Customizers have been preparing for this day for months, tinkering in their workshops at night to be ready on time for Glemseck 101. They present the finest custom bikes at the Essenza Sprint. The two-wheeled works of art combine performance and design and encapsulate the very essence of a motorcycle. The rules are quite simple: two wheels, two cylinders, a maximum of 1200 cc. But the implementation is an art in itself.
A murmur goes through the crowd when the 16 custom bikes for the Essenza Sprint are presented to the audience at Glemseck 101. The multitude of visual treats could fill whole picture books. Skilled hands have freed roadsters, cruisers and naked bikes of their standard trim and transformed them into visionary one-offs. Because the creators of the sprint call for motorcycle manufacturers and importers to create the essence of a motorcycle – and to present it not just once at the sprint at Glemseck 101, but also a second time at the Intermot in Cologne.
In addition to the creations from BMW Motorrad, Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Kawasaki, Moto Guzzi, Suzuki, Triumph and Yamaha, five talented customizers will also show what matters most, in their eyes; what the essence of a motorcycle is. Among them are Diamond Atelier from Munich, VTR Customs from Switzerland and Urban Motor from Berlin. The range of motorcycles extends from purist or radical café racers, to heritage superbikes, to minimalist two-wheelers that don't even hit the 100-kilo mark on the scales. "The class is a huge surprise. All of the models are very different; from extensively modified stock bikes to completely newly built vehicles with handmade parts, it's all there", says Christian Pingitzer, Head of Sales and Marketing for Heritage and Customizing at BMW Motorrad.
Fistfighter from Taiwan
Winston did not use any colours on his Bavarian Fistfighter. The eye should be drawn to the sophisticated parts, which were specially made for the bike and create a harmonious whole. The reference to the classic models from BMW Motorrad is easy to see, reflected in the bulbous tank, the seat designed like a traditional rubber saddle or the snowflake-shaped wheels. Winston left the engine of the production bike unchanged and skilfully hid the electronics. "It should look simple, although it's definitely anything but", he says, laughing. Then he gets ready to race. His focus for the Essenza Sprint race is clear: he wants to score points with his design.
Winston Yeh carefully strokes the deep-black tank of the Bavarian Fistfighter. Then he proudly folds his arms over his chest and smiles at the photographers' cameras, which are positioned in front of the Essenza bikes. The gifted industrial designer flew in especially from Taiwan to present his masterpiece at Glemseck 101. Sprint races are not a speciality for Winston – who founded the coveted customizer Rough Craft – even though the R nineT custom can definitely perform. "I'm not a racer. Although in Taiwan we probably have the most motorcycles and scooters per square metre, but they're for driving to work normally, not racing. But I'm totally enjoying being here. I love the unbelievably cool atmosphere at Glemseck 101".
Jeff Wright's signature
An American couple mingle among the excited crowd in the paddock in front of the furlong. CCM champion, Nate Kern, surveys the scenery from the saddle of his bike, which like him, made the long journey from the United States to Glemseck 101. The R nineT custom that he is riding today comes from the forge of Jeff Wright. He has made a name for himself worldwide with his legendary custom bike shop, Church of Choppers. Since Jeff cannot be at Glemseck in person, Nate takes control of the lightweight bike. When Jeff got to work on the original R nineT, he wanted to remove as much ballast as possible. So he first removed all of the electronic equipment and replaced the modern fuel injection system with the good old carburettor principle.
Jeff Wright chose a high-shine, anodised frame and a finely wrought single seat for the custom bike. Surprisingly, the tank does not bear the American colours, but instead shines with the black, red and gold of the German flag in the afternoon sun. A tribute to intercontinental friendship. He hasn't changed anything about the engine. "What Jeff has created here is spectacular", says Christian Pingitzer. "Of course fuel injection is a better choice when it comes to pure performance. But the bike looks great, it's light, fast and has an infernal sound." Nate Kern can handle carburettors and whips the Church of Choppers to the front in the furlong. But the second stage is his last.
Diamond Atelier number 4
Tom Konecny and Pablo Steigleder from Munich could probably hardly imagined that, three years after founding Diamond Atelier, they would enter the ring against the big players of the motorcycle industry. Diamond Atelier is one of five private custom workshops that were nominated for the Essenza Sprint and are now displaying their magnificent masterpieces. The two youngsters send the DA#4 into the race – the fourth creation from their workshop.
The R nineT custom is the result of a cooperation with the basketball label K1X: the brand's autumn/winter collection provided the inspiration for the design. Aggressive, low slung and purist: with these attributes, Tom and Pablo are shaping the new generation of café racers. The highlights are the air inlet through the handmade tank and the redesigned high-end electronics. The logos are made of silver and have been accessorised with real diamonds in the Diamond Atelier style. In the saddle sits the ex-professional racer and GRIP test rider Jens Kuck.
A bull called Goodwood 12
Amelie Mooseder drops onto the tank of her racer and gives it a kiss. "It was unbelievable to ride this bike. Look at it, this purist design and the handmade rear. For me, that's the essence of a motorcycle", she says. The fact that Amelie lost out to Carl Fogarty in the sprint for a place in the semi-finals is only a minor issue. The R 1200 R Goodwood 12 clearly demonstrated its performance. „Our boxer is technically very well equipped for short sprints with lots of torque and a quick shifter", says Daniel Weidmann from the bike forge VTR Customs.
The Swiss team built the racer completely in their own workshop. They made the body parts from hand-thinned aluminium, which was brushed and given large cooling fins. "We wanted to achieve the look of an attacking bull. Broad shoulders, narrow waist." The bull's next fight is at the Intermot, when the Essenza models will compete against each other again and the final winner in racing and design will be decided.
Vote for your favourite
If you have a favourite design from the Essenza motorcycles, you can vote for it online. Because the design competition is decided equally by the public and a specialist jury of journalists, customizers and designers. Public voting takes place in the time between Glemseck 101 and the Intermot in Cologne. On 8 October, the motorcycles will meet again there in another sprint. Another chance for the BMW motorcycles to up the ante once again. In the "Intermot customized" hall, the Essenza bikes can be judged up close and personally on the around 170 square metre special area. Here, fans can find the international custom scene in concentrated form at the Intermot for the first time.