We enjoyed this pair of retro customs BMW decided to air out at this year's Wheels and Waves festival in Biarritz, France. One's a modern desert scrambler built from an R NineT, the other … would be totally unique if not for its sister bike.
Wheels and Waves is a wacky kind of crossover festival celebrating the intersection between motorcycling and surfer culture. It's not a connection we'd immediately make, but it seems to hang together in its own funny way.
BMW chose this year's festival to debut two sweet customs, both with a retro feel but coming from different ends of the age spectrum – one starting with a brand new R NineT Urban G/S, the other starting with a WW2-era R75.
Coyote, by Fuel Motorcycles
Representing team neo-retro, Barcelona's Fuel Motorcycles took an R NineT Urban G/S and gave it an aggressive scrambler treatment over the course of five months.
The tank's been replaced with something much smaller off an old Suzuki GT250, and that line's been followed back with a higher, thicker and flatter seat unit. Custom exhausts flip the stock bike's design upside down, keeping them up out of the way of rocks as you bang around in the canyons, and there's a bash plate and chunky Conti TKC80 off-road tires to suggest the potential of semi-serious dirt work.
The front end loses its big Beemer headlight for something much smaller and gate-gridded. The stock handlebars have come off too, to be replaced with thinner, wider retro dirt bike bars, and it looks like the original dash and fork gaiters get to stay put.
It's a class look these guys have pulled off, and if it wasn't for the tiny front guard and lack of mirrors, I wouldn't be surprised to see something very much like it in a showroom as part of BMW's ever-expanding retro range. It looks comfy and fun – of course, it remains to be seen if that fig leaf of exhaust wrap is enough to stop your inner thighs from roasting.
Black Phantom, by Kingston Custom
The Coyote's cool and all, but if you're a fan of outstanding craftsmanship and handiwork, there's no competition. German builder Dirk Oehlerking is an absolute obsessive when it comes to his customs, and this bike's mint down to the smallest details.
Starting out with the goal of building an "evil brother" to 2016's "White Phantom," Oehlerking stuck almost exclusively to old-school, original BMW parts from 1951-1979 to create a wild new look for this WW2-era R75.
The original frame remains, somehow without the need to weld, bend or drill it. A 50-horse, 750cc R75 motor appears to have been acquired from another source, and tidied up well beyond showroom levels.
While the wild, slim-streamed bodywork is the big eye-catcher, it's the details that really sell this thing. From the custom gauges and spare spark plug in the steering head, back to the cute taillight and faux race plates over the wheels, there's plenty to marvel at.
I'm not sure how I feel about the front end, with a weird visor sitting above the brass-rimmed headlight. It looks like a snowboarder wearing a gas mask.
But I do love the way those race plates open up in the wheel covers, revealing the wheel for tire pressure purposes but also housing a bunch of leather-bound storage for tools, parts and … booze and cigars? Nice!
The rare touch of modernity in the LED indicator bar-ends is a bit of a head scratcher, but then they do help keep the lines clean.
Every glimpse you get of this bike is so nicely hand-finished that it makes you wish you could see more of what's under the fairings. And while the overall effect doesn't quite tickle us as much as its white-painted sister, it's still a beautiful thing to behold.
Tons of photos in the gallery, enjoy!
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