Project Nurb BMW 21 November 14

What would be the result if a leading custom motorcycle specialist was to design and build a unique one-off motorcycle powered by the in-line six-cylinder engine from BMW Motorrad’s sublime K1600 GT touring motorcycle? And what if that specialist happened to be Fred Krugger, a Belgian who, in ten years, has figured on the top three podium steps of the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building no less than four times out of five – and who won this prestigious event in 2010? The answer? Project ‘Nurb’…

Fred Krugger hasn’t always been a marvel at creating head-turning and show-winning custom motorcycles. There was a period in this 43-year-old man’s life where he successfully competed at motocross, studied electro-mechanics and then gained a diploma in restoration and coachbuilding. He also became a father of two, got married, raced rally cars for ten years, built racing cars, rode and serviced motorcycles… and just about everything else a confirmed ‘petrol head’ could find time to do.

Somewhere along the line in 2002, spurred on by friends and their assurances about his creative ability, Fred Krugger built his first promotional special motorcycle entitled ‘The Racer’. In time honoured tradition, Fred has not looked back since his career into custom building took off. It hasn’t been a meteoric rise to stardom – because meteors don’t rise – but more like the Mach 10 launch of an anti-ballistic missile; a missile that shows no signs of slowing down…

Project ‘Nurb’ is the latest design to occupy much of Fred Krugger’s time and his farmhouse workshop (located in what used to be the cow shed) in Basse-Bodeux, ten minutes from historic Belgian racing circuit, Spa-Francorchamps.

So how did the idea form of using a modern day BMW Motorrad engine as the basis for his latest project? After all, big V-twin engines are the norm for custom bikes. And in the increasingly popular homebrew café racer builds, BMW Motorrad’s air-cooled Boxer-twin is arguably the most sought after engine.

“It started with a conversation between BMW Motorrad France and me,” says Fred Krugger. “The company had seen what I was producing and asked if I could come up with some ideas, something interesting and different based around early racing BMW machinery. From that point I was hooked.

“I began to look at the styles of old BMW machines. Not just racing machines such as the RS specials but also the Ernst Jakob Henne streamliner bikes and their road-going counterparts. Also project bikes, like the magnificent 1934/35 R 7. Basically, I researched BMW to find reference points to incorporate old and past in this new project. This included other details; like the style of old BMW cars and also BMW company logos.”

“Even though I had no drawings – and still do not have – of what was in mind as a finished bike, ideas quickly turned to reality. BMW Motorrad France kindly offered me an engine and its drive systems from the BMW K 1600 GT. With its six-cylinders set in a slim design and plenty of horsepower and torque, in engineering terms this engine is something else. I quickly started work on designing the frame…”

“In many ways this project is like many others,” adds Fred Krugger. “It is easy to include the usual suspension assemblies and engine; the difficult part is where to mount or hide ancillaries such as the petrol pump, ABS, DTC and ESA and engine control boxes. Such important safety and technological systems will be retained on ‘Nurb’ even though location of the items can often change thoughts on style detail.

“As you see project ‘Nurb’, this is the state it has been for a little while. I have had a slight problem that has held back build time – I broke my leg at the Isle of Man TT. No, I wasn’t racing or riding, just spectating. I had to jump off a wall to avoid some debris from an incident. The good part is I got back from the local hospital in time for the race restart! I look forward to getting back to work on ‘Nurb’ and completing the project. I’m not thinking about the final stages just yet, but it is good to know BMW Motorrad France has offered the services of its technical officer Curt de Maeseneire to help jump clear of any ECM (Electronic Control Management) holes if any should appear at first start up.”

Talking about Fred Krugger and project ‘Nurb’, Sebastien Lorentz, Head of Marketing Service, BMW Motorrad France, said: “Krugger has an interesting approach of custom bike building thanks to his background in race car building. He also has a particular artistic approach building one-off bikes inspired by racing history and brand heritage. In supporting this project, we aim to show the passion involved in creating a rolling piece of art starting from the engine. It’s also a way to celebrate 90 years of the BMW brand.”

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Alan Goodsell , 21 November 14