The BMW R nineT ranks as one of our favorite modern motorcycles. But although it’s classy, it’s also laden with components all vying for attention.
This new build from Paris’ Clutch Custom Motorcycles is less fussy, and more chic. It’s as though the BMW’s ready-to-wear outfit has been swapped for an elegant haute couture suit.
This is an approach that builder Willie Knoll excels at. Like a fine tailor, he massages every angle into place, until the balance and flow are just right, without being showy.
“The idea with this build,” says Willie—who was actually born in the USA—“was to create something classy but aggressive. A bike that runs great, with great lines and big attention to details.”
Gone is the BMW’s muscular, hunched stance. To slim the bike down, Willie has modified the backbone of the frame and fabricated an all-new subframe. There’s now a harmonious line from front to back, and a more austere aesthetic.
Up top is a stylish custom-made fuel tank, which looks like it could have been taken from a vintage Japanese motorcycle. Beneath it are a pair of discreet hand-made side covers, and behind it, a one-off brown leather seat with a subtle hump.
The whole setup is visually lower than before, but that’s an optical illusion. Willie’s wisely left the suspension travel and ride height alone.
He’s bumped the wheel size up an inch though. There are now 18-inch rims at both ends, laced to the stock hubs with stainless steel spokes. The tires are Pirelli’s grippy, well-regarded Angel GTs—a most appropriate choice.
The usual stellar Clutch craftsmanship is on display throughout. The gas cap, front fender, rearsets and clip-ons are all one-offs—along with a bunch of hidden brackets designed to mount (and hide) “the ugly stuff.”
There’s a CNC-milled top triple clamp and a big-bore, stainless steel exhaust system. These were fabricated in-house too, and will soon be for sale via the Clutch website.
Willie’s also done a number on the wiring. He’s added a smaller battery and a host of Motogadget bits, while simplifying the harness along the way.
A few carefully selected bought-in parts match the workmanship. There’s also a smaller headlight, and a LED taillight with integrated turn signals, embedded in the rear loop.
The stock oil cooler has been ditched for a neater unit, and the brakes and controls are from Behringer.
The final color scheme is wonderfully subtle. There’s a deep mid-blue for the tank, and black, polished or stainless finishes everywhere else (including the cylinder heads).
It’s a direction we’d never have thought of for BMW’s best-selling roadster. But the execution is flawless.
Suits you, sir?