40 years of the BMW R 90 S.
Back in 1973, BMW unveiled its flagship model in the “Stroke Six” range to the global public. Boasting a top speed of just over 200 km/h (124 mph), it was one of the fastest production bikes of its day and went on to claim numerous prizes in a variety of race series. Even when parked it radiated a powerful appeal: for the first time in the development process of a motorcycle, a designer had forged a successful alliance of form and function while creating the first motorcycle ever to feature a front fairing as standard. Together with its sporty tail end and striking Daytona Orange paintwork, it endowed the BMW R 90 S with an unmistakable identity. The design of this bike pointed the way forward, and it wasn’t long before other manufacturers were gracing their motorcycles with aerodynamically honed front and rear fairings. Today the erstwhile trendsetter is one of BMW’s design icons. “The BMW R 90 S hails from an era in which bikers were regarded as outlaws,” comments Edgar Heinrich, Head of BMW Motorrad Design. “There was something rebellious about it – it was fast, loud and wild. Pure emotion. And it has retained its fascination to this day.”
BMW Concept Ninety.
The BMW Concept Ninety resurrects this spirit of the emotionally charged superbike, translating the emotionality and inspiration of the earlier model into a contemporary guise. This is a modern reiteration of the traditional essence of the motorcycle: the harmonious unison of man and machine – pure and emotional. “Today BMW motorcycles stand for perfection and function. That is what we have worked hard to achieve and something we are very proud of,” says Ola Stenegard, Head of Vehicle Design BMW Motorrad. “But we want more than that. With the BMW Concept Ninety we want to show how reduced and pure an emotional BMW motorcycle can be.”
The BMW Concept Ninety takes to the stage as a sporty boxer with a battery of sophisticated details. Its basic proportions clearly take their cue from the forebear that inspired this concept: the fairing, tank, seat and tail instantly signal its family bond with the BMW R 90 S. The BMW Concept Ninety also picks up on the demarcation of the bike’s proportions that was a hallmark of the time. The upper ergonomic and aerodynamic bodywork is visually separated from the black engine and chassis. The bodywork is hand crafted from aluminium. Its brushed areas can be seen in the tinted areas of the front fairing and tank, as well as at the tail. The rich orange shade of the BMW Concept Ninety is also a nod to the legendary Daytona Orange paintwork of the BMW R 90 S.
The BMW Concept Ninety delivers a very sporty interpretation of the front fairing. But whereas halogen was technically cutting-edge in the BMW R 90 S era, contemporary LED elements light up the face of the BMW Concept Ninety, honouring its ancestor with a round headlamp design. Seamlessly mounted behind it, the dynamically shaped tank ensures an optimal connection between rider and machine. Further along, the tank and seat melt harmoniously into each other. A steadily ascending line from the handlebars to the tail creates a slight wedge shape, lending the BMW Concept Ninety an almost ready to attack stance when viewed from the side – like a sprinter about to explode into action. Below the bodywork sits the air-cooled flat-twin boxer engine. Entirely in black with contrast cut details this section of the bike symbolises concerted power, precision and performance. The mechanics and technology as a whole are purposely rendered visible and reflect a keen attention to detail.
Custom parts made by Roland Sands Design.
As the observer’s gaze gradually penetrates this motorcycle, more and more details are revealed. Many of the high-quality parts of the BMW Concept Ninety hail from custom bike specialists Roland Sands Design in California. In close collaboration with BMW Motorrad Design, the Roland Sands Design team designed and manufactured these parts specially for the BMW Concept Ninety. The mechanical parts and engine area, above all, bear the Roland Sands imprint. Particular attention was devoted to those elements typical of a boxer, and thus also of BMW, which were meticulously designed and elaborately finished. Key highlights include the front cover of the engine and the valve covers, that got painstakingly milled, as well as the exhaust system. The parts were milled using a contrast cut process, which strikes an alluring contrast to the black mechanical components. This technology was also applied to the rims, whose classic design recalls the racing triumphs of the BMW R 90 S in the 1970s. The machining and technical implementation of the parts, are state of the art – like all the details on the BMW Concept Ninety. “It was important for me to translate the special statement made by the BMW R 90 S into the present through the use of unique parts – employing emotional design and cutting-edge technology,” says Roland Sands of his approach to the bike. Likewise designed and made by Roland Sands are the brake and clutch controls, the Paralever arm and the air filter under the seat. All these meticulously manufactured individual parts blend smoothly into the form language of the BMW Concept Ninety.
“Everything just fits together perfectly: the BMW technology, the BMW heritage and our custom parts complement each other beautifully,” comments Roland Sands on the result of this collaboration. Edgar Heinrich adds: “The BMW Concept Ninety is sheer enjoyment in every respect – from the development of the idea to the sketching stage to the construction process. But above all when you’re riding it. It’s an absolute riding machine – just like the R 90 S was in its time.” Unlike other custom bikes, the BMW Concept Ninety can be – indeed begs to be – ridden. The motorcycle and all its components have been designed with top performance in mind.