Great things come in small packages.
The BMW Motorrad custom scene knows no boundaries. Here’s an American-style Tracker created in Japan using a German-developed BMW G 310 R that was produced in India. It truly is a global world we live in...
The BMW Motorrad Heritage range has attracted the attention of many of the world’s most respected bike builders, who have created a number of incredible bespoke machines based on the extremely popular R nineT platform. However, the arrival of the new G 310 R has inspired one Japanese customizer to create a very special one-off ‘Tracker’, using the new 313cc lightweight sports roadster as a base.
Driving a wedge into the custom scene.
BMW Motorrad Japan felt a G 310 R project bike should be entrusted to a builder who specializes in machines in the same category. Wedge Motorcycles, led by Takashi Nihira, was exactly the right fit for this challenging build, as he usually specializes in customizing Japanese bikes with engine displacements between 250-400 cc. Takashi Nihira started Wedge Motorcycles in 2009 after years spent as a sheet metal worker, a dealership mechanic, and an automobile paint shop professional. These formative years equipped him with the skills and contacts to ‘go it alone’ and he initially started out just doing special paintwork, but so many customization projects kept rolling in that he changed his focus towards creating custom bikes. The 35-year-old is one of the few builders who customizes using steel plates and metal, and even does all the paintwork at his factory too. He’s the proud recipient of a prestigious ‘Hot Rod Custom Show’ award and has received the ‘Best of Domestic’ (the most valuable Japanese-based custom bike award) at many custom show contests in Japan.
A HEAD FULL OF IDEAS
As soon as Nihira first saw the G 310 R in the metal at the Tokyo Motorcycle Show in March 2016, he knew he wanted to do something special with it. A deal was agreed for him to build a custom G 310 R for the annual BMW Motorrad Days Japan festival at the end of August. With a head full of ideas, all he needed was for the base machine to arrive at his garage – which it did two months later. It was a long wait but its arrival gave him just eight weeks to prepare a visionary bike that until that point had only existed as a concept in his head.
“I already had photos and documents of the G 310 R, but I wasn’t able to do anything until the actual bike arrived – and when it did, it was all about the fight against time. There were a lot of challenges, but the most interesting one was the bike’s balance. The G 310 R has a rear exhaust engine layout, so compared to a standard front exhaust engine layout, this puts the location of the engine more towards the front of the bike – and that changes the whole balance of the design accordingly. I had to readjust my whole thought process to bring out my own style of customizing into the bike.”
Keeping track of the details.
The ‘Tracker’ style is an American traditional custom style, imitating the look of bikes used for dirt track races. This style is known for the use of large wheels and a thick front wheel, as well as a horizontal body design that enables riders to move easily back and forth while racing. Takashi was keen to recreate this kind of look with the Wedge Motorcycles’ G 310 R custom bike. Motorcycle parts, such as the newly developed liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine and rigid tubular steel frame in the front, the low down upside-down front fork and the rear suspension unit are all standard. However, other parts such as the front and rear 19-inch wheels, tank, rear frame, extended swing arm, muffler, four-link type suspension, right and left foot-pegs and number plate are all originally produced.
The standard G 310 R has a powerfully expressive design that reveals its agile, dynamic character, but the distinctive engine layout and highly robust tubular steel frame are both partially hidden behind bodywork panels. Important to Takashi was to bring these features and the bike’s unique design out more to highlight the lightness and pure essence of BMW Motorrad’s sub-500cc roadster.
A welcome challenge.
“I personally love the tracker style because of the freedom it offers riders,” he says. “I imagined a lightweight custom bike that could be ridden freely in the city – a bike that could be used daily, but also for longer touring. That’s why I also thought about rider lifestyle and fashion when creating this custom bike. To me, a bike is an extension of a jacket or sneakers. Even if the motorcycle itself looks amazing, if it doesn’t fit the owner, it is meaningless. That’s how I feel, and that’s why this G 310 R custom bike was a welcome challenge. The BMW Motorrad world was new to me, so I had no idea of a ‘typical’ owner when BMW Motorrad Japan asked me to create this bike. In the end, I decided on the parts based on my own tastes.”
The own kind.
Nihira-san’s journey into the new G 310 R world of BMW Motorrad has undoubtedly been a successful one, despite the tight timeframe to get the bike ready for the annual BMW Motorrad Days Japan event held on August 27-28 in Nagano. There, the bike was unveiled and it was a huge hit with all visitors – especially as the series production G 310 R is expected to be in great demand as it can be ridden with a standard medium motorcycle license in Japan. And although it looks remarkably different from the original on which it is based, it has given Takashi Nihira an interesting glimpse into a new motorcycling world – and in turn has given customizing fans a truly unique work of two-wheeled art to appreciate. “I had a strong awareness that it should be a BMW motorcycle through and through,” concludes Takashi. “With more time and freedom to work on style, I might have changed more things – such as the frame – but then it would no longer be a true BMW bike. My objective was to try my best to expand on the G 310 R and show the possibilities of this challenging build. I didn’t have another G 310 R to compare it to, so I hope people like it – I do know I was able to produce my kind of bike.”