NMoto’s Nostalgia Channels The Iconic BMW R7

South Florida shop reimagines Art Deco stunner with R nineT as a foundation.

BMW R7 look-alike
Meet Nostalgia, a BMW R7 look-alike with modern-day R nineT underpinnings that’s not a one-off custom, but a production motorcycle.Courtesy of NMoto

When BMW's long-lost, near-mythic R7 concept bike was unveiled to a disbelieving crowd at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance back in 2012, the collective gasp of the crowd nearly drowned out the crashing waves on the nearby shore. Here was a bike thought to be gone, the remaining pieces deteriorated beyond repair, design plans lost—and yet, somehow, here it was, rolling and whole again. Among the awestruck in the crowd that day was one Alexander Niznik, a successful businessman, serial entrepreneur, and wildly passionate motorcycle enthusiast. The sight of that beautiful Art Deco masterpiece struck a chord within him, and he vowed to build a working, running R7-styled bike.

NMoto's Nostalgia
Nostalgia is the brainchild of Alex Niznik, founder of NMoto, a south Florida luxury motorcycle studio and shop.Courtesy of NMoto

A bit of context first: the 1934 BMW R7 was a motorcycle so far ahead of its time that it never even got to see the inside of a production facility. BMW created the audacious, sweeping Art Deco concept in 1934 as the showcase for a host of design and engineering innovations like the first telescopic forks in the motorcycle world, a pressed steel bridge frame, and various engine and gearbox ideas. But during the depths of the Great Depression, even masterworks didn’t survive unscathed; the only prototype R7 was ultimately dismantled and mothballed in a back room at BMW, where, in a stroke of luck, it was rediscovered in 2005. BMW undertook the painstaking restoration of the severely rust-damaged machine and several years later, the R7 finally rolled back onto the world stage. At the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, it won Best in Class in the motorcycle category and took top honors in Class X for German motorcycles, besting a 1954 BMW R68 and a 1968 Münch Mammoth.

Alex Niznik remembers that day in Pebble Beach: “I fell in love with the motorcycle, and made a promise to myself that when I retired, I would look into building a motorcycle like that. I founded NMoto and began developing the Nostalgia Project.”

Original 1934 BMW R7
Here’s the original 1934 BMW R7 in a museum. The iconic model introduced the first fully telescopic fork to the motorcycle world as well as a radical departure from accepted motorcycle design standards.Andrew Cherney

Unveiled late last year (officially at the International Motorcycle Show in New York), the bike called Nostalgia is an up-to-date reimagination of the 1934 BMW R7. Niznik is careful not to call it a replica; it is, as it says on the fuel cap, "inspired by BMW R7," with the idea of melding an iconic design and modern technology to create a working, running machine. Key to that plan turned out to be the choice of a current BMW model as the foundation; "We pretty much determined that the R nineT had the closest DNA to the original R7, so we figured, why build an engine when one excellent one already exists?"

1934 BMW R7 interpretation
Aided and abetted by the power of modern engineering and design software, NMoto’s small crew of designers, engineers, and craftsmen created a modern, running interpretation of the 1934 BMW R7.Courtesy of NMoto

In fact, NMoto kept all the main mechanical components stock (except for the throttle system), thereby maintaining that hallowed BMW quality from the start all the way through to actual real-world performance. Using modern mechanicals also meant NMoto didn’t need to R&D and engineer a bike from the ground up but rather expand on existing heritage, thereby shortening the production cycle considerably. Even BMW claims the R nineT is “Born to be Customized.”

But that didn’t mean there weren’t plenty of design challenges along the way. Says Niznik, “We started from scratch. Actually we had a huge picture the size of the original R7 motorcycle on the wall and we worked from the picture. We re-created it all in 3-D design software, there were no original blueprints or sketches, nothing.” It also meant all the electrics had to be redesigned; NMoto says it’s the first to successfully integrate the BMW R nineT system with aftermarket controls in the handlebar. But Nostalgia also incorporates old-school techniques. “We use the lathe machine, the English wheel, hammering the metal, nothing is stamped—it was difficult for me to find the people who could do all this stuff. We produced parts that never existed before. I’m planning to keep it all handmade.”

Wiring in the framework
NMoto routed all the wiring in the framework and hid the brake and clutch master cylinders to maintain that iconic streamlined quality of the original R7.Courtesy of NMoto

To put a finer point on it, the donor R nineT is outfitted with 96 handcrafted pieces including 74 parts built by NMoto fabricators (like the 12-liter gas tank, throttle system, fenders, mounts, custom stainless steel mufflers, etc.) in-house, while more than 11 premium parts come from reputable aftermarket companies. Constructed primarily of aircraft-grade aluminum, the Nostalgia motorcycles are lighter than a stock R nineT as well as the original 1934 prototype.

Then there’s the performance aspect: The R nineT’s 1,170cc air-cooled boxer gives Nostalgia a healthy 110 hp and 86 pound-feet of torque right off the bat, and the bike is said to be capable of a top speed of 140 mph. Along with the modernity and reliability of BMW’s six-speed gearbox, ABS, and keyless ignition, riders get the best of both worlds—Art Deco design and looks with smooth power, superior handling, and unexpected comfort.

chassis
The chassis of the modern R nineT was a good fit, as it already resembled prewar hardtails (which the R7 was), but designers had to craft a bracket for the rear fender and modified the rear subframe to match the original prototype.Courtesy of NMoto

NMoto says it has developed a motorcycle “which perfectly captures the spirit of the Art Deco era while maintaining affordability.” In this context, “affordability” means $49,500 for the base model, which is painted a traditional acrylic black with cream stripes, and wears a leather seat and grips done in diamond or straight stitches with a textured finish. You can choose from custom footrests or the stock BMW R nineT pieces, as well as 11 color combinations, adjustable steering, seat trim finish, luggage box, and passenger seat options.

Base model
You can personalize your Nostalgia via a number of options like body colors, stitching, seat choices, and footrests. Base model with front license shown.Courtesy of NMoto

Rather than just building a replica, NMoto has rolled out a unique production model that (almost) anyone can ride and enjoy. That's if they have deep pockets and plenty of patience; the bike is being produced in limited numbers and it takes about six months to make each one to spec. Response has been so overwhelmingly positive, Niznik says they are already sold out for 2019, but are taking orders for 2020. The bike is going on tour this summer and will be featured at several shows involving BMW Motorrad, including the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este where it'll be displayed next to the original R7, and the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.

fuel tank
NMoto developed its own fuel tank to fit the arching, scalloped aluminum Art Deco panels, also fabbed by hand.Courtesy of NMoto
Nostalgia fuel tank
This isn’t a one-off custom or replica. NMoto is careful to let all know that Nostalgia was inspired by the BMW R7, and is its own thing.Courtesy of NMoto
Nostalgia taillight
Nostalgia is Deco right down to the taillight, and the bike’s design has stoked lots of interest. Niznik says, “We will be delivering a bike soon to Billy Joel in Long Island.”Courtesy of NMoto
NMoto Nostalgia
NMoto started production in January and is building about 10 bikes a month. It has sold out for 2019 though.Courtesy of NMoto
9 months of design
NMoto says it took about nine months to a year of just design work, making calculations for weight distribution, geometry, etc. The bike is patented according to Niznik.Courtesy of NMoto

For more info, see NMoto's website.