There are motorcycles, then there are Bandit9 motorcycles — high-concept, futuristic bikes you’d find racing through Blade Runner or Star Trek. In fact, the brand’s M.O. is to “create motorcycles you’d find in sci-fi films.” Bandit9’s newest two-wheeled masterpieces, Arthur and Merlin, may reference medieval lore but the machines are living in the 61st century instead of the 6th, with chromed-out frames, sexy curves, and modern handmade details.
The inspiration for the Arthur and Merlin is Indian automaker Royal Enfield, who enlisted Bandit9 for its notorious wild thinking and pure ingenuity in the motorcycle field. Like all Bandit9 end-products, the Arthur and Merlin are museum-worthy works of art and extremely exclusive — only nine models each will be available.
Let’s start with the king, Arthur, a reimagining of the Royal Enfield Continental GT motorcycle. This sculpture-on-wheels is a hybrid café racer and mathematical wunderkind. Smoothing the edges of the Continental GT skeleton led Bandit9 to a rolling frame with curves that seem to have no beginning or end. Even the mounted details flow on the body of the bike.
Bandit9 says it built Arthur “like a tubular Mobius strip,” which, for us kids who were terrible in math, is a twisted cylinder with only one boundary. (Just Google it and it’ll make sense.) The only separation hits between the tank and rear, a subtle yet bold design departure for Bandit9 who usually prefers unibody tanks. Other modifications to the Continental GT include shotgun slug foot pegs, an integrated speedometer, and crossbow handlebars, each made by hand.
While it took Bandit9 almost a full year to complete Arthur, the Ho Chi Minh-based moto-madmen had to whip up straight magic to create the Merlin in only three months. But these guys love a challenge.
Using the bones of the Royal Enfield Bullet, Bandit9 set out to make the most complicated bike imaginable housed in the most simple frame.
The shop found inspiration in luxury watches, crafting a saddle inspired by the balance springs you find in the back of high-end timepieces. It rides like smooth alchemy, defying its hardtail shock. That’s a result of Bandit9 modifying the old-school scooter saddle with springs on the underside of the leather and giving the overall saddle its own independent suspension.
The majority of the fabrication time was dedicated to the speedometer, the detail closest resembling the face of a watch. “The housing is made from a polished aluminum capped with a bronze bezel, the dial was made from stainless steel and reflects sunlight like a centrifuge over the radially brushed surface… [and] Bandit9 engraved Roman numerals in place of conventional Arabic numbers printed on plastic,” said Bandit9 in an official press release.
These details are harder to spot, but the overwhelming change is the Bullet’s new hardtail shape, which Bandit9 achieved by cutting the old frame and extending the neck. Honestly, you don’t even need to ride the Merlin or Arthur to appreciate them. It’s not uncommon for Bandit9’s motorcycles to take the floor of galleries and museums from across the world.
But I repeat, there are only nine versions of each, so get your knights of the round table together and empty the stock.