In order to manufacture the BMW K75 Alpha Bullet Bike, the designer Mehmet Doruk Erdem and builder Mark Atkinson have teamed up. This customized design is based on a Salt Flats racer concept.
Mehmet Doruk Erdem, a Turkish industrial designer, customized the bike. He is a popular designer who has been designing custom motorcycles for some time now. He is not only well-known for his retro style, but also for his attention to detail.
It has been almost two years now since Erdem designed the Alpha Bullet Bike. He started designing such bikes after watching the film called “The World’s Fastest Indian”. The land-speed record bikes on the Bonneville Salt Flats have been featured in the film.
Before Erdem watched the film, he started creating models of the Alp’s motorcycles. Once he saw the film, he was ready to design motorcycles for the Bonneville Salt Flats. The Alpha was one of those designs which plainly looked like the most notorious marine predator of all.
Erdem desired to design the Alpha Bullet Bike in such a way that it resembles the great white shark. As he said, “Great white sharks have always been an inspiration to me”. He decided to mimic their anatomy for Alpha’s bodywork. “It had to look powerful and beautiful at the same time.”
He also stated:
“If you look at the body of a shark, you can see that it’s clean and perfect. But inside, it’s so complicated. So Alpha’s front end is clean and smooth, while the back is the powerful and ugly side—symbolizing the tail of the great white.”
While the front part of the bike is absolutely for aerodynamics, the rear part of the bike exhibits where the power comes from, according to Erdem. He also said that these two styles are not connected. “The rider must be the connection between beauty and the beast.”
Due to the fact that Erdem did not have anyone to build the custom bike, its construction took a lot of time. However, this changed as soon as Erdem opted to work with machinist Mark Atkinson of Salt Lake city to manufacture the bike.
In the beginning, Atkinson could not come into contact with Erdem, but, he started working on the bike anyway. He had a wrecked “BMW K75” motorcycle which he used to build the chassis for the engine.
In order to create the chassis from the ground up, the systematic approach of Atkinson let him work through the problems one at a time. He allowed the problems to pop up and worked through them one at a time rather than looking at the whole picture. He said:
“I plan the total as an abstract distant goal but focus on each individual component. As I go, I design parts and pieces.”
With the help of this approach, Atkinson had every part modeled which let him make adjustments as required. He would often rebuild part of the bike time after time until he felt that they were right.
“I let the bike organically find its own way: That took years to understand. Bikes have their own personalities; you just have to let them out.”
Atkinson worked on the bike for some time before he was finally able to get into contact with Erdem. Initially, Erdem was doubtful about working with Atkinson owing to the fact that the previous attempts to bring his design to life were unsuccessful.
At first, Erdem did not respond to Atkinson as all previous collaborations ended with no progress. However, this changed after Erdem saw a picture of Mark’s work. He saw that Mark had already began working on the project which made him believe that their partnership would work, allowing Erdem’s dreams to become a reality.
Erdem could see that Mark was serious about the project and that he can give life to his design. Both of them worked from different parts of the world, Erdem from Istanbul and Atkinson from Utah. Almost 16 months were spent “to make Alpha more beautiful”.
The Alpha’s aerodynamic nose was created from a mixture of basalt and carbon/basalt blend. The basalt is a lava rock. It is extruded into strings and woven into a cloth just like carbon fiber. According to Mark:
“It’s an unusual and very beautiful natural fiber”.
A friend of Mark from Boeing assisted him in getting the nose looking right. Mark also worked BMW’s well-known kidney grilles into the nose which was styled after the legendary Mille Miglia-winning BMW 328i.
“I think the BMW 328 Mille Miglia is one of the most beautiful cars of all time, and the kidneys on that car stuck in my mind.”
The K75’s 740cc inline three-cylinder BMW engine is used to power the Alpha Bullet Bike. The engine is just like the M10 and S52 car engines. These engines deploy fine thread fasteners and correct length bolts which are machined to exacting tolerances, as per Atkinson. He told:
“I’ve been building engines for a long time, and BMWs are by far my favorite. They design like I design.”
There is a possibility that the Alpha Bullet Bike might be made street legal due to the fact that it has lights, turn signals and a horn. But, Mark holds that this bike is not the most user-friendly bike out there.