BMW's R nineT was conceived to be a sexy roadster in its own right, with easy entry points for owners to begin customizing their bikes right away. To demonstrate the nineT's potential, BMW Japan gave four bikes to four of Japan's best custom builders and today the resulting bikes were released. The outcomes will not disappoint; four beautiful customs that cry out to be ridden, and ridden hard.
BMW's R nineT is quite possibly the brand's best looking motorcycle right out of the crate. It's a retro-futuristic, boxer-engined cruiser/scrambler/nakedbike with a deep black paint job and a set of fiery golden forks to draw attention to a muscular front end.
We're playing with one at the moment (video and review is in the pipeline), but as fun and satisfying as the nineT is to ride, you can't escape the mesmerizing looks of the thing.
Of course, anything good can be made better, and BMW has specifically designed the nineT to give owners an easy point of entry to start customizing. Six bolts and the pillion subframe comes off, another few and the back seat comes off altogether. There's a cafe racer-style seat hump and kits to change the angle of the exhaust right there in the parts catalog.
But to demonstrate the bike's custom potential more thoroughly, BMW Motorrad Japan gave a nineT each to four of Japan's top motorcycle custom builders for the last six months. Today, all four complete bikes were revealed, and there's a couple of absolute crackers in there.
A keen track rider, Nakajima felt the nineT needed a slightly racier treatment. The 46 Works custom is a bare bones cafe racer concept with a stripped-back design that highlights the nineT's two key frame elements – the trellis headstem and the triangular rear subframe support.
Low clip-on bars make for a more aggressive riding position than the wide stock handlebar, and should make the nineT a pleasure for Nakajima on the racetrack.
Togashi describes his process as one of trial and error, creating shapes again and again in the workshop until he feels he has the perfect line. The Hide Motorcycle entry gives the nineT a retro race bike treatment with a sweeping front fairing wrapping the front end and leaving room for the big Boxer engine's cylinders to poke out the sides.
The exhaust is moved over to the right side of the bike beside the shaft drive, leaving the spoked rear wheel visible from the left side uninterrupted by the swingarm.
Go Takamine has performed a magic trick by taking the bulky, 1200cc nineT and somehow carving a svelte, 70s style dirt tracker out of it. High, wide bars, with impossibly thin forks and a drum brake on the front spark the look off, then dual megaphone pipes, a tiny gas tank and minimalist seat unit finish it off.
Somehow, in the middle of it all, the giant Boxer engine seems to shrink to visually fit the design, and you can completely imagine Steve McQueen taking this thing sideways around a pack of farmers in a scramble race, On Any Sunday style.
It's hard to classify this bike, simply because it doesn't seem to adhere to any particular genre of customization. Kurosu is generally known as a Harley custom guy, who makes classic choppers - but his work on the nineT is a world away from those shapes. He admits he struggled to get his head around the Beemer, but his entry is arguably the most revolutionary of the lot.
Bold, black, filled-in wheel rims begin the chunky visuals of this bike, and Kurosu has covered the frame elements entirely with a series of curved lines that fan out from the point where the front tire touches the road. The bellypanstarts another curved line that meets up with the thin tailpiece and the overall impression is of muscle, speed and class. Kurosu may have been concerned that this bike wouldn't compare favorably with his chopper work, but I think he's created an absolute beauty here.
Enjoy the many photos in the gallery, and here's our road test of the standard NineT:
More information: Project nineT.
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