As people’s appetite for cookie-cutter, looped-and-knobblied customs appears to be waning builders are going to ever increasing lengths to demonstrate their engineering or fabricating prowess. A bit of fancy TiG work on an exhaust and a Motogadget speedo set into a triple clamp simply doesn’t cut the mustard these days. And while the experienced hands and the supremely talented wow us all with their traditional craftsmanship there are a few young guns flexing their hi-tech muscles to produce some staggering motorcycles.
Marios Nikolaidis from Greece studied Motorsport Engineering at Brunel University and along with his father Dino run DNA Filters. And to showcase their impressive range of performance filtration products they built a beastly KTM RC8 that took pride of place on the Bike Exif display at this year’s Bike Shed London 2018 show – see the feature here. I had a chat with Marios back in May and he promised something a bit special for the next project. And he wasn’t kidding!
Dino successfully competed on an 80cc aluminium monocoque racer three decades ago and the duo thought it an idea to rekindle nostalgia in the form of this BMW R nineT – machined from a huge alloy slab (otherwise known as a billet, if you didn’t know). Ten billets of 6082 T651 grade aluminium were painstakingly CNC machined and then welded and bolted together to create a light, honeycomb structure that utilises the power plant as a stressed member. There have been a few unibody style builds published recently but this is a true monocoque construction, something that takes an awful lot of planning and calculating to ensure stresses and forces are distributed correctly. And here the original BMW geometry has been superseded by a more aggressive set of angles. Clear anodising throughout will ensure the purposefully visible tooling marks are crisp for a long time to come.
The fuel tank sits just above the transmission for improved weight distribution and the much modified CAN bus wiring loom neatly nestles in the tail. This combined seat and tail utilises the same honeycomb aluminium as the main frame and connects using aerospace grade bolts, yet there’s no visible joint. A titanium quick release fastener under the blue Alcantara seat pad provides access beneath where a the D-Key is positioned for starting the engine, as well as access to the fuel tank.
The top cover that cloaks the fuel tank, programmable ECU and battery box is fixed by titanium bolts (lock wired for raciness) and plays a structural role, adding torsional stiffness to the machined side sections. But the eye is drawn straight to the TFT telemetry display mounted behind the headstock, an SDM 550 unit made specifically for the DCR-018 by PLEX-Tuning. Bespoke triple clamps vie for attention with the race-spec 43mm, DLC coated Hyperpro fork, which is conventional rather than USD. Retro inspired looks with GP internals – juxtaposed like the rest of this bike.
A matching Hyperpro 3D shock in the rear is mounted to another machined masterpiece – the alloy swingarm. Again, hewn from billet to a radical design. Not only is the rising rate completely linear but the Beemer’s cardan shaft runs externally via a special ‘Z shaft’ to the original rear hub. Kineo wheels and Michelin Power Slick Evo tyres continue the lightweight and racy theme.
ISR monobloc callipers mount radially to the Hyperpro fork and BrakeTech AXIS full floating 320mm cast iron discs have been bolted with titanium fasteners and fastidiously lock wired. Custom machined clipon bars carry ISR levers and master cylinders with integrated Purpose Built Moto switchgear that works seamlessly with the notoriously-awkward-to-tamper-with BMW CAN bus system.
The motor is stock internally but now runs a free-breathing Akrapovič titanium exhaust system. But the reason for this project’s being is of course to showcase DNA’s class-leading air filters. Marios wanted to improve the volumetric efficiency of the intake system so ran the calculations to produce a wonderfully elaborate ram-air setup. Massive billets of 6082 were machined to form the 600mm long intake tracts, that double as the structure to mount the screen and LED headlight.
The new tracts channel air to clear Lexan pods containing a brace of award winning 66mm, leather topped DNA filters. The cool, pressurised charge continues along titanium pipework to the throttle bodies. Just this component in itself would be enough to bend the minds of most but Marios and Dino didn’t stop there. The fish skeleton looking thing behind the front wheel is actually an oil cooler. Again, milled from billet.
I’m in Milan visiting the EICMA show and will be making a b-line to the DNA Filters stand to see if Marios and Dino are buried in a mountain of aluminium swarf and chips. Building a regular custom bike takes way more hours and effort than is healthy but the DCR-018 actually makes me feel a bit queasy. This project must have been their lives for the last 6 months.
We’re looking forward to seeing more from DNA and welcome this futuristic wave of custom builders. For now check out this dedicated DCR-018 website for the full spec and exhaustive component list – here.
Images by Mattia Negrini