The world of custom motorcycles is full of beautiful machines, but many of them see little mileage. While that doesn’t stop us from admiring them, we’re suckers for bikes that are designed to be ridden in anger.
Right now, we’re hooked on this BMW R nineT flat track weapon, built by Dan Riley. Based in Burnsville, Minnesota, Dan’s a freelance graphic and product designer who operates as Gunn Design.
The project kicked off in April last year, when Ola Stenegärd himself (then BMW Motorrad’s Head of Vehicle Design, now at Indian) reached out to Dan about customizing an R nineT Pure. Dan’s been riding since age four, so building a show pony was never an option.
Since then, this hooligan racer-slash-street tracker—dubbed ‘Maxx Headroom’—has gone through multiple rounds of changes, and spent as much time on display as it has on the race track.
It’s been shown at Sturgis, Wheels & Waves California, The One Show, The Handbuilt Show and Glemseck 101, and raced at almost all of them.
Most of Dan’s changes have been focused on shedding weight, adding performance, and improving ergonomics: all critical elements of flat track racing. He’s done most of the work himself, all from an area in his design studio where he can “build bikes and get messy.”
The R nineT’s stock bodywork has been replaced, and the new fuel tank is from a 1990 Honda CB400. It was a tricky job: Dan had to cut the bottom section off the OEM tank, and weld it to the Honda tank to get it to fit.
He also fitted a Vortex fuel cap, and modded the fuel pump slightly.
Out back, there’s a carbon fiber flat track tail, modeled on a Ron Wood design, but altered to suit Dan’s taste.
It’s clear coated for a gloss finish and topped off with a custom leather seat pad from Saddlemen, complete with an embroidered Gunn logo. Dan tells us he didn’t need to tweak the subframe much, apart from some tab edits.
Lower down, the R nineT now rolls on a set of typical 19” flat track wheels. Woody’s Wheel Works built the set for Dan, using custom orange anodized hubs laced to custom-drilled Sun rims, and shod with Dunlop rubber.
At first, Dan couldn’t get the rear wheel to fit the space available—but then he switched to a 3.5” wide rim, which flattened the tire out just enough to make it work.
The front suspension is stock, but there’s a custom Race Tech G3-S shock doing duty at the rear. Dan’s upgraded the front brake rotor, and added Magura HC3 master cylinders for both the brake and clutch.
Rocket Exhaust helped Dan out on the custom pipework, which consists of twin stainless steel headers running up into MX-style, carbon-tipped mufflers. Dan also removed the airbox and installed a pair of K&N filters—and then realized the BMW didn’t run as great.
So he installed a RapidBike Tuner, in a bid to squeeze more (and smoother) power from the boxer. “I haven’t had it on a dyno with the new setup,” he tells us, but seat-of-the-pants feel from the tune is noticeable.”
“I had to do something, given the totally changed-up intake and exhaust system. BMW people told me at Glemseck that the stock air box makes the most power…and that’s what Nate Kern was running when he beat me.”
Dan’s new cockpit setup is all about maximum control. He’s fitted ProTaper handlebars on adjustable Rox risers, and removed all the switches he doesn’t need. He’s also deleted the stock bike’s ABS system, and uninstalled the heated grips.
The overall wiring changes are minimal though. The speedo’s still in play, and Dan’s fitted a small LED taillight at the back. He’s also got an LED headlight that he can plug in quickly if he wants to take to the streets.
Maxx Headroom is a stellar case study for form following function. There’s nothing precious or fussy about it—it’s a raw machine, built to be thrashed.
Plus we’re pretty sure that if we give Dan enough time, he’ll find more ways to make his R nineT lighter, faster and better.