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Piston Heads got to sit down and talk with Edgar Heinrich, the head of BMW Motorrad design. Here is a little Q&A for everyone.

Q: Is there an American influence on the R NineT's design?
A: "No, it is more a European influenced bike. I see it as a typical 1960s and 1970s type of design. The bike is comprised of separate units, the headlight is a headlight, the seat a seat and it is functional. The idea was to make it refined and appear hand crafted with nice details."

Q: Is this bike more style than substance?
A: "BMW works in segments. Supersport bikes have to perform on the track, the GS has to be perfect overall, tourers able to tour and then you have the roadsters. With the roadster function is below style, they still need to be functional but we can sacrifice things such as comfort and weather protection for style and emphasizing the emotion of the bike."

Q: Why no water-cooled engine?
A:"The NineT is sporty, it has inverted forks, radial brakes and 110hp. That is enough for a naked roadster of this style. For true performance you wouldn't go for an air-cooled motor, but we have compromised outright performance to get emotion."

Q: Which bikes does the nineT rival?
A: "We haven't looked at the rivals much. We think the NineT speaks to a wide range of riders - everyone from young cafe racer enthusiasts to nostalgic fans. It captures a lot of the market but it is the young riders that fascinate us. For a long time motorcycle manufacturers have been looking at how to attract younger riders into bikes - now they are arriving through interest in emotional old bikes."

Q: Is there really a growing customization market?
A: "Yes, absolutely. We have been living this modifying scene for ever and we saw it starting to happen many years ago when it was a back street thing. We told BMW's management to keep an eye on this and that's when we showed the Lo Rider Concept bike in 2009, it took a while for the scene to gather momentum but now we believe it is very strong and real. With the NineT we are not delivering a single bike, more a canvas with which riders can express themselves through accessories."
 

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I'm elated BMW chose the air-cooled engine and not the new liquid-cooled "Wasser" for this bike. BMW's 90 year air-cooled tradition begs for compact size and sleek lines. The chance to build your own masterpiece is a driving force behind the excitement this avant-garde model is generating. Seize the day!
 

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I'm glad that they admit that there are points that style was favored of substance. Some people care far more what they look like on their bike than how it feels to be on the bike. This bike is all about the brand, the experience, etc... It will be cool to see some great bike shops show us what they can to do with the nineT once they have had a little bit more time.
 
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