Inside the Unique Custom Cycles BMW R 5 Hommage
In life, there are few tasks that pose greater difficulty than accurately paying respects to your individual influences. It is an unenviable task that all creatives eventually embark upon but once done, and done correctly, the result is nothing short of remarkable.
Ronna and Benna Norén of Unique Custom Cycles in Miami were faced with this exact situation or rather when building a tribute to the classic BMW R 5—a motorcycle that could be a turning point for motorcycling as a whole during its time and, in some ways, still has an influence over motorcycle design today. The Swedish born Norén brothers seized upon the task and created something truly unique to honor the BMW R 5—the BMW R 5 Hommage.
Sourcing original parts for a restoration of an original BMW R 5 is a nearly impossible task, seeing as the BMW R 5 dates back to the 1930s. However, with the help of Munich-based lawyer Sebastian Gutsch, the Noréns found themselves upon an original 500cc horizontally opposed flat twin engine that had an output of 24 horsepower at 5500 rpm. For the time period, this was truly groundbreaking and made the powerplant a venerable one when outfitted in race machines of the day.
In fact, the engine within the BMW R 5 Hommage was originally used in racing and suffered damage during its life. With the help of BMW Motorrad Design Team, Ronna and Benna were able to machine and mate new componentry to the engine, breathing life into it once again.
Aside from repairing internal components, a modernized look was bestowed upon the vintage block. A polished chrome breastplate now proudly sits front-and-center on the heart of the R 5 Hommage, along with redesigned valve covers that give the eight-decade old engine a refreshed appearance.
The finishing touches to the antique engine came in the form of a supercharger, one developed specifically for this project that would help push the R 5 Hommage’s performance prowess to contemporary levels. A stainless-steel exhaust was then fitted, allowing it to gain a proud engine tone.
From there, the brothers turned their attention to the rest of the R 5 Hommage, developing every component by hand at their workshop. Using specifications provided by the BMW Motorrad Design Team, the brothers developed a frame fitting of the 1930s. A long, elegant, contour frame joins everything together, and only the eye of a purist would be able to distinguish it from an original.
A teardrop fuel tank, hand hammered and joined to the oval bent, sits proudly upon the R 5 Hommage, its design matching perfectly to the original. The classic white pinstripe has a renewed elegance with a silver-flake, metallic finish that makes the Hommage glow with an almost angelic quality.
Though the telescopic fork may look the part, it is a completely custom fabrication, designed to deal with the rigors and demands of a modern rider. To that end, the rake has also been increased to give it a custom build look. The rear shock has been updated as well. And keeping with the times, not to mention the serious increase in horsepower, the braking capabilities have been upgraded to a single radial disc brake in the front and a single disc brake in the rear.
One of the most defining characteristics of the original BMW R 5 is its round, solo headlamp. That proud piece of kit remains on the R 5 Hommage, just as it did so many years ago, only to be paired with the same swept handlebars and elegant hand controls from the days of yore.
From there, our eyes will undoubtedly lead down to the hand-made rear fender, which has an almost bobber quality to it. Accompanied by the wire-spoke wheels, the R 5 Hommage pulls on the threads deeply embedded in the wool of motorcycling.
Ronna and Benna Norén were faced with a nearly impossible task: build a custom motorcycle on par with the original BMW R 5 and to that end, they did so. Even with such strict specifications and requirements, the team built something that easily transcends the decades—fitting in any era, in any time.
Photography by Jenny Jurnelius
Story from our latest issue, available for free at the Ultimate Motorcycling app.