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Mom’s Rocket: The Boxer Metal Twin Turbo R100

Words and Photography by Courtney Cutchen Photography

Within the realm of what our friends at Boxer Metal typically build, you’ll find a variety of exceptionally clean, custom BMW motorcycles. Some lean toward the street scrambler style, while others might be more adventure focused and paired with side cars. You can track the scent of a trend among Chris and Rebecca’s builds because they’ve found processes and styles that just work for them. There is an abundant supply of opportunities to be creative in their quest to build fantastic bikes for their clients, so there’s never quite a dull moment. While they have their tried and true methods, they’re also capable of breathing life into absolutely wild creations. One of those creations is what they’ve dubbed the Twin Turbo. 

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An amalgamation of classic rock, Mad Max, 50’s diner couture, and American hot rod culture is the best way we can describe the Twin Turbo. Because Chris grew up under the influence of drag racers, hot rods, and custom bikes, he has always had an itch to build something that really presses the envelope. Rather than pressing it though, he seems to have simply set it on fire. 

The Twin Turbo is exactly what its name brandishes: a bike equipped with two, massive turbos. The bike was born of a 1980 BMW R100T that the shop acquired through a trade for some work. 

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“The bike had a rough life,” Chris said. “At one point, it had sidecar mounts welded to the frame and the crank and connecting rods were bad. But it’s what we had laying around and it allowed us to build something within seven weeks.” 

Why seven weeks? Well, they wanted to have something to show for at the upcoming One Moto Show in Portland, Oregon. Christmas of 2015 is when Boxer Metal was officially invited to the One Moto, and seven weeks was all the time they had left by then. The build not only came from a mental concept Chris had been storing for years—it came from a mad dash to build something bonkers during crunch time. There wasn’t a “sit down and brainstorm” process for this bike, but rather a “let’s take a look at what we have sitting around the shop” process. 

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We had no time, no money, and seven weeks to build a bike.
— Chris Canterbury
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Now, here’s the nitty gritty. The project began with a stock frame that Chris lengthened by five inches and lowered by three inches. Cross bracing was a must between the engine and the frame to maximize rigidity. The 980cc heart of the bike needed a new crank and new rods, so Chris lowered the compression 7.2:1 and swapped on stock BMW throttle bodies from an R1150GS. He then outfitted it with a Microsquirt system to manage the injectors, TPS, and both O2 sensors. Regarding the rest of the injection system and the specially made turbos, well, every chef has a secret recipe. The exhaust and seat pan were made by hand in the shop, which adds to the custom look of the bike. 

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“The tricky part was designing the frame so that there was room for both turbos and all of the plumbing,” Chris explained. “There’s approximately 30 feet of steel braided line on the bike.” The other obstacle he had to work around was customizing the brake system for one master cylinder for both front and rear brakes. The front brake is equipped with line lock for those delicious burnouts, as well as a proportioning valve to ensure that neither calipers are starved or overwhelmed by pressure. 

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In terms of title and other aesthetics of the build, Rebecca is to thank for those. The flakey, extravagant tank? That was her call and it’s one of her favorite parts about the build. She was given autonomy for the color, so she decided to go with something uncommon in BMWs.

The name scripted across the tank is another piece of personality that was injected into the project by the bike building duo. It calls back to a turbo 850 Volvo wagon that Chris built for her when they first met. The car’s time has since passed, but her love of the title has not. Additionally, when Chris was drawing out the plans for the bike’s custom frame, he made sure that his wife’s feet would be able to touch the ground while sitting on the bike. In that way, it was partially a tribute to her love of speed.

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“I dig how the bike looks!” Chris said when asked about his favorite part of the Twin Turbo. “It looks like a monster sitting there—like it’s doing a million miles an hour while sitting still.” He’s right. The bike has an incredible sense of flow and motion, and your eyes just can’t get enough of the intricacies of the lines, piping, and design. 

For Rebecca, the satisfaction of the Twin Turbo lies in the fact that her husband got to build a project that he had stored in his head for so many years: 

“It was fun to watch it come to life from mostly pieces laying around the shop. It was a crazy seven weeks building it and a lot of long hours.” 

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Just like anything you’re passionate about, there’s a lot of emotion and hard work involved. For Chris, every bike he builds is personal. It’s part of what draws us so intently to people like him. We all strive to find that thing that makes us feel alive, useful, and valid. Building bikes is a tangible way for both Chris and Rebecca to explore their passion for motorcycles while simultaneously sharing it all with the community. 

The Twin Turbo is by far one of the most intriguing bikes we’ve ever seen, and that goes for the rest of the world, too. We’re fortunate to have builders like Boxer Metal because they’re constantly showing us that there are still new paths to take and ways to make your dream a reality. We thank them for allowing us to document their work, and we hope you’ll stick around for the next story. 

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Without passion for the build, it might as well be a lawn mower.
— Chris Canterbury