Right now, I’m betting there’s an air of quiet satisfaction in the design department of BMW Motorrad. The R nineT, a long shot on the part of Ola Stenegard and Edgar Heinrich, has been an extraordinary success.
Thirteen months ago, the first R nineT rolled off BMW’s Berlin production line. Since then, we’ve lusted after ‘official’ custom projects from leading workshops in Europe and Japan.
Now we’re seeing everyday R nineT riders taking their bikes to the next level. And that’s exactly the result Stenegard and co. wanted.
This machine, from Texas-based Revival Cycles and nicknamed The Bison, is one of the best yet. “The bike came to us with just over 800 miles on the clock,” says Revival’s Alan Stulberg.
“The owner wanted to remove a bit of the factory clutter, and add some features that suited his lifestyle. He’s a computer programmer and often works remotely, so the ability to carry his laptop (and a book or two) was at the top of his priority list.”
It’s the custom-made pannier bag draws the eye first. Made from bison leather, it hides an internal stainless frame—but it’s light and simple to remove. The seat and grips (by Carson Leh) are covered in the same bison hide for consistency.
The other changes are less visible, but far more radical. “The idea was to make subtle changes, while respecting the beautiful factory bike,” says Stulberg.
So: just check that new exhaust system. BMW gives you different options when you configure your R nineT from the factory, but this custom-built system is something else.
The pipework snakes up and over the engine, exposing the beautiful finned oil pan on the bottom of the cases.
“I can see why nobody else has attempted this,” says Stulberg, “because running that hot exhaust under the tank and through the center of the bike required a LOT of planning.”
Revival had to relocate a lot of the electrics and electronics, and have used shrouding to prevent problems with heat. They’ve also ditched the front plastic engine cover, beating a new one out of aluminum.
The exhaust pipes are equal-length stainless steel, and under the tank they’ve been wrapped with five different metal and fiberglass panels. Since the pannier is on the right, the exhaust crosses over to the left, and it’s terminated with a custom silencer that can be tuned for backpressure and noise with baffled discs—Supertrapp-style.
Revival have also created a new stainless steel intake system, which holds a cotton performance air filter. It’s shared between both cylinders to aid balance and tuning, and is solidly mounted to the top of the gearbox.
“The damn thing sounds much more aggressive,” Stulberg reports. “It’s had an impact on throttle response and the seat-of-the-pants dyno.”
‘The Bison’ now rides on Kineo wheels—custom-made for this machine in Italy—and the factory sport tires have been swapped out for more aggressive-looking Pirelli MT60RS rubber.
To add a hint of classic BMW R90 S style, Revival have pinstriped the fuel tank—and added a Daytona half-fairing and aftermarket fenders from Wunderlich.
The factory plastic undertail is gone, replaced by a custom alloy unit that holds a new LED taillight and signals, cleanly tucked under the stock alloy rear seat cowl. There’s a new license plate mount that bolts to the back of the swingarm and has its own built-in LED lighting.
It’s easy to list the mods, but not so easy to categorize the style. With the high exhaust and aggressive new rubber, one might say it’s a scrambler. But the fairing and alloy seat cowl seem to scream café racer.
So what is it, Alan?
“We don’t think it’s necessary to label it. We’re not purists and never will be. Like all other Revival bikes, it’s a machine we’d personally own and ride.”