Speed Read: RSD’s nitrous-fueled BMW R18 drag bike and more

The latest custom motorcycles, drag bikes, and limited editions
This edition of Speed Read might just boast the biggest difference in engine size we’ve ever featured. We go from a monstrous nitrous-fueled BMW R18 from Roland Sands Design, to a 49 cc Suzuki scooter from Taiwan’s MetalCave. We also look at the limited edition Ducati Monster Senna, and a lightly-fettled Indian FTR 1200 from Motocrew.

BMW R18 drag bike by Roland Sands Design
BMW R18 by Roland Sands Design California’s Roland Sands Design was one of the first workshops to customize the BMW R18 when it first hit the market. Their debut R18 was a muscular, nitrous-fed drag bike—but regardless of its unapologetic nature, it wasn’t quite as extreme as RSD intended it to be. That project coincided with the development of a bunch of RSD R18 parts, so the decision was made to keep the bike more or less streetable.

BMW R18 drag bike by Roland Sands Design
For their latest custom BMW R18, RSD has thrown those limitations out the window. This one takes cues from its predecessor, dials the madness up to eleven, and adds the Daytona Orange livery from RSD’s famous ‘Concept 90’ BMW R nineT. Oof.

The vibe is full-bore Pro Stock drag racer. A bespoke trellised subframe traces a line from the back of the fuel tank to the rear wheel, eliminating the rear suspension. The axle plates, wheelie bar brackets, and beefy rear wheel are all from Grothus Dragbikes.

BMW R18 drag bike by Roland Sands Design
Making room for the gargantuan 8.5-inch-wide Mickey Thompson rear tire meant having to drastically alter the R18’s final drive setup. RSD worked around the problem by eliminating the driveshaft and moving the rear drive hub to in front of the wheel. It now acts as a jackshaft, with a chain sending power to the rear wheel.

The new arrangement not only looks cool as heck, but also gives the crew the freedom to play with different sprocket ratios. RSD cut and widened the rear fender to cap off the R18’s tail section.

BMW R18 drag bike by Roland Sands Design
Other Grothus parts include the front forks, 18” front wheel, and brake discs. They’re matched to custom yokes with integrated handlebar mounts, Brembo brake calipers, and a mix of stock and aftermarket controls. Notable details include the Race Torx thumb brake and Pingel electric shifter; combined, they eliminate the need for any foot controls.

RSD’s creative method of integrating the R18’s chunky nitrous oxide bottle deserves special mention. Rather than tuck it away under the bike, the crew modified the OEM fuel tank to only carry fuel on the left side and then redesigned the right-hand side to create a channel for the bottle to sit in. The chromed nitrous reservoir pops against the stunning orange paint, while the classic roundels point to the BMW’s boxer heritage.

BMW R18 drag bike by Roland Sands Design
Final details include a generous Saddlemen seat, wide-open exhausts, a smattering of RSD R18 dress-up parts, and enough tiny details to spend hours poring over. All in all, this might just be the most extreme custom BMW R18 we’ve seen yet [More | Images by Dual Studios]

Custom Suzuki Choinori scooter by MetalCave
Suzuki Choinori by MetalCave Ever heard of the Suzuki Choinori? Produced between 2003 and 2007, it was a teeny tiny 49 cc scooter built for short-distance commuting and running errands. Suzuki designed it to minimize the amount of materials used, thereby also reducing the cost to produce (and purchase) it.

A byproduct of this minimalist approach was that the Choinori looked impossibly adorable. Somehow, though, the Taiwanese custom shop MetalCave has managed to make it look even cuter than before.

Custom Suzuki Choinori scooter by MetalCave
MetalCave’s motto is that “every vehicle has a soul, and a soul is not inherent, but rather shaped by the user’s investment of time and use—projecting themselves and their imagination onto it.” In the case of this custom Choinori, that philosophy translates into a charming runabout that wouldn’t look out of place in the back of a vintage Volkswagen Bus. (Indeed, the iconic Volkswagen T1 served as inspiration for the build.)

Custom Suzuki Choinori scooter by MetalCave
The pint-sized Suzuki’s fetching new paint job is a clear winner, but it only tells half of the story. The biggest change is MetalCave’s judicious redesign of the scooter’s cockpit.

Gone are its mini-ape bars, replaced by a set of swooping bicycle handlebars. MetalCave adapted a cycling steering stem to accommodate them, then wired in a single Motogadget three-switch unit to handle basic functions. The wiring runs inside the bars, with classic white grips adding a stylish finishing touch.

