Bringing an Idea to Life
There’s no place like home. That phrase resonates deeply with those who had to move away from Western Pennsylvania. Spending time in another city or country opens up an interesting perspective of where you were born and brings light to memories that were previously buried in your subconscious. Visiting home is something typically reserved for holidays or special occasions, but for Vincent Mikolay, returning to his hometown of Butler was necessary when the pandemic arrived earlier this year.
As someone who lived in over thirty different places, Mikolay still calls the Pittsburgh area home. He traveled all around the world throughout his adult life but eventually moved from Hong Kong to New York where he got a gig in real estate. It was there that the story of his 1991 BMW R100RT began.
Maybe it’s his German heritage or an appreciation for their vehicles, but the idea of building a custom BMW cafe racer was something that he consistently wanted to try. The base look was a great starting point for modifications, especially with the single-side swingarm setup. “I fell in love with the old BMWs that were being redesigned as these modern cafe racers,” he explained. “I saw a bunch of them from Arjan Van Den Boom out of The Netherlands, and I just got hooked.” Mikolay had just finished up a 2009 Triumph Bonneville before finding an R100 on eBay. The bike didn’t sell on the auction, but he was able to contact the seller and have it shipped from Wisconsin to New York, where it sat in a friend’s garage for almost a year.
With little time to focus, he started to call around to local builders, but no shops wanted to touch it. Eventually, Mikolay was pointed in the direction of a new shop in Wallkill, New York called Speakeasy Motors that was operated by Evan Favaro, a former apprentice of the Teutuls. “I told Evan about the project and my vision for the bike, but I also recognized that I needed to give him creative freedom to do what he’s going to do,” Mikolay mentioned. “The deal was that I would lay out what I require of the bike, and he would have the liberty to add any design modifications that would make it special. At the core, I wanted a clean and modern cafe look that was true to the heritage of the bike.” With that, work commenced.
Favaro wanted to enter the bike into numerous motorcycle shows, starting with the New York International Motorcycle Show that was only a couple of months away. With little time, the build had to happen quickly. The one big concept he wanted to work into the bike was an exhaust system that came out of the rear tail. The pipes were custom designed to make sure the system fit with the clean aesthetic. To complement the classic look, they went with slim profile tires, a two-tone paint theme, and clip-on handlebars to get a little more height.
Another important piece that Mikolay enjoyed about the build was the Motogadget Bluetooth feature. A key isn’t even needed when it’s fully charged. The Motogadget phone app connects with the bike, the lights ping within five feet, and it can start with a simple tap on his phone or a click of the ignition. In addition, there are three buttons on the panel that are completely customizable, including an alarm system.
Favaro saved the big reveal for the New York IMS show at the Javits Center, where Mikolay said that he was blown away by the bike. “It feels like me—a reflection of my being and character in a motorcycle. It was simple with clean, tight lines and a touch of technology. The bike is unique enough that people are going to ask questions and get some stares. He hit the design specs perfectly.”
Mikolay had to leave town before the event wrapped up, but over the next three months, the bike traveled around the country to a handful of shows, taking first place in all of them. Once the pandemic hit, he returned home to Butler, where he finally got the BMW shipped in April. It was the first time he was able to ride it, which only added to his love of the motorcycle.
Most enthusiasts would have a hard time waiting so long to throw a leg over a bike that was built around a set of personal principles and ideas, but the anticipation makes it even more enjoyable. While it’s hard to say where Vincent Mikolay will end up or what adventures are to come, much like his sentiment for his hometown, this BMW R100 and the story behind it will always be a part of his life.
Since writing this article we have learned of the passing of Evan Favaro’s father. Vincent and the team at Pittsburgh Moto wish to send our heartfelt condolences.