Speed Read, 25 October 2020

The latest motorcycle news and customs
News from two major OEMs this week, as BMW Motorrad update the R nineT, and Honda release a new Grom. Plus we’ve got a sharp BMW R1200R custom from Deus, a Yamaha XS650 from Colt Wrangler, and a look at a new fat-tired utility bike that’s about to hit the market.

2021 BMW R nineT
BMW update the R nineT The R nineT‘s been a success for BMW, so it’s just been updated with a host of small yet significant changes. The biggest news is that its boxer motor is now Euro5 compliant, thanks to engine changes based around new cylinder heads. It loses one horsepower in the process, but BMW claim improved power and torque curves.

The R nineT also gets a bunch of electronic features that it didn’t have before, like cornering ABS and riding modes, a USB charge port and LED lighting. More riding modes can be specc’d from the factory, including a ‘dirt’ mode for the R nineT Scrambler and Urban G/S.

2021 BMW R nineT
Other new options include traction control, and a ‘comfort’ package with cruise control and heated grips. A closer look reveals a number of smaller details that have been redesigned too, like the airbox covers.

The upgrades are good news for fans of BMW’s neo-retro boxer, because it means that the R nineT will still be around for a few years. But it loses a model; there’s no more R nineT Racer in the lineup. Your choices are the ‘original’ R nineT, or the Pure, Scrambler or Urban G/S.

2021 BMW R nineT Urban G/S
The whole range gets bold new graphics too—but none of them look quite as good as this special edition livery for the Urban G/S. Dubbed ‘Edition 40 Years GS,’ the yellow and black scheme is a riff on the ‘bumblebee’ design of the classic R100GS. All of BMW’s other GS models are already available in this design, but few wear it as well as the Urban G/S. Source: BMW Press

BMW R1200R custom by Deus ex Machina
BMW R1200R by Deus Ex Machina Even though the liquid-cooled BMW R1200R doesn’t have the retro chops of the R nineT, it’s still a great machine. It’s actually one of my favorite bikes—but then again, with 125 hp on tap, a full suite of BMW electronic rider aids and a competent chassis, it’s hard not to love.

And as Deus Australia’s resident wrench, Jeremy Tagand, has just proved, it’s also possible to massage the aggressive naked into a rather tasteful roadster.

BMW R1200R custom by Deus ex Machina
Jeremy’s masterstroke was changing the R1200R’s most distinctly modern parts: the headlight and tail. You’ll now find a Purpose Built Moto light up front, with a Rizoma R nineT headlight cowl that tucks away the stock BMW dash nicely. Ricci Engineering CNC-machined the requisite brackets, and the cockpit also features Rizoma bars and bar-end mirrors, with Motogadget turn signals.

Out back, Jeremy bolted on a shorter, custom-built subframe that could still hold the BMW’s multitude of electronic bits. Up top is a one-off seat, upholstered in vinyl and Alcantara by Dave at Bad Arse Trim Co. A tidy license plate bracket with a pair of Kellermann turn signal / taillight LEDs finishes off the tail.

BMW R1200R custom by Deus ex Machina
Deus kept the OEM tank panels and front fender, then handed everything to Marc at Sydney Custom Spray Paint to wrap them in a deep metallic blue. A bunch of parts were then refinished in black to complete the look, and the chunky stock exhaust muffler swapped out for a smaller, louder SC Project item.

If the R nineT ever does leave BMW’s lineup, a tweaked version of the R1200R in this vein might just be a worthy successor. Are you paying attention, BMW Motorrad? [More]

2021 Honda Grom
The new Honda MSX125 Grom Honda’s pint-sized Grom has got to be one of the funnest bikes on the planet—and Big Red have just updated it. The 2021 Grom’s chassis is essentially the same, but its motor is now Euro5 compliant, and it now has a five-speed box. It also gets a few updated bits, like an LED headlight, and a new LCD dash with a rev counter and gear position indicator.

2021 Honda Grom
But it’s the Grom’s new bodywork that really stands out. The plastics are now easy to swap out—as indicated by the contrasting washers that give it an almost toy-like vibe. It’s not only a great look for the Grom, but a step towards easier customization.

Honda have already announced the new Grom for Europe in 2021, and Honda USA has confirmed that it’s coming Stateside too—but they haven’t said when. If you’re in Japan, you’ll even be able to get a race-spec Grom (below) from HRC themselves, as of March next year.

HRC Honda Grom
Grom racing is already a thing—and it’s apparently pretty competitive, too. The kitted-out Grom you see here has been specc’d specifically for next year’s HRC GROM Cup, and will be available from any of HRC Japan’s dealers.

The conversion strips out a bunch of street legal bits, and upgrading the wiring harness and ECU. The racing Grom also gets a different seat and tail unit, a belly pan and a race-spec exhaust. It looks sharp in its HRC livery too, and has us pining for a Grom that sits somewhere between this and the street legal model. Source: Honda / HRC

Volcon Grunt electric motorcycle
Volcon Grunt Volcon is an electric vehicle start-up that’s planning to product both two- and four-wheeled vehicles. But they’ve chosen to lead with the two-wheeler—and we’re glad about that, because the Volcon Grunt is the electric utility bike we didn’t realize we needed.

Costed at $5,995, the Grunt combines a low seat height with fat tires for a go-anywhere vibe. Quoted numbers are 75 ft/lbs of torque, a 60 mph top speed, a 100-mile range and a weight of less than 200 lbs. The battery is swappable and has a reported two-hour charge time, and the bike’s kitted out with multiple rider modes too.

Volcon Grunt electric motorcycle
Interestingly, the Grunt’s electric motor is completely waterproof—so deep river crossings possible. Volcon even claim that you can ride it underwater.

With its swooping frame rails, chunky wheels and tiny ‘tank’ panels, the Grunt is cute as a button. It should be handy as a weekend explorer or daily farm bike, and we’d even fit road tires to commute on it. Volcon look to be onto a good thing here, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on how this pans out. [Volcon]

Yamaha XS650 custom by Colt Wrangler
Yamaha XS650 by Colt Wrangler You would have heard by now that Bike EXIF has officially joined the Iron & Air Media family. And that means that Bike EXIF and Iron & Air Magazine are now sister publications. So here’s a highlight from their latest issue: a 1977 Yamaha XS650, from Texan custom builder Colt Wrangler.

Other than having the raddest name in the custom scene, Colt Wrangler has a unique and eclectic motorcycle build style. This XS650 was built for a local coffee shop—but the owner was happy to give Colt free rein.

Yamaha XS650 custom by Colt Wrangler
He grabbed the opportunity with both hands, and turned the XS into a street tracker with an organic vibe, and a host of sneaky hop-up mods.

It’s the raw aluminum metalwork that catches the eye first. Colt built the tank, tail and headlight shroud by hand, then simply covered the metal with a clear coat when he was done. But it’s below the line where things get interesting.

Yamaha XS650 custom by Colt Wrangler
This XS features a SR500 swing-arm from Motolanna, Hayabusa forks and yokes, and Öhlins shocks. Cognito Moto supplied the 19” wheels, and the brakes are a mix of Tokico and Brembo components. The engine’s been redone with a bunch of internal upgrades, and Colt’s added Lectron carbs, along with a stainless steel exhaust system with Supertrapp mufflers.

There’s a lot more to this build (and to Colt) than meets the eye—but you can get the full story in issue 41 of Iron & Air. [Subscribe] Images by Brandon LaJoie

Yamaha XS650 custom by Colt Wrangler