Thundering through the mist from the future, a cyborg arrives clad in a sleek armadillo-like exoskeleton. He arrives on this thing. As if BMW were still cranking out fossil-fueled bikes in 2221. And the “Zillers Thriller” is where it’s at.
At least that is what this bike says to me, looking at it at a standstill planted on its bespoke pneumatics. It is like the fantastic lovechild of Terminator, Mad Max, Tron, Blade Runner and The Man In The High Castle. All bedecked in standard-issue Russian army matte grey atop its seamless aluminum curves. What a piece of kit.
BMW Motorrad Russia commissioned and paid for it. Dmitry Golubchikov of Zillers Custom Garage in Moscow dreamed it up and built it, taking a year to turn his aviation-inspired dreams into a bike constructed to aeronautic tolerances. In essence it is a 2016 BMW model R nineT—except for all the hand-built parts beaten, cast or 3D-printed just for the project. Meaning almost everything except the frame and drivetrain.
Given the underlying mechanicals we know this thing is bulletproof in terms of maintenance and longevity. We know it will always start. And stop. And work. Which is not something you can always say for one-off specials that are showstoppers.
But what is really special here? For me a combination of things; first, the aesthetics are next level. Think Neal Stephenson dystopian future next-level. Even with the bang-bang combustion engine. When it graduates to hydrogen-fueled electric madness it will literally be the future.
But underlying the über-aesthetics are the skills that carried out this conversion. Hand making the all-new aluminum body which clothes the R nineT lying beneath. Together with bespoke wheels, bespoke clip-ons, and bespoke air intakes hiding car air-filters.
Then you get into the meat of the madness. You have to either love or hate the fact that it (this is an “it” not a “she”) sits on the ground when at rest. Like a gunmetal jaguar sleeping and waiting to elevate and jump into its stride. It is Star Wars writ large. Just without the ion drive.
To make this happen Dmitry had to reconstruct the suspension from scratch. Building bespoke pneumatic cylinders and control systems to make it all work just so. He tells us it is ridden every day, so this is no mantlepiece gimmick but a running, driving, work of art.
The LED headlights and turn signals are built into the aluminum shroud, and there is a slide-out storage compartment in the tail hump, along with a USB charging port just in case your phone runs out of juice and you need a refresher on who you are supposed to hit.
The stainless-steel exhaust is also completely bespoke. Handmade to work seamlessly with the sleek aluminum body and cause the least disturbance to the magnificent lines.
Golubchikov is understandably proud of his creation, which is priced at a cool $50,000. BMW apparently loved it. And as far as he is concerned it is perfect—when we asked what he missed he responded, “You don’t need to change anything.” I think that is Russian for, “It’s perfect.” And we may well agree…