Lucky Cat Garage Sprintbeemer Furtherer | Alchemy
“I don’t see myself a bike builder,” declares Sébastien Lorentz, founder of Lucky Cat Garage of Ouerray, France. That’s certainly not something you expect to hear from the man behind the Sprintbeemer Furtherer, a re-imagined 1955 BMW R50 that took the runner-up spot in the Retro Modified Class at the 2014 AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building.
“For me, bike builders are guys like Helmut Fath or John Britten,” Lorentz explains. “I’m just customizing, but I’m not really building bikes. Building a bike starts by building an engine and a frame and, for the moment, I don’t do that kind of work. I’m a rebuilder not a builder.” To further establish himself as an outlier in the custom motorcycle world, Lorentz came to the sport through an appreciation for performance, rather than strictly craft.
“The first bike I saw was [Eddie] Lawson’s Kawasaki 1000 S1 superbike,” relates Lorentz. “I cannot say why, but this bike impressed me when I was young. I had the feeling to discover a pure beast with a high concentration of power on two wheels. At this precise moment, I decided to ride motorcycles.”
Lorentz will tell you that he has always been preoccupied with performance. “As a teenager, I was deeply interested by custom and racing cars—classic hot rods, lead sleds, gassers and sling- shots—on one hand, and by everything fast, loud and dangerous—speed boats, warbirds, race planes. They were, for me, a great combination of graphics, great technique, and speed.
“Then I discovered the pleasure to ride when I was 14 years old on a moped. I got my motorcycle riding license when I was 18 years old and started riding old bikes. I was fixing them and already customizing influenced by both Kustom Kulture and racing cultures. I got my car license 10 years later, as all my income was spent on motorcycles.
“I think I did not decide to customize bikes. I started customizing bikes, as I couldn’t afford a brand new or even a running second hand motorcycle. I purchased my first bike as a wreck in pieces. I rebuilt it, and found it fun to find a way to make it in my own style.”
While many builders—or rebuilders—have a business plan, Lorentz started The Lucky Cat Garage in a more casual manner. “The Lucky Cat Garage is not a proper custom garage business until now,” he says. “It’s an after-work activity, but not a hobby. It’s a space of freedom and creativity for me, and my friends, who are also involved.
“Three years ago I was looking for a branding idea for this occupation to make it known to thank partners and supporters. This name had to reflect my thoughts and own style. The manekineko is a Japanese symbol of luck and fortune. I kept only the luck signification, as I do not intend to become rich with these projects.
“I was feeling, and still feel, lucky to be able to be supported by my girlfriend, my friends, my family, and some good partners in crime. But at the beginning, I think I am the luckiest guy, thanks to my girlfriend who’s really supporting my dreams. She’s my best friend also, and she’s pushing me always. That’s the main source of luck of the Lucky Cat Garage, I believe.
“Beside the love considerations, I feel also lucky to have so much talented friends who support and help when needed in the building process. Then going to an event and having the chance to live really intense moments and share emotions with friends is also something big and a great luck.”
The Sprintbeemer Furtherer, of course, was the result of much hard work, with the blessing of luck. For instance, one of the most striking features of the bike is the fairing inspired by MV Agusta.
“Not content with the graceful lines of the front wheel-enveloping fairing, it is painted with optical illusion-style alternating black-and-white arrows. “This came from the main idea that a sprint bike needs to frighten the competitors before the race,” Lorentz says. “I thought it was a first step to victory to impress and scare the challengers. The paint scheme was designed by my friend Benny Robinson, aka Machine 17. He had this brilliant idea of the arrows pattern, which is intended to disturb the competitor’s view. We spent almost two days drawing and masking the modified Air-Tech Streamlining dustbin fairing. Benny designed also the great race leather suit manufactured by Furygan to fit with the same design.”
Not just a spectacular motorcycle to look at, the Sprintbeemer is also a functional ride with a heavily modified BMW R 100 motor moving things along. “The inspiration came mainly from two different things—speed record quest history from BMW in the thirties, and sprint bikes and drag bikes from the sixties,” Lorentz says. “A bike should always be intended to be ridden, in my opinion.”
