The new ICON 1000 MH1000 jacket

Coyote: How to turn the BMW R nineT into a desert sled

The Spanish workshop Fuel turns the BMW R nineT into a desert sled
Most factory ‘scramblers’ are more about style than actual off-road ability. And that even includes the BMW R nineT Urban G/S: although it includes the famed Gelände/Straße designation, we wouldn’t take it too far off the beaten track.

But for Karles Vives, ability is everything. He’s the founder of the Spanish custom shop Fuel Bespoke Motorcycles, and organizer of the 2,500 km ‘Scram’ tour that happens in North Africa.

The Spanish workshop Fuel gives the BMW R nineT the desert sled treatment
So when BMW Motorrad Spain gave Fuel a brand new Urban G/S to modify, hardening it up for off-piste riding was inevitable. But Karles and his team didn’t draw inspiration from the Moroccan desert—instead, they looked across the Atlantic.

“This BMW is inspired by the bikes that ran through the American deserts in the 60s, known as desert sleds,” he explains.

The Spanish workshop Fuel gives the BMW R nineT the desert sled treatment
“Basically they were street bikes with modifications, that were capable of riding off-road. They typically had high-pipes to protect the exhaust from rocks and flung debris, skid plates, number plates, and often a high seat that helped the rider over endless miles of rough terrain.”

One of Fuel’s top goals was to create a flat line from tank to tail, so the BMW’s stock bodywork had to go. With the bike stripped, the crew fabricated a tubular structure that runs the length of the bike—creating a level surface for the new tank and seat to rest on.

The Spanish workshop Fuel gives the BMW R nineT the desert sled treatment
They designed it to bolt right on, so the stock frame hasn’t been hacked or welded on. And the stock subframe (that also holds the passenger pegs) has been modded with a period-correct loop.

The next challenge was to fit a smaller fuel tank—but still accommodate the OEM fuel pump. To achieve this, Fuel built a small aluminum auxiliary tank to house the pump, stashing it where the airbox used to be.

The Spanish workshop Fuel gives the BMW R nineT the desert sled treatment
Next, a Suzuki GT250 tank was restored and adapted to the bike. It takes 15 liters of fuel—just two liters down from stock. The seat’s a one-off, upholstered in leather and suede; a clear nod to the Bates competition saddles of old.

Hanging off either side are custom number boards, made for Fuel by a fiberglass specialist. The bike’s stacked with retro scrambler touches: wide, swept-back bars, a small headlight from a classic Spanish enduro bike, and chrome mudguards at both ends.

The Spanish workshop Fuel gives the BMW R nineT the desert sled treatment
But it’s that high-riding twin exhaust system that really grabs your attention. It’s completely bespoke, and looks great from every angle. Karles realizes it’s not the most practical design for everyday riding, and pointed out that the original system can be reinstalled fairly easily.

This sled’s not all show though. Fuel installed a new Andreani adjustable hydraulic cartridge kit in the forks, and an Öhlins shock at the rear.

The Spanish workshop Fuel gives the BMW R nineT the desert sled treatment
The tires are Continental TKC80s—a popular choice for big dual sports that like to get dirty. They’ve been spooned onto a set of the Urban G/S’s optional tubeless spoked hoops.

Fuel also added grippy off-road footpegs from SW Motech, and a BMW sump guard. A set of aftermarket BMW valve covers help change the look up a bit more, and tiny LED indicators ensure there are fewer things that can break off if the boxer gets laid down.

The Spanish workshop Fuel gives the BMW R nineT the desert sled treatment
With wider bars, a slimmer tank and more compact proportions, this Urban G/S is much more manageable in the rough stuff. It’s shed some weight too, “so the power to weight ratio is much better,” says Karles.

“Plus the disappearance of the catalytic convertor, and the new K&N air filters, makes the bike much more aggressive at high RPM.”

The Spanish workshop Fuel gives the BMW R nineT the desert sled treatment
Everything hangs together perfectly, with a livery that looks like it came straight out of the 70s.

“The paint job is inspired by an old bike from Harley-Davidson, built by Aermacchi and called the Baja 100,” Karles tells us. “A bike made by two motorcycle builders for riding the Baja race… a very similar idea to our project—two different brands building a motorcycle for riding in the desert.”

The Spanish workshop Fuel gives the BMW R nineT the desert sled treatment
So what’s with the ‘Coyote’ logos on the tank and the back of the seat? “It reflects the idea of an animal perfectly adapted to the harsh conditions of the desert,” says Karles, “as is this bike.”

We love the factory Urban G/S, but Fuel’s Coyote is even more desirable. Hand us the keys to this animal, and we’ll disappear into a dusty Californian sunset in a heartbeat.

Fuel Motorcycles website | Facebook | Instagram | Images by Arnau Puig

The Spanish workshop Fuel gives the BMW R nineT the desert sled treatment

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
READ NEXT