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Art for art’s sake……BMW’s for God’s sake

These two BMW K100s were built by IMPUL S in Germany. It’s the partnership of Philipp Wulk, a photographer and lawyer, and Matthias Pittne, a master metal worker and graffiti artist. Philipp explains going down the alternative BMW path.

Matthias and I were into 50cc two-stroke mopeds before we started building custom bikes. We worked together to create two bikes for ourselves, and now we’ve ended up building bikes for customers. We both like BMWs, I can’t really say why. I’ve just grown to like them and over time I’ve bought a few. When we started I had two boxers, an R100 and an R25. But since everyone else is customising boxer twins, we decided to go the other way and started with the K100 model.

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I really like the K with its huge inline-four 987cc ‘flying brick’ engine. I’ve had a few four-cylinder Japanese motorcycles too, which were much faster (the engine is big but only has 90bhp, and the standard bike weighs more than 240kg), but there is something about the feel of the K engine that I prefer. It just feels right. I also really love the tank. It’s strange in shape –but in a good way.

I do everything electric plus most of the design and marketing, and Matthias does all the custom one-off pieces and most of the mechanical work. The K100 is harder to work on than the boxers. There are more wires and electronic elements, thanks to it having Bosch fuel injection rather than simple carbs like older boxers. The exhaust is not a thing of beauty either. There’s also a strange line to the rear section of the tubular steel frame. The subframe isn’t a bolt-on either, so it’s hard to replace it and keep the bike street legal under German law, which says that you can’t modify the stock frame.

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Usually the TÜV inspector doesn’t even look at what you are doing and simply says no. But I’m lucky enough to have Matthias who welds like a robot, and a TÜV inspector who likes what we’re doing. Well, he doesn’t really like the bikes themselves – he actually thinks the bikes we build are really ugly. However, he likes the work we put in so he takes a closer look at the workmanship and gives his approval.

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We didn’t have to touch the engine, since it only had 41,000km on the clock and was working perfectly. All we did was replace the water and oil pumps. We also used high-quality components from Motogadget, ABM, Wilbers and Pirelli during the builds.

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I got to know a few artists on previous projects, and from my work as a photographer. A few years back I worked on a videoproject where Matthias Edlinger was the director. I really liked his approach to things in general and wanted to work with him again, and the K100 projects gave me that chance. The original idea was to have one bike painted by Edlinger, and have the second bike finished in just one colour. But when the bike was nearly finished and with only five more weeks to go until the scheduled release, I happened to run into Fabian Gaterman and told him about the project with Edlinger. He was really into it and asked me if he could be involved on our next projects.

I talked to Matthias about it and we realised that we both wanted to have an ‘artist bike’ for ourselves. So we decided not to wait for the next project but to do the second K100 with Fabian’s artwork. I like the way it all turned out. Both bikes are similar builds, but the paintwork is totally different. I liked the idea of spending countless hours building a bike and then simply giving it away to an artist and letting them do whatever they want with it.

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The approaches are so different. Edlinger wrapped the tank and wheels in very thin cardboard and collaged different pictures from old magazines to it. Meanwhile Fabian Gatermann rebuilt the tank and cowl using a CAD programme, and then used the resulting wireframe to create the actual design on the bodywork. Since these intial build projects, Impuls have completed a limited edition run of six bikes, three in each style. We’ve already started finding buyers.