This article was originally published in the October 1996 issue of Sport Rider.
It was after the street ride and an hour into UFO dragstrip testing when the phone call came. “We’re on our way!” exclaimed Richard Sims, talking through a cellular phone four hours north of the dragstrip on California’s I-5. “We’ve been up for days, so don’t leave without us. We caught the bike on fire on the dyno—just about burned the damn thing to the ground!” Severe sleep deprivation may have caused Richard to exaggerate some, but little did he know how prophetic his story was.
Jaws dropped when the Sims Suzuki GSX-R arrived. Cloaking the ’89 GSX-R 1216cc engine was a custom one-off set of AirTech bodywork, the bulbous front section modeled after the 1970 Harley-Davidson XR750 roadracer known for its high speeds on Daytona’s banks. The tailsection was sloped downward, matching the arc of the rider’s back in an attempt to smooth airflow during top-speed runs, the venue in which Sims was most interested.
Underneath the wild tailsection hid the nitrous-oxide bottle and Dynatek ignition, the latter of which was designed to have two stages of rev-limiter. Unfortunately, none of these systems worked at the dragstrip.
Just before Richard Sims, Dave Himebauch (the bike’s owner) and helper Buddy Thomas fired up the engine for the first time, Sims’ son Ryan turned to us and said impishly, “You’d better plug your ears.” He wasn’t kidding. The big Suzuki has a host of trick internal engine pieces, as well as a Sims Engineering-modified KF supercharger that sent a scream through the custom Two Brothers Racing exhaust system. This bike sounded like a scaled-down version of Elmer Trett’s Top Fuel dragster.
The engine revved as quickly as you could blip the throttle, and it was difficult to get the bike off idle and rolling. But once past about 3000 rpm (there’s no tach), the carburetion smoothed out, allowing the engine to pull smooth and strong all the way up through the powerband. The GSX-R’s handling manners were decent for such an unsorted beast, though the rear spring was far too stiff.
Top speed was the much-anticipated venue for the Sims team, as evidenced by the shape of the bodywork. The first few shakedown runs netted trap speeds in the 160s, 170s and 180s. Finally, toward the end of the day, the flying Suzuki booked a 195-mph run with the nitrous button hammered all the way through the lights. The bike’s frontal area makes it susceptible to the gusts of wind lurking in the high desert, and trips through the lights with the bike leaned to one side weren’t uncommon. In an attempt to put in “one more run,” Sims purged the nitrous system while the engine was idling, backfired it through the carburetor and this time almost truly burned the bike to the ground. Some quick fire extinguisher work put out the flames, but not the team’s boisterous enthusiasm. One more 191-mph run and the bike finally went into the truck until next time.
What must be appreciated about the Sims Engineering effort is their enthusiasm and willingness to try things that no one else would. They learned some lessons at Sport Rider’s UFO ’96, and they’ll use them to come back even stronger next time. “I’ll be back,” Sims said after the last night’s dinner. “And I’ll kick some ass.”
- Precision Machining valves, springs and retainers; guides and seats from Carolina Cycle
- Sims Engineering cams
- MTC 1216cc piston kit and aluminum block; 9.0:1 compression
- MTC lock-up clutch
- Rohm Performance Machine (RPM) titanium connecting rods and undercut tranny
- Falicon lightened and balanced crankshaft
- Barnett clutch springs and Kevlar plates
- RJW electro-mechanical full-auto gear changer
- Mikuni 50mm carburetor
- KF supercharger
- Dynatek ignition
- NOS nitrous-injection kit
- Two Brothers Racing 4-into-2 exhaust
- Race Tech suspension
- Adjustment Tech five-inch ride height adjuster
- AFAM sprockets
- Brembo calipers with rear Hypertek rotor and Ferodo pads
- Dominator Airweight wheels
- Avon RZF tires
- Kosman triple clamps with RJW eccentric adjustments
- Axles and fasteners by M-Tech titanium
- RJW four-inch adjustable swingarm
- Gustafsson windscreen
- AirTech bodywork
- Chassis set-up by GMD Computrac
Paintwork by Dominator
Replacement cost: $70,000
|Time and money invested||Bodacious look didn't deliver big numbers|
|Spine-tingling exhaust note||One year's always a week too short!|
|Serious horsepower awaiting development|
|Sims Engineering Suzuki GSX-R1216|
|Test Track Lap Time||1:59.05|
|Quarter-mile Time (sec)||10.62|
|Quarter-mile Speed (mph)||140.7|
|Dry Weight||432 lbs|