Road testers Martin Fitz-Gibbons and Mike Armitage (the one pretending to milk a cow) take a breather at Boxhill during the UK’s first test of the BMW S1000RR against Honda’s allconquering Fireblade – see p78
Issue 442 February 2010
In this issue Bike’s dyno makes history when it records more power at the back wheel of the new BMW S1000RR than for any other production bike ever. When we emerged from the dyno room the world was a slightly different place – ZZR14s were diminished and R1s, Blades, ZX-10s and GSX-Rs were underdogs all of a sudden. Even the Hayabusa was three horsepower down on the BMW. Only a thousand of us will buy an S1000RR in 2010, but its arrival is a moment to be savoured by all. It’s unapologetically focused and extremely clever, as well as way too fast. Some fear it could spark a power war with the Japanese, where crazy thinking and controversial electronics do battle as outraged Daily Mail readers call for something to be done. Let’s hope they’re right. Enjoy the mag and have a happy new year. Tim Thompson, editor
184bhp Words Simon Hargreaves Photography Paul Bryant
‘Say hello to the most powerful production bike in the world’
Bike lays its hands on the first BMW S1000RR in the country and puts it through its first ever dyno run. Initially there’s disbelief, then it dawns – here’s the moment that everything changed As the redlined screams of a 1000cc inline four fade into a damp, mid-winter night, the number on a grubby computer monitor in a small, dimly-lit dyno room in the middle of nowhere bears testament to the birth of a new era in sportsbikes. The computer display shows 183.7bhp at 13,200rpm. I’ll say that again: 183.7 brake horsepower. Mein Gott. Fingers poke at the screen, collective jaws hit the floor. Grown men who should be above this sort of thing grin like naughty schoolboys. This is a huge number. It towers over Aprilia’s RSV4 Factory and Ducati’s 1198S by more than 30bhp. It’s 18bhp up on the ZX-10R, Japan’s most powerful litre sportsbike. And it’s 3.7bhp better than Suzuki’s Hayabusa, previously the most potent stock engine Bike has ever tested. And all this from an engine with only 400 miles on its bores, so a few more bhp may emerge as it loosens up. As welcomes go, it doesn’t get much better than this. Sportsbike UK, say hello to the most powerful production bike in the world, the BMW S1000RR. 200
BMW S1000RR dyno graph
Power, bhp Torque, lb.ft
The S1000RR has four engine maps: Rain, Sport, Race and Slick. At full throttle, the last three modes make identical peak power, so the line is exactly the same for all three. Rain mode matches the other three up to 7000rpm but power is then held back to peak at ‘only’ 139.3bhp. See how the BMW matches up to its rivals on the next page.
BMW S1000RR FUll PoWeR 183.7bhp @ 13,200rpm BMW S1000RR RAIn MoDe 139.3bhp @ 12,900rpm
20 RPM 0 2k
200 180 160 140 120 bhp & lb.ft 100
slug in here Thereâ€™s the merest hint of a smile on Si Hargreavesâ€™ lips as his disbelieving eyes communicate to his brain: 1... 8... 4... B... H... P... S... H... I... T...
F i R s T
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K awa s a K i Z 1 0 0 0 Let’s just say it, the old Z1000 was our least favourite super naked. Brand new from top to toe, inside and out, the 2010 model has a lot to do... Words Martin Fitz-Gibbons Photography Double Red and David Reygondeau
As a raw, hardcore, focused and fully satisfying supernaked, 2009’s Z1000 made a fantastic ground anchor. Detuned, heavier and less striking than the 2003 original, which was instrumental in forming the class, the modern Z’s second iteration took a big step back at a time virtually every other manufacturer was leaping forwards in the class. In short, it went down like the proverbial metallic balloon. Few new bikes get lukewarm receptions, but in 2007 the Z1000’s was positively arctic. Every ride was blighted by stubborn handling, awkward suspension and numb feedback. So, shortly after its launch, Kawasaki started again – from scratch. And not a ‘totally redesigned the indicators from scratch’, but a true blank-sheet design for the whole bike. Goodbye tubular steel frame and dated, suffocated ZX-9R motor; hello spanking new aluminium twin-spar and bespoke, long-stroke engine. It’s a drastic step – but worth every Yen and every man-hour. Without exaggeration, from the very first mile the 2010 Z1000 24
feels every bit the completely new bike it is. Even on cold tyres, with a new riding position and unfamiliar roads, it gives more confidence, solidity and feel than the old bike ever did. Rolling leisurely through roundabouts and roadworks near Marbella, the Zed tips gently and smoothly from side to side, free from any
n > The Zed tips gently and smoothly from side to side, free from any sudden change in steering speed. I can’t quite believe it – I can feel what the front of a Z1000 is doing sudden, unpleasant change in steering speed. I can’t quite believe it – I can feel what the front of a Z1000 is doing. The promising start continues as we turn North, heading inland through Spain, picking up the stunning A366 from Coin to Ronda. With heat building in its Dunlop 210s the Z1000 laps up the extra speed, eager to be thrown around and devour this twisting
Super nakeds shouldn’t just be capable of this sort of carry-on, they should positively encourage it
Where’s this? north of marbella in southern spain, coming into ronda on the a366 – the perfect mix of tight hairpins, fast sweepers and empty plains
mountain road. Uphill or downhill, fast or slow – and this road has the lot – the Zed steers faultlessly and confidently. Into hairpins the new ZX-10R brakes radiate strength and feel, the new forks move with control and patience, and the new, stiffer frame holds everything firmly in its rightful place. There’s none of the previous model’s sense of excess weight – being a staggering 10kg lighter helps – and none of its unpredictable habit of sitting up and heading for the hedgerows at the slightest bump. No misunderstanding between rider and bike, just plush obedience. And while the new chassis removes most of the old bike’s most objectionable flaws, the new motor adds plenty of enthusiasm. Given the freedom to tailor-make a engine especially for the Z1000, Kawasaki went for a larger, longerstroke design. Sure enough the resulting 1043cc motor has a punchier, gruntier feel than the old 953cc lump throughout the revs, its sharper throttle response making its delivery so much more vibrant. The old Zed often felt like it had throttle cables
3 big questions
1 is this just a quick restyle?
it’s a completely new bike. the frame and motor are all-new, and more sophisticated suspension offers more adjustability. Don’t let the attention-grabbing styling distract from the fact this has virtually nothing in common with the previous bike.
