From beaten down Buell XBRR to beautiful JPS


The ultimate John Player Special. Made in Sweden.

There are only 50 Buell XBRR Daytona Superbikes in the world. When they landed in 2006, they cost upwards of $30,000 and were confined to racetracks, but that didn’t stop a couple of tools from stealing one, doing a burnout, and promptly wrecking it in a ditch. Resurrection, thy name is John Player Special. 

Two things you don’t hear together very often: “Norwegian” and “Buell collector.” But that’s Ole, the owner of the bike and the man who had the misfortune of having his XBRR nicked out of storage.

In the aftermath of the carnage, Ole saw a rare opportunity to make something special out of one of Buell’s rarest bikes, so he tapped the crew at Northern Classic Custom & Race, Sweden’s first Buell dealer and former European EBR racing team.

“The idiots got the bike started, made a burn out, and crashed it,” says Jens Krüper of NCCR in broken English. “The police found it in the ditch in a very poor condition with [a] scratched frame, destroyed bodywork, and the engine in an unknown condition.”

NCCR ripped the bike down to its frame, repaired the carbon fiber body work, ensured the engine was up to spec, and got the twin independent throttle bodies synced and tuned. At that point, Ole had a decision to make: what to do with the livery.

When he asked NCCR to do up something special, Jens recalled, “… my first reaction was, ‘please no sticker poisoned wannabe Rossi racebike’.” That wasn’t what Ole was after.

NCCR had always wanted to do a John Player Special tribute, and when the build began last year, it was right around the 20th anniversary of Ayrton Senna’s death at Imola. But it’s not as simple as slathering some black and gold paint and calling it a day.

“When you have a closer look [at] Colin Chapman’s Lotus 97T, you see that the unique design is the result of the combination of the lines and logos in relation of the forms and colors,” says NCCR’s designer and Jens’ wife, Birgit. Those elements wouldn’t work on the XBRR, so they had to be reconfigured to suit the shape of the bike. And then there was the actual colors.

“You think it’s easy,” says Birgit. “Have a look in the Internet and you know, but all what we found there was wrong.”

They went through dozens of different shades of gold and endlessly tweaked the position and size of the graphics before settling on a final layout. NCCR then coated the bodywork in gold, masked the graphics, and painted over in black and added multiple layers of clear coat.

Ole and Jens decided to nix the original – and massive – Daytona tail section, and replaced it with a custom aluminium frame with new bodywork hiding the battery and the Öhlins remote reservoir. The Harley-derived 1,340cc engine still spits out around 150 HP, and they opted to keep the stock magnesium wheels and 43mm inverted forks. But Jens wanted to add some Colin Chapman-approved touches, from the lightened tail section to the new front fender feeding air towards the intakes.

But the best part may be the scars that remain on XBRR. “Building it to new wasn’t even a discussion,” says Jens. Ole wanted to keep some of its rough edges as a reminder that if his XBRR was never stolen it wouldn’t have been what it is today.

Photos by Ulf Engborg

Birgit & Jens 2017