BMW R NineT Racer: Part Two – Battle One, AHRMA Buttonwillow Raceway

Sean Matic
by Sean Matic

Part one of BMW R NineT Racer: Getting the Boxer in Shape for Battle focused on assembling a two-rider team made up of retired road racer/team owner and BMW dealership owner Gary Orr. Rider number two was MO videographer/veteran of exactly one road race in 2014 – Your’s Truly. Additional technical, logistical, and financial support was provided from Osh Minelian and Mike Ngo. Osh owns Oshmo Motorworks – a BMW service and hop-up shop. Mike is the man with a dream of reviving a spec Boxer series in America and all around Boxer fanboy.

The video chronicled transforming a pair of stock R nineT’s to something that could be ridden around a racetrack at a moderately brisk pace without leaving ten pounds of ground metal in their wake. After Gary, Osh, and Mike got busy removing lights, catalytic converters, and other non-essential items, team sponsors Metzeler tires, Arrow exhaust, and Rapid Bike engine management were called upon to provide extra grip, power, and quick-shifting goodness for one day of testing at Buttonwillow Raceway. After a few teething problems getting the Rapid Bike system to talk properly with the R nineT ECU were resolved with a few phone calls to the knowledgeable Yaman Turan at Rapid Bike, the next big focus turned to increasing ground clearance on the R nineT.

Now in Part Two, the guys got busy adding lightweight bodywork and race suspension supplied by team sponsors. Ilmberger Carbon provided beautiful bodywork including rocker covers to protect the BMW’s protruding cylinder heads. Dutch made TFX Suspension supplied a rear shock 20 millimeters longer than stock with an additional 10 millimeters adjustable ride height, giving us much-needed ground clearance. Traxxion Dynamics delivered fork internals that would help the R nineT handle the additional load of the race track. Throw in a set of Sato rear sets assembled in GP shift pattern, mix in some numbers, and we were ready to race.

Gary and I decided to race the bikes in two AHRMA classes: Sound of Thunder 2 and Battle of the Twins 1. BOT 1 seemed like a natural fit for the R nineT, the AHRMA rule book allowing water-cooled twins up to 900cc and unlimited displacement air-cooled twins. We were expecting a mix of Triumph Thruxtons and older water-cooled and air-cooled Ducatis. SOT 2 would be a total crapshoot with singles, motards, twins, triples, and even 2 strokes up to 250cc all mixing it up.

Now armed with our newly developed R nineT Racers and a day’s worth of knowledge on what it takes to ride a Boxer around the racetrack, Gary and I felt prepared to enter the battlefield of club racing in the scorching Mojave summer heat. Would the air-cooled Boxers handle the 105-plus degree heat? How would the 480-pound R nineT deal with smaller, lighter competition? Did we develop the bikes in the right direction? Would we crash and embarrass ourselves dragging the German cylinders on the scorching California tarmac? Well… you’ll just have to watch the video to find out.

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Sean Matic
Sean Matic

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  • Old MOron Old MOron on Oct 10, 2019

    Good stuff, MOrons. Enjoyed it. Made me want to get back into it!

  • Hernn Otao Hernn Otao on Oct 14, 2019

    Love this so much. Very informative for me as an R9T Racer owner who tracks it over here at New York Safety Track and NJMSP. Unlike the Yamaha, Honda and Ducati race community, there's not a lot of info out there about tracking this boxer. Everything you mention about the charateristics give me confidence because I recognise very well what you're talking about when it comes to racing this heavy "fat" bike. My winter project will be suspension improvments and possibly lighter wheels. Looking forward to PT3 very much.

    BTW: That DUCATI guy Mike Vienne is a good friend (former east coaster) and great bike builder #championshipcycles