Josh Withers and his 1973 BMW R60/5 Special.
Josh Withers always loved BMW’s Toaster-style tanks, and who doesn’t love the café look? To fulfill his love of both, he built an R60/5 special perfect for ripping around the streets of Los Angeles.
Based in L.A., Josh is a commercial photographer who specializes in advertising shoots for everything from cars to dog food. Being creative with a camera and a wiz at Photoshop can be satisfying, but he missed working with his hands. “I have a passion for vintage cars, motorcycles and surfboards,” says Josh, who commutes to work on a 1977 R100S. To feed that passion, he decided what he really needed was a project bike.
“I’ve always liked the look of the Toaster-tank BMWs,” says Josh. “So when I heard of a 1973 R60/5 for sale in Santa Fe, N.M., I thought it would be a nice reminder of the four years I spent there.” The fact the Toaster was described as “runs well” and was only $500 probably helped clinch the deal.
Only the beginningThe R60/5 was shipped to his studio in L.A., but Josh soon realized that you don’t get much for $500 these days: “It barely ran. I tried to ride home on it, keeping off the main roads, but it died about five blocks from my house and I had to push it the rest of the way.” It didn’t take him long to work out that the Toaster needed a lot of work to sort it out. “The carbs were a mess and there were too many odd parts on the bike. I found Lucas electric components and bits of wire holding things together — the sort of bodge that would make any BMW purist cringe,” Josh recalls. “My new toy needed a thorough check through, and before I knew it, I had it down to the bare frame.”
That bare frame became an empty canvas where Josh could let his creative juices flow. “My other BMW is more on the stock side,” he says, “so I decided I would build a Toaster café racer. That was four years ago. I didn’t think it was going to take me quite as long as it did!”
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