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‘Goes Like Corn Through a Goose’: UCC’s BMW R1200R

BMW R1200R by Unique Custom Cycles of Sweden
The custom scene event calendar has boomed over the last few years. For fans like us, it means more opportunities to bask in the glow of custom moto culture. But for builders, it means extra deadlines, as they scramble to release new work at key shows.

For Ronna Norén of the legendary Swedish shop Unique Custom Cycles, Glemseck 101 is the show. He uses it each year as the perfect excuse to kick out a new custom build.

BMW R1200R by Unique Custom Cycles of Sweden
Although UCC made their name building choppers, Ronna is also skilled at producing exquisite ‘metric’ machines. As the date for this year’s Glemseck 101 approached, he cast his eye over his bike stash and picked out a rather unusual donor: a 2015-spec BMW R1200R.

“I thought building a water-cooled boxer would be a nice challenge,” Ronna tells us.

BMW R1200R by Unique Custom Cycles of Sweden
“We’ve done a bunch of air- and oil-cooled boxers, but this is the first water-cooled one. Plus I have seen these bikes in action: they run like corn through a goose!” Which is not surprising: the R1200R is packing 125 stout German horses and 92 ft.lbs of torque.

I’ve spent time on the R1200R myself, and can confirm that it’s a phenomenal motorcycle to ride. Aesthetically, it’s decent-looking from some angles—but feels disjointed overall.

BMW R1200R by Unique Custom Cycles of Sweden
So Ronna started by stripping off anything that didn’t make it stop or go.

Then he set about building a new tail unit. “I wanted to do a super clean tail,” he says, “with all the necessary functions integrated, but well hidden. All the electronics as well as taillight and blinkers should be virtually invisible.”

BMW R1200R by Unique Custom Cycles of Sweden
Ronna welded up a chromoly subframe, and then hammered out an impossibly clean aluminum tailpiece to sit on top. And he embedded a pair of taillight LEDs into the ends of the frame rails. All of the BMW’s electronic bits are hidden away under the seat now.

Ronna’s work to the front end was a lot more subtle. “The front bodywork is actually quite nice and tightly packaged,” he said, “so I decided to leave it alone.”

BMW R1200R by Unique Custom Cycles of Sweden
‘Leave it alone’ isn’t entirely accurate though. Ronna wanted move the battery (and a lot of modern hardware) from the visible space under the tank, so he built a new fuel cell to sit under the stock tank cover panels, and repackaged everything.

All that was left was to fill in the space connecting the tank to the new tail section. So Ronna fabricated two more aluminum parts to complete the bodywork.

BMW R1200R by Unique Custom Cycles of Sweden
Ronna’s brother Benna—who runs Tolle Engineering—is an equally talented fabricator. He machined a new set of aluminum triple trees, designed to grip a set of Öhlins FGRT227 cartridge forks—a model intended for the R nineT.

“Over the years, we’ve developed a good relationship with the guys at Öhlins,” Ronna tells us. “They set up the fork with the right springs and everything else: their products are second to none.”

BMW R1200R by Unique Custom Cycles of Sweden
Benna’s custom triples also made it possible to tweak the OEM instrument and headlight positioning, tucking everything in tighter.

Ronna also fitted a set of adjustable risers from Rizoma, and a set of S1000XR handlebars. New master cylinders from Magura round out the control package.

BMW R1200R by Unique Custom Cycles of Sweden
Öhlins supplied a new TTX GP rear monoshock, set up specifically for this project, and a steering damper. “I lowered the bike in the front and raised it slightly at the rear,” Ronna explains. “The chassis setup is more aggressive now.”

In an unusual change of pace, Ronna didn’t fabricate his own exhaust system this time. Instead, he matched up a set of Akrapovič pipes to a Spark silencer.

BMW R1200R by Unique Custom Cycles of Sweden
“It’s loud,” he jokes. “I mean it’s really deafening…it sets car alarms off. I think I have to pack in some more wool, or make a new decibel killer to get it into a somewhat digestible range!”

When the time came for paint, Ronna handed the bike over to frequent UCC collaborator Håkan Lindberg. The request was for a clean battleship grey as a primary tone, with bright orange candy on the frame and wheels. Håkan nailed it.

BMW R1200R by Unique Custom Cycles of Sweden
With everything back in the shop, Ronna spent a couple of days reassembling the R1200R. But he didn’t leave it to the last minute: when photographer Jenny Jurnelius got the call to catalog the bike, Glemseck was still two weeks away. That’s what you call planning.

The R1200R itself is a masterstroke. All the ugly bits are gone, the new bits look stunning, and all the right tech upgrades are in place.

BMW R1200R by Unique Custom Cycles of Sweden
“The bike runs really strong, and I’m looking forward to getting it properly out on the road for the next riding season,” Ronna tells us, from the depths of a Stockholm County winter. “Unless I sell it, of course!”

We’re officially calling dibs.

Unique Custom Cycles | Facebook | Instagram | Photos by Jenny Jurnelius

BMW R1200R by Unique Custom Cycles of Sweden

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