, then getting on a bike that puts 72bhp to the back wheel will redefine your notions of what a small-sounding power number can achieve.

    Matias has also stripped weight from the original Heffalump – his motto is one from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and one that warms the heart of our inner minimalist: “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

    That’s the creed of cafe racers, Colin Chapman and our paisley-shirted saviour Gordon Murray. And that’s the right kind of company to share a mindset with.

  • How much does it cost?

    Prices start at $40,000 American, moving up to 50,000 Freedom Francs for the top-tier ‘ Pro Adventure’ version you see here, with its gargantuan fuel tank, razor-sharp paint job and so on. That’s about £29,000 to £36,500 at current exchange rates, and makes this the cheapest restomod we’ve ever featured by a factor of about 10.

    Seriously – this is the rough price range of a Hyundai Tucson, and yet you’re getting a hand-built, achingly cool and astoundingly capable machine that’s as tailored to suit you as a Savile row sports coat. Such is the power of two wheels – those brave enough to ride are rewarded quite literally tenfold over those who drive.

  • Why should I care about it?

    We’re of the opinion that a restomod must accomplish three things: celebrate what was, explore what could have been and imagine what could be. Having achieved that, adding in some mind- and soul-easing reliability, simplicity and longevity can only help matters.

    But in the case of the Myth 001, reliability, simplicity and longevity was as integral to the build as any of the pillars of restomodding. After riding a standard BMW GS from Brooklyn to Ushuaia, he was in a pretty decent position to know what should stay, what had to be beefed up and what needed to be changed altogether.

    “Every element on the bike was vetted in regards to how easy it would be to repair or replace in a remote area,” says Matias. “The main focus was on keeping the simplicity of the airhead systems but improving suspension, off-road handling, braking power, riding comfort, fuel capacity, and top-end power while maintaining fuel efficiency.”

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  • Can you tell me one interesting fact about it?

    Indeed we can. Or rather, Matias can, given that he’s been a sport and chatted with us.

    “The builds come out of my actual adventure riding experience. In 2016 I did about 20,000 miles from Brooklyn to Ushuaia on my 1985 R80G/S. We rode in all conditions, on all sorts of terrain in very isolated areas, when I came back I knew everything I wanted to keep and everything I wanted to upgrade.

    “Every component is vetted for true adventure travel, so I keep in mind how easy it would be to deal with an issue if you're in a more isolated area. For example, I choose to stay with the monolever [suspension], which is a lot simpler and robust than the paralever with virtually no parts that can break. Also, I install a dual ignition curve for poor fuel quality, I replace the air filter with an easy-to-access washable air filter... I can go on and on.”

    We’re guessing – and this just a hunch here – so can the bikes.

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