BMW Alpha: A Two Artists Masterpiece
Animals are not often a motorcycle design inspiration. But the BMW Alpha was inspired by the great white shark. It took two brilliant minds to create this fantastic concept, builder/machinist Mark Atkinson from Utah and Mehmet Doruk Erdem, an industrial designer from Istanbul. The ContiRoadAttack 2 EVO was the tire of choice for this unique bike.
(The quotes and key information for this post have been based on an interview conducted by BikeEfix.)
Mehmet designed the initial concept on his computer around three years ago. He was inspired by Alp Sungurtekin record breaker bike of the Bonneville salt flats, the film The World’s Fastest Indian, and of course; sharks. “Great white sharks have always been an inspiration to me,” said Mehmet. “So I decided to mimic their anatomy for Alpha’s bodywork. It had to look powerful and beautiful at the same time.”
Mehmet added, “The rear has to show where the power comes from, whereas the front is about aerodynamics. There is no connection between those two styles. The rider must be the connection between beauty and the beast.”
As time went on, the pictures began spreading around the motorcycle community. Eventually, Mark had a chance to view the BMW Alpha vison. At the time, he craved a challenging project to work on since racing was cancelled at the Bonneville Flats for that time. Mark is a proper craftsman, and by proper we mean that he builds bike engines from scratch, like solid blocks of aluminum scratch. As you may imagine, his skills and knowledge are able to handle just about anything, including this Tron looking machine.
Mark tried contacting Mehmet through social media, but got no answer. So he decided to start on his own with an old BMW K75 chassis. “I got the chassis done over several months. My bosses started to see the greatness coming out, and were soon parading customers into the weld area to show it off. Sam and Alber deserve a shout-out for allowing Alpha to come to life in their shop”, said Mark. We have to recognize Mark’s immense effort as he worked on this project on after work hours. “In the end, I have every piece modeled, so I can modify it if I need to. I often redo parts over and over, until they are just 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”, he added.
Not very proud about materializing other’s design, Mark felt the need to contact Mehmet through social media, but still got no answer. The model Mark was building was looking less like Mehmet’s and more like his own. But it didn’t feel right, so Mark tried to reach Mehmet one last time.
“I didn’t respond at first because, too many times, people have asked me to start a project and it went nowhere. Then I saw Mark’s images—he had already started! So I believed that he would share my dream, and make it real”, said Mehmet. Everything changed after he saw Mark’s craftsmanship. “We started to share everything about the bike every day,” says Mehmet. “I think it took around 16 months to finish. From Utah to İstanbul, we worked together to make Alpha more beautiful.”
The BMW Alpha’s engine is also a turbo. Yeah, just to make it even cooler. “This engine is very much like the M10 through to S52 car engines that I have experience with”, said Mark. Eli Scarbeary, who Mark met at a local motorcycle meet, was in charge of the upholstery. “Eli did an excellent job. When I went round to pick up the parts, I saw at least three other abandoned seat covers on the ground. He had to work at this”, praised Mark.
It’s hard to believe that the Alpha’s body was entirely handmade, but it was. After many long hours and a lot of hard work, the two artists had created a masterpiece, something so well done it could have come out of BMW itself. But now you know a bit more of the real story.
Continental is very proud to showcase one of its halo motorcycle tires in such mesmerizing design.
PHOTO CREDITS: Jun Song