How Much Do They Help?
Of course, the real comparison anticipated by everyone was how the systems performed at the limit-or rather, how the car compared against the bike. We wanted to avoid the usual ego-blurred "bike versus car" comparison scenario however, so there are no professional-racer hired guns piloting the vehicles, or ultra-sticky DOT race rubber installed on the machines (although the Metzeler Racetec K3 tires that come stock on the S 1000 RR could be considered hard compound race tires). BMW provided us with an M3 coupe equipped with the optional Dual Clutch Transmission (nearly identical in function to Honda's similar DCT in its new VFR1200F) and a DTC/Race ABS-equipped S 1000 RR. Both vehicles were left stock as delivered from the factory, and we had editor Greg Emmerson from sister Source Interlink Media automobile publication eurotuner
handle the driving duties in the M3 (Emmerson is a highly skilled driver with plenty of experience, and he rides a Yamaha R1 as well), while El Jefe
dealt with the riding chores on the S 1000 RR. As usual, our Racepak G2X GPS-based data acquisition equipment would allow us to see exactly how quick the car or bike was at every point on the track.
Our test venue was the Streets of Willow circuit in Rosamond, California. The tight and twisty 13-turn, 1.8-mile layout of the Streets course would put a premium on braking and cornering-not on acceleration or top-end speed, where the bike's obvious power-to-weight ratio advantage would skew the results.
The M3 makes almost twice...
The M3 makes almost twice as much horsepower as the S 1000 RR from four times the displacement. The M3's measured power is significantly less than the claimed output of 414 horsepower. Many thanks to DC Performance (310/841-6996, www.dcperformance.com
) in Los Angeles for running the M3 on the dyno.
And those results surprised us. Take a look at the data graphs for the details, but on a circuit that we thought would favor the car in many areas, the S 1000 RR showed just how far the state of performance motorcycling has come. For instance, we expected the M3's larger tire contact patches to give it the advantage in most of the corners, but the S 1000 RR matched the car's lateral g-forces in left-hand turns and actually exceeded the car in right-handers. Anyone who's experienced how fiercely today's performance automobiles can bleed off speed with their supremely strong and capable brakes was certainly surprised to see the S 1000 RR achieving deceleration g-force rates that weren't that far off the M3.
An interesting observation by Emmerson was made after examining on-board camera footage from both the car and bike. "I never realized that the Streets of Willow was so bumpy," he said. "On sections where you could clearly see you dealing with major bumps on the bike, the car was smooth as silk. I never recalled any bumpy sections the whole time I was on the track."
While you can see one of the...
While you can see one of the bike's shift points here at about 90 mph, there are no breaks on the car's chart as the DCT reduces shift time to almost nothing. Our friends at Motor Trend (also a Source Interlink publication) provided the Stalker radar gun acceleration data for the M3.
Interestingly, both the bike and the car turned their quickest times with the traction/stability control systems backed off as much as possible. Emmerson ran the M3's EDC system in Normal mode (the Sport mode apparently locks the damping on the stiff setting, while Comfort and Normal are adaptive), and ultimately turned his quickest time with the DSC turned off-but it was only fractionally quicker than his best with the DSC in M Dynamic Mode, and it was "hard work." El Jefe ran the S 1000 RR with the DTC/Race ABS in Slick mode; he said that he probably could have turned a fractionally quicker time with it shut off, but it would have required a lot of effort as well.
Another interesting discussion point was how both Emmerson and Kunitsugu had to "work around" the traction/stability control systems in many sections of the circuit in order to generate the speed they wanted. For instance, Emmerson knew how much the DSC would let the M3's tail hang out, so he selected turn-in and throttle points that took "pre-advantage" of the system's control to put the car in the correct position. Kunitsugu had to do the same in some corners with the bike's DTC; because there are many corners where maximum lean angles exceed the Slick mode's 53-degree threshold point, he had to choose lines that enabled him to lift the bike up off the apex so that full power could be unleashed. Nonetheless, both agreed that the systems are better to have than not for those unexpected situations you may need them.
We're In For A Technology "Spike"
Although automobiles currently have the technological advantage over motorcycles, it appears that tech boom is stalling in the four-wheeled sector. Meanwhile, with MotoGP's electronic wars still raging unabated, that performance technology is only just beginning to trickle its way down to the sportbikes that we can buy on the showroom floor. This means that as the economy gains momentum, it's only a matter of time before we begin to see a surge of motorsport technology that will not only make sportbikes faster, but safer and easier to handle as well.
Just look at what it's done for BMW's M3 and S 1000 RR.