There is more ways to customize a motorcycle these days like never before. You can go the traditional route and hammer your metal parts, or you can turn to modern manufacturing methods like 3D printing. Or you can play as Vagabund Moto and throw every technique imaginable on a futuristic custom BMW R nineT.
Run by Paul Brauchart and Philipp Rabl, the Austrian store has a reputation for pushing the envelope on every custom build. They’ve got a few BMW R nineT customs under their belt, each a bit wilder than the last. And their latest bumps the radness up to eleven o’clock.
It’s the sequel to a BMW R nineT they built a few years ago. Designed with a monocoque body that lifts on hydraulic shocks, this bike landed in our editor’s annual top 10. This one is in the same ballpark aesthetically, but sports several unique details.
Once again, Paul and Philipp brought in the enigmatic Bernard ‘Blechmann’ Naumann to collaborate on the project. Blechmann is a metal-shaping wizard with a deft hand and a healthy imagination, so his job was to handle all the aluminum and stainless steel manufacturing on the R nineT.
Blechmann’s metalwork and Vagabund’s 3D printed parts work together so well that it’s hard to tell them apart in places. The sculpted one-piece body unit is made of aluminium, incorporating the fuel tank, rear section and seat pan. Perforated leather adorns the seat, with a custom subframe supporting the structure from below.
Like the construction of the BMW R nineT that preceded it, the bodywork of this one has a layered effect. Except that where the entire monocoque of the predecessor opened up, this one uses a simpler system. Simple, but no less complicated to build.
“The whole bodywork was insanely stupid,” Paul recounts, exasperated. “We didn’t plan to redo an opening system, but stupid as we are, we redid it.”
This time, it’s the motorcycle’s personalized dashboard that appears. The unit features a black surround, with the OEM speedometer mounted behind an acrylic panel. An aluminum hinge system with a hydraulic damper raises it, exposing storage space for a magnetic map holder and the fuel tank.
When the panel is down, the overall design is incredibly cohesive. It also adds to the overall sci-fi feel of the BMW, as does the vertically oriented LED headlight. Built using a combination of aluminum and 3D printed parts, it has an almost robotic vibe.
Vagabund retained the OEM speedometer because it removed at least some of the complications associated with customizing a modern motorcycle. That’s because this particular BMW R nineT is a 2022 model, so it has electronic frou-frou like traction control and switchable drive modes. Keeping the clock and switchgear as standard eliminated the headache of having to find a way around it all.
“It was particularly difficult to manage the electronics of the bike”, confirms Paul. “As the bike was a 2022 model, it was even more complicated than our last build. Integrating and preserving all the stock parts and features we thought were necessary; the electronic riding aids, fuel pump and converter catalytic.
“Form follows function. It’s easier to build something that isn’t road legal or, in the worst case, something that doesn’t actually work.
There’s more mechanical art up front, where Blechmann fashioned a custom aluminum front fender, which also houses the front turn signals. Vagabund repurposed the LED strips you would normally find on automotive mirrors to create them.
An LED taillight sits on the opposite end of the bike, tucked under the tail. It’s wedged into a custom housing that places it vertically to mirror the design of the headlights. A bolt-on Rizoma license plate bracket (not pictured) does the rest.
With the speedo now sitting on top of the tank, the R nineT’s cockpit is as sparse as it gets. Vagabund installed a CNC-machined upper yoke from Messner Moto, along with brake and clutch fluid reservoir clips and caps, from Rizoma. Rizoma also supplied the rearset foot controls.
Subtle details abound, like the 3D-printed ignition surround and the recessed panels that sit on either side of the fuel tank.
Paul and Philipp are obsessed with little touches like these. They could have used any number of aftermarket air filters on the boxer engine inlets, but decided to 3D print their own filter housings instead.
The exhaust is also a work of art. Crafted from stainless steel, it’s a two-in-one system that exits low on the right side, with a muffler design that can only be described as steel origami. The stock catalytic converter hides under the bike and the exhaust sound levels are adjustable.
Vagabund’s signature look is a minimal, clean design, with strong industrial design and architectural influences. This BMW R nineT follows that style guide perfectly, right down to its paint job, or rather lack thereof.
Opting to fully expose Blechmann’s work, Vagabund treated the bodywork to a brushed finish before sending it to IFlow for a clear coat. The hard parts of the bike were done in black, including the fork legs, which Vagabund had anodized.
The BMW R nineT has been on the market long enough that this custom scene is slowly starting to get saturated with it. But that doesn’t bother Vagabund Moto – as always, their work has no trouble standing out.