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The most powerful BMW ever

Published: 01 April 2001

BMW is preparing to build a range-topping genuine superbike.

It should be the bike that finally shrugs off any remnants of the pipe and slippers image the brand has accrued.

The firm is thought to be looking at several ways to build a machine with superbike performance while retaining the firm’s unique engineering style.

At the moment there are at least two options, both with boxer engines. One is a flat-four engined machine and the other is this – a high performance, 1000cc flat twin.

One source close to the factory said: " We know BMW is working on a high performance bike. That is certain. However, we are not sure how they will go about it.

" There are four-cylinder boxer engined bikes being tested, but that is not all. It is possible the firm will choose to use a supercharged twin. "

This artist’s impression, from German bike magazine Motorrad, shows how the supercharged machine could look.

Supercharging might not be familiar on bikes, but it does feature in BMW’s history. From 1929 to 1939, BMW race bikes used superchargers to increase power. The results were impressive, and culminated in Ernst Henne’s 1937 speed record of 173mph on a supercharged BMW " Kompressor " with cigar-shaped aerodynamic bodywork.

Even if BMW doesn’t choose the supercharged option, it can still build a bike that’s powerful enough to compete with top Japanese and Italian superbikes without ditching it flat-twin layout.

The firm proved this in the early 1990s with a prototype that sadly never saw the light of day.

Using the " R1 " tag long before Yamaha made the name synonymous with performance, the bike was the most advance BMW ever built.

The project was so secret that even though the bike was ditched in 1992, it was not revealed until six years later, when it made a low-key debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

It is possible that the stillborn production version of the R1 racer could form the basis of BMW’s new superbike.

BMW has been known to delay projects for several years in the past. In 1993 it showed the " RS " concept bike, which then disappeared for five years until the debut of the near-identical R1100S in late 1998.

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