Ian Solley's R80
By Anthony van Someren - 31 Jul 13
Most of the BMWs on the Bike Shed, and elsewhere, are cafe racers, scramblers or brat-style so it's nice to see a completely unique R80 which not only takes boxer twins in a fresh direction, but pretty much rips up the custom category rule book along the way. The bike is owned by Ian Solley who is quite a character on the custom scene, and the man behind 7ages, who were around long before custom bikes got trendy and everyone started wearing skinny Edwin jeans and growing beards. It's obvious from the photos that Ian's bike has a lot more work put into it than the average BMW custom, from the oversized custom snowflake wheels to the custom hardtail bobber/tracker frame. We have the spec and the lowdown from Ian, but we think he tells the story best in how own words. First of all although 7ages looks like its a proper motorcycle business, but its not – I set it up about 5 years ago to indulge my interest in custom bikes. I had my first Harley; an AMF 125cc, when I was 17 and have been into bikes ever since. I gave up my real job in London in 2007 as the recession was coming and I didn’t fancy going through my third one – so I took some time off to mess around with bikes and do a lot of traveling. 7ages as a brand/project is named to show my wife that I have a passing interest in Shakespeare, which she loves so much, and the first bike I made was a Hartley Panhead called the Macbeth bike – its still my favourite. Since then there has been Hamlet, Othello, Caesar, Richard II, then ROMEO and recently, Tempest. 7ages has now developed into more of a club and I am trying to broaden the appeal working with my mate Paul Leeson on films and photography and our sub riding club “Sons of Democracy”. I picked up this R80 on ebay back in 2011 for about £1350 – fully restored by a guy called Chris up North, and set about turning it into the hardtail tracker bike you see now. First step was the 23” wheels – I love big wheels and have used them on nearly all my bikes, with Avon rubber and stock geometry they work really well and give the bike a unique proportion. I had them made my Steve Taylor at Taylormade in the BMW snowflake pattern. After that I designed the frame and stuck in the Boxer lump with the new wheels and a spare set of Harley Forks I had in the garage. We stuck on the stock tank but it didn’t look right so we cut about 3” band out of the middle to give it the right lines and added a new seat and rear fender. Once that was done it was pretty much the look I want. The paint scheme I copied off a 1937 BMW I found in the Art of BMW Book – paint was done by Keith Baker a proper old-school Harley Painter... and there you have it! There you have it indeed. Ian makes building a custom framed motorcycle sound just a little to easy. ...I just love the way the oversized wheels shrink the boxer engine and tank, giving the bike a whole new set of proportions; long, lean and low - and it's nice to see something a little different on The Bike Shed too. We hope you all approve. See more from Ian at 7ages and on his Facebook group. Thanks to Ian & Merry Michau for the Photos.