BMW R nineT Custom Project Japan

September 11, 2014
Byron Wilson
Byron Wilson
Associate Editor|Articles|Articles RSS

Byron's sure to be hunched over a laptop after the checkers are flown, caught in his own little version of heaven. Whether on dirt, street or a combination of both, MotoUSA's newest addition knows the only thing better than actually riding is telling the story of how things went down.

In October 2013 BMW Motorrad officially announced the release of its R nineT roadster, a stripped-down package compared to some of BMW’s other offerings with plenty of nostalgic appeal. The R nineT quickly became an alluring base bike for custom builders and in the year since its debut there have been numerous builds unleashed on the world. Projects by the likes of Roland Sands, El Solitario, Blitz Motorcycles and Unique Custom Cycles are just a few examples of where creative minds can take the R nineT. Led by Head of Vehicle Design, Ola Stenegard, BMW seeks and supports customizers in reimagining the R nineT, with the most recent four examples coming from Japan and the R nineT Custom Project.

Shiro Nakajima (46 Works), Kaichiroh Kurosu (Cherry’s Company), Go Takamine (Brat Style), and Hideya Togashi (HIDE Motorcycle) had less than 200 days to create their respective bikes and on August 31, 2014 the finished products were revealed.

Takamine created “Cyclone,” which he described as his “attempt to combine the past with the near future, in the form of a modern, current motorcycle concealed beneath a nostalgic exterior.” Apart from splayed cylinder heads of the 1170 Boxer engine, Cyclone’s progenitor is hardly recognizable. It’s lithe forks, slender tank, seat and tail-section and upswept bars give it an airy look and almost make the stock R nineT seem bulky.

Kurosu unveiled his “Highway Fighter,” which earned comparison from those in attendance to BMW’s 1934 R7 prototype. Here’s how Kurosu described his approach to the build – “For me the object of the exercise was to look into the future. I imagined what BMW motorcycles might look like ten years from now, and I think that this would still be a pretty cool bike even if the traditional flat-twin engine were to be replaced by an electric motor.”

Nakajima’s “Clubman Racer” sought to maximize performance and minimize weight, all while creating a visually stunning package that could perform well on the road and track. “What I wanted was to create something a bit more sporty than a café racer. A motorcycle that you don’t just take into an urban environment or ride over mountains with but one that you can also really enjoy on the racetrack. This was the reason why I chose above all to make it as light as possible.”

Finally, Togashi’s “Boxer” is also inspired by the track, taking styling cues in the front fairing from ‘70’s-erea racers. Black and aluminum contrast one another through the sweeping lines of the fairing, tank and tail while an offset front headlight gives “Boxer” a curious, winking aspect when viewed head-on. Togashi explained that “the main feature is its slim line aluminum fuel tank. It seems to hug the rider,” but striking details abount from the HIDE Motorcycle logo displayed prominently on the tank to the way the seat flows into and out of the hand crafted bodywork.

Here’s what Stenegard had to say when the four machines were finally unveiled:

“I was absolutely bowled-over. I had high expectations – after all these are four of the best customizers in the world, and in the end I went down on my knees. What they have succeeded in creating here is just astounding. Interestingly, each of these bikes also reflects its creator. The ideas and innovations – just incredible and beautiful. The details – amazing. As I prefer to perform everything on my own motorcycles myself, we had many hours of discussions. About welding aluminum, sharpening metal and sand casting parts. There are so many reasons why I love their creations. Japan’s culture of customization can be summed up like this – if you need a valve cap then let’s make one. Or if you want full body covering, why not just make it yourself? They don’t simply go out and buy parts. This attitude is somehow rooted in the culture of the Japanese craft trades and it is something I love.”

The video below shows the conclusion of the project, but BMW Motorrad Japan’s YouTube page has a number of other clips profiling each builder and the process along the way.

R nineT Custom Project Japan

Shiro Nakajimas Clubman Racer. Shiro Nakajimas Clubman Racer. Go Takamines Cyclone.
Go Takamines Cyclone. Kaichiroh Kurosus Highway Fighter. Kaichiroh Kurosus Highway Fighter.
Hideya Togashis Boxer. Hideya Togashis Boxer. Hideya Togashis Boxer.