July 25, 2024

A Minimalist City Hopper: Retro BMW Airhead Bobber

Screenshot: Blackbird Moto – Douglas Sonders on YouTube

BMW’s R80 is already a seriously awesome motorcycle to cruise around the city in its original state. It embodies simplicity at its finest with a boxer cylinder configuration and shaft drive for convenient maintenance and smooth rides. BMW showcased the reliability and dependability of these bikes with the adventurous G/S variants, and the RT models, like this one, were designed for long highway journeys. Brooklyn Speed enthusiasts have crafted something truly unique, possibly the perfect urban commuting bike.

I couldn’t fathom surviving the daily chaos of residing in NYC, but this motorcycle could certainly make it more bearable.

1986 BMW R80 Airhead Bobber – Quick Ride Review

The R80 doesn’t require much to excel as a great city bike. The alloy wheels, softly tuned suspension, torquey power delivery, and dual front caliper brakes already accomplish that. However, once you strip away all the extraneous parts, from the bulky fairing and passenger seat to the aerodynamic bodywork and rear exhaust section, the bike unveils its vintage and modern essence. This bike offers only what you need and nothing you don’t. It’s an engine, a seat, wheels, and handlebars. Sit down, ride, and enjoy the simplicity.

Urban riding demands a nimble bike with good visibility. Maneuvering through busy streets with a full fairing and side cases is never enjoyable, but with all that removed, riding becomes effortless. For cities with challenging traffic conditions, like New York or Chicago, I’d much prefer riding this compact machine. Plus, it would undoubtedly look incredibly stylish parked outside a cafe while you work on your projects.

The key to building bikes like this is to keep them agile and comfortable, with ample grip on the tires. Simply remove all non-essential parts that don’t directly interact with your hands, seat, or feet, and focus on keeping the bike running smoothly. What more could you ask for?


Q: What modifications were made to the BMW R80 for city riding?

A: The modifications included stripping away unnecessary parts such as the fairing, passenger seat, and bodywork to create a more compact and agile city bike.

Q: Why is the BMW R80 considered a great urban commuter?

A: The R80 offers a perfect balance of simplicity, reliability, and nimbleness, making it ideal for navigating city streets with ease.


In conclusion, the retro BMW R80 Airhead Bobber transformed by Brooklyn Speed represents the epitome of a minimalist city-hopping dream motorcycle. By combining vintage charm with modern simplicity, this bike offers a unique riding experience tailored for urban environments. Its stripped-down design, agile handling, and stylish aesthetics make it a standout choice for city commuters looking for a blend of functionality and style.

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