Hello, BMW? Is this thing on? Um, you’ve completely changed your ways in recent years. Your turnsignal switch is normal, you built a class-dominating inline-Four that actually runs across the frame like on other sportbikes, and you killed it with the K1600 tourers. And yet, here we sit, staring at this naked S1000RR and wondering if it’s even real… We’ve seen some spy photos of a production-looking unfaired S1000RR that we know is a real thing being tested, fully expecting a big debut at the 2012 Milan show. But no.
Then this custom-assembled machine showed up at our office. Built by the American distributor for German aftermarket parts specialists Wunderlich in concert with BMW Motorcycles of San Francisco, it’s essentially exactly what we want. Full superbike. Moto handlebar. Done.
Well, it’s slightly more than that, but the essence is that simple. This custom machine, called MadUSA by its makers (see What is “MadUSA”), is a tire-torching showcase for Wunderlich’s extensive S1000RR parts catalog and represents, oh, about $17K in extras (not including installation labor or paint/powdercoat or the S1000RR itself). Before you freak out, read on and realize you don’t necessarily need the ultra-trick, billet-and-rubber $119 RaceGrip set or the $65 safety-wireable, billet oil-filler plug or myriad other delicious, jewelry-like bits that contribute to that big number.
What you do want, definitely, is the $2741 Öhlins FRRT 811 fork and $1457 TTX shock. And you can’t skip the $999 Sportego Bar Conversion Kit or the $149 ABM handlebar or $55 bar-end weights or the $2999 Piranha Conversion Kit (bodywork) and $324 anodized aluminum belly pan to complete the look and get the riding position set up for stupid stunts and urban warfare.
And even though it is rather blatant in its note, the Remus pipe and HexaCone silencer ($2383) are gorgeous weight-savers that would be hard to do without. This is the same tapered-tube, large-bore titanium system the company supplies to race teams and works well with engine builds making more than 225 horsepower at the clutch. The engine in our testbike is unmodified and produced 173 hp on the Cycle World Dynojet 250i. The power and torque curves are glitch-free things of beauty with a roughly 5-hp gain between 4500 and 8000 rpm, thanks to the pipe. A Dynojet Power Commander V ensures crisp throttle response and maximum power.
Thanks in large part to the 8-pound Remus exhaust system (stock is 26 lb.), this bike, as pictured, weighs 409 lb. without gas vs. the 433 we recorded with our last all-stock S1000RR. That’s a meaningful difference, and it informs this naked bike’s every move.
And this thing moves. Sure, a stock S1000RR is one of the greatest sportbikes ever made, with incredible performance on road and track, but it’s just that much more entertaining when you can really grab this bull by its increased-leverage horns.
I have to admit I felt a bit special on my first ride because the suspension had been set up by an Öhlins tech who is roughly my size, making damping and preload nearly perfect for me. Chassis composure was fantastic, and although the overall settings were firm, ride was never harsh. On a winding backroad, the bike feels absolutely glued to the pavement. Attack corners as hard as you like, MadUSA never misbehaves, doing exactly what you want exactly when you want. Lucas Wave brake discs front ($458) and rear ($155) complement the stock calipers and master cylinder, working together to provide excellent feedback and fantastic stopping power.
I felt less special and a bit disappointed to find out our bike had a malfunctioning ABS/TCS button, meaning we couldn’t turn off either safety net. No wheelies? Are you kidding me? This bike torques up in the first three gears with ease, and it was a shame not to be able to carry that third-gear power wheelie without getting shut down by the electro-nanny. Wheelie control is great when you’re trying to set a lap time, but for punking around and impressing your friends (or yourself), it’s a huge bummer.
Satin-black paint on the carbon/Kevlar bodywork gives the bike an almost stealth-fighter appearance, but the exhaust note is so barky (with a couple of these “!!!” after it) that there is nothing stealthy about the ride. Don’t get me wrong, the pipe sounds awesome, but everybody within an unreasonable radius is going to know exactly what you are doing when you dip into the power. I felt near-constant guilt and paranoia while riding.
Well, that and almost supernatural dynamic ability. Superheroic? Superior? Superb? There are lots of superlative feelings when in the saddle of this bike. You feel sorry for people locked in pathetic and cumbersome automobiles and even a bit of sorrow for those poor souls racked on the backs of full-on sportbikes. I did see a guy on an Aprilia Tuono V4 R who gave me a knowing nod. Mostly, though, out on the road you feel like Kobe Bryant might if he somehow got caught up in a school playground pickup game. All the other kids end up crying, but what are you going to do, lower your ability?!
One of the most satisfying elements of MadUSA is the solid-feeling interface provided by the Vario levers ($388, adjustable for reach and length) and RR-Vario adjustable rearsets ($899). The pegs are so rigid and the control operation so there-feeling that the sense of connection to the machine is amplified. And while I at first sort of scoffed at the Wunderlich Active Comfort seat, it is actually a really fine thing. Wunderlich sends your stock pan to Germany for the rebuild with special foam and non-slip cover using suede-like Alcantara piping. It’s $474 using your stocker as the core, and it dramatically enhances your connection to this potent machine.
MadUSA is just so satisfying to ride that once or twice (or three or maybe more times), under strictly controlled conditions, I just let the thing eat through the bottom four gears, tapping the lever and using BMW’s Shift Assistant quick-shifter for nearly uninterrupted drive. According to Road Test Editor Don Canet, the bike was even stable up to its measured 177-mph top speed (a $378 Öhlins steering damper didn’t hurt).
It’s just an awesome riding experience. This bike, as shown here, is for sale for about $35,000. If you can afford it, it’s totally worth it. Sure, it’s used, but we didn’t do anything that you wouldn’t have done. Just make sure they fix the anti-wheelie thing.