In fact, Lorentz points out that the biggest challenges in building the Sprintbeemer were “to find proper solutions and ideas to make it really fast.” The result is a bike that he describes as “always exciting” to ride and he tells us, “we’re still working on the bike between races. The bike is faster, race after race. The bike is not finished as there is still room for improvement on the technical side to make it faster—prob- ably a new exhaust system and hours of bench testing for fine tuning the NOS system. But you never know. It could change again in the future.”
If you’re hoping to get a Lucky Cat Garage creation of your own, you will have to be patient. “For the moment I don’t work for customers and only for myself,” Lorentz says, “as I’m trying to get my dreams and visions rolling on two wheels. That ain’t easy to sell your dreams. If someone trusts me enough and is ready to let me create him a bike the way I want, I could consider to do it. I believe I will manage to find my way following my own desires and not a commercial trend. It’s really hard to do if you have the pressure of customers.
“But who knows? If we receive a customer query, we will first have to meet and take time to know each other. I don’t want to spend time and energy in a project I’m not fully excited by or just done for money. A custom bike for me is a big investment of time and personal thoughts, and even a big part of my life I will put in the project. I first need to ensure the customer and I will have a common view and feeling, and that he will be ready to wait for one-year minimum to get the bike finished. Otherwise, I think it won’t be something interesting and worthy of spending time.”
Beyond that, Lucky Cat Garage continues to have compel- ling rebuilds on the horizon. “The near future is first to finish a custom racer based on a Triumph 650 pre-unit in collaboration with Atelier Chatokhine,” Lorentz relates. “The bike is built for racetrack use only, but we have spent hours on details to make it easy to ride and fast. This project is quite interesting because we’re building a bike together with the French sourcers for vintage British bikes and the bike has been made to fit a girl.
“After that one we will go again on a Harley-Davidson Shovelhead, with a wishbone type frame. The challenge will be to try to get our own interpretation of a rigid frame Harley. We have some good plans and ideas, but good things take time and we plan to finish it in the next two to three years as the project is quite ambitious, even if we won’t built a one-off frame.”
On the Sprintbeemer Furtherer, you will note the question, “Who needs 9 lives?” on the fuel tank. “It simply means you do not need more than one life if you use it properly,” Lorentz explains. “That is to say 200-percent exploring different ways and using all your available time to live your dreams, and then it makes a clear connection with the cat legend of having nine lives available.”
The Lucky Cat Garage has built a wide variety of bikes, from the off-road SixDaysBeemer to the Buell-powered SonicRaceR. “I love much too much motorcycles to be interested just in one brand or one kind of machine. I think my style is driven by purpose and culture.” Lorentz says. “At the end the bikes I have done have this common point—they are ‘built on purpose’. You can also consider all of these as a journey discovering new territories and areas.”
Bon voyage, and best of luck.
Lucky Cat Garage Sprintbeemer Furherer Specs:
- ENGINE: 1978 BMW R 100 RS cases with modified R 100 GS heads tuned by Edelweiss Motorsport
- CARBURETORS: Dell’Orto PHM 40
- TRANSMISSION: Five-speed 1992 R 100 R w/ inverted gears and Pingel Premium air shifter
- EXHAUST: Modified Vattier race headers with open megaphone
- FRAME: Modified 1950s BMW R50/2
- SUSPENSION: Front: Shortened 1969 BMW R75/5 forks Rear: Adjustable billet aluminum struts in BMW /2 shock covers
- WHEELS: Front: Excel black anodized aluminum Rear: Morad black anodized aluminum
- TIRES: Front: 19-inch Avon Speedmaster Rear: 18-inch M&H Racemaster slick
- BRAKES: Front: Modified BMW R75/5 duplex drum w/ air scoop Rear: Modified BMW R100 drum w/ vents
- FAIRING: Modified MV Agusta dustbin-style from Air-Tech Streamlining
- FUEL TANK: Modified Malaguti moped tank with Pingel Guzzler petcock, and integrated gauges
- SEAT: One-off handmade aluminum seat pan
- HANDLEBARS: Menani clip-ons w/ black glitter Amal-style grips and Domino GP throttle
- PAINT DESIGN: Benny Robinson, aka Machine 17