Love It Or Hate It: Disappointing! BMW K1 'Limbo' Bikes

itrocks bmw k1 2

When it debuted, the BMW K1 was Marmite for motorcyclists. They either loved it or hated it. The athletic powerhouse roared onto the scene in 1988 with a groin kick trick. It was BMW's embodiment of the future, right down to its bold finish, styling, and plastic appeal. It was unlike anything one would expect from the Germans. Based on the K100's inline four-cylinder engine, the K1 was as much a statement as it was a motorcycle.

Critics labeled the K1 as expensive and bulky, and the older model's tendency to keep heat didn't improve matters. But to its enthusiasts, the K1 was a masterpiece; boasting impressive power output and aeronautic-grade aerodynamics. Unfortunately, the haters outnumbered the fans and the K1 was discontinued after 5 short years of production.

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Now, nearly 40 years on, the K1 is considered a classic and a potential investment for collectors. As a result, the idea of ​​customization may seem absurd, but not to one K1 owner and the crew at Portuguese workshop, ItRocks! Bicycles.

“As a fan of the legendary BMW K1, our client challenged us to redesign the bike, giving it modern lines,” said ItRocks! Bikes Osvaldo Coutinho. “Our aim was to create a motorcycle with striking lines, which will mark the renewal of this iconic motorcycle using high quality, safe and affordable materials.”

Rocks!  BMW K1 Limbo BikesRocks!  BMW K1 Limbo BikesRocks!  BMW K1 Limbo Bikes

ItRocks! the team, which was managed by the trio of Osvaldo Coutinho, Ana Pina, and Luís Teixeira, carried out this task with enthusiasm. The first job was to remove the plastic from the bike, the fuel tank, and the seat. The trio then began designing a new look for the K1.

Monocoque bodywork somehow ItRocks! special and this bike was. The new tank and tail unit is made as a single structure using hand-shaped sheet metal. It sits on a small custom frame and there's a new upgraded leather and suede sole seat for the lucky rider. Similarly, the front panels and the side panels, which extend to the rear wheel, are also designed as a single piece that rests against the tank and tail.

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The new, modern take on this K1 bodywork is a far cry from the original. However, ItRocks! the team was careful to respect the original by handling a few design details more. “We kept some details of the K1 like the front square but we chose to adjust the size,” said Osvaldo. Drawing comparisons you will also notice similarities in the deep knee intakes of the fuel tank and the angular vents of the side panel. Completing the new look is a timeless silver paint scheme that combines brushed metal and BMW M spec inspiration.

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As well as fixing the beauty of ItRocks! the team talked to K1 parts that had time. Starting with the suspension this bike now sits on an Öhlins FGRT 216 front end while the rear end uses a Wimoto suspension kit with YSS shocks. Brakes use Brembo calipers mounted on two 320mm discs at the front. For the wheels, the team took a slightly different approach choosing solid discs custom made by Jonich Wheels. Along with the improved performance, the bike rides on Pirelli Angel GT hard-wearing touring tires.

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Adding to the list of modern upgrades is a spread of parts from the Motogadget catalog. Taking pride of place in the cockpit is a Motogadget Chronoclassic speedometer. The bar-end turn signals are M-Blaze discs, the hand controls use small Mo.switch blocks, and there's mo.lock ignition for keyless starts. Rounding out the whole thing is an M.unit Blue electronics controller with Bluetooth connectivity and a set of sleek Motogadget grips and glassless bar end mirrors.

To further step things up the K1 is equipped with some premium aftermarket parts including clip-on bars and steering dampers by LSL and rear sets by BSK SpeedWorks. The Ohlins forks sit on TGP Racing triples and the manual controls are a mix of Domino and Custom Tech parts. In the gas tank ItRocks! the team chose a classic Monza style filler and built into the tail section is a small but powerful LED brake light combination.

Rocks!  BMW K1 Limbo BikesRocks!  BMW K1 Limbo BikesRocks!  BMW K1 Limbo Bikes

Keeping this K1 running strong for decades of ItRocks! rebuilt 987 cc liquid-cooled longitudinal four-cylinder. It has been finished with fresh paint with new plumbing, fixtures, and fittings. As for performance, the owner was satisfied with the factory figure of 100hp so ItRocks! simply add an SC-Project exhaust for an updated look and louder bark.

The eighties were a decade of smart fashion choices and BMW jumped on the bandwagon with the K1. This K1 cafe racer is a refined, modern take on the original design and while it may not be to everyone's taste, we'd be happy to get a second helping.


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