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A fond farewell to the Beard Juice Cafe Racer

The Beard Juice Cafe Racer is/was the first ever bike build for me, and it’s very hard for me to see the girl go, but as space is tight and the next project is calling, its time say auf wiedersehen. So spend a couple of minutes and join me in celebrating the rebirth of a bike that has literally changed my life and career.

The Background

Along with a couple of other small businesses, I own a small boutique Beard Oil Company (Beard Juice Premium Oil Co.) and back in 2016 when Beards were the must-have fashion accessory I by chance happened to be in London on the day of the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. Up until that day, my only experience of a motorised 2 wheeler was a beat up moped I hired for a few hours in 1995, while in Corfu on a lads jolly up. But as I stood on the Strand and watched all these bikes slowly parade by, engines revving, the noise bouncing off the buildings, and to be honest a fair amount of admiration of the blokes dressed dapper on what looked like some really ‘cool’ bikes, it was there and then I thought, yep I want to be part of this.

Google It!

Within an hour or so of returning home from the London trip, I was straight online researching the DGR, and dreaming of what bike I was going to have. Within a short time, I had decided that I wanted to build my own bike, as it would be a great story and promotional tool for the Beard Oil business. Fast forward to December 2016 and I was the proud owner of lots of oily boxes, a fair amount of rust and 3/4’s of a 1986 BMW K100RS.

Countdown is Commencing

So the date is set. September 23rd, 2017 for the Maidstone Gentleman’s Ride. I have approx 9 months to build the bike and pass my bike test. Simple Right!

So with zero experience of bikes, no garage or workshop, just a small backyard I set about dismantling the bike, sifting through all the boxes and trying to make sense of everything. It didn’t take me long to see that under all the dirt and grease the bike was actually in good shape. The frame was rusted in places but salvageable, the main issue was the many missing parts and wiring which had been fairly ‘modified’ from previous owners.

As I have my day job I only got time at the weekends to work on the bike, but it was surprising how quickly I got into the build, and in a short space of time I had even more oily boxes as the bike was completely dismantled. With Google as my new wingman I was on every K100 forum, group and fan page I could find gathering all the info I needed, and to be honest I would have struggled big time without it.

So moving on a couple of months the engine was checked, serviced, cleaned and sprayed. The frame had been sent away to have the new seat mount professionally welded. I had designed my own seat pan using parts from the original seat. Then had it professionally upholstered along with the Beard Juice logo embroidered on.

I’m now getting close to DGR day, and the bike is almost there, its time to start putting everything back together. I knew there would be some issues as the wiring had been quite heavily ‘modified’ in places, and I also had an issue with the fuel gauge sensor, which was leaking. It was an early design and not a standard float style. A replacement was quite hard to find, one of the downsides of sourcing parts for a modern classic.

With a lot of shouting, cups of tea and some much-needed help from a very helpful K100 guru I met on the K100 groups, we finally got the wiring sorted and the old girl was ready for her first startup. After a few turns, she roared into life and sounded sweet. I was one happy chappy.

So the bike was finished and apart from some welding, the seat upholstery and some clear coat on the fuel tank I had built the bike myself. Having never done anything like this I was very impressed. That said without the internet I would have struggled for sure. I call her a Cafe Racer, but it turned out to be kind of half Cafe Racer half Scrambler. Either way I was happy.

So the next hurdle was to pass my bike test. CBT = DONE. Mod 1 and Mod 2 bike tests to complete. With just over a week before the DGR I took my Mod 1 and… FAILED. I hit a bollard on the emergency brake/swerve section, and as failing Mod 1, I was not permitted to take the Mod 2. This left me very stressed/angry/gutted. DVLA regulations state you have to wait 3 working days before you can re-take the test. I was able to get both Mod 1 and Mod 2 re-booked for the Thursday before the DGR, so if I messed up, the DGR would be over for me. So no pressure then! Needless to say, I had a few sleepless nights running up to the test day, BUT I absolutely smashed it and passed with no advisories.

So DGR 2017 Complete, and I spent the next few months getting to know the bike, getting some experience riding a 1000cc modern classic on the Kent roads. Meeting loads and loads of new biker people and generally having an amazing time. But the bike bug has really hit me and I thoroughly enjoyed the bike build, so want to do it again and again. So the K100 has to make room for the next build and it really pains me to let her go. I currently working on a 2012 Triumph Speed Triple, which I plan to turn into a Cafe Racer. The 2 bikes are chalk and cheese in both performance and looks, and dare I say I already have some regrets letting her go.

So raise a glass to the Beard Juice Cafe Racer. I thank you and hope to see you again one day.