Straight from showroom to custom with Gas & Oil Bespoke Motorcycles…
The BMW R nineT takes inspiration from the 1923 BMW R32, whose 8.5 hp boxer engine was burbling around European roads 90 years before this BMW retro machine was released — hence the R nineT nomenclature. The 1200cc “oilhead” combines more traditional, old-school styling with modern performance:
“Before the BMW R nine T came along, choosing a traditionally styled bike meant accepting old-school performance and ride quality to go with the retro styling. BMW changed all that. This is the bike that set the standard for modern large-capacity retros.” –MCN
What’s more, the R nineT was designed to encourage customization, featuring a detachable subframe and headlights, separate chassis/engine wiring harnesses, and more.
Enter our new friend Matej from Gas & Oil Bespoke Motorcycles — a well-established custom shop at the heart of the Czech motorcycle scene, organizing trips, running workshops, and building unique motorcycles for their customers. The R nineT you see here is a 2018 Racer version that arrived in their shop brand-new:
“The opportunity to build this bike came to our team from our patron, fan, and fine customer. He entrusted to us his brand-new bike along with a sufficient budget, and we are extremely thankful for that — as you know, it doesn’t happen everyday that a motorcycle goes from the showroom directly to a custom workshop.”
The team wanted to give the bike a 70s-inspired racing aesthetic:
“The main inspiration came from BMW motorcycles that were racing in 1976 in the American AMA Superbike motorcycle racing series.”
If you’re not a BMW airhead buff, you might not realize that a Butler & Smith BMW R90S won the first-ever United States AMA Superbike World Championship:
“No one expected BMW to win the very first American Superbike Championship when the series began in 1976, or the top honors to go to British-born rider Reg Pridmore.”
As far as this BMW R nineT cafe racer, nicknamed “Black Sword,” you can see the inspiration of those early R90S superbikes in the overall silhouette, particularly the shape of the front fairing and tail, and also the build’s emphasis on performance: the big 1200cc oilhead engine now boasts a Power Commander, Sharon exhaust, and K&N filters. The result is a bike that looks great in the city and slashes through the backroads:
“It’s amazing how it arouses respect and gets attention in the city streets as well as how well it works in the countryside, where you can fully appreciate the function of the front fairing.”
Below, we get the full story on this Czech-built “Black Sword” BMW cafe racer with more stunning shots from photographer Ondrej Zdichynec (@zdichy).
BMW R nineT “Black Sword”: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
The workshop was established in 2014, which was preceded by the building of my first motorcycle — a Yamaha SR500. Working on that project taught me a lot of new skills and craft. I love building unique motorcycles, because the combination of creative ideas, design and craftsmanship doesn’t allow me to be bored. That was the first time I felt the need for my own brand, which culminated into what it is today — Gas and Oil Bespoke Motorcycles. We devote ourselves to building custom bikes. We also support the motorcycle scene here in the Czech Republic — we organize trips, workshops, and we are trying hard to promote the new wave of café racers.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
The motorcycle is a 2018 BMW R nineT Racer version.
• Why was this bike built?
It was customer project. The opportunity to build this bike came to our team from our patron, fan, and fine customer. He entrusted to us his brand-new bike along with a sufficient budget, and we are extremely thankful for that — as you know, it doesn’t happen everyday that a motorcycle goes from the showroom directly to a custom workshop.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
Our goal was simple: we wanted to create a unique bike. One that is not extremely unprecedented but still elegant, stylish, and distinctive. We aimed to exchange the factory design for a new-old one, which would be based on the 70s. The main inspiration came from BMW motorcycles that were racing in 1976 in the American AMA Superbike motorcycle racing series.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
As anyone building bikes knows, the whole project is just an endless series of bits and pieces — but the main technical upgrades are listed below:
● Dynojet Power Commander
● Sharon custom exhaust
● Motogadget view spy, blaze disc, blaze pin
● K&N filters
● Classic lamp
● Front fender
● Metzeler tires
Talking design, we’ve got something we call Gas & Oil Signature and this includes:
● Redesigning the rear part of the frame
● Wiring and battery box storage
● Significant front racing fairing with reinforcement and attachment
● Handcrafted leather seat with aluminium rear end
● Hugely modified tank (due to fuel pump) originally from Yamaha XJR
● Rear light box
● Mettalic silver and black color
• Does the bike have a nickname?
After brief discussion with the owner we decided to call it “Black Sword.”
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
As hard as it can be to describe a feeling, I can definitely try. It’s just beautiful — the pure joy of riding a machine with a completely new soul. You feel like you’ve taken a semi-finished product and brought it to a whole new level. It’s amazing how it arouses respect and gets attention in the city streets as well as how well it works in the countryside, where you can fully appreciate the function of the front fairing.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
Mostly I’m just thrilled about the whole. I’m excited that every component on the bike serves its purpose and also works really well with all the other stuff that was put into this motorcycle.
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Photos by Ondrej Zdichynec (@zdichy)
The nomenclature for the R ninety came from the r90s is my interpretation. This seems compelling especially after your mention of Pridmore et al. I don’t know how it would be correct to say that it came from the matter of it’s introductioin 90 years after the R32. The former seems much more obvious than the latter. Perhaps I am wrong, let me know.
Totally agree that it’s compelling, and would seem to make more sense given the design, but tons of sources cite the R32 as serving as the inspiration: