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

Motorcycle News (UK) - - News - Price £11,360 Fuel 17 litres ( 149 miles@40mpg) Weight 220kg wet Seat 805mm Power 110bhp Torque 86ftlb MATT WILDEE Techno-lov­ing sports­bike fan is turn­ing analogue as he ap­proaches mid­dle age Height 6ft 2in Weight 85kg matt wildee@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

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

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