For those who want a proper racing bike - the Kalex AV1 is the real deal
We had last written about the Kalex AV1 in May last year. Fitted with the 998cc Rotax v-twin which also powers the Aprilia RSV1000, the 155kg, 140bhp AV1 is a no-holds-barred racebike / trackday-special built for the expert, fully committed enthusiast. With its fully adjustable WP suspension components, tubular steel trellis frame, Brembo brakes and carbonfibre bodywork, the Kalex AV1 has the ‘take no prisoners’ work ethic.
The AV1 comes from Germany and is the work of two men – Alex Baumgärtel and Klaus Hirsekorn – who built the bike to compete in the European ‘Sound of Thunder’ race series for twins and triples. A few months ago, PB magazine tested the AV1 and came away impressed. ‘If the late, great John Britten were still with us, and happened across Klaus and Alex's bike in pit lane, he would stop, stare, walk round it a few times, and break into a grin of pure joy,’ said PB.
‘It's nowhere near as radical as Britten's frameless New Zealand racer, but in terms of thought, layout and pursuit of perfection, it's solid gold. Ignore the Aprilia RSV-R road bike motor and this thing could be on a MotoGP grid. This is one of the most brilliantly designed and constructed motorcycles we have seen,’ said an obviously impressed PB.
Baumgärtel actually wanted a V3 engine for his bike, but considering the money aspect, finally decided to settle for the RSV’s v-twin. ‘The big problem with a v-twin is getting it far enough forward without the tyre taking out the front cylinder on the brakes. We looked at the standard Mille's relative position to the front wheel and tried to get it as far forward as possible, while keeping an acceptable bend on the header pipe,’ says Alex.
That, of course, was just the beginning. The two Germans had to work on fine-tuning various things like wheelbase, engine position, weight distribution, centre of gravity and so on – the aim always being optimization of braking, and traction under acceleration. And yes, the AV1 was built to be slimmer, smaller, and lighter than conventional superbikes – its custom-built chassis is lighter than an Aprilia RSV’s aluminium beam frame, and narrower than a Ducati 999’s trellis frame. The German bike uses finesse rather than brute force to get things done.
How much time did it take to build the Kalex AV1? According to the PB story, the bike’s MotoGP-style exhaust pipe alone took 39 attempts before Klaus and Alex got it right. ‘I stopped counting after a while, but thousands of hours,’ says Alex. And we’d say it was hours well spent. The great John Britten is no more, but in some way, at least his spirit lives on in the Kalex AV1…
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