We love the idea of a BMW K1600 supernaked, but these two are are not the kind of machines that we had in mind. Maybe Japanese customisers should just stop messing around with BMWs...
Last year, a bunch of Japanese customisers took to the BMW R nineT and the results were… er, less than palatable. And now, we have the Ignite Straight Six project from BMW Japan, which sees the creation of two customised BMW K 1600 GTL machines. The Japanese are, apparently, fascinated with the GTL’s 1649cc six-cylinder engine, and while BMW themselves haven’t taken the initiative to build a 1600cc 6-pot supernaked, that isn’t stopping the Japs from having a go at that.
The two gentlemen who’ve chopped a K 1600 GTL each are Kenji Nagai of Ken’s Factory, and Keiji Kawakita of Hot-Dock Custom-Cycles. The engine and chassis have not been altered on either bike, and Keiji Kawakita’s creation, ‘Juggernaut,’ also keeps the standard BMW Duolever front suspension, but everything else is custom-built. Kenji Nagai’s creation, very imaginatively named ‘Ken’s Factory Special,’ uses hand-made aluminium girder-type front forks raked out chopper-style using a modified headstock.
“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 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,” says Kenji Nagai. The illusion of dramatically low seat height and narrow motorcycle is enhanced by the use of 23-inch (front) and 20-inch (rear) wheels. Fuel tank covers, radiator and handlebars are all made with aluminium, highlighting Nagai’s craftsmanship.
Keiji Kawakita’s ‘Juggernaut’ ditches minimalism and delicacy in favour of the ‘Mad Max’ look – a skeleton of aluminium tubing broadens this naked K 1600 GTL’s chassis, and instruments mounted at each side of the fuel tank fit in neatly with the aggressive demeanour of the bike. Dual fog lights and the beak-like front end take cues from BMW’s own dual-purpose GS range. “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 feel. Looking at the front forks and Duolever suspension, I thought I could do this with the K 1600 GTL. 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?” says Kawakita.
According to BMW, the ‘Ignite Straight Six’ project is the harbinger of great things from Japan and will, hopefully, lead to even more exciting custom creations in the near future. We only wish we were as optimistic as BMW…
See more details of the Ignite Straight Six project