It's one thing to build a bike for a paying customer, but creating a custom motorcycle for a celebrity must be one of the most stressful projects a builder can undertake. Firstly there's the pressure of making sure your high profile client is happy with the job, then there's the fact that it's likely to end up gracing the pages of newspapers and gossip mags across the country. Get it wrong and they'll all be pointing out its faults, get it right and it could be the best bit of advertising your business will ever get. Despite this, Michael Hammer of Hammer Kraftrad in Northern Bavaria speaks of his BMW R nineT build for German actor Hardy Krüger Jr. as if it were just another day at the office.
Early this year Hammer received an invitation to work on the project direct from BMW Motorrad and gladly took up the challenge. Their client (Krüger) wanted to have a one of a kind R9T that required Hammers specialised set of skills. "My friend Christian who owns his own BMW dealership agreed to collaborate on the project," says Hammer. "He would give me one of his bikes to use as a testbed and a place to build the bike and I would work on the design and fabrication of the parts."
In addition to being a successful actor, UNICEF ambassador and model, Hardy Krüger Jr. is mad for motorcycles. Naturally, this meant the German superstar had a pretty good idea of how he wanted his R9T to turn out. Sitting in Christian's workshop the trio discussed a concept that centred on transforming the R9T into a classic Cafe Racer. Krüger's vision included a '70s style fairing and a very unique belly pan that would tie the upper and lower halves of the bike together. With a handful of rough sketches and a head full of ideas, Hammer made his way back to the workshop to await the arrival of the bike.
"By the middle of March the guys from BMW Ebert brought the R9T to my workshop and I immediately started working on it," Hammer recalls. Knowing how important having a flowing line is for a balanced build, he began work at the rear of the bike. "As a young man I started to work with metal and somehow it was always a material that interested me. Working on the rear I kept the form of the gas tank in mind because we wanted to keep the original tank as an ode to BMW's newest creation." Using 2mm alloy sheet, a new tail was hammered and rolled into shape. The seat pan was sent out to be upholstered and unobtrusive LED lighting mounted to the frame.
Hammer then turned his attention to the bikes front end. "To me making a fairing is always quite an involved process. I don’t make any bucks to work with," he explains. "It’s quite an instinctive process. There is a lot of test fitting and staring at the bike. Sometimes the staring takes up more time than the actual work itself! Then I find the right form and begin the long task of working the aluminium with hammers and my English Wheel."
Last, and certainly not least was the task of creating Krüger's special request, the belly pan. To keep the pans proportions tight Hammer allowed the exhaust system to puncture through its walls rather than encasing them. Vertical panels help to visually connect the pan to the fairing and reduce the bulk of the 1170cc flat twin. "After that, I made the fenders and all the other parts that were needed. I finished the build by working on smaller details like the mesh grilles that cover the battery compartment and unappealing cables."
After polishing the custom panels and the stock BMW fuel tank to a mirror finish he returned to Christian's workshop to complete the rebuild. With the help of Christian's team, they mounted and tuned a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hype exhaust system and K&N air filters. The engine covers were treated to a coating of satin black and the freshly covered seat was bolted in place. Hammer then strapped one of his Hammer Kraftrad tank bags in place for the finishing touch.
"We presented the bike to Krüger for the first time at the BMW Days festival in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which is BMW’s biggest festival in Germany. Hardy raced the bike against another R nineT to add even more spectacle to the unveiling."
So, I hear you asking, was Krüger happy with the outcome? I think it's pretty safe to say that the result speaks for itself. Would you agree?
Photography by MIO Fotografie
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