Most of us who spend time thinking about such things have pretty much dismissed BMW's K1200S as Serious Competition for the likes of Kawasaki's 176-horsepower ZX-14 and Suzuki's notorious 160-horsepower Hayabusa. The S model is the button-down Teutonic hyperbike you can disappear on every other weekend, right?
Maybe. But it doesn't look like Ken Zeller got the memo. The Man in Charge at Evoluzione Cyclesports (www.evoluzione.net) likes to chuck that sort of conformist thinking into his mill and start grinding away. Especially when he's thinking about a motorcycle he really likes to ride, aka the K1200S. Leaving things alone, you see, is not in the man's nature.
This particular bike wasn't quite cool after its trip home from the dealer before it was in pieces on the Evoluzione shop floor. Mr. UPS delivered boxes of new parts. Stock parts were boxed and shipped off for enhancement.
And because these S-spec 1157cc fours make somewhere between 145 and 150 horsepower at 10,250 rpm in factory trim, power-producing bits were on top of the stack.
Zeller started by decapitating the K-four and sending its head out for what he calls Stage I porting. This includes massaging the bowl of each combustion chamber such that cylinders fill quicker while the stock-Zeller hates that word-32mm intake valves are half-open, and generally cleaning up the path for incoming combustibles. Cams and pistons are factory-issue bits, but there's no guarantee how long they'll stay that way. Compression is stock at 13.0:1-for now.
Poking around in the upper respiratory system revealed the stock air filters don't flow enough. So Zeller developed replacements-aka Evoluzione Race Airflow System-on the in-house Factory Pro dynamometer. A programmable Evoluzione Rapidbike3 ECU Tuner lets him send new fuel and spark orders to the mind-bendingly complicated BMS-K engine-management computer. Exhaust plumbing changes week to week or day to day; I've ridden the bike with Akrapovic (a bit loud), Z-Teknic (bloody loud) and Laser Powercup systems. (Hel-lo, Officer Obie. Did you know that tie brings out the blue in your eyes? Is that Hai Karate you're wearing?) Along with that noise comes 103 pound-feet of torque at 7500 rpm, followed by 171 real-deal rear-wheel horsepower at 9500. That's 24 horsepower and 10 pound-feet of torque more than my painfully stock-to Zeller, anyway-long-term K1200S. At that rate he's got the Hayabusa covered, and the ZX-14 is close enough to taste.
Meanwhile, Mr. UPS has been coming and going and coming and ... well, you get the picture. AP six-piston front calipers and Braking rotors scrub off repeated applications of those 171 ponies. Because the boss' bike was the R&D mule for all of Evoluzione's K1200S bits, it wears the finished products as well. A low-effort slave cylinder makes the K12 clutch easier to live with, while a billet torque arm makes rear ride height adjustable. A billet footpeg lowering kit makes room for long legs. The list (duly noted on the next page) goes on. Once the carbon-fiber tailsection and rear-wheel hugger came back from the painter's along with all the formerly stock-Zeller really hates that word-bodywork and fresh Dunlop Qualifiers went on the orange-powdercoated wheels, I showed up. "Take it for a ride," he says. "Tell me what you think." I think I'll get my helmet.
Heading into the Santa Monica Mountains with 5 gallons of super-unleaded and an afternoon to burn, the Evo K feels like an extroverted version of my long-term bike. On/off throttle transitions are a little jerky below 4000 rpm. Otherwise, aside from the raucous exhaust note and the occasional un-BMW-like backfire on trailing throttle, it slips through these designer neighborhoods as stealthily as any electric-blue-and-orange bike that sounds like a Reno air-racer can. The guy in the M3 convertible gives me the thumbs-up. If he only knew what this thing would do to his heap. Alas. The monoposto leather seat is a nice touch. The matching orange-and-blue dash is nice, too. A shift light seems superfluous on a BMW, but not on this BMW.