BMW Concept Ninety
BMW Concept Ninety
BMW Concept Ninety
BMW Concept Ninety
Roland Sands puts the BMW Concept Ninety through its paces.
Roland Sands puts the BMW Concept Ninety through its paces.
Engine front cover and tappet covers are finished using a process called contrast cut.
Engine front cover and tappet covers are finished using a process called contrast cut.
Concept Ninety air filter is under the saddle.
Concept Ninety air filter is under the saddle.
Most of the running gear was hand-made by Sands.
Most of the running gear was hand-made by Sands.
BMW Concept Ninety
BMW Concept Ninety
Roland Sands, left, and Ola Stenegard with the BMW Concept Ninety.
Roland Sands, left, and Ola Stenegard with the BMW Concept Ninety.
R32 of 1923 was the first motorcycle produced by the Bavarian Motor Works, founded during the First World War to build aircraft engines.
R32 of 1923 was the first motorcycle produced by the Bavarian Motor Works, founded during the First World War to build aircraft engines.

2013 marks the 90th anniversary of the first BMW motorcycle - and the 40th anniversary of the iconic R90S, the machine that shattered forever the popular conception image of BMW's as old fart's bikes in black with hand-painted white pinstripes.

The 1973 R90/S was the flagship model of the all-new /6 range, a sexed-up R90/6 with Italian Dell'Orto carbs instead of themorte pedestrian Bings and a range of eye-popping standard colours that made the BMW stalwarts choke on their bratwurst - particularly the model's signature metallic orange.

It was the first production streetbike with a fairing (in fact the term 'bikini fairing' was invented to describe the R90S), it was capable of more than 200km/h (in 1973!) it could hold 180 all day - and soon it was winning races.

So this year BMW and California custom bike-builder Roland Sands have created a very special one-off for the 2013 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este - the Concept Ninety, a tribute to the R90/S.

PURE AND EMOTIONAL

It's intended to bring back the spirit of those first superbikes, when making a bike go faster usually meant taking things off, not adding them on - a modern take on the traditional essence of the motorcycle: pure and emotional.

BMW head of design Ola Stenegard explained: “Today BMW motorcycles stand for perfection and function. That is what we have worked hard to achieve and we are very proud of them.

But with the Concept 90 we wanted more than that, we wanted to show how reduced and pure an emotional BMW motorcycle can be.”

The Concept Ninety's fairing, tank, seat and tailpiece clearly show its family bond with the R90/S, and, in the style of the times, the upper, coloured parts of the bike - fairing, tank, seat amd tailpiece - are visually separated from the black engine and running gear.

The bodywork is hand crafted from aluminium, its brushed finish visible under the paint of the fairing, tank and tailpiece.

But where the R90/S' huge H4 halogen headlight was cutting edge in 1973, the Concept Ninety has a tighter, more angular interpretation with contemporary LED lighting elements.

Below the bodywork sits an air-cooled flat-twin boxer engine, finished entirely in black with contrast-cut details, purposely without any cover panels to reflect Sand's keen attention to detail.

Sands designed and made a lot of parts - especially mechanical parts - specially for the Concept Ninety, among them the painstakingly milled engine front cover and tappet covers, and the exhaust system.

CONTRAST CUT

The parts were milled using a contrast cut process, which strikes an contrast to the black mechanical components. The same process was also applied to the rims, whose classic design recalls the successful racing R90's of the middle 1970s.

Sands also designed and made the brake and clutch levers, the swing-arm and the air filter under the seat.

But don't kid yourself that this is a show special: neither Stenegard nor Sands was prepared to go that route, as you can see from the pictures of Sands - a former racer - riding the bike.

“It's an absolute riding machine,” he insisted, “just like the R90/S was in its time.”