Tuesday December 3 was no ordinary day for the BMW Motorrad management and employees at the Berlin plant. It was the start of a new era in the brand's history, as the first BMW R nineT custom boxers rolled off the assembly lines. Proud company staff were joined by celebrity guests and journalists from across the world to share in this special occasion.
Right in the heart of the company's production plant, all invited guests were welcomed by BMW Motorrad head of production Dr. Marc Sielemann, who gave an overview of the factory operations, before introducing BMW Motorrad chief Stephan Schaller, who congratulated his team on their achievements with this unique motorcycle that sets a new benchmark at BMW Motorrad in terms of diversity and customising.
There was noticeable anticipation for the imminent arrival of the roadster that blends the design traits of different eras with cutting-edge technology and a modular concept that offers the rider maximum scope for personalisation.
Schaller and Sielemann were joined on stage by BMW R nineT project leader Roland Stocker, designer Harry Schmidt, product manager Reiner Fings, and head of production Dirk Bachmann, as they jointly pressed a button to start a 60-second countdown to the offical 'start of production' of the new roadster. On the stroke of 12 noon, the first three fully assembled bikes appeared through the smoke, having passed through the roller dynamometer facility at the plant to signify a new beginning for this model, after two-and-a-half years of development.
Then it was time for guests to enjoy a guided tour of the plant, where the various stages in the process of assembling the new bike could be seen. Around 700 parts go into the making of the R nineT, of which approximately 150 have been exclusively developed for this model. There are 21 employees on the assembly line, dedicated to bringing the new bike to life. Even the production hall has been restructured to allow the classic air/oil-cooled boxer engine used in the R nineT to be assembled alongside the new air/water-cooled motor that powers the latest models such as the R 1200 GS Adventure and R 1200 RT.
From the black lacquer finish combined with hand-brushed, clear coated aluminium on the fuel tank, to the aluminium nameplate riveted to the steering head (just like BMWs of yesteryear), quality materials and neat design touches can be found on all surfaces and components.
But what is guaranteed to stir the emotion of any enthusiast are the numerous customisation opportunities that the 'nineT' offers, and to gain an exclusive insight into what the possibilities are, guests were invited to an authentic workshop setting, where project manager Roland Stocker and his team demonstrated the sheer versatility and design genius of the machine that has been specially created to mark 90 years of BMW Motorrad. With basic tools, a wide range of available accessories and a little imagination, the look and character of this exciting roadster can be adapted to individual needs and desires.
In fact, the workshop setting used for the presentation is actually based on the real workshop of Peter Dannenberg from Urban Motor, who is the first specialist to put his own touches to a BMW R nineT.
Ending the day's proceedings, guests and journalists were then able to explore the numerous customisation options for themselves, and to get up close to a selection of nineT machines that have set a new benchmark at BMW Motorrad in terms of offering enthusiasts the chance to create a unique motorcycle. With their hand-built feel, emotional appeal and old-school styling cues combined with the very latest drive and chassis components, expect to see some one-off specials out on the streets from spring 2014.