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Custom à la carte: A BMW R nineT streetfighter from France

May 15, 2023

Lionel Duke builds a little bit of everything. His Nice, France-based custom shop, Duke Motorcycles, has transformed Honda Goldwings, Kawasaki ER6s, and Ducati Scramblers into unique one-off creations in recent years. But the most interesting thing to come from his garage actually isn't a bike at all—it's a box full of parts.

More specifically, a box full of parts to convert any stock BMW R NineT into a radical-looking plug-and-play custom streetfighter. It was this very kit that caught the eye of Duke's latest client, who saw a picture of Lionel's prototype build online and decided he wanted one for himself.

The client loved the original kit's supercar-inspired design, but wanted a few unique touches of their own to truly make it theirs. And Lionel was more than happy to oblige.

"He had been asking around Parisian workshops that offered their own R nineT kits," he says, "but none of them were willing to modify their standard parts to suit his tastes. I told him that it wasn't a problem for me, as I actually prefer to do different things on each project."

After a little back and forth, the final brief landed somewhere between a streetfighter and a muscle car, infused with a number of café racer– and scrambler-inspired touches. Many of the core pieces of the kit were kept in the mix. Lionel fabricated and fitted the kit's generous fiberglass belly pan lower down, and a stylish Alcantara saddle up top.

This one-off adaptation also retained Duke's minimalist air box delete conversion, complete with a shiny new pair of K&N air filters to handle intake duty. Duke's standard battery relocation kit was included as well, giving the R NineT a nice open space in the rear of the frame.

From there, things took a turn. The single Koso LED headlight of the original kit was swapped for a pair of round halogen lights, to better fit the gnarly streetfighter aesthetic.

The front fender comes courtesy of a BMW S1000RR, painted to match the rest of the bike. Out back, the client chose to forsake the kit's original tail section for a minimalist square shell. So Lionel hand-shaped a new unit out of aluminum.

Another change from the established design was the exhaust. The Duke BMW R nineT kit includes a straight pipe that runs up under the tail, but this build called for something more discreet. So Lionel fabricated a full stainless steel system for the build, which he gave a ceramic black coating, and capped off with a GP-style silencer from HP Corse.

With the exhaust out of the way, Lionel also built a special ‘passenger kit’ for the bike. It employs a bolt-on pillion seat and pegs, taking the R nineT from solo ride to passenger-ready in under 10 minutes.

For the cockpit, Lionel went back to the laundry list of parts he usually adds to his kit-built BMWs. It features CNC-machined triples with blacked-out Bonamici Racing clip-ons, and Beringer clutch and brake controls. The speedo, and the bar-end turn signals and mirrors, are all Motogadget parts.

New rear-sets sit lower down, with a nearly-invisible Highsider three-in-one tail kit tucked cleanly away inside the rear cowl.

Keeping with the R nineT's auto-inspired design, the paint job features a combination of Subaru blue and matte gold. Most of the hard parts are finished in black, including the OEM seat supports. There's minimal branding, with additional blue and gold stitching highlights on the black saddle setting things off nicely.

Finishing touches include a set of Continental TKC80 tires to emphasize the build's beastliness, as well as a set of OEM cylinder head guards to keep the bike as shiny as possible if things go sideways. Under the hood, the engine was remapped to run optimally with the new air filters and exhaust.

It's pretty impressive to see just how far from stock a bike can look with zero structural modifications and a box of plug-and-play parts. If Lionel is happy to keep tweaking his formula, we’re looking forward to seeing just how far he can take it.

Duke Motorcycles | Facebook | Instagram | Images by Hubert Hainault