Smith 001 – Woidwerk BMW R Nine T
Tucked away in the southeastern forests of Bavaria is the small town of Viechtach. If you look it up on Wikipedia you’ll get one sentence that describes its most significant feature as some nearby quartz mountains. However, we have it in good authority that there’s something much more exciting in Viechtach than a bunch of crystalline formations. Viechtach is the home of Ralf Eggl who runs the workshop Woidwerk. At his modest custom shop, Ralf specializes in modifying Bavaria’s most iconic two-wheeled brand, the BMW Motorrad. Ralf works on every era of BMW leveraging his skills as a mechanic and in manufacturing bodyparts for race bikes. Although his work tends to focus on rejuvenating older models for his latest project he’s tried his hand at building a custom BMW R Nine T.
For this project, Ralf teamed up with a former customer, Thierry Schmitz, who runs the Smith Lounge in Luxembourg. After already purchasing one of Ralf’s BMWs, Theirry approached him about selling Woidwerk builds out of his multi-disciplinary store. This presented a great opportunity for small town Ralf to get his bikes in front of more customers. This meant he would need to kick things off with something pretty special.
During the era of the “new wave” custom motorcycle scene no modern motorcycle has presented builders with a platform as malleable as the R Nine T. Seeing as Bavarian built bikes are the backbone of his Woidwerk portfolio a custom BMW R Nine T seemed the obvious choice.
The donor for the project was a BMW R Nine T Pure that required no mechanical work. This placed the focus of the project on the design. What makes this project unique is that the pair developed the concept for the build in cahoots. Theirry is an artist with deep ties in the German art scene, so he wanted to involve a local artist in the project. While Ralf wanted to move away from the retro aspect of the R Nine T to create a more modernized machine.
The build began with a basic tear down, removing any elements of the R Nine T that their design dispensed of. In keeping with Ralf’s modernized theme, the retro-styled round headlight of the R Nine T was replaced by a stealthy looking R1200R unit. A set of ABM Sportclip bars transformed the riding position from laid back cruiser to cafe racer while Motogadget supplied the new grips and bar end, M-Blaze indicators. Moving rearward the seat and tail are one-off items. The nubuck leather seat is molded to the shape of the factory subframe. The tail unit features a nubuck pad beneath a folded perspex cowl with integrated LED lighting and SMITH embroidery.
Unlike the Pure’s gregarious grey appearance Ralf and Thierry opted for a much more aggressive, murdered-out paint scheme for their custom BMW R Nine T. This meant that almost everything from the fuel tank down was coated in black. This included a ceramic coated Arrow exhaust system, a hand made air intake cover and the boxer’s valve covers. The only touches of silver that remain are the subframe, R1200R headlight surround and the rather unusual asymmetrical fork shroud. If you think it looks familiar that’s because it is a repurposed part from the R Nine T. Ralf wanted to recycle as many parts as possible during the project to minimize waste. This resulted in the development of the bike’s unique fork shroud concept, which was formerly the breather cover for the airbox. The unusual placement was designed to offset the visual weight of the muffler. “I always find it exciting when people have to think ‘somehow it seems familiar to me'” says Ralf.
As for the fuel tank, this is where Theirry leveraged his connections in the German art scene. The factory R Nine T tank and front fender were sent to Luxembourg based street artist Eric Mangen. Using his trademark graffiti based style Mangen applied intricately textured and organic patterns to the alloy tank and fender to make this R Nine T totally unique. The finished bike which Ralf says “drives much better than the original”, mainly due to its sportier riding position, is now available to purchase at the Smith Lounge. If you’re into collecting art and riding motorcycles the Woidwerk custom BMW R Nine T could quite possibly be your ideal ride.
Photography by Gilles Kayser
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