Own a bespoke classic BMW cafe racer
Custom & modified bikes
12 April 2012 17:11
Usually custom made specials come with price tags that look like telephone numbers, but not these. Built in the UK by Kevin Hill, 45, his made to order bikes cost less than a new Suzuki Bandit.
“I only do twin shock BMWs, bikes built from 1977 to 1984,” said Hill. “They are great bikes, the parts are easy to come by and everything is so solidly engineered.
"I go all over the country chasing up old BMWs. then I strip them, clean them and build them into a custom special. Everything is built to order - I’m flat out at the moment.”
Despite only setting up his company Kevils Speed Shop two and a half years ago, Hill has already created and sold 18 unique machines and is currently turning bikes around at the rate of one every three weeks.
Not bad for someone who is more practiced at building miniatures rather than the real thing.
“I used to be an industrial model maker, making model ships for the industry. I’ve always had an interest in bikes so I decided to buy an old Beemer, modify it to see what it turned out like and that was the start. Someone saw the bike, offered to buy it and it went from there, I left my job and set up the Speed Shop.”
Like so many custom bike builders, Hill’s design influences are from the 1950s and the Rock’n’Roll lifestyle. “I like the café racer and hot rod culture and the BMW’s engine lends itself perfectly to this stripped-down look. But I also do variations, I’ve made a flat-track style, a rat bike and even a scrambler, it’s whatever the customer orders,” he said.
So who buys his bikes? “Most of my customers already own a BMW, usually a GS, but they want a nice toy in the garage for the weekend,” said Hill. “Performance isn’t a priority, they just want a good looking bike that is different.
"I can go down the big-bore or tuning route but most customers don’t want it, they prefer to keep the motor stock and reliable.” Which is one of the main factors that sets Hill’s specials aside from other custom bikes, they are practical as well as affordable.
“All my bikes come with a year’s MOT and a V5 document and cost around £5,000 to £5500. I keep the cost down as I don’t want to be in competition with new bikes. If you start increasing your prices people will say ‘why should I buy that when I can get a new bike for the same amount?” said Hill.
“To me all new bikes are the same, the only difference is the name on the tank. They aren’t bespoke, my bikes are built for you and come with your own paint scheme in a style you choose.”
If you fancy a one-off BMW then Hill can be contacted through Facebook, just search for Kevils Speed Shop.