Custom Suzuki Choinori scooter by MetalCave
Equal consideration was given to the rider’s perch. The seat now wears white leather upholstery with a touch of tweed, and is finished off with a chromed grab handle. The stock rear fender still does duty further down, but it’s been painted to match the rest of the bodywork for a cleaner look.

Other details include white wall tires and a gorgeous little chromed exhaust system. MetalCave’s Suzuki Choinori might not go very fast, or very far, but we sure wouldn’t mind being seen on it. [MetalCave]

Limited edition Ducati Monster Senna
Ducati Monster Senna Taking a page out of Triumph’s book, Ducati is the latest manufacturer to cash in with a limited edition motorcycle that’s really just one of their existing motorcycles with different paint. In this case, it’s the Ducati Monster Senna—a Ducati Monster SP with a livery inspired by the legendary Brazilian Formula One driver’s helmet design.

To be fair to Ducati, the brand’s connection to Ayrton Senna goes deeper than most people realize. It started when Claudio Castiglioni gifted the multiple world champion a Ducati 851 SP, way back in 1990. A few years later, Senna and Ducati collaborated on the striking Ducati 916 Senna—a limited edition 916 that was conceived before Senna’s tragic death.

Limited edition Ducati Monster Senna
Senna also owned one of the first Ducati Monsters to hit the streets—and even showed up to the gala evening of the 1993 Monaco Grand Prix aboard it, dressed to the nines.

The new Ducati Monster Senna uses the well-specced Monster SP as its base, which means you get Öhlins suspension, Brembo brakes, and carbon fiber Termignoni mufflers. The 937 cc Testastretta engine is good for 111 hp at 9,250 rpm, and the Senna edition goes a step beyond the standard ‘SP’ spec with forged aluminum wheels and a handful of carbon fiber bits.

Limited edition Ducati Monster Senna
Even though we’re still on the fence about the redesigned Ducati Monster, we have to admit that it wears its Senna-inspired livery well. Just like the F1 superstar’s unmistakable helmets, the bike is slathered in yellow paint with sharp green and blue accents, with blue upholstery on the seat adding a sporty touch. And the extra upgrades make it the spiciest Monster currently on offer.

If this tickles your fancy, get in line. Ducati will only be producing 341 units of the Monster Senna, each one numbered. It’s an odd, but significant, number; Senna won three championships in his career, with a total of 41 race wins. [Ducati Monster Senna]

Custom Indian FTR 1200 by Motocrew
Indian FTR 1200 by Motocrew We love to see what our favorite custom builders do to their personal bikes when they’re not busy building motorcycles for other people. This sharp Indian FTR 1200 belongs to Chris Scholtka, the behind the Motocrew moniker. And as daily runners go, it’s pretty tough to beat.

Chris bought the Indian late last year, right after he sold his Ducati 848. “I was looking for something special, and the Indian is it, in my opinion,” he tells us. “It was clear that I wanted to go in an urban flat track direction. I like the look, and I wanted a bike with a neutral seating position after my Ducati 848—which wasn’t fun to ride further than 200 km [322 miles].”

Custom Indian FTR 1200 by Motocrew
Chris brought the 2019-model FTR home and painted it matte black the very next day. Then he started hunting around for a set of 17” wheels from the newer FTR 1200, which he eventually found via a contact in Poland. That set the bike up for proper street shenanigans and allowed Chris to fit wider and grippier rubber.

Custom Indian FTR 1200 by Motocrew
Next, Chris stripped off all of the bodywork behind the FTR’s tank. He then fabricated a new seat and tail bump, incorporating the OEM taillight into the back of the unit. A modified dirt bike shroud sits up front, with a Highsider LED lighting the way.

Chris also fitted lower handlebars, ProTaper grips, and Motogadget bar-end mirrors, and installed a new air filter, courtesy of the folks at K&N. The FTR is finished off with a custom exhaust system, with the most unrepentant pipe wrap job we’ve ever seen. “It’s a very special thermal isolation wrap by Thermotech, who is very popular in the German car tuning scene,” Chris explains.

Custom Indian FTR 1200 by Motocrew
To make sure the FTR had the go to match the show, Chris finished the job off with a Dynojet chip. “It’s the most enjoyable bike I’ve ever ridden,” he adds. “It’s powerful—and it handles like a supermoto.” [Motocrew | Images by kylefx]

Custom Indian FTR 1200 by Motocrew

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