There’s no sign of the popularity of the BMW R-series waning. It’s been massaged and twisted in every direction, and just as we think we’ve seen it all, along comes something that blows our socks off. Case in point: this killer R80 from Arjan van den Boom.
Arjan’s shop, Ironwood Custom Motorcycles in Amsterdam, gets regular orders for BMW builds. ‘The Mutant’ is Arjan’s twelfth boxer, and it’s a stark reminder that there are still new and exciting ways to customize an airhead.
Since this R80 was a personal build, Arjan had no brief. So he decided to cut loose, and create something that would stand out. “It was all about making a rad one-off machine,” he tells us. “Most of our projects are on commission—so this had to be something else. Freehand, but still rideable.”
Born and raised in the Netherlands, Arjan’s been wrenching since the age of 15—first on mopeds, then on cars. Mechanical engineering studies led to a career in automotive tech…and then Arjan got his bike license.
“I rode several Japanese super sports over the past few years,” he says. “Knee downs became the new standard—on both the road and track. After some nearly fatal accidents and broken bones around the Nürburgring, in 2012 I decided to sail in a different direction.
“Custom motorcycle culture was on the rise in Europe that year, and I liked it from the start—the bikes, the art, the fashion and lifestyle.”
Soon after, Arjan tackled his first build—a Honda CB550 constructed in his living room. Custom bikes gradually grew from being a hobby into part-time job, and then earlier this year, Arjan decided to commit to Ironwood full time. That meant new premises, and a bigger team: Eric and Sam are now on board, with friends Paul and Rik often lending a hand too.
“Step by step, year by year I’m still learning from each build and developing my own style,” says Arjan. “Now 25 customers are enjoying genuine Ironwood motorcycles. Some have just minor mods, others are full-rebuild corner-benders.”
“Not every build is (or can be) precision engineering. Or different, bold, innovative or expensive. It basically depends on the customer’s budget, inspiration and time availability. I like to help customers with lower budgets—make their iron horses look rad—but I also enjoy full rebuilds, and even new bikes. When time allows, I build my own projects like The Mutant.”
‘The Mutant’ is based on a 1985 BMW R80, and retains its unique mono-shock and single-sided swingarm. Arjan had a clear direction in mind from the word go: “Vintage on the colors, raw on the metals, and aggressive—like the street fighters from ten years ago.”Read More...
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