Roland Sands was involved in developing the R90 S Concept bike, is there an American influence on the R NineT's design?
"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."
Is it style rather than function led?
"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 emphasising the emotion of the bike."
Why not use the new water-cooled engine?
"The air-cooled bike has more emotion. For a classic BMW you have to have an air-cooled engine."
Shouldn't a roadster be sporty?
"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."
Which bikes are its rivals?
"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."
Is there really a growing customisation market or movement?
"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."
Which other customization specialists have you worked with? What can the NineT look like when it is fully customized?
"You will find out at the Milan Show in November..."
A few years ago Ducati attempted to tap into this culture with the Sport Classic range, which failed. Is the time now right?
"The times are definitely different, which is the big thing. We could have launched the Lo Rider in 2008 but the market wasn't ready. Now we believe the market is ready, it is the right time."