Monday, September 10, 2012

German Top Gun rides… what else, a BMW S1000RR

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When you're used to flying a jet plane that can hit a top speed of 940km/h, even something like the BMW S1000RR probably feels just a bit slow...

When you think of fighter pilots and motorcycles, you probably think Tom Cruise riding his Kawasaki GPZ in the movie Top Gun. Well, the connection between those who fly jet planes and ride motorcycles is well and alive. Meet Stefan Grillenbeck, who works as a test pilot at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), Germany’s national research centre for aeronautics and space, which is responsible for the planning and implementation of the German space programme.

Recently, when Grillenbeck was not flying his Rolls-Royce-engined long-range high-speed Gulfstream G550 jet, he swapped his flying suit for motorcycle leather and got on a… BMW S1000RR, of course. You wouldn’t expect him to ride a Honda scooter, would you? Grillenbeck’s G550 jet is an impressive piece of machinery – the jet plane costs more than US$50 million, has a flying range of 12,500km, can carry up to 19 passengers and can hit a top speed of up to 940km/h, which probably makes it a bit faster than the BMW S1000RR, at least in a straight line.

“The S1000RR that I had the privilege of testing over a weekend was simply magnificent and a dream to ride – in fact, you could almost describe it as a dream with a double R,” says Grillenbeck, who’s been an active test pilot for 14 years. “I roughly sounded out the boundaries of the RR, without riding too extremely. The handling characteristics of this bike are magnificent – the acceleration and its agility, as well as the traction control. You can adapt to this motorcycle very quickly and acquire a great trust for this bike,” he says.

“Through my studies in automotive technology, my tinkering with motorcycles from an early age, and also when I’ve been restoring and repairing other motorcycles, I’ve always tried to understand how the technology functions. In the end, it is a most wonderful experience to go and ride the motorcycle and test what the craftsmen – the engineers – have managed to achieve, and to measure the output,” says Grillenbeck. As for us, we don’t even want the Gulfstream, we’d just be happy with a shiny new BMW S1000RR…

Pics: Markus Hofmann

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