BMW R nine T
That muscular 80s superbike style is one we’ll never grow tired of—especially with shops like AC Sanctuary keeping the dream alive. But who would’ve thought that the BMW R nineT could wear it so well?
Thanks to Brice Hennebert, our eyes have been opened. This retro-fabulous brute is the first build to roll out of Brice’s newly-launched Workhorse Speed Shop—but it’s not his first build.
Brice was one half of Kruz Company for four years, before he and his partner parted ways amicably. Now the 33-year-old Belgian operates as Workhorse, based in his dad’s old carpentry workshop in the countryside—the same workshop that he grew up in.
The R nineT came to Workhorse by way of commission, from a client called ‘Mr K.’ Mr K wanted something really aggressive with upright, neutral ergonomics—but he also wanted any mods to be reversible.
“I really didn’t want to go for a kind of flat tracker,” says Brice. “There are too many at the moment, and the nineT is really not built for that configuration. So the first idea was to do something inspired by the Moto Tour—it’s a famous race in France that’s more like a rally than a track race.”
“The rides that were part of this race in the 70s had a special look—really interesting. But Mr K wanted something more aggressive. So I went straight into the 80s AMA Superbike series to find inspiration.”
Brice’s challenge was to get that look spot on, without hacking the frame or tearing into the engine. So he developed a ‘top frame’ that would bolt onto existing tank and subframe mounts, giving him a flat bone line on which to build new bodywork—and a new range of mounting points.
He then shaped a chunky new fuel tank from aluminum to sit up top. It’s equipped with a Racefit quick filler, and an Earl’s Performance breather.
The seat’s custom too, built on an aluminum pan with Alcantara upholstery by Silver Machine in Amsterdam. Brice also fabricated new fenders—with an LED tail light neatly embedded in the rear—and a set of number boards.
A lot of thought went into the front end too. The number board and the oil cooler are both mounted to a bracket that attaches directly to the frame, so as not to hamper steering. The cooler and its plumbing are from Earl’s Performance, and there’s both a ‘regular’ and LED light poking through the board.
The cockpit’s sporting a Motogadget dash and bar end turn signals, LSL bars and risers, an Accossato throttle and grips, and Brembo brake and clutch master cylinders. Other braking upgrades include Earl’s hoses, and dual Brembo M4 calipers in the front. Brice is pretty secretive about why the forks are wearing socks; “I decided to ‘wear’ the fork with a secret treatment that comes straight from the dark side of the moon,” he quips.
The pie-cut exhaust headers are Brice’s handiwork, and terminate in a pair of lightweight Tyga mufflers. Other upgrades include a Nitron rear shock, Conti Sport Attack 3 rubber, and exquisite Gilles Tooling rearsets.
It’s a daring reimagining of the R nineT, but it’s backed up by a killer livery, executed by Moto Peinture in Belgium. “Mr K has been deeply involved in the race car culture for many years now,” explains Brice. “So he came every week with new questions and new ideas—especially about the paint job.”
“The idea was to have something in the racing spirit, but not the ‘M’ color scheme from BMW that’s been used too much on nineT builds. So we finally found the Lola Indy car from the 80s, which was perfect. Good period, good colors, and Valvoline is one of my sponsors…the perfect discovery!”
As a finishing touch, Brice added ‘163’—the number of Reg Pridmore’s 1976 AMA Superbike championship-winning BMW. Sure, this nineT’s not exactly a replica of that bike, but it’s a great throwback to that era.
It’s also one of the most remarkable debuts we’ve seen. We’ll be keeping a keen eye on Workhorse Speed Shop from now on—especially since Brice has a Ducati 900SS and a MGB V8 Roadster in the works…