BMW Motorrad has followed last year’s “Project Japan,” which had four well-known Japanese customizers try their hands at creating something unique and personal from BMW’s new R nineT, with project “Ignite Straight Six.” This time, two Japanese customizers would radically modify BMW K1600GTL motorcycles. The people selected to create 1649cc straight six powered rolling works of art by BMW Motorrad Japan are Kenji Nagai of Ken’s Factory and Keiji Kawakita of Hot-Dock Custom-Cycles.
The only relationship to the original motorcycle retained was the engine and frame, and in the case of Keiji Kawakita’s creation ‘Juggernaut,’ the BMW Motorrad Duolever front suspension. Kenji Nagai’s creation named ‘Ken’s Factory Special’ relies on hand-made aluminum girder-type front forks raked out in chopper style using a modified headstock. The K1600GTL’s original full fairing was replaced by a small aluminum front cowl housing the headlight, and the stock rear subframe and seat were replaced by a low positioned aluminum seat.
Kenji Nagai says, “At first I had a bagger style in mind that grew out of the tourer image. But simply transforming a tourer into a bagger was a bit too obvious a choice. So I thought of a different approach. I settled on the digger style. The long, thin digger style would make the in-line six-cylinder engine look even more prominent.”
The illusion of a dramatically low seat height and narrow motorcycle is enhanced by the use of a 23-inch front and a 20-inch rear wheel. More nicely manufactured details made from aluminum like fuel tank covers, radiator shield and handlebars show Kenji Nagai’s craftsmanship.
Keiji Kawakita’s ‘Juggernaut’ is a complete contrast by way of its dark, masculine stature. There’s no sign of minimalism here and the loud and proud appearance makes Juggernaut rather looking like a synthesis of Mad Max metal and Jules Verne’s imaginations. A skeleton of aluminum tubing broadens the naked K1600GTL’s chassis and instruments at each side of the fuel tank fit neatly with the military look. Similarities to BMW Motorrad’s GS range are the dual fog lights and the front trail-like beak.
It’s a monumental feat and the desired custom finish was, according to Keiji Kawakita, inspired by history, “I found an old photograph of the cockpit of a convertible that looked like something from the near future, and I got the idea of making a bike that had that kind of atmospheric feel. Looking at the front forks and Duolever suspension, I thought I could do this with the K1600GTL. But the actual work was long and hard, a tough job to handle. Even when I finished, I still wasn’t really sure whether the work was complete. But that’s the thing about customizing, isn’t it?”
More information on the project Ignite Straight Six is available at: http://ignite6.jp/en/