Featured: A BMW Airhead Built To Complement A Porsche 356

A BMW Airhead Built To Complement A Porsche 356

By Petrolicious Productions
September 5, 2013

After building himself a 1973 BMW Cafe Racer, Los-Angeles-based photographer Josh Withers was commissioned to restore a BMW R75/5 Cafe, this time for someone he’d never met and lived 1,200 miles away in North Dakota. Shane Balkowitsch trusted Josh’s work and his requirement was that he wanted something that would match his Porsche 356, that he’d recently restored, and be something of a “sister bike” (his words) to the car, using the same paint scheme and similar design cues.

Below is a bit of Shane’s thought process in determining what kind of bike he wanted and who he wanted to build it.

“I have always wanted to own a vintage motorcycle and after having such a great experience restoring my 1965 Porsche 356, I went on the hunt for a project bike. I have been following the new series on television called Cafe Racer and really fell in love with these modified bikes… The next part of the process was to find a competent builder and I was very lucky to stumble across Josh Withers. A simple search on the internet brought me to the magnificent BMW Cafe Racer that he designed and built several years back. A quick call to him asking if he would be interested in doing a similar design for me is all it took.

The resulting bike took two years and four months, countless phone calls, lots of brainstorming, and Josh working on nights and weekends after his regular job out of his two-car garage in Southern California.

We were lucky to catch and film the bike before it headed to Shane in North Dakota.  You can see more on Tuesday of Josh Withers and this R75/5 in our weekly video.

Photography by Kevin Vu, Josh Withers, and Shane Balkowitsch

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Andre L Hulstaert
Andre L Hulstaert

Hello: Brings back tons of good memories. The /5 was my very first motorcycle and I covered about 60,000 miles with it. I bought iy used at a police auction having been a patrol bike. It had about 60,000 miles on it and had the solo seat. Not the one as in the example of the article but in fact a short version of the duo seat. It had also a small cubicle in the tank. I put an “S” fairing on it, added the trunks, painted it midnight blue and added two big circular Bi-Oscar Cidie long range lights.… Read more »

Andreas Lavesson
Andreas Lavesson

Very cool looking bike. I love the café style and you can’t go wrong with an old BMW. I really hope it sounds as good as I’m imagining it will. Looking forward to the video!

@Paul Triumphs also make for good café racers. Sounds like you’ve got some cool plans. Be sure to post a picture if you follow through with it.


Nice, looking forward to the vid.
I am considering a Triumph bonneville cafe racer to complement my GT6 mk2, in matching Valencia blue with cream decals.