by Peter McLaren

Earlier this week BMW unveiled its first Superbike, the 1157cc inline four-cylinder K1200 S (pictured) which, at 160bhp, is the most powerful motorcycle the company has ever produced.

However, of most interest from a motorsport perspective is the application of numerous innovative design features.

Ask most F1 designers what they'd consider changing on a MotoGP machine and two areas almost certainly included would be the current front suspension (telescopic forks - middle pic) and drivetrain (chain - lower pic) methods.

Formula One, whose design influence is being increasingly felt in the new four-stroke MotoGP era, has alternative solutions for each: Wishbone suspension (front and rear) allows much larger set-up options and is seen as geometrically superior on racing cars, while lightweight composite drive shafts transfer massive amounts of power to the rear wheels reliably and efficiently.

Neither has yet been adapted for the unique environment of MotoGP, but both - and other hi-tech developments - are present on the new BMW.

The front suspension 'uses two parallel links (wishbones), without telescopic forks, to achieve excellent precision, overall rigidity and less weight', while both front and rear suspension is electronically adjustable, 'an industry first in the manufacture of motorcycles'.

In terms of drivetrain, 'the K1200 S is the first high-performance Superbike to incorporate a lightweight shaft, final drive system', while the bike also features 'the most sophisticated engine management system currently available on any motorcycle'.

BMW's decision to use such innovative technology on a production Superbike (isn't motorsport supposed to be the home of innovation?) suggests that all are sufficiently developed for serious consideration in motorcycle racing...

Meanwhile, in the latest edition of his Moody Blues column on Crash.net, Toby Moody speculated that BMW, whose new design philosophy 'is to create motorcycles with more power that are lighter in weight and have increased agility' could themselves enter MotoGP in the near future.

 

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