Project R9T Japan was the name given to a special BMW Motorrad project that set a challenge to four leading Japanese customisers, whereby each produced a unique version of the German brand’s innovative R nineT Roadster. This followed the successful completion of several builds from renowned European custom houses, and the biking world was once again rocked into appreciation when the four Japanese builders revealed their finished machines. Now it’s time to showcase the projects in detail, starting with Shiro Nakajima of company 46Works and its Clubman Racer.From the myriad of bikes transformed from simple statement of pleasurable riding ability to one of singular purpose, Shiro Nakajima’s Clubman Racer has to figure in the top ten best ever, if not in the top five! To take an honest and exceptional machine and then convert it into a devastating performance tool while looking good takes some doing. But it can be done and Clubman Racer is comprehensive evidence.The first thing Nakajima concentrated on was lightness. Nothing has been added that would make the bike heavier; it is composed of materials and a design that is aimed at making it lighter without compromising performance. Although Clubman Racer hasn’t officially been weighed, it is approximately 30 kg lighter than the standard R nineT. Because Nakajima is such a polished perfectionist, it wouldn’t surprise us to see the official weight figure mirror his guess. The end result is the rider can actually feel the bike is lighter simply by pushing it. Like many engineers, Nakajima works with the ethic that lightness equals speed and a good ride, and the reason why he gave this area the most attention.On looks alone it is obvious he achieved what he was aiming to create – a bike that would be really enjoyable to ride on winding mountain roads and the track. Improving the nineT’s already excellent riding dynamics is one thing, but making the external design of the bike to suit the new performance aspect and its positioning was a little more difficult. Until this bike, Nakajima had only made one tank and seat unit from aluminum plating, which meant little experience in having to make everything by hand from scratch. After these, he made other components like the muffler and the rearset-style footpegs. But, as said, it was the external design and look of the bike that gave Nakajima the biggest challenge.“I didn’t have much experience with beating out a sheet of metal for the external design,” says Nakajima. “This made the work particularly difficult. I re-did the tank in different ways and asked people for advice who are more expert in panel beating than me. In the end it was possible to create the tank and other components through a process of trial and error.”“When I first saw and experienced the bike for myself I thought it would be difficult to create a custom-build. For example, there are many electronic parts, including computers and ABS units, positioned in various locations on the bike that I thought would be a difficult task to actually move and relocate. However, once I set about the job of creating a custom bike, I found that these parts could actually be removed and relocated, which made the work easier. There were no aspects of the design or construction that I had to compromise on just because the nineT is a brand-new bike, and neither did I have to give up on any of my ideas just because the bike is the latest model.”Although a standard nineT is designed to allow owners to go part way in modifying to their own taste and set-up, Clubman Racer is altogether a different prospect but quantifies what can be produced with passion and dedication. There is also a small matter of experience. In the case of Shiro Nakajima, his experience started at the age of 18 when he got to grips with a Yamaha SR400 and changed the standard handlebars for clip-ons, part-constructed an exhaust system, and the meter panel was a homebrew item from sheet metal.Further experience during his 20 years as a specials builder also came from the time Nakajima spent creating many other highly praised BMW specials at Ritmo Sereno, a Japanese tuning/custom specialist of BMW and vintage motorcycles. Starting his new design company, 46Works, also meant moving to a new location and this impacted on the build of Clubman Racer. The majority of the design and build work happened at the later stages of the project, which meant burning a lot of midnight oil and electricity. But even so, Nakajima admits no matter how much time you have to make a build, there will always be details that you want to change or improve right up until the last second. “I carried on like this up until the morning of the final day,” said Nakajima, laughing. “I don’t know when to give up!”R9T Project Japan’s official completion day was earmarked for the annual BMW Motorrad Days Japan (30-31 August 2014) held for the 14th year at Hakuba47, Mountain Sports Park, Japan. Clubman Racer and the three other project bikes were presented to the massive crowd, along with global viewers via an internet live feed. The reception they received was outstanding. There were several offers from home and abroad of wanting to purchase Clubman Racer and an enquiry to build a replica. Now the rest of the world’s motorcycle media has featured the project bikes, many more offers have been aimed in the direction of Shiro Nakajima and his fellow protagonists within Project R9T Japan.With long days crafting and mental exertion from completing detailed components, Nakajima has obviously extended his customising experience. So what key messages of advice can he give budding customisers to help them on their way? “Hmmm… have friends who can cooperate to help production. Know other builders who can give stimulus, and have many energy drinks!”Specifications – Clubman Racer by 46Works (Shiro Nakajima)Engine: Hand-fabricated one-off aluminium air cleaner box, titanium ram-air inlet duct, titanium exhaust headers and titanium silencer. Earl’s braided steel hosing and oil coolerChassis: Standard main frame with one-off powder-coated aluminium seat rail subframe and top fork yoke. Modified steering stem with steering damper removed. Öhlins front forks. Brembo front brake radial master cylinder. Bitu R&D inner front brake disc rotor and ABS removed. Öhlins rear shock absorber. Bito R&D/Magtan 3.50 x 17in front & rear wheels. Pirelli Diablo Corsa tyres (120/70 x 17 front, 180/55 x 17 rear)Detail: Fuel tank and seat cowl – one-off (panel-beaten) aluminium. Back-Skin leather seat from RazzleDazzle. Clip-on handlebars by Battle Factory. One-off footpegs, levers and number plate holder. Bates-style Posh headlight. Daytona rear light. Kijima indicators. Dash display (Motoscope-pro) by Motogadget. Aliant replacement battery. Main body paintwork by Stupid Crown.
Follow us on our Facebook page. Click on I LIKE and you won't miss any news.