How appropriate - I’m in Germany for Intermot and posting a BMW, the BMW R-5 Homage that was repurposed to fit in the Skin and Bones exhibition in Sturgis where it made its North American debut. Here is how the bike was described for the show by Ola Stenegard, the head of design at BMW and lead on this project.
This bike was actually built as an homage to celebrate the original R5 that was first unveiled in 1936. For this exhibition, we decided to make a "special edition" where the most prominent and important parts of the Boxer engine, the valve covers and the breast plate, got tattooed! To achieve this, we called in Bavarian tattoo artist and chopper rider Nikolaus-NickNitro-Lenk. Born in 1977, Nikolaus, with an education in Fine Arts and a background in street art, has said, "coming from the graffiti Scene I just love to see art rolling!"
While Nick’ s daily business is running his tattoo shop Heilig Blut (Holy Blood) in the city of Erding, Germany, he is also a passionate biker riding his old school choppers all over Europe. "I've been tattooing professionally for more then 15 years, (and have done most of BMW Creative director Ola Stenegard’ s ink). So when Ola approached me about this project, I immediately had a creative vision that was 85% complete without even having seen the bike more then in pictures. It seemed quite clear and simple: a smoking hot sexy bike with a big technical twist: it needs to get tattooed! Basically my Daily Bread! Motorcycles and tattoos always go together. It's just a perfect combination!"
The front engine cover (the breast plate), known as the "heldenbrust" in German, which basically means the "hero's chest." It is one of the most prominent parts of a boxer motor. And as Nick put it "how much more inviting can a Hero's Chest get for a traditional winged heart tattoo?!" For the valve covers, the signature part for each boxer engine as it defines the very model and year, Nick just nailed it on the first try. "It's got a boxer engine! So here I went with a BMW based "tattooed boxer-knuckles, almost like pistons made from ‘ skin and bones’ punching/boxing an imprint from the inside of the valve covers!"
One of the important parts of every official BMW Motorrad custombike is to bring talents together. In this case the R5 Hommage was built by Ronna Noren of Unique Custom Cycle in Sweden under the guidance of Ola Stenegard and his boss Edgar Heinrich from the BMW Motorrad design team.
For the "Skin and Bones” version, the same held true, tattoo artist Nick Nitro was teamed up with 3D modeler extraordinaire Alexander Schaab, who painstakingly turned Nicks ideas into 3D. Hofer Powertrain machined the parts from billet aluminum under the careful guidance of Manfred Feissner. The final touch was done by Nick himself using a Dremel and a modified tattoo machine for engraving!
As Nick sums it up: "Lichter's project is as pure as it gets. It shows the important aspect of the rider and the bike and how their artwork overlaps and flows together in a very organic way."