Based on a 1983 BMW R100, The first thing you notice on the UMC-029 Kalifornia 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 Hugo Eccles, founder of UMC-SF.
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 colour 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,” says 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.”