BMW 450cc Sports Enduro Prototype Racer to Debut in Melbourne
BMW Motorrad will stop the Melbourne Motorcycle Expo this weekend when the wraps come off a prototype 450cc Sports Enduro racer never before exposed in such a public forum
BMW Motorrad will stop the Melbourne Motorcycle Expo this weekend when the wraps come off a prototype 450cc Sports Enduro racer never before exposed in such a public forum. The single-cylinder four-stroke 450cc prototype has been seen at World Endurance Championship events through Europe in the past six months, but usually travelling at high speed past crowds far smaller than those expected to stand and admire the prototype BMW at the Motorrad stand at the Melbourne Exhibition centre. The 450 Enduro bike is a prototype. BMW has not yet made any announcement regarding a production model.
“The 450cc Sports Enduro prototype racer is in Australia ahead of any official announcement to stimulate interest in our off-road racing exploits, and to gauge reaction to a product such as this,” said Cameron Cuthill, General Manager, BMW Motorrad Australia and New Zealand. “Concept cars are prevalent in the automotive industry, but they rarely turn a wheel, and never in anger. At BMW Motorrad we are confident in our prototype engineering and we learn plenty from competition at the highest level. “This is why our prototype machine has been wearing numbers on its flanks for the past six months and has been enjoying a very robust shake-down in the hands of multiple race champions in the white-hot heat of international competition. The results have been superb,” Cameron said. “We are delighted BMW Motorrad in Germany has chosen to give Australian motorcycle fans the chance to examine this 450cc Sports Enduro prototype up close in Melbourne this week. We have flown the machine out from Germany at some cost to give Australians a glimpse of what could be,” he said.
BMW Prototype tested in the heat of competition.
The 450cc prototype is the smallest engined machine BMW has built, and it features several technical innovations that have been teasing industry watchers and enthusiasts alike for months. No one agrees more that ‘racing improves the breed’ than Christian Wettach, the product manager for the new 450cc sports enduro prototype. “You can develop a new bike behind the scenes for years and do all the private testing in the world, but until you race it on the best tracks against the most talented riders in the world, you’ll never know how good it is.”
Interestingly, in development terms at least, the new sports enduro has come to fruition very quickly, as the project team has only been working on this prototype since the end of 2004. Christian believes that this motorcycle – along with the ‘new generation’ of machines that started with the introduction of the BMW R 1200 GS almost four years ago – is helping to change the brand’s perception beyond all recognition, as well as attract new riders from well outside BMW’s ‘traditional’ channels.
“The emotional side of riding a BMW has changed massively since we launched the R 1200 GS and subsequently other models, such as the HP2 Enduro, G 650 Xchallenge, K 1200 S and K 1200 R. Not only are new riders beginning to take note of what we are doing, but even the more established riders seem to have a renewed enthusiasm for the brand. The reaction to this bike has been very positive – both inside and outside BMW.”
BMW Motorrad’s long tradition of off-road racing took another step forward at Puerto Lumbreras in southern Spain at the end of April 2007, where in front of more than 20,000 spectators, the company’s first serious enduro contender was unveiled to the off-road world. Making a debut in the highly competitive and popular E2 class in the prestigious World Enduro Championship against the world’s most talented enduro riders was a real ‘acid test’ for the new bike, but one it passed with flying colours, according to Christian.
“This was a big challenge for us. We hoped that our concept was good enough to be at least competitive with the established bikes and riders in this class, so it was great to finally get there and even score some World Championship points on debut. What we are proud of though is how we’ve been able to develop the prototype to the level it is now, and the fact that it has been developed almost exclusively in-house by our own employees – with no ‘bought in’ expertise. “In Spain, we had a lot to gain from competing, because there is a massive difference between racing and testing. Fortunately, we were able to finish the event and the experience was invaluable. We learnt that to be successful requires so much more than top riders and competitive machinery – you need the entire team working perfectly together throughout the weekend for the results to go your way. This we knew before, but it was proven again massively.”
As a sign of its commitment to this project, BMW engaged the services of two outstanding, yet very different riders to develop the sports enduro machine: five-times world motocross champion Joel Smets and multiple German enduro champion, Sascha Eckert along with experienced racer Simo Kirssi. World Stunt Riding Champion, BMW’s Chris Pfeiffer was also drafted in to test the machine at the Erzberg Enduro. Christian was sure that pairing Joel, a seasoned MX professional and Sascha, an experienced enduro campaigner would deliver a huge advantage to the team’s development year in 2007.
“Everyone knew of Joel’s talents as a top-level rider from his success in world championships, the six-day scene and MX of Nations series. With 20 year’s experience as a pro racer, he knew just about all there was to know about the off-road world and we knew he would be a fantastic international ambassador for this project,” Christian said. “With his huge story of success, Joel had nothing left to prove to anyone, so he was able to concentrate on development rather than podiums.
“Sascha had been involved with the sports enduro project for more than a year. His long experience of sports enduro and MX bikes as well as the sport with several makers made him the ideal choice.” This 450cc prototype motorcycle is just the latest in a long line of exciting off-road machines that BMW has been designing and building to win races for more than 80 years. From Rudolf Schleicher’s success on his R 37 in the 1927 UK Six-Day Race, to consecutive Erzberg Iron Road prologue victories on the formidable HP2 Enduro in 2005 and 2006 and 2007, there has been plenty of success. The Paris-Dakar victories on the factory R 100 GS in the 1980s were outstanding, as was BMW’s securing the top four places in the 2000 Dakar Rally with its modified F 650 rally bike.
This year BMW won the Pikes Peak dash with a trio of HP2 Megamoto machines, which also make their Melbourne Motorcycle Expo debut having just been revealed at the Brisbane Motorcycle Expo.
BMW 450cc Prototype Race Experience in 2007
April Spain WEC (Puerto Lumbreras)
May German Cross Country Series (Walldorf)
May WEC Grand Prix of Italy (Borno)
June German Cross Country Series (Höchstädt, Bavaria)
June Erzberg Enduro