How Germany’s Patrick Leuchte built and raced a four-cylinder, 160Hp BMW S1000XR at this year’s ErzergRodeo…

For his first appearance in Austria’s ErzbergRodeo, 26-year-old Patrick Leuchte from Munich, Germany decided to do something radically different. As an avid BMW fan he started working on the brand’s new S1000XR two months before the big event. The plan was simple… Patrick and his friends wanted to prepare the 160hp beast to tame the Generali Iron Road Prologue of ErzbergRodeo.

As there’s no class for multi-cylinder bikes, he’d have to compete in the Twin Cylinders. Asked about his original idea Patrick says:

“There never was any exact plan. I reckon you can always do some stupid stuff when you’re just enjoying and loving your hobby. One day I just thought it’d be really cool to try racing the ErzbergRodeo’s Prologue on a four-cylinder. A few friends had tried the Prologue ten years ago on BMW’s C1 scooter and it was fun. So, we thought… why not try it again? But this time we decided to go for more power, hoping to get more fun out of it.”

After some technical hitches on his first run – he shredded the brand new rear tyre mid stage – on the Prologue’s gruelling course, Patrick bounced back to end up seventh in the class’ standings.

“It was absolutely my first time at ErzbergRodeo but also my first 40 minutes of riding this bike. It was quite an amazing event. Especially with the four-cylinder bike I definitely attracted people’s attention. There was no one else there with a four-cylinder bike, so I wanted to make the most of it. It’s pretty funny actually – even the sound coming from the BMW was something unique.”

The bike

“It’s a new BMW S1000XR, just a normal road bike that’s definitely not designed to go off-road racing. It’s a really great sports-tourer that was never intended to do any serious off-road stuff. Our project was 100% private and had absolutely nothing to do with BMW. Once we got the bike we started wondering which would be the best modifications to do. For two months we’ve been trying several ideas and solutions but we never actually had the chance to do any proper off-road riding with it.”

Suspension – Wheels

“Apart from finding the correct tires, there were some other things we did. The front forks come from an HP2 Enduro bike that BMW manufactured till 2008. We’re also using the spoked front wheel from the HP2. But we’ve kept the cast alloy wheel on the back as the HP2 had different transmission. The rear shock absorber is completely made by ourselves. We started with an Ohlins rear shock but ended up using inside parts from five different bikes to build this particular shock.

Engine – Power

“We based our development process on a trial and error philosophy. If something worked well we just used it. If it didn’t, we had to find a solution that would work. Things that made us happy stayed on the bike. That’s exactly the case with the engine which is absolutely standard. We did nothing to change its performance or the way its massive power was delivered. Besides, with almost 160hp from the standard four-cylinder engine I think we already had enough power there. An Akrapovic exhaust helped us reduce some weight from the bike plus make it sound awesome.”

Cockpit – Weight

“We only made some basic adjustments to the handlebars to get something more suited for off road racing. We used Renthal bars, which we mounted on special top clamp risers. We also put a pair of Acerbis handguards with anodized alloy brackets for protection. With just 10 litres of petrol in the tank the bike tips the scales at 194kg (427lb). That sounds a lot but it’s a bit better than the 228kg that the standard bike weighs with a full tank, according to BMW.  We’ve removed anything that would just not be necessary for this challenge. But we’ve kept the lights so technically I could also ride it back home if I had to.”

Top speed – Prologue runs

“To make the bike competitive we had to make some gearing adjustments. There’s absolutely no reason for going over 240km/h on this type of track. With the current settings and gearing I’m pretty sure I could make 210km/h with this bike. During my runs, I got a glimpse of my GPS and it showed something like 170km/h at one particular point. My first Prologue attempt didn’t end that good. After four minutes my back wheel was damaged so I had to take it really easy to the top of the mountain. But I had the chance to check the track. Then the next day – despite the track being chewed up – things were better. I made a few mistakes but managed to end up seventh in the Twin Cylinder class.”

Riding the beast

“To be honest, it’s a bit hard riding this bike on such a terrain. You’ve got plenty of power to speed you up in the long straights but then the problem is the tight corners. There’s a lot of weight on the back wheel and you really have to push the front end in order to turn through the tight stuff. But it was huge fun all the way up to the top of the mountain. We’re definitely not going to give up. With more time to ride and develop this amazing bike, the plan is to make it even more off-road orientated and return to Erzberg next year.”