With emissions regulations tightening around the globe and Euro 5 having effectively killed off a host of long-running models, how much longer can air-cooled motorcycles survive? Triumph didn’t wait to be pushed and have ensured their retro range is here for the future, so will the BMW R nineT hang on, only time will tell. But while it does, the highly talented team of custom builders at VTR Motorrad will continue to churn them out as killer builds for their clients. The latest bike to roll out of the VTR Customs side of the shop in Switzerland is this 1990s race car-inspired machine they call ‘Silk Tracker’.
The Le Mans cars of the ’80s and ’90s just might have produced more memorable racing liveries than any other period in history. The Rothman’s Porsches, Renown Mazda, the last of the Martini Lancia’s and of course the stunning Jaguar XJR-9 with the Silk Cut colour scheme. For those old enough to remember the era, the racing was incredible, as everyone turned the other cheek as cigarette companies poured millions of dollars into sponsorship. Those days are thankfully long gone, but the images are burnt into the brains of many, and Dani from VTR is no different.
“Since the NineT Racer was not too successful and production was stopped, we started to get creative and have transformed many Racers into a new life, such as this conversion to a flat tracker in 2021 named ‘Silk Cut’ inspired by Jaguar Racing Team.” Starting with the now defunct 2017 Racer the crew got its fairings off and stripped the bike back to its bones, in preparation for one of their full on assaults. The visual transformation of the bike is impossible to ignore and starting at the front is a hand made alloy number plate mounted tight to the forks in place of the big cafe cowl.
Next up the big BMW tank was straightened out and to give it a more classic look, the modern flush fit filler cap was cut out and in its place is a raised Monza filler. Dani’s noticed a trend in the commentary of late, so not wanting to leave a front fender off the bike he went with a hand made “Ghost model, invisible,” he laughs. Onto more serious business and the multi piece factory subframe is reduced back to its main section and then a hooped fender hanger added to hold a very real hand-rolled piece.
Underneath has been tidied up, with as many of the electrics neatly fitted under the seat as possible. Then the crew made a new solo seat that perfectly follows the lines of the frame and tank and then sent it over to Yves Knobel Upholstery. Their work is simply stunning, with an Aubergine Alcantara covering, paint matching stitch, and a bunch of little features to catch the eye. Then it was time to lay on the colour and they’ve knocked it out of the park, choosing to replicate the Le Man’s winning Silk Cut paint scheme and it transforms the bike. With neat touches like the purple on the BMW badges and all offset by a carbon tank strap.
Speaking of carbon, the team didn’t hold back and lashed out on a big dollar set of Rotobox Bullet carbon wheels wrapped up in Dunlop Mutant rubber. Saving well over 10lbs of rotating mass, there is simply no other single modification you can perform to a motorcycle that delivers so much in improved braking, better handling and faster acceleration; they look hot too. To further beef up the braking a set of Magura HC1 master cylinders for the front brake and clutch have been fitted and are bolted down to the Magura AX2 handlebars.
The engine doesn’t miss out either having been all blacked out and given a set of big pod filters so the stock airbox could be removed. The black theme continues with the Hattech Pure Craft HIGH exhaust system, with the headers wrapped up like the exhausts on those ’80s race cars. To complete the build a custom number plate holder was made and Kellermann lighting used throughout. The finished product is simply stunning, with the go to match the show, for one hell of a street bike. Dani is quick to point out that the handmade items are all one-off, no kit parts here, but they do have plenty more brilliant BMW’s on the way.