Concept Ninety: BMW’s ‘wild child’ reborn

Date 29.5.2013

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  • Motorcycle Trader


Don’t reach for the cheque book just yet – BMW’s reborn ‘wild child’ is not slated for production … yet.

This orange retro-racer, dubbed the Concept Ninety, is the lovechild of BMW Motorrad and Californian custom bike builder, Roland Sands, who helped design and hand build the one-off concept. The bike was unveiled at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este classic car show on the shores of Lake Como in Italy last weekend to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the R90 S as well as 90 years of BMW motorcycles.

While we’re unlikely to see a production version of the Concept 90 race alongside other retro sportsbikes such as the jaw-dropping Ducati Paul Smart LE 1000, however, the bike does give a sneak peek of future styling cues according BMW Motorrad Australia product communications manager Scott Croaker.

“The Concept Ninety is a hand-built, one-off [bike] that’s not slated for production at this stage,” Croaker says. “But I dare say that we’ll see some design cues from the bike make their way to future models.”

With its familiar, ‘Daytona Orange’ hue and retro styling cues, the Concept Ninety is a modern interpretation of one of BMW Motorrad’s most iconic models, the R90 S: one of the fastest bikes of the 1970s that help shake off the German giant’s dowdy, old-man image. Think S 1000 RR supersports among a fleet of R 1200 RTs or K1600 GTs.

While mechanical details remain scant, the concept bike features hand-beaten aluminium panels including the elongated fairing, tank, seat and tail to resemble the R90 S. A lengthy video reveals top-shelf components including Ohlins adjustable rear monoshock, Brembo brakes, Akropovic sports mufflers and Dunlop race slicks. Curiously, though, the wheel design changes from retro, wire-spoke rims to machined items. Another modern touch is an intricate, LED headlight recessed within the traditional, round hole.

“Today BMW motorcycles stand for perfection and function. That is what we have worked hard to achieve and something we are very proud of,” BMW Motorrad Head of Vehicle Design Ola Stenegard says.

“But we want more than that. With the BMW Concept Ninety we want to show how reduced and pure an emotional BMW motorcycle can be.”

In addition to the panel work, Roland Sands and his team are responsible for the bike’s brake and clutch controls, Paralever arm and air filter positioned under the seat. It also focused on the bike’s iconic ‘boxer’ engine layout including milled engine and valve covers and subtle ‘RSD’ (Roland Sands Design) badges throughout.

“Everything just fits together perfectly: the BMW technology, the BMW heritage and our custom parts complement each other beautifully,” Roland Sands says.

The outsider collaboration follows in the footsteps of Yamaha and Triumph which also called on custom bike builders. Yamaha and The Wrenchmonkees of Denmark spawned a muscular, matte-black XJR 1300, dubbed ‘MonkeeFist’ while Triumph and Icon came up with the Dakar-inspired ‘Dromedarii’, based on a Tiger 800XC.

Head of BMW Motorrad Design, Edgar Heinrich, says the original R90 S hails from an era in which bikers were regarded as outlaws.

“There was something rebellious about it – it was fast, loud and wild. Pure emotion. And it has retained its fascination to this day.

“The BMW Concept Ninety … is an absolute riding machine – just like the R90 S was in its time,” he says.

> The BMW Concept Ninety Story. BMW Motorrad:  Watch the video here