The Nmoto Nostalgia goes beyond “retro.” Photos courtesy Nmoto, Inc. and as noted.
Any time a manufacturer trots out a “retro” design or even dusts off a vintage nameplate, the responses are the same: “Why didn’t they make it just like the old ones but with modern technology inside?”
Barring the obvious—crash, fuel-economy, and environmental standards that affect virtually every element of vehicle design—the answer is usually that something so close to the original isn’t believed likely to have the kind of mass-market appeal required to justify the expense of tooling. Typically, that means it’s left to the rest of us to update an original or to create something new in the vein of the old.
Occasionally, though, a small operation will step into the fray and actually make something pretty darn close. What you see on these pages is one of those. At its heart, it’s nearly all BMW—both in its styling and in its mechanicals—it’s just configured a touch differently from how it came from the factory. The styling is copied off the 1934 BMW R7 prototype/design study. The mechanical elements are taken directly from the popular BMW R nineT, a standard-type motorcycle introduced for the 2014 model year and already popular fodder for customizing. Nmoto says that its changes “re-imagine” the modern BMW into a kind of continuation of the R7–had there been any production run to continue.
Compare the original BMW R7 (bottom) with the Nmoto Nostalgia (top).
The original R7 was intended as a “Superbike” before that term existed. It featured an 800-cc, horizontally opposed twin for power, connected to a tank-shifted four-speed transmission. It also heralded the arrival of telescopic forks to the motorcycle world, which would be incorporated on production bikes from BMW in 1935 (by contrast, Harley, Indian, and most British bikes didn’t get telescopic forks until after WWII). Most strikingly, however, it incorporated significant styling elements that reflected the transition of the Art Deco school into the highly memorable Streamline Moderne style.
Reportedly due to projected high manufacturing costs, the R7 never went into production, nor was it even put on display or otherwise publicized. Before its rediscovery in 2005 and subsequent restoration, the most publicity it received was a 1936 snapshot in an enthusiast magazine. When it resurfaced, however, it made a big splash—taking first in its class at Pebble Beach, among other recognition. The one-and-only R7 resides in BMW’s museum today, with a value estimated to be over a million dollars.
The BMW R nineT, seen here in its Scrambler guise, is the basis for the Nmoto Nostalgia. Photo by the writer.
Thus, if you wanted an R7, you were pretty much out of luck until recently. At the New York Progressive International Motorcycle Show, however, we were stopped in our tracks by what appeared to be a one-off, custom-built homage to the R7. When we looked closer, we were shocked to discover that this was no singular creation, but part of a production run by Nmoto, Inc. which began in 2017.
Nmoto begins with a stock R nineT and strips it down, rebuilding it with 96 unique pieces, many of them handcrafted. Because the streamline shrouding is all aluminum, final weight is actually lower than the original R nineT. Couple that with the 1,170-cc boxer twin, pumping out 110 hp, and you have a motorcycle that looks like 1934’s wildest dreams and is capable of 140 mph.
Some of the 96 pieces that turn an R nineT into a Nostalgia.
Does the phrase “Dieselpunk” mean anything to you? It can if you’ve got the $49,500 available to buy an Nmoto Nostalgia. That price includes the R nineT to be rebuilt, but set aside a bit extra if you want custom paint or the other optional extras available when you order.