The motorcycle body kit method for creating something just for you.
The desire for a one-of-a-kind motorcycle runs deep among many riders. It is what spawned the creation of custom bikes since a day or two after the first motorcycle was purchased off the showroom floor. The desire is in no way limited to motorcycles. Cars, trucks and just about every other rolling form of transport is subject to the same yearning for uniqueness. It’s what happens in a mass produced market where your motorcycle is the same as the next rider who walks into the showroom and buys the same make and model. Riders have always tried to individualize their bikes, everything from a few stickers here and there, to a paint job, some accessories, or even a ground-up build.
But it’s the custom bikes that require bending, fabricating and meticulous craftsmanship over hundreds of hours that truly set the mark. But there’s a hitch. You pay handsomely for a professional builder to create that unique machine. Amateurs can trust their own skills to get to a one-of-a-kind bike but the result is very dependent on the level of skill and the numbers of hours donated to the project. Outcomes have run the spectrum.
There are a few options on the middle ground between logo stickers and big dollar customs. You can buy a factory limited edition—not too many others exactly like it but often a great many that are close. You can buy a factory bike with a short shelf life—one that didn’t last many years in the market but still left an impression, good or bad, before it disappeared. Think Rune, B-King, MT-01, XR1200. The problem is you need to be able to find one and have that special feeling for it—a “You had me at ignition” kind of moment. You have to feel it was perfect the day it came out of the factory – and always will be..
There is another way to make your bike special and the good news is that you often don’t need a rare, hard-to-find bike to get you there. It’s the motorcycle body kit and it is a great way to ride something unique. Don’t fear, these kits aren’t the kind that tried to turn a Fiero into a faux-Ferrari or Lamborghini but kits that take competent modern bikes and transform them into competent modern bikes that look completely different.
If you don’t want to fabricate, cut, bend, weld and do all the things best left to the professionals or extremely skilled amateurs or if you don’t have months to neglect the family while you tinker in the garage, the body kit might be the answer to your one-of-a-kind dreams. Many of these kits require simple tools. Bolt and play if you will. Yes, a few other motorcycle body kits like your motorcycle body kit will exist elsewhere but you will still be riding—under all that new coolness—a safe modern motorcycle no one in your city, province or maybe even Canada has.
The Carbon Makeover
The XSR900 is one of the best looking bikes Yamaha has released in the last 10 years. Clean design, several finely detailed accent pieces, a taillight that looks better on it than it does on the Bolt from which it’s borrowed, a nice saddle and interesting paint options. It can be dressed up a little more with a flyscreen, rear seat cowl and even a bellypan. All that’s missing is the yellow and black paint scheme of the 2016 anniversary edition.
Then there is the MT-09 based on the same platform. Granted, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the MT-09 sits in styling limbo neither attractive nor unattractive but, what the hell, you buy the MT-09 for the fantastic triple its frame wraps around. There is something you can do about the bike’s looks if a little more spice is required. Enter the XR9 Carbona kit from Bottpower, which turns your run-of-the-mill bike into that current star, the flat tracker with a twist.
The kit comes with multiple body pieces to hide the bike’s origins, the showcase of which is the carbon fibre tank cover with accompanying carbon fibre intake snorkels. Other pieces include a front number plate with incorporated LED daytime running lights, a carbon fibre seat assembly featuring a very thin seat pad and integrated taillights. The radiator shrouds have not only cleverly positioned headlights but also aerodynamic winglets just like the MotoGP fast boys.
The good news is that this motorcycle body kit comes ready to plug and play. Bottpower claims that an experienced person could change a regular MT-09 into a Bottpower XR9 in only four hours. “A dummy may do it in around eight hours,” they say, without being specific about whom they’re calling a dummy. The good news doesn’t end there. Since all the pieces are bolt-on there are no changes to the frame or engine so you are left with the reliability of your original Yamaha and the wild looks of a custom flat tracker. Pretty sweet deal. Bottpower says the kit will work with both the XSR900 or the MT-09 or even a Tracer donor bike. It’s up to you, but leave the XSR900, especially the 2016, the way it is – beautiful.
We have to make mention of two other Bottpower bodykits simply because they’re for a relatively obscure niche. They offer very slick flat tracker and cafe racer kits for the air-cooled V-Twin Buell XB12.
The company isn’t just about the flash, there is genuine racing pedigree behind the Bottpower group. In 2017 a rider on a Bottpower machine finished fourth overall for motorcycles at the Pikes Peak Hillclimb.
The 1930s Revisited
BMW’s 1934 R7 was an especially innovative concept bike but its reveal was followed by the horrors of World War II and the art deco-styled machine was never produced. Legend has it the bike was put in a box prior to the war where it remained hidden and forgotten until the container was dusted off and opened in 2005. (If this story is true the opening should have been accompanied by a mysterious glowing light and a soundtrack of harps). The bike was restored by BMW’s Classics division and remains one of a kind and virtually priceless.
