BMW Superbike: Superglue Swingarm
World SBK News
When it comes to technology there are virtually limitless possibilities at how to extract performance from a motorcycle. And nothing forces engineers to explore these possibilities like racing.
World Superbike, being a production-based road race series, serves as a developmental platform for manufacturers to carry out research that ultimately leads to faster, lighter, more powerful motorcycles that find their way to the consumer.
An example of this pursuit of performance-oriented technology is exhibited in just one of BMW’s latest developments for their WSBK race team. The team bikes piloted by Troy Corser and Ruben Xaus showed up at the recent US round at Miller Motorsports Park sporting very trick swingarms.
Both riders had been experiencing a mysterious, slightly unstable feel mid-corner, which was ultimately traced to the swingarm. The rigidity of the massive aluminum swingarm was having an adverse effect when leaned over.
Engineers figured out that while rigidity was needed to absorb the incredible forces of energy transmitted through a motorcycle at race speeds, the bike could benefit from some minute flex in side-to-side forces, such as those exerted on a machine when leaned over at severe angles.
The solution? A two-piece swingarm was fabricated out of two massive blocks of aluminum, stacked together to create a top and bottom.
This allowed the race team’s BMW S1000RR to retain its necessary rigidity to handle the forces exerted on the chassis while also allowing for a slight percentage of side-to-side flex to absorb forces transmitted through the bike when leaned over.
The real magic is in the fact that the two pieces of the swingarm are not welded or riveted together in any way, but are actually held together with an adhesive. Even BMW team manager Berti Houser shakes his head, saying, "I don’t know how they do it, but it is glued, it is adhesive."
Consider the number of parts on a racing motorcycle, the attention to detail, the man hours devoted to each and every item, all with a single goal of creating the most efficient and dependable pieces to make up the whole.
Eventually, a good portion of these tireless World SBK labors find their way to our beloved sportbikes, making us the beneficiaries of all that hard work. All just so we can go play.