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BMW R90S racer

(by Ian Falloon, Apr 2022)

BMW R90S racer



Ian Falloon's second edition of the book on the R90S is almost ready. It also includes a chapter on the racing R90S. Here's a taster:


The release of the R90S also coincided with the expansion in production, and production-based racing in America. As Reg Pridmore and the Butler & Smith R75/5 were the most competitive combination in West Coast production racing during 1973, it was no surprise to see them on the leader board with the new R90S during 1974. Liebmann campaigned the production R90S on the East Coast. Gietl and Kern, with Todd Schuster assisting with fabrication, worked on the R90S, boosting the power output to around 90 horsepower.


They spoked the wide rims with an offset to clear the driveshaft. Reg found the R90S a forgiving bike, “I used to ground the heads a lot but the handling was OK with some suspension changes. If you hit something down on another bike it would pick up the front end and usually throw you away. A lot of times the BMW gave warning signs of lifting, then it would come back. I didn’t fall off them a lot.”


Pridmore was denied a win in the at Laguna Seca when an ignition wire broke, but made amends at Ontario where he finished so far in front of the Yoshimura Kawasakis of Yvon Duhamel and Steve McLaughlin they assumed they had won. On the podium Duhamel said to Pridmore, “What are you doing here? Didn’t you crash?” Reg rates this victory as his most memorable on the R90S, and one of the most unforgettable in his career.


He continued to ride the production R90S (now Daytona Orange) during 1975, finishing fourth in the Daytona production race. But as production racing evolved into Superbike racing, so did the R90S.


By 1976, two-strokes had driven the four-strokes out of open class racing, but as they bore no relationship to street motorcycles the AMA created the Superbike series to woo the fans back. Udo Gietl was instrumental in the creation of this series, coining the word “Superbike.”


Gietl was on the AMA Competition Board rules committee, and as his grandparents owned land next to the Daytona race track he also knew the family that owned the track. The Superbike rules were designed to make motorcycle racing more successful at Daytona, requiring the machines to look stock, even retaining a taillight. But underneath the street bodywork they were highly developed racers, and in the first year of Superbike, only Butler & Smith exploited the Superbike regulations to the full.


Initially Superbike preparation was a sole Norwood project. Team manager Udo Gietl, with Todd Schuster, Kenny Augustine, AMOL Precision, and West Coast executives Helmut Kern and Matt Capri, worked tirelessly to create the R90S Superbikes, arguably the most spectacular BMW racing motorcycles ever built.



BMW R90S Book


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