One of the more intriguing story lines we are following in the coming WorldSBK season is the arrival of BMW Motorrad in the superbike paddock. For the 2019 season, BMW has partnered with the Shaun Muir Racing team, with riders Tom Sykes and Markus Reiterberger.
With an all new superbike platform to develop and work with, our attention is on what this machine can do, especially with such a high-level team and duo of riders.
With SMR officially unveiling the team at their preseason test in Portugal, we sent our man Steve English into the pit box to get some up-close photos of the WorldSBK-spec BMW S1000RR for the 2019 season.
As you would expect, the details on this bike are very interesting.
On the photos we have of Tom Sykes’ bike, we can see that unsurprisingly that Öhlins is doing the suspension duties, but more interestingly we see that Nissin has been tapped for brakes, rather than the usual spots by Brembo.
We have seen Nissin trying to increase its foothold in the higher ranks of motorcycle racing, and this is a good get for them, working with SMR, in the WorldSBK paddock.
We imagine for the team too there is a reduction in costs by not choosing the Italian braking brand. Note the suspension internal setting labelled on the fork bottom, near the caliper bolt points.
Looking at the left-hand side of the controls, we can see that Sykes is using a thumb actuator for his rear brake, in addition to the usual racing additions, which include a brake lever adjustment wheel for the front brake, as well as a pod of buttons to control the electronics.
Thumb brakes are becoming more in vogue in the higher levels of motorcycle racing, this is do largely to the leg-dangle riding style that many riders are using now, and how that has changed the needs of riders.
For instance on right-hand turns, dangling the leg means the inability to actuate the rear brake with one’s foot at the entry of the turn, which necessitates the inclusion of a thumb brake somewhere on the clip-ons – usually on the left-hand side.
One last piece that caught our eye was the aluminum swingarm on the WorldSBK-spect BMW S1000RR.
Retaining the same basic shape of the stock unit, we can see that BMW Motorrad has filled in the swingarm’s negative space, surely to increase its rigidity.
it is not uncommon to see WorldSBK teams swap out the stock swingarms for a new design – it is the norm, actually. It is interesting to see though that BMW Motorrad has built the stock unit seemingly to mimic the design it would use for the racing team.
This is likely not an accident, as the production of superbikes becomes more focused on their on-track performance. This sort of racing-first design helps draw a link between the road bike and its racing sibling, and there are likely development and manufacturing gains to be had as well.
Photos: BMW & Steve English