Naked Aggression: Evoluzione Cyclesports Strips a BMW S1000RR

By Tim Carrithers, Photography by Kevin Wing

In the beginning, before focus groups, lawyers and the EPA legislated most of the fun out of it, naked meant riding without the customary covering. Exposed. Unembellished. Direct, potentially threatening or even disturbing. That's exactly what you're looking at here. Comfortable, pure, shameless and very, very fast: That is what Ken Zeller, head of research, development and everything else at Evoluzione Cyclesports (www.evoluzione.net), had in mind. And why just undress a sportbike when you can undress the sportbike?

The BMW S1000RR was plenty fast right out of the box, but its ergonomics turned into an uncomfortable interference fit for Zeller's 6-foot-3 frame on a long ride. Take the 425 miles or so between his Murrieta, California shop and Laguna Seca for the 2010 USGP, which was less than two weeks away at the time. That sort of timeframe may seem scary to you, but for an engineer with all the requisite prototyping hardware and a CNC mill, it's no problem. Measure everything up, program the mill and turn one large chunk of 6061-T6 aluminum into a custom top triple clamp. Bolt up a tapered-aluminum handlebar lifted from BMW's G650 dual-sport, and voila! Sort of: Getting from there to what you see here was more than a simple matter of unbolting a windscreen and some fairing panels.

The basic plan was, well ... basic. Strip away enough gratuitous acid-green plastic and assorted vestigial pieces to achieve the desired effect without dulling performance. Zeller wanted to keep the bike's signature asymmetrical headlights and ram-air maw, which meant machining a new supporting structure and hand-forming aluminum panels to fill in the gaps vacated by the plastic bits. The front turn signals were attached to vacant fairing mounts in the frame via billet-aluminum brackets. Once the arms supporting the stock bike's mirrors and windscreen were surgically removed, the remaining bits were polished and powder coated. The stock fairing bubble was carved into a tidy little fly screen.

Without its plastic camouflage, the massive exhaust resonator was too ugly to stay. Zeller replaced it with a simple Akrapovic stainless-steel header ($950) and capped it with BMW's stubby stock muffler. Modified K1200S frame sliders from RhinoMoto ($110) spare more expensive parts in the event of a tip-over. Beyond that, Zeller's most conspicuous additions aim at giving the Evoluzione S1000RR a little more visual distance from the factory version and shave a little weight in the process: OZ forged-aluminum wheels ($2359) and Galfer wave rotors in factory dimensions ($640 front/$186 rear). The only gold chain in Zeller's wardrobe spins the rear wheel. Lighter than the factory issue #525 links, the DID #520 ZVMX Super Street X-2 Ring chain on Drive Systems sprockets ($250) is also strong enough to shrug off repeated exposure to 177 horsepower at 12,250 rpm.

Next on the agenda: Turn the factory's racy ergonomic equation into something comfortable enough for extended play on the street. A custom footpeg-lowering kit adds 1.3 inches of much-needed legroom. Zeller's triple clamp carries the dual-sport bar 7.5 inches higher than the original clip-ons, creating a more humane seating position. Since sit-up ergonomics shift a healthy percentage of the rider's weight toward the rear, the standard 468 lb.-in. spring-too soft for an aggressive 200-lb. rider anyway-gave way to a 550 lb.-in. Penske coil ($90) from the Evoluzione parts cache. A Scotts steering damper ($330) keeps the front end from getting nervous under heavy throttle, a.k.a. any time the engine is running. The net effect of all that addition and subtraction is a little like good 180-proof homemade whisky: intense, intoxicating, surprisingly smooth and definitely not for little girls or those with dodgy heart conditions.

Fair warning: Perceptive neighbors and local law enforcement may or may not fully appreciate what sounds like Troy Corser's World Superbike warming up at 6:17 a.m. on a Saturday morning. Those of us who need telescoping limbs to fit comfortably on the average racer replica love this package; enough to invest in a good set of earplugs and shift at 4000 rpm inside the city limits, where low-speed fueling is predictably raspy.

Low-speed steering, however, is predictably light for a package that weighs in at 428 lbs. complete with 4.5 gallons of 93-octane unleaded-33 lbs. less than a standard S1000RR. Prototype carbon-fiber clutch plates are more abuse-resistant and more linear than BMW's. Zeller's roomier accommodations make crossing the 80-mile buffer zone between polite society and our Secret Undisclosed Desert Testing Location refreshingly painless.

Rolling into the SUDTL just as the tach needle hits its 7000-rpm happy place, allow us to anticipate your first question: "Will that nifty billet triple-clamp come up and smack me in the face at 12,000 rpm?" Thanks to the digital diligence of BMW's excellent traction-control system, the answer is no. Not even close. Fire at will. The brakes deliver a bit more feel, and the stiffer shock spring is nothing short of miraculous for full-sized riders. All that extra leverage makes steering dramatically lighter than our 2010 Motorcycle of the Year and just as accurate. So? The standard version still rules the racetrack, but on the street the Evoluzione S1000RR makes it feel noticeably overdressed

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