Jay Leno learns why this BMW Birdcage sings

Jay Leno's Garage

At first blush, fashion shows and motorcycles have nothing in common. Allow Alan Stulberg of Revival Cycles to bend your ear, however, and you might begin to re-think that connection. Both he and Jay Leno feel that motorcycles can be just as compelleing as the out-of-this-world designs that grace the runways of Paris and Milan. The wild designs show what is possible and serve to inspire others, functionality be damned. Stulberg’s latest example of this concept is the called the Birdcage, and boy is it a looker.

Revival Cycles was contacted by BMW to build this custom showpiece in the lead-up to the reveal of the R18 touring bike. Initial plans laid out by Stulberg called for adding a supercharger to the big 1800cc two-cylinder. Sadly, BMW wasn’t down with that direction. So Stulberg switched his approach and went silent, playing the old “it’s much easier to ask for forgiveness than permission” card, opting to press on with the build despite BMW’s hesitancy.

The design certainly reflects a singular vision. Titanium rod is all that shapes the bike’s profile, and while the shape looks rather flimsy, that frame is plenty stiff enough to still be a functioning motorcycle. The front end is a tele-lever design, which is very appropriate for a BMW-based custom. The production R18 sports conventional forks, but for the sake of this project, Stulberg thought this would be more visually appealing. The engine and shaft-drive gearbox are large enough that the Birdcage cribbed upsized wheels—21 inches vs. the 17-inch stock units—to keep the proportions correct. Stulberg ditched the brakes up front brake for more visual gravitas, but retained the single small disc in the rear so that the bike would have some way to slow down.

Jay likes to mock the seat, but Stulberg says it is actually quite comfortable. We’ll take his word for that. The small fuel tank is hidden just in front of the rear tire. That fuel tank brought about great debate when the bike first debuted, as most internet commenters declared it all show and no go since it appeared to have no where to store gas to make the big twin roar. Stulberg claims he has desires to take the bike land speed racing just like the early ’20s bike that inspired the design. Given that BMW owns the bike, he will likely have to do that under the cover of night—or at least when no one is looking.

Trellis-style frames are nothing new, but one this skimpy is certainly noteworthy. The fact a design like this would never make it to production is not the point. Instead, it is about showing what can be done and how elements of this could possibly work into the production machine. No different than concept cars or the latest collection from your favorite high-end designer. We dig it.


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