What are the odds that two custom builds, each inspired by the same 80-year-old prototype motorcycle, would get released in the same month by two different shops? I guess sometimes stuff just lines up that way, so if you’re thinking you just saw this same bike here recently and we’re rerunning old content, it’s just not true, man.

The Nmoto Nostalgia bike you gaped at here earlier isn't related to this similarly jaw-dropping BMW R7 tribute custom from Roland Sands. Well, not technically anyway; see, both customs use BMW's modern-day R nineT as the base platform (because it just makes so much sense, aesthetically and mechanically) so there's some commonality, but other than that they're each pretty much their own animal.

RSD’s Concept 7 features a classic BMW profile
RSD’s Concept 7 features a classic BMW profile and boasts (mostly) modern BMW ride quality. After all, it’s a hardtail.Joseph Hitzelberger/RSD

But the first question might be: Why all the fuss about BMW’s 1934 R7 prototype anyway? To be frank, the R7 was one-of-a-kind in many ways, featuring the world’s first telescopic fork, a hidden fuel tank, and a perimeter-style frame. It was a drop-dead beauty, with flowing fenders and curvaceous lines that were a total celebration of the Art Deco era. But everyone knew the R7 would be a challenge to build, and with the Great Depression and WWII lurking on the doorstep, the project was killed and the prototype stored in a dusty back room.

80-plus year old original R7 prototype
With its telescopic fork, aerodynamic bars and mufflers, and a sprung saddle, the 80-plus year old original R7 prototype still looks like it’s from the future.Andrew Cherney

Long story short, that badly corroded bike was rediscovered in 2005 and painstakingly restored, and several years later, it even won Best In Class at the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in the motorcycle category.

Concept 7 design
The challenge of the Concept 7 design was to honor the original yet still utilize modern solutions while setting a new level of overall execution.Joseph Hitzlelberger/RSD

That's a lot to digest right out of the gate, and to make things really challenging, the RSD boys began the whole journey of reimagining that long-lost design with nothing more than a motor and transmission in a frame table. The original motor from RSD's Concept 90 project was sitting at the RSD HQ unused, and it turned out to be the perfect kickstart to what was to be a long custom project.

So design drawings were made, details were discussed, and every section of the original bike dissected as Roland and his crew combed through R7 images and assessed the machine from every angle. The aim was to achieve a balance in the overall design, to both honor the original BMW and yet to still push the envelope in terms of quality and execution.

The split line of the frame and the motor—which looked cast together on the original R7—was debated over endlessly. The RSD shop fabbed the lower side panels out of aluminum to duplicate the feel of the original bike as well as mimicking the way the frame wrapped around the front of the motor and breastplate on the original design.

RSD built the 2-into-1 exhaust system
RSD built the 2-into-1 exhaust system in-house. The single pipe means the bike could be narrow on the left side while still having enough ground clearance on the right. The lightweight RSD Traction Wheel is hugged by a custom RSD fender.Joseph Hitzelberger/RSD

Meanwhile, the gas tank was fabricated with the stock fuel pump components and fitted over a steel frame that was also done in-house. In a nod to the original design, RSD welded the rear fender directly to the frame, something the shop says actually helped with the overall flow of the lines, even though it’s not exactly a common move. But function be damned, right?!

It went like that with nearly every section of the build—a heel-operated linked RSD braking system with RSD floorboards was designed to operate both front and rear brakes without looking clunky, and even the simple handlebars hide an internal throttle operating twin carbs.

BMW R nineT Pure 1
RSD used a stock BMW R nineT Pure 1,170cc motor and transmission, but added new pipes and RSD custom velocity stacks for intakes. All the paint was stripped off of the motor too.Joseph Hitzelberger/RSD

The bodywork on the frame wasn’t just for looks either; it also carried a number of crucial points for mounting the inner aluminum frame panels, electrics, shift mechanism, and lots of other smaller detail items. The bike had to run and work as well as it looked, though the shop crew will tell you it rides more like a rigid chopper than a luxury tourer.

Exile Cycles internal throttle-operating twin carbs
Fabricated bars were inspired by the original mustache units, but these have an Exile Cycles internal throttle-operating twin carbs. The super-dark paint, applied by Chris Wood of Airtrix, is actually a deep blue. Wood also did the original-inspired line work.Joseph Hitzelberger/RSD

And how about that gorgeous paint? Roland enlisted the services of Chris Wood from Airtrix who applied the midnight blue color (supplied by the bike’s owner, and previously used on a Porsche Speedster). The color is so dark you could almost swear it’s black, but up close you see the true hue and how it offsets the raw, stripped motor and RSD valve covers. Wood also laid down the original-inspired line work for an exquisite finishing touch.

For context, Roland Sands Design’s Concept 7 had been in the works for a while now, with Roland and crew putting in more than six months of solid fabrication and build time (on top of months of design work before that) before wrapping up in November 2018. If this ain’t a labor of love, we don’t know what is.

RSD Valve covers
The Black Ops detailing on the RSD Valve covers offsets the raw motor and picks up the lines of the luggage rack and RSD breastplate.Joseph Hitzelberger/RSD
aluminum panels
The RSD shop fabbed the lower side panels out of aluminum to duplicate the feel of the original bike.Joseph Hitzelberger/RSD
aluminum gas tank
The aluminum gas tank was fabricated with the stock fuel pump components, while Roland worked in a shift lever through the tank to operate the stock BMW gearbox, as a nod to the original bike.Joseph Hitzelberger/RSD
Chopper Daves
The one-off taillight/stop lens and license plate were designed using images of the original and crafted by Chopper Daves.Joseph Hitzelberger/RSD
RSD R7
This is no stock bike with a body kit. The RSD R7 is built in the vision of the original, through and through.Joseph Hitzelberger/RSD
Concept 7
In a prepainted, not-yet-completed state, the Concept 7 is still a looker. The headlight shell came off a Ural and accepts the stock BMW gauge and lamp with nearly no modifications.Joseph Hitzelberger/RSD
components to fabricate
So many components to fabricate. But once the bodywork went on, the grins were a mile wide.Joseph Hitzelberger/RSD