Ares Design’s BMW R nineT Looks Retro But Feels Futuristic | Motorcycle Cruiser
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Ares Design’s BMW R nineT Looks Retro But Feels Futuristic

This turn-key BMW custom roadster mines its past while sneaking in modern upgrades

The BMW R nineT, as we know, is a thing of beauty, even straight from the factory. Designed by custom bike design guru (and now head of Indian Motorcycle Design) Ola Stenegärd and having elements that allow it to be easily modified, the semi-retro roadster has been used by dozens of custom builders as a blank canvas since its launch in 2014. In case you haven’t been paying attention, Bike EXIF is lousy with R NineT scramblers (of which there is a factory version) and bobbers (of which there isn't).

Ares Design

Modena-based Ares Design is producing this custom build in limited numbers. So, then, can it really be called a custom?

Ares Design

Jumping into the deep end of that pool is Modena, Italy-based Ares Design. The bespoke custom design firm’s scrambler is built on a stock 2017 BMW R nineT that retains all the latest tech but enhances the stocker with a combination of mechanical tricks and period-correct cosmetics to cleverly hide the up-to-date, modern motorcycle lurking underneath it all.

Custom BMW scrambler

Custom BMW scramblers seem to be everywhere these days, but you have to admit this one is pretty trick.

Ares Design

So what’s its spin, exactly? As Ares Design co-founder Dany Bahar put it, “We spent a huge amount of time on the front-end development, trying to create something completely different.” His colleague, Arnaldo Torone, Ares’ chief engineer for the BMW R NineT, added, “Thanks to its minimalist styling the BMW R nineT made an ideal candidate for conversion.”

Ares designers crafted a new tank cover

As far from stock as it gets: Ares designers crafted a new tank cover made from carbon fiber to mimic design from the 1960s.

Ares Design

Of course, one of the most visible ways to put your personal stamp on a custom is by changing up the fuel tank, and that’s just what the Ares designers did, crafting a new tank cover to mimic the design from the 1960s (though the new unit is carbon fiber). They then swapped out the stock seat with a leather-wrapped saddle designed in-house—and how about that slick stitching on the edges? Ares designers continued to go all-in on the 1960s theme by replacing the cylinder head covers with freshly designed aluminum ones that give the engine a retro look without sabotaging performance. And, as you can see, the exhaust system didn’t remain stock either, with the custom system getting a downpipe and a muffler on each side, unlike the stacked stock unit.

all-leather solo saddle

That’s some serious detailing on the all-leather solo saddle, created in-house by the Ares team.

Ares Design

That mostly took care of the cosmetics, but the Ares boys were also interested in functionality. This is a BMW, right? So the main mechanical change was to convert the stock R nineT’s rear spring strut to a twin strut and damper setup that would call out the period style more closely. That meant messing with the original paralever single-shock suspension and single-sided swingarm, which the Ares guys addressed by fabbing up a double-arm swingarm and a two-shock arrangement. The cool design cleverly hides the original rear disc brake and gives the feel of an old drum brake, with beefy Continental TKC 80s mounted on Kineo rims to further carry that idea.

double-sided swingarm

A double-sided swingarm can now accommodate the adjustable dual Öhlins shocks. Burly Continental TKC 80 rubber further beefs up the back end.

Ares Design

Naturally the handlebar was swapped out too, for a reshaped, lower-profile piece that better matched the bike’s retro style, while a new carbon-fiber headlight cowling hides a fully modern speedometer with an on-board computer. And talk about attention to detail: The indicators and rear light were replaced with smaller retro-styled LED units, and the stock handlebar switches also got the boot in favor of retro-styled items.

Ares Design’s BMW R nineT Engine

The original engine covers were swapped out in favor of machined aluminum units to better carry the 1960s vibe. Fenders are painted aluminum too.

Ares Design

Ares Design says this design will be built in limited numbers, and it is betting the semi-production custom will appeal to riders with deep pockets who appreciate retro styling but also want the reliability and updated tech of a factory BMW. So, uh, get out your wallets?

Custom exhaust

Custom exhaust with a muffler on each side, custom Kineo rims, Beringer six-piston calipers—it’s all here.

Ares Design

Ares Design BMW R nineT Specifications

Engine type: Two-cylinder boxer
Displacement: 1,170cc
Transmission: 6-speed
Suspension: Front inverted telescopic fork, rear Öhlins adjustable double suspension
Brake: Beringer 6-piston caliper
Rims: Kineo, front 19-inch, rear 18‑inch
Tires: Continental TKC 80
custom bike

Looking for a turn-key custom with factory reliability? Ares Design says it is building this bike in limited numbers, so your wallet better be pretty fat.

Ares Design