BMW Motorrad turns 90 this year; the R 90 S turns 40. As a tribute to both, BMW, in cooperation with Roland Sands Design, presents the Concept Ninety, sprung at the very swank Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2013. “This cooperative venture elevates both Roland Sands Design and BMW Motorrad Design to a new level,” says BMW. Go, Roland!
But first, a history lesson from BMW’s press release: “Back in 1973, BMW unveiled its flagship model in the “Stroke Six” range to the global public. Boasting a top speed of just over 200 km/h (124 mph), it was one of the fastest production bikes of its day and went on to claim numerous prizes in a variety of race series. Even when parked it radiated a powerful appeal: For the first time in the development process of a motorcycle, a designer had forged a successful alliance of form and function while creating the first motorcycle ever to feature a front fairing as standard. Together with its sporty tail end and striking Daytona Orange paintwork, it endowed the BMW R 90 S with an unmistakable identity. The design of this bike pointed the way forward, and it wasn’t long before other manufacturers were gracing their motorcycles with aerodynamically honed front and rear fairings. Today the erstwhile trendsetter is one of BMW’s design icons. ‘The BMW R 90 S hails from an era in which bikers were regarded as outlaws,’ comments Edgar Heinrich, Head of BMW Motorrad Design. ‘There was something rebellious about it—it was fast, loud and wild. Pure emotion. And it has retained its fascination to this day.’”
Concept Ninety has bodywork handcrafted from aluminum and finished in a rich orange like the Daytona Orange paintwork of the original (which was also available in a lovely Smoke Gray if memory serves). Instead of a big round halogen headlight, LED elements provide illumination.
Roland Sands Design gets credit for the mechanical parts and engine area. Highlights include the front cover of the engine and the valve covers, which are milled using a contrast-cut process. The same technology was also applied to the rims, whose design calls to mind the racing triumphs of the BMW R 90 S in the 1970s.
Quoth the Roland: “It was important for me to translate the special statement made by the BMW R 90 S into the present through the use of unique parts—employing emotional design and cutting-edge technology.” Brake and clutch controls, Paralever swingarm and underseat air filter are also Roland’s handiwork.
Adds Heinrich: “The BMW Concept Ninety is sheer enjoyment in every respect—from the development of the idea to the sketching stage to the construction process. But above all when you’re riding it. It’s an absolute riding machine—just like the R 90 S was in its time.”