The Tail Piece

A Mahogany and Maple Tail-Piece for a 1981 BMW R65 Cafe' conversion - "The Hacker".

As a motorcycle enthusiast for many years I've always wanted to take a motorcycle and convert it to a cafe' racer in the style of the British bikes of the 1960's. This was literally when groups of motorcyclists use to race from cafe' to cafe' in England for no other reason other than as something dangerously fun to do. Most of these bikes were modified in the owner's own garage with what they could afford, and with whatever they had in the way of materials to mimic the Norton, BSA, and Triumph track racers of the day. It involves stripping away any unnecessary accoutrements on the bike and making it streamline. It is a loose and individualistic process and each bike had its own personality.

For a while now I've been mulling over the idea that the old wooden motorboats (runabouts) made in the first quarter of the 20th century shared a similarity with motorcycles. Sleek, fast, and with lots of chrome, or nickel and stainless steel as the case may be. The only thing missing on the motorcycle is wood. These old boats - Chris-Craft, Garwood, Hacker-Craft etc. - were made predominantly of Mahogany exteriors.

My own version of a Cafe' Racer also involves Mahogany. Ultimately the tank will get the same treatment, but for now time has only allowed for the completion of the tailpiece. 


Mahogany strips cut at the exact angle to achieve a half circle. The light wood is thin 3/32" strips of Maple. The Maple mimics the white deck caulking used in the construction of the decks of wooden runabouts. This section gets cut in half lengthwise.

The quarter circles circles glued up to make a half.

The 2 quarter sections glued up to make a half.

The half circle cut on the bandsaw.

The easiest way to cut the front to back curve was to mount it in a box with a template mounted on top of the box. I'll follow the top curved edge of the template.

Front to back curve cut.

To get the final compound curves of the tailpiece I used a belt sander with 40 grit paper to rough it out. Notice the half moon cut-out at the tail end. This gets a half-round mahogany and Maple sandwich let in.

This photo shows the bottom of the tailpiece being routed out to recieve a 1/2" thick Mahogany board which will be the base of the seat cushion. 

The final hand-shaped tailpiece with seat cushion in the background.

The seat looks good. BMW with a side of ISU Chairs!

Tailpiece attached to the finished bike. The interim tank which will be replaced with a wooden one some day, was stripped to bare metal and rusted by spraying it with pool chemicals. Then I put 5 coats of wax on it. It has a leathery look I think. 


The original BMW R65 before the conversion.

A 1922 Hacker.

Jeff Saine