When it comes to the Hooniversal Car Of The Year, boundless enthusiasm sometimes gets the better of me. My impatience causes me to prematurely nominate vehicles before they’re truly complete. Three years ago, I nominated Antti’s €60 ’86 VW Polo stripper long before it was roadworthy. (Antti himself nominated it for HCOTY last year, after it was up and running, garnering a similarly small percentage of the votes.) And now, I’m doing it again. I was going to bow out this year and bide my time with this sucker, but Jeff and Brad encouraged me to generate some damn content not to keep something so wild and awesome to myself.
So, gentlemen (and ladies), I present my choice for the 2016 HCOTY: the BMW Alpha. Even though it’s not complete, just the story thus far makes it worthy of nomination. The original concept was created by Turkish architect and designer Mehmet Doruk Erdem, who is a motorcycle enthusiast but not a bike builder. He never intended the concept to be more than a few fictitious 3D renderings. But here in the U.S., land speed racer and workshop wizard Mark Atkinson saw his work and concluded that turning Erdem’s futuristic fantasy into real, functional metal was just the sort of side project he needed, when he wasn’t busy prepping his LSR bike for Bonneville. He’s currently willing the BMW Alpha concept into existence in spectacularly jaw-dropping style.
Since the concept drawings were never intended to be a set of blueprints, Mark (who goes by Makr online) has been forced to improvise, devise, approximate, deviate and fill in a lot of gaps. He started with a shaft drive BMW K75 triple, rather than the unspecified chain-drive BMW engine Erdem had vaguely illustrated. The bike will get a turbocharger for increased power, but the engine is not where the real story is.
The frame is basically a billet-machined crate around the engine. All the linkages for the mind-blowing, center-hub pivot, bellcrank-actuated steering are custom made from aluminum, as are the seat, seat base, and just about every other brace, bracket, and adapter on the thing. The workmanship is astounding, as is the creativity. Makr has really sweated the details, down to getting the dustbin fairing’s subtle curves and crisp edges just perfect.
In the end, the Alpha exists as a piece of art, with aesthetics rather than function driving its form. Normally, that’s not my bag, baby. However, unlike most of the café-bobber-chopper monstrosities out there today, the Alpha won’t be a display-only bike; Mike’s LSR background ensures that whatever the performance envelope turns out to be, it will be explored fully, if perhaps only briefly. Besides, the coolest thing about this bike is that exists at all. When most builders claim that artistic expression is their vehicle’s raison d’être, I tend to roll my eyes. It’s usually a halfhearted excuse for why the bike didn’t end up working very well. But in this case, it’s literally true: never mind for now that Erdem’s design will soon roll and snarl and steer and turn. The fact that it takes up physical space at all is, in itself, a reason to cheer heartily — for one man’s awesome creative vision, and another’s workmanship, effort, and sheer sense of enterprise. Faint heart never wonne faire lady.
You can follow Makr’s entire build thread here: BMW Alpha on ADVrider.com