2 so how much better is it? last month the 2009 Z1000 finished last in our group test. the new bike fixes all the handling faults and adds a good heap of character. Dynamically, the Z1000 now feels a match for the best super nakeds going. of course, the looks are still so distinctive they’ll put plenty off before they get a chance to experience it.
3 is there really a snakeskin seat? blame the italians. it comes as standard on the brown paint scheme Z1000, and available as an optional extra on the other two colours. and no, it doesn’t look any better in the flesh.
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funny fronT ends
The trouble with forks... ...is, in short, almost everything – they’re heavy, complicated and expensive. but we’re stuck with them. or are we? Words Rupert Paul Pinpointing what’s wrong with telescopic forks makes a lot more sense in a classroom than it does on a road, forest trail or racetrack. Some of this can be blamed on 74 years of continuous development. But most of it is down to the fact that, although in theory forks are a dog’s breakfast, in practice they’re very good. Perhaps their biggest advantage is their tendency to dive under braking. Thirty years ago manufacturers and race teams had all manner of anti-dive or pro-squat systems. But braking dive is exactly what you want. Not only does it transfer more weight on to the front tyre at the ideal time, allowing harder braking, it steepens the steering and reduces the trail too – precisely when you want the bike to be at its most flickable. On top of that, forks transmit feel almost directly to the palms of your hands. Nevertheless, the shortcomings are there. It’s just that they’re so enormous they’re built into what we expect of a motorcycle. Whoever heard of a bike without a frame? That was ridiculously cheap and light? That came with several hundred fewer moving parts? If a team of engineers had to invent front suspension today, there’s no way they’d come up with telescopic forks. But evolution has selected them over all the other options. It doesn’t matter that they mix up suspension, steering and braking functions, rely on a friction-prone sliding bearing vulnerable to road grot, and need lots of complication, expense and extra bulk to work properly. They work and that’s that. But only for now... Fork problem #5 they mix up Forces Forks have to deal with the forces involved with braking (and acceleration), suspension movement and steering. Because they all share the load path, the forks need to be large and stiff; worse, hitting a bump can have an adverse effect on steering, heavy braking uses up travel, and so on. Fork problem #6 they’re an expensive compromise Forks bend under braking, which affects their ability to slide smoothly. They also need to control weight transfer as well as shock absorption. And they’ve become complicated bits of precision-engineered kit that can account for 10-20% of a bike’s cost.
problem #1 they add weight Forks create immense stress in the steering head, particularly under braking. Thus they need a strong frame to maintain stiffness. Even on a MotoGP bike the frame weighs 6kg or more – at least a stone. problem #2 they mess up weight distribution A headstock and two bulky alloy beams reduce options to move other clutter on the bike closer to the centre of mass. problem #3 they impair airFlow Forks must be stiff and therefore wide. This puts two air dams in front of the radiator. In 2004, Ducati ditched their overheating Desmosedici’s conventional 50mm steel tubes for 42mm carbon fibre ones. Same stiffness, less obstruction. problem #4 they’re unstable When a bike accelerates hard over bumps, or lands a wheelie crossed-up, it can tankslap. Although electronic steering dampers have taken the horror out of the experience, such frolics are not quickly forgotten.
Two dirty great tubes with springs and oil inside clamped together. What’s so wrong with that?
The current alternatives
The funny front end (FFE) world is a lot more complicated than the two broad categories below. But, if you’ll forgive the oversimplification, the following are the systems that could yet rival telescopic forks
BMW Telelever Introduced on the R1100RS in 1993, BMW’s Telelever front suspension went on to dominate their model range throughout the ’90s. Based on a design used by English frame builder Nigel Hill, the system uses two ‘empty’ sliding forks which still steer the bike but contain no springing or damping. Instead, a single shock absorber handles the bumps, mounted off a wishbone connected to a rose joint on a brace between the forks at mudguard height. The rear ends of the wishbone hinge off mounting points above and behind the cylinder head. The system feeds suspension forces into the frame, bypassing steering. This means braking and bumps have no effect over the effort needed to steer, theoretically improving feel, stability and reducing braking distances (although not all riders would agree with the improved feel argument). Other advantages include less unsprung weight, less friction in the forks and, by altering wishbone geometry, chassis designers can tailor the system to dive under braking to make it feel like tele forks.
BMW Duolever Debuted on the K1200S in 2005, Duolever is based on an invention by English chassis designer Norman Hossack. A pair of solid arms, like a vertical swingarm, hinge on two rose joints connected to the frame by short struts. A shock attaches to the bottom strut. Steering is via a scissor joint at the top of the ‘swingarm’. Like Telelever, Duolever splits steering and suspension forces, meaning brake forces, bumps and changes in suspension loading due to cornering (like shutting the throttle mid corner) have no effect on steering. Brake dive and steering geometry are adjustable according to the length and position of components. Some riders find the rigidity of the forks make the front end feel remote in corners. 91