A few days ago, we sat down with Peter Hickman to figure out what it takes to find the limit at the Isle of Man TT. Now today, we get up-close and personal on the machine he is campaigning in the Superbike and Senior TT races.
A 2020 BMW S1000RR, the race bike is put together by Smiths Racing BMW, with the hope that the German superbike’s supremacy on the Mountain Course continues with this next generation of the machine, and thus add to Hickman’s two-win tally at the Isle of Man TT.
As we can see from Steve’s photos though, this is not your ordinary BMW S1000RR…in fact, it is not your ordinary superbike.
Of course, the obvious changes are there: full race bodywork, Öhlins suspension, an Akrapovic race exhaust, etc, etc, etc. But, the first thing that catches our eye is on the left-hand clip-on.
You will note that there are two levers on the left handlebar. One is the clutch, that is normal enough, but the other is for the rear brake. With all the undulations on the TT race course, the rear brake is a very important component to road racing machine, as it provides a more modular anti-wheelie purpose.
Coupled to an up/down quickshifter, the left hand becomes free from having to pull in the clutch lever, thus leaving riders to use the rear brake with their hand, rather than the clumsiness of their foot.
Frankly, we are waiting for the day when motorcycle manufacturers abandon the foot controls on motorcycles all together, and give way to thumb brakes, tiptronic shifters, and other arrangements like the one we see here.
BMW Motorrad likes to make a big fuss about its racing-spec swingarm on the production S1000RR, but as we can see, the Smiths Racing BMW squad has tapped the folks at Suter to build a new unit, and move the rear caliper mount in the process as well.
This should make the swingarm more rigid for Peter Hickman, and it should make for easier rear wheel swaps during his pit stops on the Superbike and Senior TT races. As we have seen in previous years, a few seconds in the pits can be the difference from being on or off the podium.
As we head into race week, we will be keen to see how Hickman and the S1000RR perform on the course. With the limited practice time because of the weather, we doubt record-breaking laps will be in the cards, but the competition will surely still be fierce.
The 32-year-old certainly looks up to the task, and he seems to only get better with age. Keep an eye out for Peter Hickman when the racing starts in proper at the Isle of Man.
Photos: © 2019 Steve English – All Rights Reserved
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