Bathams SMT BMW S1000RR su­per­bike

Performance Bikes (UK) - - Race Legend -

AT MA­CAU, there are no weight lim­its for race bikes; in fact, there aren’t many rules full stop. We de­cided to take the Su­per­bike that I raced at the North West 200 and TT, and go a bit mad mak­ing it as light as pos­si­ble to have a good go at win­ning the race. Alec went to town on it, and started by swap­ping the wheels for car­bon ones, then chang­ing the rear sub­frame, seat unit and all the body­work for car­bon-fi­bre. We use stain­less steel ex­haust head­ers at the TT for their dura­bil­ity and strength, but Ar­row sent us some thin ti­ta­nium ex­haust head­ers that saved 1.5kg alone. Most of the nuts and bolts were swapped for ti­ta­nium. The swingarm was re­placed with a For­tis En­gi­neer­ing unit which, as well as be­ing 1.66kg lighter than stan­dard, also car­ries its weight lower, and al­lows us to ad­just it for flex­i­bil­ity. The K-Tech forks are their lat­est gen­er­a­tion KTR4 units that have bet­ter in­ter­nals, are lighter than the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion KTR3s. He also fit­ted a smaller oil cooler, but big­ger ra­di­a­tor. Else­where, the yokes are cus­tom-built, and cut away more than the ones I use for the TT and NW200. The en­gine is the same 6.2 spec as the HP4’s. It would be easy to de­scribe my bike as a cat­a­logue spe­cial, and to a point that’s what it is. There isn’t any­thing on it that you can’t buy over the counter, apart from maybe the yokes. But that is only part of the story. Alec and the boys have to know how to put it all to­gether, and set it up so it works as the com­bined sum of its parts in­stead of just a col­lec­tion of go-faster stuff. That’s where Alec’s ex­pe­ri­ence and in­ge­nu­ity re­ally pays off. The first time I rode Alec’s cre­ation was in free prac­tice at Ma­cau, and I was fastest, so we got straight into fine-tun­ing the set-up rather than chasing our tails mak­ing big changes.

I’ve never rid­den my bike in its full ex­treme light­weight spec on a short cir­cuit, so I wasn’t sure what to ex­pect. It still had the ex­act settings we fin­ished with in Ma­cau, which means re­ally stiff on the front end for good sup­port dur­ing the heavy brak­ing into the Lis­boa hair­pin. The settings are over the top for the su­per­smooth sur­face at Va­len­cia so I would have loved more time to make changes to the set-up to suit the track, but Johnny was keep­ing an eye on the time we had avail­able and wouldn’t let me get dis­tracted. “It’s hardly go­ing to be shit, is it ?” was his re­sponse. He had a point.

My bike felt very dif­fer­ent in some ways to the HP4, and very sim­i­lar in oth­ers. The main sim­i­lar­i­ties were, un­sur­pris­ingly, the en­gine per­for­mance and fuel in­jec­tion. They’re vir­tu­ally iden­ti­cal. The more sub­tle dif­fer­ences be­tween the two bikes are that the HP4 felt a lit­tle bit more ag­ile turn­ing than mine with its high, hard front end. Also, I seemed to not be caught in be­tween gears on the HP4 as much as I was on my bike, mean­ing a close-ra­tio gear­box is now on my shop­ping list. The HP4 seemed to have just the right gear for more cor­ners than my bike did, which I prob­a­bly wouldn’t have ever no­ticed un­less I’d been able to ride the two bikes back to back. The big­gest dif­fer­ences be­tween both bikes are the elec­tron­ics. I can’t say one is bet­ter than the other, but they are very dif­fer­ent. The en­gine brak­ing strat­egy and blip­per on my bike are far smoother than the HP4. By which I mean more gen­tle and eas­ier to use – more re­fined, which shouldn’t be a sur­prise, as Alec has ef­fec­tively tai­lor-made the maps for me over the last two years. My en­gine brak­ing feels like it has less fuel cut-off and there­fore less in­ter­ven­tion than the HP4, which means pick­ing the throt­tle up af­ter brak­ing is smoother and eas­ier. Speak­ing of which, my throt­tle feels heav­ier, which is prob­a­bly just down to dif­fer­ent springs. It was great to get some short cir­cuit laps in on my light­weight Su­per­bike. I would have loved to get more time and play with the set-up, but for now, we need to get it ready for the North West 200, which means set­ting a lot of the trick light­weight stuff aside un­til the next Ma­cau GP.

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