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DAS GAS. Kraftstoffschmiede’s Nitrous BMW R850R Sprint Racer


Posted on June 7, 2017 by Andrew in Racer. 16 comments

The rise and rise of the Sultans of Sprint and eighth mile sprint racing in Europe has proved a real goldmine for those of us interested in custom drag bikes. Shops from all across Germany, Switzerland, France and Italy are now feverishly building bigger and better bikes while drafting increasingly skilled riders to see if they can’t make it to the top of this new league. One such hive of speed is South German shop Kraftstoffschmiede, owned and run by Philipp Ludwig. And this lower-than-low Beemer beast is his latest masterful creation.

Phil’s apparently been interested in modifying things since a very young age. “It started with my Grandmother’s sewing machine. My Grandpa wasn’t too excited about my early customisation efforts, but in later years I think he was quite surprised by my ability to modify bicycles, then mopeds and eventually cars. He always supported me, too.” Clearly, this wasn’t just a passing fad, as Phil now works as an Engineer for BMW in its vehicle development department. Nice gig, Phil.

‘Kraftstoffschmiede’ (or ‘Fuelsmith’ in English) was created in 2002. Phil started by restoring vintage BMWs, but now he just focuses on customs. “Since this is not my main profession, I just work on projects that I am passionate about and I am quite happy that I don’t have to do it to generate an income. Maybe it’s one of the reasons why I am having so much fun doing it. While others might enjoy themselves relaxing in front of the TV after work, I prefer to go into my garage and create things.”

Talk about fit for purpose

In an unusual choice of donor bikes, the basis of this build was a 1998 BMW R850R. If a mental picture of the bike doesn’t come to mind, just think nondescript BMW all-rounder with a telelever front. “Inspiration for me was to build a BMW four valve racing engine, as the used prices for the two valve BMW bikes had risen quite a bit, while the 4v models were still very affordable.”

Phil’s quick to point out that he finds the 4v engine and drive train of this model quite beautiful and we aren’t going to be the ones to disagree. So to gild this particular lily, he found some very slim components from the vintage German motorcycle brand ‘Hercules’.

“I’ve had this super slim seat on my shelf for a long time, and my idea was to create a motorcycle that looks extremely slim; a bike where the seat has the same dimensions as the tire.” So with the slim seat and the massive boxer engine, Phil took his inspiration and got to work. Three months later and presto changeo…

Look closely for the nitrous injectors

“The design fundamentals of the BMW started in my head: a low center of gravity and a weight distribution of 2/3 front to 1/3 back so there’d be no chance of any accidental wheelies during a race.” The bike’s footpegs are positioned in the centre of gravity, so that the rider’s weight rests right on it. “Thankfully, my design worked from the outset, probably because I’ve spent a lot of time creating frames in the past.”

A mini German R2-D2 co-pilots the bike

Phil notes that the frame was the most difficult thing to make for the racer, mainly because the details only existed as ideas in his head. “I managed to create it from scratch with the help of my friend, Franz. It is light, but it’s also very stiff and it has the best possible steering angle.” Basically, it did exactly what he wanted it to do; go really fast with 100% directional stability.

“To me, the highlights of the bike are the classic BMW racing colours, its very slim design and the oversized engine. Also, the acceleration of this bike is insane. I was pleasantly  surprised to find that the engine’s performance has doubled after testing it on the dyno.” After a quick Google, we’re guessing a cool 140 horses at the rear wheel. Giddy up.

We asked Phil what was next. “I already have an idea for a new project,” he said. When quizzed, he was rather tight-lipped. “You’ll just have to stay tuned to find out.” Trust us Phil – we’re definitely not changing the channel. Not at all.

Either Phil’s 9 foot tall, or that’s a very low bike

[ Kraftstoffschmiede | Sultans of Sprint | Photos by Marc Holstein ]








  • Al

    You see…the german TÜV/technical inspection is so strict that customising a motorcycle is very difficult, therefore I am very glad the German’s found a avenue to show their skill.
    Time to find some vids of ‘eighth mile sprint racing’ from Europe.

    • If this is the end result of TÜV, then maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all…

      • the watcher

        Christ! Don’t fucking say that out loud, puh-lease.

  • Len Farquharson

    Phil’s smile in the last picture says it all, “140 horses of Beautiful Brute Bavarian Boxer!”

    • the watcher

      Funny thing, though; I always thought that straights were the dull bits between corners. Probably just me.

      • W.Wilkins

        Too funny. I’ll be reusing that sentiment more than once: Straights are the dull bits between corners.

  • rein skugler

    There is a certain perversity to nitro-ing a BMW Boxer …
    What a bike, is all that I can get out at this stage.

  • Cam

    both bmw and guzzi have the inlet ports to the rear and exhaust at the front. Does anyone know why? I seem to remember an article some years ago where somebody reversed the ports cam etc on a moto guzzi and had a ram intake?

    • Alasdair Sykes

      I always assumed it was mostly cooling related – tucking an exhaust valve/header in out of the wind must make things pretty toasty. I guess also it gives somewhere for the manufacturer to hide the obligatory massive airbox on a factory machine.

      • Jonathan

        Take a look at where your knees or shins are relative to the boxer cylinders (next to last pic). If the hot exhaust came out the back that’s be a pretty unpleasant place for the rider’s legs. I bump my own shins on the carbs on my R90 and I’m glad it’s the intake side, not the out.

    • I’m confused. Are we talking valve ports, or the air intake and exhaust pipes?

      • Cam

        yeah, no doubt. I think AJ answered my question for production bikes. A better question from me, might have been ‘why on custom or purpose built bikes, is it not more common to flip the heads so the intake is at the front (ram air) and exhaust at the rear for flow’ (and style) To answer yr question, all, ports exhaust and intake. The example in this article could look so functionally cool with a ram air intake and straight pipe extraction to the rear… and maybe function defines form.

  • guvnor67

    Holy German brilliance Batman!!!! This should be the Poster Child for BMW Motorrad! Excellence, madness, and genius.