If some time ago someone told me that I am about to build a bike with tires like a Firestone Champion Deluxe, I would laugh in his/her face. The thing about these tires is that they look out of time on most motorcycles. Well, it was before the owner of BMW R35 made his final decision against the restoration of the motorcycle (and this decision was well judged, but about this matter I’ll write in another part of the BMW story).
I formed a general vision of the project and was given the freedom to create. I started the creation process from wheels design. I decided to stick to classics, however I did not limit myself with classics of a particular region. First to choose were tires and here I came to the conclusion that with a motorcycle as vintage as BMW R35 tires like Champion Deluxe will not only be acceptable, but appropriate. Both motorcycle and tire thread patterns are representatives from the same time period even if they were products of not only different schools but of different continents. However, 5.00×16″ Firestones seems to be a tad too large for R35. Therefore, Shinko E240 Classic tires in dimension MT90-16 (similar to 130/90-16) became my choice. Widths of 5.00×16″ and MT90-16 are mostly identical – 130mm, however 5.00 tire height is 100% of tire width, while MT90 height is only 90% of width. This gives 26mm of difference between wheels’ outer diameters. To make things even more interesting, Shinko E240 Classic tires with white walls were purchased. Here is a pair of them with white walls hidden under bluish protection film (factory applied).
With choosing rims I had no doubts at all: two identical 16″ chrome plated drop center rims (40 spokes) became my choice from the start. This pair was made in Italy, however, since according to the lot description they were made for Harley Davidson, I bought them on USA ebay.
Future motorcycle has to not only ride well, its brakes have to be adequate to modern traffic. Sure, no hydraulic disc brakes would look appropriate on such a vintage bike, but at least it has to be drum brakes of good performance (and with pads of modern compound available). Therefore, for the test I picked an aluminum hub from Kawasaki 1975-1976 KZ400 (40 spokes) with 180mm drum and twin leading shoe brakes. When the hub arrived it turned out that it is actually a KZ440 hub which is mostly identical to those of KZ400.
Then I had to figure out the spokes and how to fit these wheels into the BMW R35, therefore, to be continued.