(Above) With the LCR Link it is much easier to control the rear tire during power slides off corners. (Below) The $799 Lees Cycle LCR Link works the shock in a more linear fashion.
Last year BMW shook up the sportbike world with the release of its S1000RR. Germany’s flagship superbike went on to win Motorcycle USA’s prestigious 2010 Superbike Smackdown VII Track and 2010 Superbike Smackdown VII Street comparisons. If that wasn’t enough, it was also proclaimed Motorcycle USA’s 2010 Motorcycle of the Year. While we fell in love with its outrageous engine power with it cranking out 20 more rear wheel horsepower than the closest competitor (Kawasaki ZX-10R), after logging a fair number of laps at various Southern California racetracks we’ve noticed a deficiency in terms of the rear suspension performance. So we tried to fix the problem by fitting a LCR Link from San Diego, California-based Lee’s Cycle.
In stock configuration the BMW offers great handling and suspension performance under the vast majority of riding conditions. However those capable of zooming around the racetrack at professional-grade speeds might notice a quirk. The problem lies in the way the rear shock moves within its stroke. In order to get adequate levels of comfort and road compliance on the street yet firm damping when loaded heavily with the throttle, engineers were forced to design the rear shock linkage with certain compromises.
“I don’t think the stock link has limitations, it is just made to appeal to the masses,” says fast-guy Jeremy Toye, who helped develop the link in races such as the recent Macau GP in which he finished third last season. “It’s made to be really soft initially so it delivers a smooth ride when you’re running to Starbucks. But obviously having a stock bike that puts out 180 horsepower, when you twist the throttle, it generates a lot of energy. So they made the link so it can handle the excess horsepower on the street. But as soon as you get on the track, that initial softness allows too high of a shock velocity initially (top of the stroke). It goes from no resistance to super stiff fast which can make the bike more difficult to control.”
The solution is to fit an LCR Link. The part is a direct, bolt-on replacement for the stock linkage. It alters the speed at which the shock absorber moves which makes the rear end of the bike feel more predicable when loaded on the gas.
“The LCR link allows the shock to work in a more linear method,” continues Toye. “It’s a flatter rate so it calms down the rear end when the tire starts spinning. It basically slows down the shock velocity. Initially it starts off a little stiff—which is better for the track—and when you crack on the throttle, you have more feel and it plants the chassis a little quicker. And since it keeps a steady rate you have a consistent feel as you continue to open up the throttle.”
The LCR link modifies the ride height of the motorcycle, raising the rear end anywhere from 12-15mm. To compensate we lifted the front end by sliding the fork tubes down from 4.5 lines to 2 lines. We also added compression damping in the fork due to the slightly added load on the front end. The rear shock settings were unchanged. Ideally, it is recommended that you install an aftermarket shock with adjustable ride height to ensure optimum chassis balance.
As soon as we rolled out of the pits and onto the racetrack the difference was night and day. The back end of the bike felt much higher than before but it within a few turns we were comfortable with its altitude. Yank on the twist grip and the rear end squats far more predictably than before. It doesn’t just squat, spin and rebound like it did when it was stock.
This allows the rider much greater control when modulating power slides off corners. We also noticed how much better the rear tire “digs in” to the pavement. While we still encountered considerable wheel spin with the stock Metzeler K3 street tire with the fitment of full-on race tires we’d be able to explore the outrageous performance of the S1000RR in a safer and more controlled manner. Despite the more aggressive chassis attitude steering wasn’t overly quick and straight-line stability was unaffected. On the street, ride quality was slightly harsher but it’s something we can live with considering how much more planted the back of the bike feels when loaded aggressively. We also noticed added wheelie propensity which proves that the back tire is indeed connecting to the asphalt more effectively.
If you’re really into track riding on your BMW, then flat-out the $799 LCR link is worth the price. It dramatically increases the rider’s ability to control the rear tire when power sliding around the racetrack and makes the bike safer and more fun to ride. Hat’s off to Toye and his team of engineers for developing a simple, effective and no-nonsense performance mod for the S1000RR.