German suspension brand Bilstein (rhymes with Frankenstein, for those debating the pronunciation) is about to get into the motorcycle business.
One of the more historic brands in automotive suspension, Bilstein is known best for its products in the four-wheeled realm, and in most current history for its off-road offerings in that space.
But now, Bilstein is setting its eyes on the two-wheeled realm, and for the past five years has been developing its first crop of motorcycle suspension pieces. As such, Bilstein is poised to debut its first wave of motorcycle suspension pieces later this year.
While Bilstein has been working with a variety of street and track motorcycles for its research and development pursuits, the German brand is going to keep it local with its initial offering.
As such, the first models of motorcycle to be able to receive Bilstein suspension will be the BMW S1000RR line, from the 2009 model year to present.
Offering both a front fork and rear shock solution, Bilstein hopes to go head-to-head with brands like Öhlins, Showa, Sachs, and WP, with an aim on OEM fitment in the near future. Our best guess is that we could see Bilstein shocks on a BMW Motorrad product in the not-so-distant future.
Getting technical, Bilsteain’s front forks feature a gas-pressurized monotube design. Damping duties are handled on a single-side of the system, with adjustment knobs at the top and designed to be adjusted on the fly by the rider while gloved.
The rear shock is a coilover design, with compression and rebound adjustment also at one end of the unit. Bilstein touts how light the shock absorber is (2 lbs less than most competitors, for what that metric is worth), with the weight reduction primarily coming from the lack of a remote reservoir.
Entering a space dominated by a certain Swedish brand, it will be interesting to see how Bilstein sets itself apart in the motorcycle industry, and if the German company can effectively position itself as a value-adder in B2B marketing plays, like Öhlins has been able to do over the years.
Gearing up for a campaign in the British Superbike Championship, Bilstein is already out to make a name for itself on the track. But, astute mechanics will tell you that a suspension package is not just about the hardware.
Information management and data analysis are just as much of the secret sauce in top-level racing as the hard parts, which is part of the reason we have seen one brand dominate at the professional level.
Regardless, the addition of Bilstein to the motorcycle industry bodes well, and it will be interesting to see how this pursuit plays out for them in the coming years, as they try and use their cache in the four-wheeled space to create a reputation in the two-wheeled space.