While the R7 was not produced, several styling elements can be seen on the later R5 and on the recent retro machine, the R18. If the stylings of BMW’s R18 catch your eye but you prefer a bike with a touch less girth or if you want to pay tribute to that long lost R7, NMoto of Florida offers the RsevenT kit which turns a stock RnineT into a beautiful retro tribute while keeping intact the obvious technical upgrades and modern conveniences of the donor bike.
The inspiration R7 and the new kit’s donor RnineT are separated by more than 80 years of motorcycle development, but NMoto has done an admirable job of interpreting the past while incorporating the very modern motorcycle. But it takes a lot of pieces to make the change happen. Included in the bolt-on kit is a long list of parts including fenders, headlight bucket, side panels, gas tank with cap, swingarm cover, fuel pump with accompanying filter and hose.
While the very comprehensive motorcycle body kit will require time to transform one bike to another and may require professional help depending on the owner’s experience, the company says the kit can be installed without special, tools, cutting, welding, or drilling. If you keep all your parts clearly labeled and in the same box, the RsevenT can be returned to a stock RnineT with its accompanying disc brakes and standard foot shifter. The original R7 featured drum brakes and an unusual H-shaped hand shifter on the tank—a little bit of history NMoto wisely chose to omit in developing this kit.
But NMoto was not done with the RsevenT when it comes to unique kits for BMW products as the company has something else up their sleeve.
The upcoming Golden Age kit which is still under development requires a BMW C 400 X as a donor. The result is equally unique and displays inspiration from scooters like the 1930 Henderson KJ streamliner. NMoto says only a limited 100 kits will be available for the Golden Age and will be priced at US$7,900. Again the advantage of the new scooter will be carried over to an arguably more stylish ride.
The Future Via the 1950s
The Jaeger kit from Bandit 9 re-imagines the Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 and the bike seems an appropriate platform. The Jaeger has the flare of what was deemed “futuristic” during the ‘Rocket Age’ of the 1950s—it presents as a long glistening torpedo on the verge of launching into the stratosphere. The Royal Enfield Continental donor itself has authentic 1950s flavour so the union is a happy marriage. As with other elaborate kits, the list of modifications is long and comprehensive and includes surgical steel grade tank, front and rear cowls, custom fenders, gauges, exhaust and handlebars among many other components. Perhaps the most handsome aspects of the kit are the subtle incorporations of modern touches like the LED headlight, taillight and signals into the design. The kit is available as a standalone or Bandit9 will include it installed with a Royal Enfield and shipped to your door should you not want to turn the wrenches but few of the limited edition builds remain.
As illustrated by other body kits in this story, the donor bike for conversion is sometimes rare, obscure, or unusual. The Deus XJR-X kit is built to reshape the Yamaha XJR1300 into the style of a 1970s/80s-era racer, and the XJR falls into one of these categories because the bike itself was not available in North America—this is odd because it seems purpose built for our market. As a heads-up the last iteration of the XJR1300 was a retro styled machine with an enormous air-cooled inline four. We lamented back in 2016 that inexplicably the XJR1300 was not being offered in North America—a shame because it had been recently updated as a retro-style café racer and given that great yellow and black paint scheme for the anniversary edition. The closest we came to the XJR goes back many years to the FJ1100 powerplant. The XJR1300 in its retro attire was damn good looking bike. Good enough to be left alone (below).
However XJR 1300 dates back to 1998-1999 and the styling of the years before the retro-refresh need a shot in the arm if you want something different for an aging but available platform with a big, smooth and now unusual motor. The Deus Ex Machina kit comes with handmade aluminum tank, cowl, bodywork, fenders, clip-on bars, a narrower two-up seat, full exhaust and more. The kit can be further upgraded with a six-piston brake system, magnesium wheels and Ohlins fork. All this comes at a substantial additional cost (CDN $11,285) so better start with a good price on the donor. The converted bike is different, flexing an industrial race chic. Is it beautiful? Perhaps not but it does come across as sleek and purposeful.
Fun With Monkeys
This motorcycle body kit is no longer available but as we are Monkey heavy this issue, and easily amused, we have to include it. The Baja Monkey mentioned earlier was available with a body kit that turned it into a diminutive Africa Twin—if not in capability, at least in style. This cartoonishly fun kit might be the most easily installed conversion of all time as it simply slipped down on top of the existing Baja Monkey. To fill the tank, you flipped open a lid on the kit’s faux cap, then reached down to open the actual gas tank below. The stylish red saddle was OEM, which remained uncovered. Other kit components included a fender extender, small bash plate and tiny wind deflector. This calls for a similar kit for the Grom in the style of the new Africa Twin or in another category, the CBR1000RR.
Canadian Biker ISSUE #353