New R ninet Racer gets even racier
REPORT 3 2432 MILES A new shock is part of Matt’s plan for unleashing the BMW’S real inner Racer
Basking in the sun of a scorching summer, the Racer is on the verge of turning from a good bike into something very special. In fact, the more time I have spent with the bike, the more I like it. The Racer is such a beguiling, beautiful machine, full of character. You even start to get used to the riding position... after a while.
As standard, I was impressed with the BMW’S chassis, but ground clearance is limited if you tramp on. It isn’t a disaster, but you can’t help but feel that there is more to come.
Time to find some more ground clearance. The first thing I tried was removing the hero blobs. They were pretty unsightly and once they started to grind they sharpened up nastily.
Once they were gone, I set about the rear suspension. The R ninet’s rear suspension is adjustable for preload and rebound and I added a turn of rear preload to reduce the sag and lift the back of the bike. I also reduced the rebound damping. On the settings the bike came with, the shock rebounded slowly, making the bike drift wide on long, bumpy corners as the suspension ‘jacked down’ and couldn’t regain the correct position in the stroke before the next bump. As this happened, you’d have to apply more and more bar pressure to hold a line as the bike’s geometry changed.
These changes helped, especially when they were aided by some new tyres. As standard, the Racer comes with Metzeler Roadtecs. And they work well, with good warm-up time and more than enough grip for the bike’s standard ground clearance. They probably had another 1000 miles in them before they squared, but I knew changing to a more aggressive tyre could help things – so I swapped to Pirelli’s Supercorsa SP (£280 mail order). MCN’S benchmark sports and trackday tyre is the same size as the Metz, but has a taller profile. Measured from the gear lever and brake lever, which are the main culprits for scraping once the hero blobs are removed, just adding the Pirellis added 5mm of ground clearance.
The result is a bike that holds a line better than before and needs a more extreme lean before things scrape. It’s everything you need for road riding, but I’m still chasing the dream of a cool, retro bike that can run at the front of a trackday fast group. But the extra grip did expose that more control was needed from the suspension.
A properly adjustable shock was the answer. Nitron shocks are the real deal – made in the UK and properly built and specced. At £816, they’re also better value than most high-end shocks, even if it is still more than my monthly mortgage payments.
I went for an NTR3 shock, which like all Nitrons is custom-made for your weight and usage (it has a heavier spring for my 14-stone mass). It’s also adjustable for everything under the sun, including ride-height, so I’ve got the chance to raise the bike further if needs be. Fitting is a cynch too. With the bike hung from the garage rafters, two Torx bolts are all that hold the shock in and there is no linkage to muck about with, either. The Nitron shock is 5mm taller than the standard item, which has given me a corresponding increase in ground clearance, a bike that holds a line better and has a lovely, sophisticated ride quality. It looks stunning, too.
I now just need a front suspension set-up to match. Nitron are going to use it as a prototype for a fully-adjustable cartridge kit. The quest to uncover the bike’s inner Racer is continuing…
‘I’m still chasing the dream of a retro that can run at the front of the fast group’
Caught in the act… Matt is a notorious spring twiddler
Pirelli Supercorsa SPS grip like magnets and have boosted ground clearance too