LM Creations Electric BMW Airhead Is Peak Neo-Retro – autoweek.com
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The Netherlands-based company is reviving the cult classic with an EV drivetrain wrapped in original packaging.
The mark of a cult classic is often that it didn’t excel at anything. The air-cooled BMW R series motorcycles exemplified this idea. Manufactured from 1969-1995, they were never the fastest, lightest, or best handling, but they made up for it in character and riding ease. And for that reason, the class of motorcycles famously known as the Airhead was cemented into history as the pinnacle of what a standard bike could be.
Come 2022 and Airheads become more dated by the hour. For the classic motorcycle collector with time for continual maintenance and money for specialty parts, this poses little to no issue. Those who revere the chassis but can’t quite commit to the aging technology now have a modern option.
LM Creations, a Netherlands-based electric conversion company, now offers an electric conversion kit for the spectrum of R series bikes. Driven by a 72V power unit, the converted bike produces around 26 hp and 53 lb-ft of torque with a range of 50 city miles. Running up to a maximum of 7500 rpm, the blocky electric motor and 4.3-kWh battery pack are encased in an aluminum housing and masquerade well as the original flat-twin engine. Adding to this authentic look are the original bolt-on cylinder heads attached to the electric motor, a key selling point of the LM Creations kit.
Those who purchase the complete kit can choose between a 1.8-kW or a 3.3-kW charger. The stronger of the two chargers claims a charge rate of 80% charged in one hour, whereas the weaker charger quotes 80% charged in two hours. One advantage of the 1.8-kW charger is that it can be mounted unlike the standalone 3.3-kW charger.
With a chopped tail frame, updated headlight, and wide dirt-bike-style handlebars, the styling cues point to a growing class of neo-retro motorcycles. Inverted front forks and a massive front brake rotor accompanied by a Bybre caliper indicate that the modern hardware upgrades go beyond the electric drivetrain. The hefty rear drum brake and mono-shock architecture are certain to remind riders of the bike’s true vintage.
Keen eyes will notice a clutch lever remains. That’s because LM Creations has opted to keep a gearbox-like feel as opposed to the fixed-gear E-drive seen on Zero and LiveWire bikes. Based on the original 4/5-speed transmission architecture, the shiftable gearbox functions as mechanical drive settings and allows for different power delivery and torque curves in each gear. The company claims you can set off in any gear you like, though the wheelie ability will be more prominent in the lower gears.
All of this comes at a cost, with complete kits starting at $9113 and going up to $9622. Unless you live in the Netherlands and opt for the $1475 installation, the kit is made for DIY installation and includes instructions. Individual pieces of the kit are available for purchase as well.
LM Creations is finalizing the development of production kits and expects to deliver the first kit by the beginning of 2023. The company is also in the process of securing anEU R100 EV safety standard certification, which is mandatory for EV homologation. Each kit will be made to order and can be customized to the customer’s liking. As parts become harder to find and emissions standards change, this conversion might be the (albeit spendy) way to keep your airhead on the road.
What other vintage machines would you like to see get the EV retrofit treatment? Share your thoughts in the comments below.