Feel the need for speed
We have always been fascinated and thrilled by speed, ever since the early pioneers put their lives at risk in pursuit of motorcycle land speed records. These brave racers soon discovered that improving engine output alone would only bring about very minimal speed increases, so concentrated on the reduction of air resistance instead. Riders such as the legendary Ernst Jakob Henne took many risks and tried all sorts of fairing designs, engine configurations and riding positions before becoming one of the first to take to the wind tunnel in pursuit of ever-higher speeds on his BMW.
His 1929 speed record of 134.39 mph was the first of 76 ongoing world records all the way to a phenomenal 173.29 mph achieved on 28 November 1937 - a record destined to remain in force for another 14 years.
This incredible speed achieved by Henne almost exactly 70 years ago on a specially streamlined BMW is of particular relevance to BMW enthusiast Andy Sills, for it was the same speed he achieved on a standard K 1200 S when he set a world land speed record at Utah's famed Bonneville Salt Flats in 2005. Riding in the FIM 1000-1350cc stock, partially streamlined, naturally aspirated motorcycle class, Sills reached an average speed of 173.57 mph with a top speed of 176.789 mph after two runs on the vast salt flats.
The great news is that Sills is returning to the BUB Speed Trials at Bonneville this September to attempt a new world record on a 2007 K 1200 S in the 1400cc class. This time though, he'll have a few thousand supporters cheering him on because BMW Motorrad USA has organised its first BMW Bonneville XPLOR Speed Rally and riders from all over the country will be descending on the state of Utah to offer their support to Andy.
Furthermore, 200 lucky BMW riders who register at the www.bmwxplor.com website will have the unique opportunity to `Run Watcha Brung' - taking their own BMWs on the salt flats to see just how fast they and their machine can go - and set their own personal land speed records. Last year, a K 1200 GT rider took off his mirrors and panniers, entered `Run Watcha Brung' and went 157 mph.
BMW legends such as Ernst Jakob Henne didn't have the luxury of several hundred square kilometres of salt flats to ride on, relying instead on Germany's autobahn system! The Bonneville Salt Flats were first used for American motor sports in 1912, but didn't become truly popular until the 1930s when Ab Jenkins and Sir Malcolm Campbell competed against each other to set the land speed record. Bonneville was the scene last year for the nail-biting contest between three racers for the fastest motorcycle in the world, finally ending with Dennis Manning's red streamliner machine piloted by renowned flat-track racer Chris Carr at over 350 mph.
However, for many riders, the standard production classes have the most relevance as they offer a realistic demonstration of what their machines are capable of achieving in the right environment. K 1200 S owners know that they have the most powerful production motorcycle ever produced by BMW Motorrad - one that is capable of accelerating from zero to 60 mph in just 2.8 seconds. As for the K 1200's top speed, BMW is prudent enough to quote `over 124 mph' in all its marketing literature. The speed freaks among us will of course, have a much more accurate figure in mind.