These ‘Marlboro’ BMW K100 Motorcycles Celebrate Iconic F1 Livery

A two-wheeled tribute to when tobacco brands ruled the F1 grid.

(Paul Van Mondfrans Linden)

As a young kid I always had a strong need to take things apart to see how they were made and how they worked, ranging from simple toys to my little bike,” recalls Timothy Somers, Founder and Design Director of Dutch motorcycle and design studio Powerbrick Performance.

That innate curiosity led Somers to university in the Netherlands where he studied Industrial Design, Engineering and Product Design, eventually earning a master’s in Product Design. But the young creative soon realized the corporate world shackled him to project management instead of actual design—a common trap for those with both an independent and creative streak.

(Paul Van Mondfrans Linden)

Then inspiration hit in the form of two wheels. “I remember walking by a mildly customized BMW K100 on a daily basis during my studies in Delft, and somehow this bike left such an impression that I wanted to build one myself. I had practically never touched a motorcycle before, but given my technical background how hard could it be?” Somers asks rhetorically. “It ended up being a very fruitful love story where I found the perfect outlet for both my creative and engineering needs.”

And so in 2018 Powerbrick Performance was born, not only customizing motorcycles but designing bolt-on parts that at-home builders can use to craft their own unicorns. One recent build Somers and his Powerbrick manifested caught our eye, and demanded a deeper look.

The twin demons, known as Vengeance and Lenience, were aesthetically inspired by Ayrton Senna’s time running point at McLaren—a wistful era remembered to this day by most Formula One fans as one of the motorsport’s pinnacles.

Not only for Senna’s epic battles fighting teammate Alain Prost wheel-to-wheel in the late ’90s, but also for their ravenous MP4/4 race cars’ liveries—emblazoned with the bold red, white and black of Marlboro. In homage to this epoch when tobacco brands ruled the grid, Powerbrick painted one in that traditional colorway (Lenience), and another version (Vengeance) murdered out.

While initially inspired by the 1980’s BMW K100 bikes as previously noted, Powerbrick opted for the later ’90’s K1100 models to use as the base vehicles for three basic reasons: power, simplicity and reliability. Somers notes there aren’t many bikes that can eclipse 180,000 miles with only simple maintenance, adding how the extra 100-cc’s in the K1100’s in-line four-cylinder engine offers more power over its K100 predecessor, and also how its cleaner air-intake system allows for more design freedom and flexibility.

(Paul Van Mondfrans Linden)

Interestingly the Dutch designer looks more toward the aviation and automotive worlds for inspiration than to other café racers, “to avoid unintentionally copying other people’s work, and safeguarding the progressiveness of the custom motorcycle scene,” he explains. When he reveals an expected career in Holland’s Air Force was sidelined by colorblindness it all makes a little more sense. “That path was unfortunately not set out for me, but the fascination for jets and speed remains.”

To actualize the vision in his mind’s eye Somers required several bespoke pieces as well as a suite of custom parts designed specifically for Vengeance and Lenience that Powerbrick will now manufacture and sell across the globe to aesthetically-driven builders. Think custom headlight fairings; billet aluminum clip-ons, triple clamps, tank caps and emblems; brake line kits; and stainless steel custom front axles, exhaust headers and mufflers. All plug-and-play and easy to install.

As an example of the former bespoke pieces, Powerbrick created a full billet aluminum rear subframe integrating lighting, electronics, seat pan, rear shock and all necessary relays. Other niceties include forged aluminum rims by AC Schnitzer, originally for the BMW R nineT tweaked to fit using custom CNC’d adaptors and axles, and an extended R1100 swingarm for that drag-racer profile. The custom swingarm needed to be fine-tuned to fit the gearbox, but it frees up the rear wheel and allows a custom TFX five-way hydraulically adjustable rear center shock to be integrated.

Speaking of suspension, the entire setup is one of Somer’s favorite elements of the build. In addition to that one-off TFX rear shock, the system includes S1000RR forks with Bitubo cartridges. Taken holistically, this complex suspension solution “makes the rider float on air.” Lastly comes the paint and leatherwork, accomplished by Royal Kustom Works and Silvermachine respectively. “One of the reasons why this combination works so well is because with just an idea of what we are envisioning, Jacco [RKW] and Jeroen [Silvermachine] are free to interpret it in their own way, resulting in combinations that we sometimes not even think of,” praises Somer. “They are experts in their jobs, so we don’t want to tell them in detail how to do it. And all together, this created two builds where every detail is refined in its own perfect way.”

Should you want your very own Vengeance or Lenience, you can either buy the parts from Powerbrick and craft your own unique versions, or buy direct ready-to-roll for about $40,000. But the price is not the point. “Next to building bikes with some serious performance to it,” Somers says, “I like to push some buttons here and there to remind everyone we’re having fun at what we do!”