Twins do it better
When you are a scientist and engineer, you look at technology with a different view. You aren’t scared of exploring new ideas. Ideas that might sound like complete madness to some, could sound like pure genius to others. This loosely describes who Marco Ferrara is as an individual. Slowly but surely, this Boston based builder is starting to become a veteran when it comes to building bikes, which he produces under the name “Singular Rides”. Some of his most notable builds are a yellow air-cooled Ducati 907 track bike, and a red Ducati Superlight-turned-café-racer.
On a warm summer night
In the summer of 2017, after selling his Ducati café racer, Marco started pondering on his next project. His wish list was short: it had to be a powerful air-cooled twin, and it needed to have modern technology such as ABS and traction control. Although a Ducati aficionado at heart, the current Ducati line-up didn’t really tickle his fanny. Besides, there were so many outstanding examples of customised Ducati’s already, that it was time for a change. This is where the German powerhouse came into the picture.
Inspired by the BMW Concept 90, Marco knew that he needed to get his hands on a R Nine T. “It is an amazing motorcycle with so many high-quality components right off the bat, for example the gorgeous aluminum tank, the modular aluminum subframe, the spoke wheels,” he wrote. A compelling argument, we must admit.
From concept to conception
Countless weekends and late nights of labor went into creating this beast of a café racer. After searching the web for aftermarket parts, it became evident that something more drastic needed to be done to get the desired results. A Dab Motors retrofit kit proved to be an excellent starting point. For several weeks Marco collaborated with Guerino Toscano, a brilliant Italian industrial designer specialized in sport vehicles, to generate a number of layout ideas that would strike a balance between futuristic, sporty lines and sensual, organic curves. At the end, one design was chosen for prototyping.
3D printing large scale objects can be expensive. In order to test looks and fit before committing to a bigger job, a scaled-down 1:10 version was printed and installed on a toy model of the bike. Modelling a design like this proved to be a smart way to keep the expenses low. Eric Silverio from Krazy Customs accepted the task of turning the rough surface of a large scale 3D print to a high quality OEM finish, with spectacular results. Krazy Kustoms also took care of the black ceramic coating of several original and newly fabricated parts to match the new looks and character of the build. The spark plug covers and the housing of the headlight were also 3D printed.
Finding a digital manufacturing shop that could print the full size at a reasonable price was a challenge on its own. Midwest Composite Technologies took the job and delivered initial prototypes of the parts. Finishing and reinforcing trims were subsequently cut and shaped from ABS sheets and chemically welded to the 3D printed shell. Custom aluminium subframes were fabricated to reinforce and mount the fairing and the rear-end; rubberised steel clamps secured the front fairings’ frame to the motorcycle’s steering head and trellis frame, avoiding special modifications.
Despite the high number of custom-made parts, there are plenty of off-the-shelve parts on this R Nine T to make it pop! The valve covers were replaced with Rizoma units. The air-box had to say goodbye and make way for a set of pod air filters. The battery got swapped out with a light-weight Li-ion unit from Shorai. The entire exhaust system got revamped; the headers received a ceramic treatment, while the external exhaust valve flap got removed. A titanium and carbon fibre muffler from SC Project supported by a Unit Garage custom bracket was installed to complete the exhaust.
The rear sets were replaced with gorgeous units from Gilles Tooling, while the controls were upgraded for ergonomics and adjustability with Woodcraft clip-ons and Puig levers. The front fender, ignition covers, lower engine covers, key cover and breast plate were replaced with carbon fibre units. The rear and front indicators, rear brake reservoir, front brake and clutch reservoir covers were selected from Rizoma’s catalogue. The minimalist handle-bar mirrors were supplied by Oberon and the plate relocation kit came from Daedalus Designs. The headlight from a Harley Bobber was retrofitted with a LED bulb and asymmetrically mounted on the front fairing. The original dashboard was removed for a minimalistic Motogadget digital unit.
In order to give the build a dynamic character, matching its new looks, the suspensions was replaced with a fully adjustable Öhlins rear shock and steering damper, while the original front forks were retrofitted with fully adjustable Andreani Misano cartridges. The original seat was swapped with a Race Seats unit to guarantee stronger grip and control.
Into the future
When we look at “the Dark Knight” as this bike is dubbed, we can’t help but wonder if the people at BMW Motorrad HQ are watching this. Because if they are, they should take notes: This is how a café racer looks like in the 21st century.