It’s safe to state that many owners of BMW’s R bikes have an appreciation for the Bavarian marque’s history and the Boxer engine’s long lineage, which dates all the way back to designer Max Friz in 1923. It’s also not too much of a stretch to assume that some of those folks look fondly upon the “toaster-tank” airhead models of the 1970s—the R50, R60 and R75—and might even wish their current R1200Rs looked a bit more like those simple, earlier BMWs.
If that describes you, Unit Garage has a solution. The Italian company, headed by designer/engineer Fabio Marcaccini, has just begun selling the R120R, a bolt-on kit that makes 2006-2013 R1200Rs look reminiscent of those classic BMWs from the 1970s, without altering any of the bike’s original parts or the way it rides. Even better, Marcaccini asserts that anyone “with a modicum of mechanical aptitude” can install this new kit in about three hours with just a few tools. Conversely, the bike can easily be returned to its original state at any time.
Here’s what the R120R kit includes: seat; carbon-fiber tank covers; fenders and sidecovers made of ABS plastic; steel cylinder guards; an oil cooler protection tube; a headlight protection tube; a Hubert windshield; a leather tankbag; and rubber kneepads. You also have a choice between the original plastic BMW saddlebags or the highly regarded Krauser steel cases, which come with their own steel supports and really cement the vintage look. Buyers get to choose between black or white adhesive decals for the tank covers, sidepanels and front fender, but the roundel badges need to be ordered directly from BMW, underscoring the point that Unit Garage has no official affiliation with Munich-based manufacturer.
Currently, the R120R kit, which comes with an instructional video, is available only through Unit Garage (www.unitgarage.com), where it lists for 3124 euros, which equates to $4137. While that’s by no means inexpensive, there’s no denying that the R120R kit is a fun and clever way to transform your modern BMW—replete with ABS, fuel-injection, onboard computer and electronic suspension adjustment—into a machine that exudes vintage 1970s’ charm, even though the tank is significantly taller than any we ever saw back then.
Marcaccini says he’s negotiating an agreement with the Wunderlich folks to sell the R120R kit. Smoothing matters is the fact that Wunderlich already sells Unit Garage’s R120 G/S kit, which makes 2008-or-newer oilhead GSs look a lot like an original R80 G/S. At $4999, the G/S is another expensive kit, but it’s beautifully executed.
In the car world, kits such as these probably wouldn’t fly. Can you imagine bolting body panels onto a new 3 Series BMW in an effort to make it look like a classic 2002tii? That would, or should, never happen. Then again, wouldn’t it be cool to have a car that looked just like a 1965 Mustang Fastback but was actually built on a new Ford chassis powered by the potent 5.0-liter V-Eight? That’s how I choose to view Unit Garage’s BMW kits. The R120R manages to pull off the time-travel trick with surprising grace, creating a totally modern bike that magically transports us back to the 1970s. Best of all: No bellbottoms are required.
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