Yes, you’re looking at a BMW S1000RR. The asymmetrical bodywork has gone, along with the oddball headlights and spindly mirrors. It’s an audacious dismantling of BMW’s superbike, and the perpetrator is Steve Culp of Shreveport, Louisiana. Culp spends his spare time designing not only custom motorcycles, but also hot rods and airplanes. He’s a huge BMW fan, having owned many R series machines of various vintages, and currently rides a ’64 R69S (with sidecar) and a ’76 R90/6. According to his wife Liz, “He loves the styling of the 1920s era BMWs—those with the straight line frame from neck to rear axle. He wanted to bring that classic vintage look into his double-R, and didn’t mind pissing off the purists to do it.”
After Culp bought his S1000RR, he decided to remove the plastic. “It just had ‘Street Fighter’ written all over it,” says Culp. “The bike screams speed and swagger. But it also represents everything that came before it. It has a history and vintage bones.” Only the frame, engine and wheels from the original S1000RR remain: everything else has been customized. Culp invested around 500 hours into the bike, from the fringed leather tractor seat to the new tank and megaphone exhaust. The retro details are authentic, from the Buick taillight to the grab bar behind the seat, which is a remodeled Indian motorcycle fender guard.
It might sounds like heresy on several fronts, but Culp has no qualms. “You know, a motorcycle isn’t a person. It’s not a spirit or a soul. It’s an amalgamation of metal and plastic, with an objective of making money. When the factories are putting designs together, they are doing it for sales. There’s nothing wrong with that. But there’s also no mandate demanding that we keep our bikes looking like a factory built them. Individuality is not a bad thing.”
[Images above by Robert Watt, below by Liz Swaine. Head over to Culps Customs to see more of Steve Culp’s unorthodox work.]