It's been an interesting day and I must say that I really appreciate being able to do things like this. Today has revolved over our bikes, and by "our" I mean mine and Phil's, and by "bikes" I mean our BMW K1200R bikes. Both Phil and I are performance oriented (with a bit of vanity thrown in), so in the search of K1200R performance we've visited two companies today. First we visited Earl's Performance Products at Silverstone. The reason was to get new, better brake lines. The BMW solution to our bikes brakes is a bit of a compromise, partially because the bike can be eqiupped with an ABS system. Our front brakes are pretty normal, but they've got an "upside down" bridge at the front fork which we didn't like. The rear is a bit weirder as there's a brake pipe from the master cylinder going to a connection block at the inside of the frame, then there's a hose going from there to the rear caliper. We're guessing that this is because the ABS system is at this spot. We wanted rid of this funny set-up.
I'm delighted to say that Earl's is a company that really seem to care about what they're doing. We put my bike in my car and drove up there. Greeted by friendly Earl's staff we got the bike measured, tested, and worked over. Very impressive! We ended up leaving with a kit of brake hoses each and if you're a K1200[R/S/R Sport and possibly GT] owner without ABS, you should be able to order this set-up from Earl's very soon. I've not fitted my kit yet, but when I do, I'll let you know. We were very delighted with the service of Earl's. Top notch!
We then headed over to Witney to Nitron. Nitron is a top notch manufacturer of racing suspension. My problem with my bike's suspension is that I have the ESA (Electronic Suspension Adjustment) shocks, and they are, apart from the electronic variant, totally non-adjustable. And to top that off, the only thing the shocks adjust at the front is the rebound damping. My main problem is that the compression damping is too harsh. Till today, no manufacturer is willing to build shocks for the DuoLever front suspension that are fully adjustable. Not even the "almighty" Öhlins; their shocks don't even do rebound damping on the K1200R and K1200S version. I've not been very impressed.
Earlier this week I submitted a web form enquiry to Nitron, you know those enquires that never ever, ever, ever get answers, and if you get an answer you get a duff one that just makes you want to get the staple gun and staple yourself in the leg a bit to make the pain from the enquiry reply go away.
Not with Nitron, I got straight through - within minutes - and after a few emails, I was invited to the factory. We arranged to meet on the same day as the Earl's meeting as the bike was already in the car. When we arrived we had a chat, and we got offered "to take some bits with us to try out", but we had a better suggestion; We can drop the shocks right here and now. This resulted in us trying on shocks for both the front and the rear. To our delight the front shock fitted straight away, and the remote reservoir's hose was not the slightest of a problem. Perfect! Guy Evans, the MD of Nitron suggested that we'd try the hydraulic preload adjuster too, "as we were there and the bike's stripped". Scott, who was helping us out did a fantastic job and tested our OEM shocks, brought us different shock variations to try out and so forth. Again, very impressed!
The purpose of our visit was to see if one could mount a fully adjustable shock onto the K1200 series bike's front end (rear is no problem), and thanks to the guys at Nitron we now know that the answer is "Yes". Naturally this isn't anything that you can order just yet, but hopefully in the future you might. At least there's hope from now on!
All this has given us a bit of faith in the enterprising people of UK; these people really do seem to care about their business, and despite us being "nobodies" (we're not, for example, Honda MotoGP team or Subaru WRC team) these guys treated us with respect and we got answers to our questions and we came away with, in the Earl's case perfect brake lines, in the Nitron case a firm reassurance that there are people out there willing to help us improve our bikes and our riding experience.
Hats off, and thanks! We've had a great day!