I ride a R1200S lent by BMW (UK) for my ontrack assessment scheme; for some reason many people seem to find it strange or even amusing that I would choose such a bike.
I enjoy riding the BM' because it has a surprising turn of speed, it handles really well and in particular braking and entering corners is particularly good due to the way the front suspension works - there's no dive, and the steering is fantastically neutral.
With a conventional front end and forks, when you arrive at the corner and release the brakes, the geometry changes and invariably the bike wants to run wide, then when you open up the throttle it continues to want to run wide, out of the corner, making it hard to hold a tight line.
With the BM' on approach to the corner, there's no dive, the bike maintains the line - regardless of whether you are on the brakes, coasting or on the throttle. This generally means you get a more constant feel - ultimately going through the corner quicker.As there is no change in the front end " the grip coming from the front tyre is constant; on other bikes as the geometry changes it changes the way the bike feels throughout the corner.
When it comes to straight line speed, well, it's no GSXR 1000, but then you can get through the corners quicker and as the power delivery is softer you can open the throttle earlier in the corner and power on to the straight so much sooner.Remember, on track there are always more corners than there are straights!
It may only have 120 horses, but you can use all 120 horses. When you do get it on full song, as you reach 5,000rpm on maximum throttle, she really lifts her skirt and gets a giddy on. It's great to see the surprised and frustrated looks of R1 and Gixer owners who roar past you on the straights, then you drop it underneath them into the corner.
The bike's extremely comfortable, very roomy, I can be on track with clients all day, and don't forget most importantly at this time of year in the UK, there's the heated grips! Fantastic!
If I was thinking about buying something for the road and track it certainly would be on my short list - sports bikes are not just about 190 horsepower capability, there's more to it to - feel and character. If a bike hasn't got feel and character, it just becomes boring.
On track action shot from Ledenon, South of France, with permission from photographer: Mariska Grob.