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Research and development at Wunderlich

From the idea to the finished product - looking at the example of our Superlight tail frame for our Pikes Peak racing vehicle R 1200 R LC

From the idea to the finished product - looking at the example of our Superlight tail frame for our Pikes Peak racing vehicle R 1200 R LC

To start with, we faced an interesting question: What will we do with this R 1200 R LC? The goal was quite clear, however: Optimise the power-weight ratio so the machine would be competitive at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The desired goal was max. 1.35kg/PS. There were three critical starting points for this: the engine performance had to be increased, the weight had to be reduced and the suspension needed noticeable improvement. So there were a whole lot of exciting challenges.

Alongside the recognised methods of improving performance (optimisation of engine characteristics for ignition and injection), one added complication with the Pikes Peak race is that the course lies at an altitude of 4,301 m above sea level and the air is thin there. Anyone who has mastered the highest recorded alpine pass, the Col de L’Iseran at 2,770 m, has some idea. From there it’s then another 1,531 metres to reach the same altitude as Pikes Peak! Without cleverly designed precautions, the lack of oxygen turns the mixture into grease so that we would see a significant drop in performance through to a stuttering engine, or even the engine dying completely. That’s why we’ve implemented an additional module that adjusts the injection characteristics in real-time using a broadband oxygen sensor. No easy challenge. But anyone can do easy! Furthermore, light racing tyres played a role in handling, in particular in conjunction with our fully adjustable Wunderlich suspension chassis.

As well as the meticulous enhancement of the engine output, our development department dedicated itself in particular to the question of where weight can be saved. It made sense to use carbon components for this purpose.

For participation in the Pikes Peak Race, among other things, we wanted to develop a super sporty Wunderlich tail section that we wanted to offer our customers if it proved itself worthy. 

We’d like to illustrate a typical development process for you using the tail section of our “Superlight R 1200 R/RS LC” Pikes Peak bike.

We always start with gathering together all ides as part of a brainstorming session in our development department. Joining us: Nicolas Petit, our designer. No thought is off limits. It’s the struggle for the best suggestions, for the best ideas. At the end of it we get a product idea, the product concept as a result of combining the best ideas. In the process, we integrate the expertise of our active race and test riders, our development technicians and our mechanics. We had determined the following requirements in the specifications, among others:


  • optimum integration of construction and form into the design concept of the R 1200 R/RS LC
  • radically reduced weight and thus extra light
  • stable, solid construction
  • position suitable for racing
  • ensure conformity with TÜV through minimal modification

In the next step, our designer Nicolas Petit captured multiple drafts on paper until this crystallised at the end into how the tail piece of our racing bike would actually look. He then manufactured a model using the bike directly out of light, high-stability aluminium pipes and cardboard segments. 

This in turn was scanned with a state-of-the-art 3D scanner, which transfers the surface and form into the CAD system with the utmost precision. The system creates a digital model of the tail and renders it as a differentiated, three-dimensional object with realistic physical surfaces. This digital data, which is smoothed out and adapted on the CAD computer, is fed by our developers into our ultra-modern 3D printer, which produce the actual prototype in the rapid prototyping plastic printing process. Depending on the complexity of the parts to be printed, the printing process can take anywhere up to several hours. This printed prototype was then adjusted to match the bike. Given the precision that we work with, only minimal corrections are to be expected. All of the significant components of the Superlight tail frame are therefore defined and the drawing data can be relayed to the manufacturing workshops: in this case, to the specialists for the detailed carbon cusp cladding as well as the mechanical workshops that manufacture the supporting pipe frames.

For the pipe frame, high-stability pipe segments are manufactured on precision pipe bending machines required for manufacturing the rear frame. These are precision welded in so-called welding fixtures and then tested in frame gauges with respect to the permitted geometric tolerances. These are then powder-coated. 

For the carbon cladding to be combined with the pipe frame, we create our own mould in which the carbon latticework is then thermally hardened in a sealed, gas-tight autoclave under pressure. The result is a highly solid, rigid carbon fibre shell which is simultaneously extremely light in its construction and has perfect surfaces. With this, we are essentially holding the primitive form of the carbon cladding for our Superlight tail in our hands.

The carbon shell and the precision pipe frame thus became the Superlight tail for our Pikes Peak race bike. The saving in weight alone compared to the original weight is approx. 12 kg!

The tail has long since proven itself and passed its hard test in the Rocky Mountains with flying colours.

As one of the first companies in the motorcycle industry to be certified to KBA-compliant standard DIN/EN/ISO 9001:2008, we guarantee compliance with all safety-related provisions. The best quality, a fair price-performance ratio and above all the optimum safety are always at the forefront for us. 

The Superlight tail section was so well-received by our customers that we decided to implement our idea and include it in our product range under item no. 44813-000.

It is meticulously hand-crafted in small batches. This means a piece of our exciting Pikes Peak story always rides with you!

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