The art of bike customisation is as old as the first motorcycle that was created.
Over the past century there aren’t many genres of motorcycle that haven’t been transformed into another genre by custom specialists. But who would have thought that the ultimate in sports motorcycle design – the BMW S 1000 RR – could also be reworked by creative hands into something even more stunning while retaining its race-replica performance? Witness the magnificent PRAËM S 1000 RR.
As far as beautiful motorcycles go, the PRAËM S 1000 RR must surely rank within the top 10 of the most desirable custom motorcycles ever to see sunlight. Not only that, it is a custom motorcycle that retains the original powerplant’s attributes of 199 hp (146 kW) and a massive 113Nm strike of pure torque. Plus it also keeps the electronic suspension, traction control and race-like geometry to enable it to be ridden in the same manner as the original donor BMW S 1000 RR.
“So yes, road or track, this unique machine still scythes through bends with authority, while at the same time it looks like no other Double-R.”
Behind every great idea, design and actual build of a custom bike there is usually one mind with a healthy dose of technical wizardry flowing through his or her fingertips. But with the PRAËM machine there are two men behind its conception. Step forward Sylvain and Florent Berneron, two young French brothers who have a knack for craftsmanship especially when working with motorcycles. Being born into a family that regularly raced motocross they quickly developed a keen sense of competiveness and an intricate understanding of bikes. The dynamic duo make up the management, design team and every other job position in a company that produces hand-made specialist motorcycles.
The purpose of the design, according to Sylvain, is first to show a bigger range of what you can do in custom and, second, to demonstrate that modifying sport bikes is a lot more technical and the build needs to be very precise in order for it to work. “We are also trying to connect racing and custom. Creating a race bike is a form of customising – in the old days a lot of race bikes were prototypes based on road bikes. Custom is the same; you have a vision and you make it happen to see how it works.”
As it stands, design, chassis and component build-wise, the PRAËM RR is all the work of the Berneon brothers. The front fairing is based on a Suzuka 8-hour endurance bike and has one light on the right side. But of course the fairing required modifying for a perfect fit on the RR and to accommodate all the technical requirements for the RR. A perfect example of the need to adapt to suit is the air inlet (ram-air) system at the front; it is narrower in some places and wider in others. Having a fairing to work from helps, but as there was nothing available that would fit the RR the seat unit is completely hand-made, a truly one-off piece of fabrication.
Although first looks tell you the bike isn’t that far removed from the standard machine, in reality there has been an awful lot of work to get it to the wonderful creation it is. The fuel tank alone, reckons Sylvain, is 70% reconfigured in aluminium. Being 50mm longer than standard and with the top section revised in order to fit a Stäubli endurance-style quick-fill fuel cap system, that figure of 70% is not beyond belief. And this is just one area of the bike that has had significant time spent in getting it… just right.
The carbon wheels are another section of the RR that will make aficionados of motorcycle racing components and accessories go weak at the knees. Manufactured by Rotobox, these wheels are approximately 5kg lighter than the S 1000 RR’s already lightweight wheels. That’s 5kg of reduced unsprung weight, which in turn reduces inertia and gyroscopic effect to aid steering by speeding up the rate of turn-in.
“We have used Sicom carbon-ceramic brakes, too,” says Sylvain. “The front and rear suspension is standard because they are controlled by the rider and we wanted to keep the electronic adjustment. The triple clamps are modified, the front air inlet system is redesigned to fit the fairing and the airbox cover is now made from aluminium. The engine is stock because it is way powerful enough although we now use titanium exhaust downpipes by Akrapovič with a one-off silencer. The radiator is of endurance specification so no ventilators anymore. Brakes and coolant hoses all feature Stäubli quick release connectors. The subframe and battery carrier are made by us. There is more… Actually, it would be easier to say the engine, suspension, swingarm and main frame are standard!”
“Thanks to all this race-proven equipment the S 1000 RR by PRAËM is 20 kg lighter than the standard RR!”
If the involved engineering isn’t enough to make any right-minded individual appreciate the quality of work then the covering paint definitely will. Inspiration for this eye-catching design came from the very famous and original 1975 BMW Art Car by Alexander Calder. Strategic choice of colour and its placement is very much part of custom builds, and while this RR is definitely a masterpiece on wheels it also highlights, mostly from the race-like sponsorship logos, the racing nature of the bike and how it should be ridden.
The goal was to build and show a different machine; one that still encapsulates personal interpretation but at the same time not screw up the base bike.
This is about creating a bike based on performance and style, not just style.
The Berneron brothers succeeded in what they set out to do. The S 1000 RR into an outstanding tribute to racebikes from that period. With its outstanding performances this custom bike certainly has its place on a racetrack.
The PRAËM RR is an official BMW Motorrad France project. For Frédéric Stik, BMW Motorrad France general, the project represents..“a wonderful homage to BMW Motorrad DNA as the brand has always pushed hard regarding motorsport, including tourist trophy, speed records, sidecar world championship, Paris-Dakar, Superbike and Endurance. The S 1000 RR by PRAËM is a brand new and fresh vision of what can be done in the custom motorcycle field.”
-Photography by Bike Exif.