Mark Atkinson talks us through the creation of one of my favorite bikes at the Quail, his BMW “Alpha” custom. It’s a fascinating story that goes around the world, and it resulted in one of the most unique two-wheeled creations I’ve seen in years.
Alpha deservedly won the Innovation Award at the 2017 Quail Motorcycle Gathering.The “Alpha” BMW is built around a shaft driven K75 Triple, with a few minor engine modifications but for all the wonderful engine bits and pieces, it’s the rolling chassis and bodywork that really steals the show.
As a machinist by trade, Mark was able to fabricate pretty much everything else from scratch. The chassis is a bespoke piece, as are the hand machined aluminum linkages, the incredible center hub pivot, and the bellcrank-actuated steering system.
That internal power source comes from a salvaged BMW K75. That means the engine is a water-cooled 750cc inline three-cylinder that lies on its side. It powers the rear wheel through a driveshaft.
If you look at the body of a shark, you can see that it’s clean and perfect. But inside, it’s so complicated. So Alpha’s front end is clean and smooth, while the back is the powerful and ugly side—symbolizing the tail of the great white shark.