WORDS Michael Hilton IMAGES Gregory George Moore
MAX BMW took a “bigger is better” approach to this brawny BMW R nineT build. It’s not a phrase you typically hear when building a dirt bike, but having raced the out-of-production BMW HP2 Enduro for years, they wanted a big, bad dirt bike that had similar capabilities. The HP2 - of which less than 400 were imported into the US - was light, powerful (386 lbs. with 110hp) and had a stable chassis that made it very versatile. “We knew we wanted to emulate the potent HP2 and improve upon where we could,” says MAX BMW Manager, Joe Warner.
Warner and MAX BMW owner, Max Stratton, believe that there are other moto-nuts who want to ride 1200cc bikes in the woods as they do so they designed a bike that could be easily replicated for their customers. They based the build around an R nineT donor that had already been through a street-based customization. Warner and Stratton began modifying the bike with longer front forks that had 230mm of wheel travel. They needed longer suspension travel in the rear to complement new forks, so the wheelbase was lengthened and provided 250mm of travel out back, while a longer Öhlins rear shock required the team to reconfigure mounting angles and frame geometry.
The longer swingarm also required a longer driveshaft, so the MAX BMW team cut and lengthened an R nineT shaft in their machine shop, producing a strong, lightweight coupling with final runout tolerances better than stock. The lengthened swingarm also called for a longer rear fender with a BMW G450X LED taillight and Rizoma LED signals. Rider position had to accommodate standing for aggressive terrain so taller and wider handlebars were fitted and Pivot Pegz installed on lowered mounts that they fabricated.
The bike made its debut at the 2018 Sandblast Rally in South Carolina, where it finished fifth in the “heavy” class, hitting 110 mph in sections of deeply rutted sand. It required a lot of custom work and modifications, but MAX BMW managed to build a robust, flexible, and capable off-road machine. Warner recently took the bike on an 800 mile, weekend dualsport trip, exploring the backcountry of New Hampshire and Vermont. With only minor adjustments to the suspension, the bike was easily transformed from race duty to a machine that handled the forest roads and trails with ease. “We built the bike with the goal of building more for customers and anyone interested in riding big bikes off road. We love the end result. The look, power, and feel of this bike are over the top."
The bike may be big, but clearly that won’t be stopping it from getting deep into the thicket and roosting in the dusty sandpits.
MAX BMW is a full-service BMW Motorrad dealer covering New England, New York, New Jersey, and surrounding areas.
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