With dozens of activities to celebrate BMW Motorrad’s 100 years at the “BMW Motorrad Days” in Berlin, one of the highlights was an impressive display of custom bikes by some of the top builders in Europe.
Using mostly R18s and R nineTs as the base bikes, artisans such as Kingston Custom and Ironwood Custom Motorcycles demonstrated just how far one could go with BMW’s “heritage” line of cruisers and roadsters.
Here are some of the highlights:
“Mach 9” by Ironwood Custom Motorcycles. A hyper-customized R nineT, this features a lowered front, underbody spoiler and a short rear fairing. The fork tubes are made of carbon fiber, the air intake is by Pier City Cycles, and it has a hand-forged two-in-one exhaust system. Motogadget fittings and an Alcantara seat from Silver Machine complete the café racer aesthetic.
“Different II” by Gas&Retro. With a vintage R65 as the base, Slovenian Ziga Petek from Gas&Retro set out to make the bike both fast and unique. It uses handmade aluminum components, with the hedge element extending over the boxer engine as a side panel and swinging out over the cylinders.
The half-shell front fender, the side panels, and the oil tank spoiler wrap around the frame. Some steampunk inspiration is evident in the row of screws on the half shell and the sides. The exhaust is hand-welded, crossing at the rear to leave room for the single-sided swingarm. Carbon applications complete the look.
“The Crown” by Kingston Custom. The master of Art Deco, Dirk Oehlerking, has created a masterpiece with this. The R18 has been reworked with hub-center steering, thus emphasizing the horizontal aspect of the bike. A sleek fairing wraps around the frame, evoking a racehorse jumping hurdles. The fairing is painted in a champagne color, while the seat cover is made of genuine leather.
“Unbreakable” by Iron Custom Motors/BMW Motorrad. A victim of the war in Ukraine, this particular R18 was pulled from the rubble and rebuilt as a bobber to symbolize the unbreakable will of the Ukrainian people. Iron Custom Motors rebuilt the bike for BMW Motorrad with a rigid frame appearance.
It has larger tires, a lower chassis, a custom swingarm, and horizontal lines for a slimmed-down and dynamic look. It appears to be a rigid frame, but hidden under the rear is an air suspension.
“Heavy Duty” by Fred Kodlin Motorcycles. Known in the USA as an authority on excavators, Fred Kodlin and his son Len designed this as a powerful flagship with filigree airbrushing and baroque lines. The engine and the electronics are untouched, but the body is heavily customized. The fairing uses a sleek half shell with an illuminated nose spoiler and handmade side cases.
Tattoo artist Marcel Sinnwell designed the outlandish paint job. The frame and the fork ankle have been slightly modified to stretch out the bike. A lowrider suspension is used, enabling the Heavy Duty to lower itself to just above the ground when parking. Marshall speakers in the side cases light up the road when it’s time to rock and roll.
“Art Bike” by Funk Soul Brothers Motor Works. Inspired by the BMW art cars of the 1970s, this custom R18 references the classical paint scheme of the BMW 3.0 CSL by Alexander Calder. The two-piece, half-shell monocoque and the flat track-like side fairing similarly evoke the closed racing silhouette of the art car. Built in partnership with BMW Motorrad Czech Republic, this features an updated front fender, a nose spoiler, a half-shell, a tank, a rear element, and a custom exhaust.
“The Manager” by Motoism. Meant to create a big impact with minimal effort, this bodykit consists of just several parts. A partnership between Arjan van den Boom of Ironwood Motorcycles and BMW Branch Hamburg, it’s a plug-and-play kit that anyone can do for his R18. It consists of an angular front and seat section, a front spoiler, and a Jekyll & Hyde exhaust. A rear-wheel disc brake fairing is fitted, and high-gloss covers are fitted to the cylinder heads.
With this much creativity and technical expertise on full display at BMW Motorrad Days, it’s no wonder that the brand’s bikes are some of the most sought-after in the industry. Many riders will never go to such extremes as these builders, but now we know just how far one could go if you had the talent and the resources.