2011 BMW S1000RR | Doin' Time

Staffers’ Rides

Wrist: Matt Samples
Msrp (2011): $16,630
Miles: 8255
MPG: 36
MODS: Öhlins shock, fork springs and steering damper, Andreani Group fork kit

Remember what Ferris Bueller said after hijacking Cameron’s dad’s prized Ferrari? “It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.” That’s how I feel every time I climb off this BMW. But even the best out-of-the-box sportbike is improved with personalized suspension set-up. After back-to-back trackdays—first with Motovid.com at tight-and-technical Blackhawk Farms Raceway, then with Sportbike Track Time at wide-open Road America—I knew the suspension would benefit from some aftermarket attention.

This wasn’t a surprise. During our "Class of 2011" superbike comparison earlier this year, every tester wanted sharper handling from the S1000RR—specifically quicker turn-in and better line-holding on exits, as you feed all that horsepower to the rear tire. This is primarily a streetbike, after all, and the stock suspension settings are inevitably compromised for street comfort. Pushing the pace revealed some shortcomings, so we decided to pursue a more aggressive set-up.

We turned to one of our most trusted suspension experts—David Behrend at Fast Bike Industries in Hendersonville, North Carolina—for advice. Behrend spent four years managing Öhlins USA's AMA roadracing technical support, so he knew exactly what to do. He recommended replacing the factory Sachs shock with a super-pimp, twin-tube Öhlins TTX36 ($1457 from _www.fastbikeindustries.com_). The stock Sachs fork is quite good, so instead of an outright replacement Behrend recommended a quick and relatively inexpensive upgrade with stiffer Öhlins fork springs ($139.95) and an Andreani Group 30mm fork piston replacement kit ($439.95).

Andreani Group provides Öhlins technical support inside the World Superbike paddock, so they know high-performance suspension inside and out. The AG piston upgrade kit for the Sachs fork consists of a replacement piston, piston holder and shim stack—everything but the cartridge tube and damping rod. The stock BMW piston is a two-port design; the AG piston uses three ports, for improved fluid transfer, and also deletes factory bleed holes to allow a wider range of adjustment, especially on the rebound-damping side.

Behrend specified spring rates personalized for my weight and riding style, settling on a 90N/mm shock spring and 10.0N/mm fork springs. With static sag set at 40mm front and 30mm rear (compared to stock figures of 45mm front/47mm rear), the effect at the racetrack was dramatic. Braking stability was hugely improved, with none of the previous wallowing under hard braking on corner entries, and the excess rear squat under hard acceleration was effectively eradicated. Now the bike goes exactly where it’s pointed when you roll on the throttle, instead of wanting to run wide and right off the track.

With better, more consistent wheel control at both ends Behrend says I should also expect improved tire wear, addressing another problem with this bike—it’s been eating $300 tires like a fat kid gobbles Gummi Bears! Best of all, because the shock especially offers such a wide range of adjustability, we didn’t have to sacrifice the sweet street ride. Just a few clicks less rebound and compression dials up a plush ride. Like Ferris said: “Choice!”

Before installing the �hlins shock we flipped the eccentric mount to add 15mm of rear ride height. The higher you raise the rear end, the better the S1000RR turns.
OEM steering dampers offer a fraction of the full damping capability of an aftermarket unit, so we upgraded to an �hlins damper ($378) for added security.
The Andreani Group piston kit provides the same performance and tuneability as the �hlins replacement fork cartridge kit, for approximately one-third the cost.