The 21st century ‘alt moto’ custom scene was built on a love for classic style. But lately we’ve seen a trend towards futurism, and we’re digging it. Auto Fabrica have played on both sides of the fence, always with arresting results.
Their latest project, ‘Type 18,’ is a BMW R nineT that sits unapologetically at the futuristic of the spectrum. It was commissioned by BMW Motorrad to show off at the annual Wheels & Waves festival in Biarritz.
When brothers Bujar and Gazmend Muharremi got the brief to mod BMW’s modern classic boxer, they latched onto the fact that BMW originally manufactured aircraft engines. And as they gathered their thoughts, influences ranging from geometric architecture to aircraft design started converging.
“We had a stack of design work for this bike which showcased lots of different directions,” the brothers tell us, “but all very ‘concept bike’ feel.”
“When we originally flew to Munich to meet the team, they were not expecting to see any design work—it all happened in a short space of time. But we ended up taking the sketches as well as a rough 3D printed design model, which the BMW team loved.”
Auto Fabrica started out with a stock R nineT Scrambler, then chopped and changed a few parts from other nineT models. The triples and upside-down forks come from an R nineT Roadster, while the rear set mounts and wheels came from an R nineT Racer.
The Racer’s wheels look the same as the Scrambler’s, but come in 3.50 x 17” (front) and 5.50 x 17” (rear). “We thought the 5-spoke design was the cleanest and best looking out of any option out there,” the guys tell us.
Auto Fabrica shipped the forks off to British suspension company, Maxton, who sent them back blacked out, shortened and with new internals. The rear shock’s also from Maxton—it’s a custom unit, and even wears the Auto Fabrica logo.
According to Bujar and Gaz, the new suspension has made a huge difference in handling. “It’s an amazing upgrade, and not only in looks. The performance is out of this world.”
But most of the man-hours on this project went into the nineT’s intriguing new bodywork. And if you’re seeing faint hints of fighter jets in there, you’re spot-on; the boys list the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor among their references.
Despite the futuristic look, most of what you see has been hand-formed from aluminum using traditional techniques. That includes the monocoque tank and tail, the side panels that run over the cylinder heads, and the multiple sections that make up the front end.
Even though Auto Fabrica had already visualized the Type 18’s design, the final forms evolved further as they went from concept to metal. “The steering damper was an item which made us review the engine cowl,” they explain, “as it originally ran all the way to the front of the forks.”
“This actually worked out for the better, as the bike took a slightly different design approach.”
“The fragmentation of the fairing and the blades not only gives the bike a level of interest from a styling point of view, but also makes the bike’s stance lower and sleeker—which is what we were after. These added panels allowed us to really push our creative juices.”
As the project moved on, Auto Fabrica started conceptualizing ways in which the side sections could be interchangeable—an idea they plan to explore further.
“The idea of having a few options which clients can buy and change as they will really appealed to us” they say. “We want them to put these covers on the wall as artwork or sculptures, with battle scars gathered over the years.”
Finishing off the bodywork meant turning to more advanced sculpting techniques. Auto fabrica have used 3D printing for the headlight housing, the taillight enclosure, and the blades holding the front turn signals.
The taillight itself is made from a pair of acrylic blades, with powerful LEDs behind them (it doubles up as a pair of turn signals too). Auto Fabrica used the same concept for the front turn signals—choosing to turn them into a feature, rather than hide them away.
Those are the eye-catching features, but there are plenty of smaller details to take in too. Like the neatly recessed gas cap, the cutaway section where the tank flows to the tail, and the Alcantara seat with its chic ‘A’ badge.
Under the hood, the frame and subframe have been subtly de-tabbed and trimmed.
Type 18 also wears Renthal clip-ons and grips, and a host of BMW’s own Option 719 dress-up bits—including the valve covers, engine front plate, foot pegs and fluid reservoir caps. The speedo is stock, but it’s been given a new face by the crew at Gauge Instruments.
Auto Fabrica wrapped up the R nineT with a set of their signature swooping exhausts, ending in a pair of slim megaphones. The system’s been hand-made from stainless steel, and finished in matt black Cerakote.
Type 18 is menacing and fascinating all at the same time. Bujar and Gaz clearly have a vivid imagination—but they also have the skill to move from concept to reality.
As with all of their builds, Auto Fabrica will be taking limited Type 18 orders. With any luck, we’ll get to see a few more evolutions of this species.
Published at Wed, 12 Jun 2019 17:01:48 +0000