The El Solitario Impostor we sneak peaked a couple of weeks made its debut at the The ONE Motorcycle Show in Oregon. The motorcycle is a customized BMW R nineT by El Solitario bike builders of the Galician region of Spain. Just taking this BMW R nineT-based bike to the famous exhibition required battles with freak snowstorms and over zealous customs officials, but without a doubt it was well worth the journey, according to El Solitario’s David Borras.
Portland, Oregon, is home to The ONE Motorcycle Show. From Friday February 7-9, this growing event showcased old and new motorcycles with the majority of the 120 bikes displayed being customised machines by a wide variety of bike builders. Waving the flag for Europe was El Solitario of Galicia (Spain), who publicly revealed its latest custom project ‘Impostor’, based on the new BMW R nineT.
There’s no denying the El Solitario Impostor attracts attention. It was meant to. Impostor is a symbol of controversy and freedom in a simple mix of new and technical brilliance derived from the new BMW R nineT roadster, and then allied to the creative mind of David Borras, the face of El Solitario. In the world of urban customisation, this bike is arguably today’s pinnacle of new-wave bike building and represents freedom to ride; freedom to express; freedom to do and be anything in today’s life.
Using the standard chassis and Boxer-engine of the R nineT, El Solitario has built Impostor. Its larger front wheel, a fuel tank that tells stories with applied markings, and a covering of stainless steel rods that carefully mimic by silhouette the classic endurance racing bikes of the eighties are all plain to see. Smaller but equally thought out details also abound. Some say Impostor is art. It could be. Above all it is still a fully functional motorcycle that retains its ability to make the rider smile in delight at the way it rides – while at the same time representing individuality.
“Impostor is creepy, powerful, determined but overall it stands aside in its controversy,” says David Borras. “I was very unsure of the reaction that it would provoke, being so avant-garde and audacious, but I was surprised at how the acceptance of the public developed during the weekend of the show.
“Because of the relevancy of The ONE Moto Show in the alternative motorcycle scene, many followers of El Solitario’s line of work were there and to add to my happiness they came from very different areas and creeds. We had chopper dudes, who I’ve admired for ages, looking at the bike and giving their thumbs up; press were astonished at the outcome of the project they had closely followed via social media; industrial designers and artists told me they could feel the emotion deployed in this construction. The feedback I’ve couldn’t have been better, so it looks like ‘mission accomplished’.”
Mission accomplished indeed, if the reaction of Thor Drake, one of the men behind The One Motorcycle Show and fellow bike builder (SeeSee Motorcycles) is anything to go by. “I loved it! One thing I wasn’t aware of was that David has made the bike 100% reversible so it can be changed back to a stock bike in the matter of a few hours. I believe this was the idea behind the original design of the R nineT – one is able to customize the bike to their own look and feel without having to take a grinder or welder to the important parts of the bike. David brings new ideas to life and I think people really appreciate that about his bikes. It takes a lot of bravery to make something new. I wish I could make bikes like this.”
That’s praise indeed from a man who also has a huge following thanks to some seriously impressive bike builds of his own.
El Solitario’s Impostor was set up center stage right at the entrance to the main display space within the show’s venue. All weekend Impostor was swarmed by show attendees taking pictures of the bike and pointing out the details. It is quite obvious that it took El Solitario a lot of time to handcraft all of the metal rods that wrap around the R nineT. All of the builders exhibiting as well as the visitors to this show were grateful that David Borras would come so far to display this bike, but what most didn’t know was that Impostor nearly didn’t make it at all.
Getting the bike to the event venue was nothing short of a miracle, according to James Callahan, Marketing Manger for BMW Motorrad USA. “From David getting the bike finished in time, getting it to Germany and trying to figure out how to make it fit in the shipping crate, shipping it to the USA and trying to get it through USA customs with a €50,000 assigned value was tough. When the US Customs and Border Patrol finally decided they could release Impostor on the USA population, it required a full team of truck drivers to run through the night, taking turns at the wheel.
“We thought we were going to make it, only to be stopped two hours south in Medford, Oregon by a freak snowstorm that dumped about a foot of snow on Portland and shut many of the roads. After a series of phone calls in a mix of German, Spanish and English, the bike showed up just moments before the show was due to open. Volunteers helped lift the bike crate out of the truck and then lift Impostor so the front wheel could be fitted just before being rolled up onto the display pedestal.”
“Yeah, it was the craziest weather I have ever seen,” says show organizer Thor Drake, surmising on the weather and the need to close the show early because of it. “A storm came to leave a ring of snow around Portland – even 100 miles north it was sunny and somewhat warm. Saying that, it made the show extra special in a way; like everyone who made it felt lucky to be there. It felt like a big family in some ways. It was a bummer that we had to close on Sunday. I would have stayed open but the Portland safety advisory sent personal messages to all people in the Portland area telling them to stay home. I would have felt a little responsible if anyone was hurt trying to get to the show… so we cancelled it.”
Another motorcycle to appear at The One Motorcycle Show, albeit in a less dramatic way, was the ‘standard’ BMW R nineT. For most of the show visitors this was the first time to see the latest custom boxer machine in the flesh.
James Callahan said, “The reaction to the stock R nineT was overwhelmingly positive. From the customers with no idea the bike existed or that BMW Motorrad could even make a bike like it, all the way to the customers who had made a special trip to the show because they knew there would be an R nineT on display – people loved it. The R nineT is the bike the American motorcycle press want to ride, the bike the dealers want to sell and the bike customers can’t wait to own.”
Despite the weather and the undue stress it caused to visitors and attendees, The One Motorcycle Show proved to be yet another successful occasion. Not only did El Solitario get the deserved recognition for its labours in creating Impostor, show visitors also got to see the new R nineT – and all under one roof, where motorcycling life is discussed, old relationships are rekindled and new friends are made. These are just some of the many reasons why we love motorcycles and motorcycling life.