The BMW K1600 is a touring machine par excellence. It has six cylinders, seven computers, multiple drive modes and adaptive headlights. It’s the kind of machine that sends journalists into raptures, and wins Motorcycle Of The Year awards.
It is not, however, a bike that anyone in their right mind would want to customize. The suspension is fiendishly complex, the wiring loom puts the Space Shuttle to shame, and weight is somewhere on the wrong side of 700 pounds.
But if you’re Fred “Krugger” Bertrand, a K1600 is just another challenge. With an AMD World Championship under his belt, there’s not much that fazes Belgium’s leading motorcycle builder.
BMW Motorrad picked their man wisely for their latest custom project, and Krugger has rewarded their faith with a bike even more amazing than his 2010 ‘Veon’ Harley.
“Building a bike is easy,” he says, “but building a bike and keeping all the technology of the K1600 is more difficult. The biggest problem was including all the electronics, from the computers to the ABS box, and even small stuff like sensors.”
So Krugger left the electronics and engine intact, and changed pretty much everything else. And then wrapped the K1600 in bodywork that wouldn’t look out of place in the next Tron movie.
The powerhouse straight-six engine is suspended in a completely new frame—long and low, and hooked up to a new swingarm. The Duolever front suspension is heavily modified too, with only the original shock remaining.
Krugger’s inspiration was the iconic pre-War BMW R7. He’s a convert to 1930s Art Deco style, and you can see those elements in the hand-formed steel and aluminum bodywork. Which, incidentally, is not the product of CAD: Krugger uses jigs and cardboard mockups to get the lines right, taking the Japanese approach of observing where shadows fall, and playing on the contrast between light and dark.
The wheels are 21” at the front and 20” at the back, machined from American-made blanks. Krugger has installed a complete new Beringer brake system, using six-piston calipers at the front, four pistons at the back and radial master cylinders. The system is hooked up to the standard BMW ABS, which was no easy task.
The engine internals are left alone, but Krugger has relocated the radiators to the side: “It leaves the front of the engine open, to accentuate the six exhaust pipes.” The main fuel tank is now under the seat, and it’s fed by a second tank (complete with filler) in the tail unit.
The curves, surfaces and textures on this machine are quite extraordinary, and they’ve also given the bike its name: NURBS. It’s a mathematical term meaning ‘Non-Uniform Rational B-spline,’ a concept developed in the 1950s by engineers looking for a way to replicate freeform surfaces in car and ship design. (And, of course, there’s a nod to the German Nürburgring racetrack in there, too.)
Krugger’s K1600 is being unveiled tonight by BMW Motorrad France in Paris, at a custom show on the banks of the Seine. It probably won’t find favor with riders who buy the K1600 for its mile-munching abilities—but it proves that Fred Krugger remains in a league of his own when it comes to building high-concept customs.