Nearly two years after our interview with Angry Lane’s Ben Barras, we caught up with the Hong Kong lifestyle brand and custom motorcycle operation. With a strong background in the design and manufacturing of leather and accessories, French brothers Ben and G launched their shop in 2012 after over five years of distributing specialty parts from Japan, the U.S. and Europe to the Chinese market.
Previously in the garment industry, the brothers decided to bring the joys of car tuning to the world of motorcycles. While the motorcycle culture along China’s southern coast is quite small, some jewels can still be found, including their latest project, a 1987 BMW R80S. Completely original with very low mileage, Angry Lane reworked the original and documented the process for us here at Highsnobiety.
Although Ben and G don’t necessarily consider themselves “builders” or “mechanics,” they have enough vision and contacts to turn an icon of the ’80s into an instant classic. Since Hong Kong is so dense and the roads are so narrow, Angry Lane focused primarily on aesthetics over performance. Take a closer look at the build above and check out Angry Lane’s dissection of the bike below.
Where did you get the bike?
We got the bike from a local garage, which was imported as a part of a bigger lot. The BMW was in very good working condition with no leakage, no engine cracks and no rust. For a bike this old it was really quite a find! We were very excited to upgrade it from a bulky classic motorcycle to a more modern café, mixing old and new parts.
Tell us about the engine.
We first started to dismantle the plastic and “unnecessary” parts to reveal the frame’s original lines and iconic engine. As we usually don’t modify engines (and it was in very good condition), we did a simple servicing of the bike in our workshop (engine oil, brake pads, fork oil, seals and gaskets) and it was enough to bring it back to its original condition and performance. After changing the rocker covers for a more vintage look and rebuilding/tuning the carburetors, the engine was pretty much ready to roll for years to come. We did, however, add an oil temperature dip stick since Hong Kong is a very hot place and it’s better to keep an eye out and avoid overheating.
What about the chassis?
One of the most recognizable features of this bike is the mono-arm with single spring – it makes the rear very clean. In order to shorten the bike, we had to modify the bolt-on rear frame. Luckily, a few guys we know are specialized in rebuilding rear frames for those models and we went to work with Von Zetti. In the end, we weren’t entirely satisfied with the small tube options so after a few emails and phone calls to the UK, we came up with a solution and decided to order a one-off rear frame with the specific tube diameter we wanted.
We also went with a high-performance Wilbers mono shock and the Von Zetti team offered us a few options to make the bottom sections of the frame bend inside, underneath the seat, instead of outside, which would have passed in front of the mono shock.
In the past you guys have worked almost exclusively on bobbers and street trackers. What drew you to a café racer?
Well in the past, the reason we didn’t work on a café is that the positioning makes you put all your weight toward the front of the bike, causing strain on your forearm since your body is in the “race” position. In big cities like Hong Kong with lots of traffic, you end up developing some pain in your arms and wrist. Also, we didn’t see a possibility for a bobber or tracker this time and the bike sort of “revealed” itself as a café even in its original condition.
Having said that, we love naked bikes and we love challenges. Getting rid of what is not absolute necessary for riding or safety is what we intend to communicate with each of our bikes. So, we started by installing Tarozzi clip-ons. We kept the original commands which are very clean and “jet-fighter-ish” with a pair of Renthal racing grips, a new custom-made brake line for the front and a high-tech Acewell electronic tach speedo. In the front, we used a SR headlight with flat racer Ceriani-type brackets and inserted a key switch on top of it.
After removing the central stand, we modified the exhaust pipes, wrapped them in graphite-color bands and added Megatons for a loud and deep sound. The position of the seat is really café style with Tarozzi rear sets and the cowl leather seat line ending with a small rounded aluminum taillight and minimalist turn signals. The whole electricity harness has been streamlined along the way to keep the most important functions. You’ll also notice a customized front fender, while the whole bike sits on a set of Bridgestone BT45 tires.
What about the paint job (or lack thereof)?
Custom paint jobs here are quite an issue as highly professional painters are lacking and the climate of the island and saline air is very aggressive. Instead, we chose to remove the paint all the way to the bare metal on the tank sides and just clear coat them. The rims, meanwhile, got a black matte paint job and the rest is just dressed in leather.
Ben does custom handmade leather work – that’s our sister company Black Needle – so he decided to replace the tank rubber pads with 2 layers of black/raw veg-tanned all-embossed leather pads that will get darker and darker with wear. The same technique has been used for the cowl numbers as well as for the battery straps. We kept it minimal just like it’s supposed to be!
Enjoy the build above and stay up to date with the guys over at angrylane.com.