published at 04.06.2015, 14:42

Swiss custom life

The R nineT has been a phenomenal success for BMW Motorrad. From its homeland in Germany across Europe to Japan and America, its ability to capture the spirit of yesteryear through its retro-style design has led to it becoming an iconic motorcycle in its own right. Taking it further still is the way the R nineT lends itself to urban customisation. Imagination, no matter how little or large, can transform it into a machine that personifies personalisation. Three such examples have recently appeared in Switzerland, courtesy of VTR Customs…

On the edges of scenic Lake Zurich where the Swiss Alps start to climb, and within the boundaries of Schmerikon, 40 km south-east of Zurich, there can be found BMW Motorrad dealer Stucki 2 Rad Center. Fortunate to be surrounded by incredible roads and fans of BMW motorcycles, this combination ensures the personnel of Stucki 2 Rad Center are kept busy, especially in the warmer months.

There is also another reason for the growing popularity of this 40-year-old dealership. About 18 months ago, the business was purchased by new management with new ideas. Within the modern facilities there now lurks a man by the name of Daniel Weidmann, aka Dani. This man is the brainchild behind VTR Customs, and one of three men who advise on, plan, devise and produce crafted customised motorcycles. The speciality of VTR customs, though, is rapidly turning to the direction of the popular R nineT.

“We have in the pipeline nearly a year’s worth of customising for customers. A lot of them involve the R nineT but also a great deal of the old classic two-valve BMW machines. Like a lot of dealers, we sell many R nineT. Not all standard machines, though. When we sell an R nineT and the customer applies some of the official Motorrad accessory custom parts, like the Akrapovič exhaust system, for us this isn’t the full meaning of the term ‘customisation’. Customisation for us starts on a higher level. We do have our show bikes here like the ‘Aero’ which is fully customised and this is where the purchaser can understand what customisation is and that leads us to build their bikes.”

As an official BMW Motorrad dealer with the addition of a custom emporium, Dani has a clear understanding of what makes the R nine T such a popular motorcycle. “It is purely the emotional side of the bike and the details that makes it a ‘must-have’ bike: the parts that look old but are new; the sound of the bike; and the ride it gives are what produces a greater emotional rider-to-bike connection.” On the subject of R nineT customisation and its popularity, Dani firmly believes no other bike has been responsible for such a rapid growth in specific genuine and aftermarket accessories.

Of the stunning R nineT specials that the people behind VTR Customs have produced, arguably the most imagination-forming is the one ingeniously entitled ‘Low Fat’. But to be honest, any of the three VTR Custom R nineT customs shown here pull you further towards them in order to see the magnitude of detail, and the very essence of a fully customised R nineT.

When so much thought and effort has been placed into building exceptional machines, it is little wonder that Dani is proud of every machine that has been created by VTR Customs, although for different reasons. “Usually we are more proud of bikes like ‘Low fat’ and ‘Aero’ because we feature more handmade alloy pieces like tail sections or front fairings and other engineering details.”

‘Low Fat’ in detail:
Hand-crafted parts are clearly visible on ‘Low Fat’. This bike came about because VTR Customs collectively wanted to build the lowest, smallest, thinnest R nineT-based café racer. The standard R nineT fuel tank was cut and reduced in size to resemble the smaller tanks of bikes from the 1970s. Both seat and tail unit have been created to give a slimmer line and, like the fairing, are made from aluminium. Very low bars to mimic and celebrate vintage American board-track racers complete the ‘Low Fat’s’ slim-line appearance.

Standard wheels. New colour scheme by Clour Factors Rüti with logos and labels hand-painted by Johanna Vogelsang. Stock front forks and rear shock absorber lowered. R9T fuel tank cut and shaped with new sidewalls complete with ‘manual’ fuel gauge and Monza tank cap by VTR Customs. Motogadget rpm/speed indicator features custom-made face and hands (Bell & Ross Watches Design) by Zeitzone Zürich. Engine start switch “Aircraft”style. All handlebar switches stripped away. Magura clutch and brake lever. “Low Tracker” handlebars, fairing and tail unit are aluminium and produced by VTR Customs. The seat was designed by VTR Customs and finished by Yves Knobel, Switzerland. Exhaust headers are 2-1 custom-made. Muffler is an open original MotoGP item by Akrapovič. R nineT street legal airfilter solution by VTR Customs using a K&N air filter. Footrest set by LSL. Alternator and starter covers are official BMW Motorrad carbon parts.

‘NineTini’ in detail:
In the case of ‘NineTini’, Dani says the staff of VTR Customs is especially proud of this bike because it was built in conjunction with Swiss motorcycle magazine Töff as a feature special that highlighted three stages of customisation. The Swiss importer of Rizoma motorcycle parts, Akrapovič exhausts and Kineo wheels were also heavily involved. But in Dani’s view the icing on the cake is the exceptional paintwork: “Line by line, all the logos and numbers are hand-painted and the result is unbelievably good.” A statement that nobody surely will disagree with. And why called ‘NineTini’? The relation to the great period of Martini Racing is obvious with the colour scheme.

Custom paintwork by Merz Hinwil based on MARTINI Racing with logos and ‘start’ number hand-painted by Johanna Vogelsang. One-off seat by Yves Knobel, Switzerland. Rizoma accessory parts include: handlebars, control levers, cylinder head covers, windshield, footrests, mirrors, fuel cap, indicators etc. Rizoma also supplied CNC-machined covers for the alternator, starter and driveshaft housing. Exhaust system consists of stock headers with Akrapovič Black Edition mufflers (high mount version). Kineo wheels – rear 6 in, front 3.5 in. Öhlins suspension front and rear.

‘Aero’ in detail:
‘Aero’ is the result of Dani’s mind fuelled by Swiss clean air and the fact he served ten years in the airline industry as an engineer and then as a technical trainer. Pretty much all of VTR Custom bikes feature a slice of aviation in their build but the ‘Aero’ encompasses the most. VTR’s R nineT custom bikes also feature a unique way to ensure the air-cleaner systems conform to stringent emissions regulations. The addition of a special K&N replacement air filter aids throttle and acceleration performance but uses R nineT inlet manifolds within the air filters to keep the system on the legal side. As trick as the air filter system is, you can’t help but love the sweet touch of the revised face belonging to the instrument dash – a watchmaker friend is a customiser’s friend indeed.

PVM Wheelset, forks and shock absorber by Öhlins. Fuel tank is standard apart from the VTR Customs paintwork – logo and labels hand-painted by Johanna Vogelsang. Motogadget rpm/speedometer dash with custom-made face and hands (Bell & Ross Watches design) by Zeitzone, Zürich. Aircraft-style engine starter switch. All handlebar switches stripped away. Magura Clutch & Brake lever sets. Magua “SX Black Line” handlebar. Aluminium tail unit by VTR Customs, seat created by Yves Knobel, Switzerland. Custom made 2-1 exhaust headers 2-1 Custom made with Hattech muffler (short version). R nineT street legal airfilter solution by VTR Customs using a K&N air filter. LSL footrest set. Alternator, starter covers are BMW Motorrad carbon accessories.

For further information on VTR Customs and the company’s special R nineT custom projects, visit:

All photos by PHOTOCAB.CH apart from the NineTini, which is by Töff magazine.