Cloud Chaser: The BOTT XR1R Pikes Peak Racer

The BOTT XR1R Pikes Peak motorcycle—winner win of the Exhibition Powersport class
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is madness of the highest order. Racers blast through the 12-mile course at breakneck speed—climbing 4,720 feet and navigating 156 turns, right on the edge of disaster.

Tackling it on two wheels takes tons of skill, massive cojones and a few loose screws. And a motorcycle that can go really, really fast. Today we’re profiling one such bike: the Bottpower BOTT XR1R, which Travis Newbold recently piloted to a win in the Exhibition Powersport class.

The BOTT XR1R Pikes Peak motorcycle—winner of the Exhibition Powersport class
You know Bottpower—they’re the Spanish outfit producing kits that radically transform the Buell XB-series. But what you might not know, is that Bottpower boss David Sánchez is an experienced race engineer. So he knows how to make bikes attractive and quick.

The BOTT XR1R Pikes Peak motorcycle—winner of the Exhibition Powersport class
Building a race bike at this level is no mean feat, and the BOTT XR1R—built purely for The Race to the Clouds—has been a long time in the making. We saw the first prototype a year ago, but a lot has changed since then.

“The idea was to build a bike with better performance, which meant looking for more power, less weight and better components,” says Sánchez. “At the same time I wanted to keep using the air cooled V-twin engine, which I love because of the aesthetics, the sound and the character.”

The BOTT XR1R Pikes Peak motorcycle—winner of the Exhibition Powersport class
Bottpower’s road-going XR1—and the early XR1R prototype—used Buell’s 1203cc Thunderstorm motor. But Sánchez wanted more, so he’s shoehorned in the motor from the extremely limited edition Buell XBRR race bike. (Only 56 XBRR’s were built in 2007.)

“It has 1340cc, 150 hp, titanium valves and magnesium covers,” he says. “It is an incredible engine, with brutal torque at low RPM and a sound that gives me goosebumps every time I warm it up.”

The BOTT XR1R Pikes Peak motorcycle—winner of the Exhibition Powersport class
A key feature of all BOTT bikes is a backbone-style frame: it does away with the original twin spar design, and uses the engine as a stressed member. Bottpower make this backbone in both steel and titanium, but Pikes Peak rules forbade them from using the lighter titanium version.

So they improved the stiffness of their steel unit to handle the extra power (and will, in fact, be applying some of these changes to their production frames).

The BOTT XR1R Pikes Peak motorcycle—winner of the Exhibition Powersport class
Using the backbone design with the XBRR motor presented a few challenges. The stock intake system clashed with the frame, so Bottpower redesigned it. What looks like a fuel tank is actually a carbon fiber airbox, with two intakes that channel air to where it’s most needed.

The real fuel tank is further back and lower down, tucked between the rear shock and the motor to improve mass centralization. The bellypan and tail section are carbon fiber (the latter can be bought as part of Bottpower’s standard XR1 kit), but the ‘horns’ that channel air were actually 3D printed with nylon.

The BOTT XR1R Pikes Peak motorcycle—winner of the Exhibition Powersport class
Along with the engine, Bottpower have kept the XBRR’s swing arm, exhaust and rear brake, but that’s about it. The front brakes are now a full Brembo system, and the wheels are ultra-light carbon fiber Rotobox numbers, running on titanium axles.

For Sánchez, shaving unsprung weight is critical, so he’s also added a very special Öhlins fork, custom built by CeraCarbon. It’s built up with Öhlins TTX25 cartridges and carbon fiber inner tubes with a white ceramic coating, shaving a kilo off the weight and reducing friction. There’s an Öhlins TTX shock out back too.

The BOTT XR1R Pikes Peak motorcycle—winner of the Exhibition Powersport class
Bottpower faced another challenge with the legendary race’s extreme altitude. It starts at a whopping 9,370 feet (2.8 km) above sea level, with the finish line at 14,110 feet (4.3 km).

“We worked with IDS, the company that designed the electronics of all the Buell and EBR bikes,” says Sánchez. “They designed a system to adjust the engine mapping depending on the altitude, and it worked great from the first day.”

The BOTT XR1R Pikes Peak motorcycle—winner of the Exhibition Powersport class
It would take hours of poring over this bike in person to pick up on all the bits and pieces that had to be designed and fitted, each serving a purpose. Just take a look at the cockpit—there’s a 3D printed casing that holds both an AIM speedo and a GoPro.

AIM also supplied something you can’t see: a data acquisition system that supplies more information than you or I would know what to do with. The rest of the control area is all business: Easton bars and risers, Renthal grips, a Domino throttle, Ducabike switches and Brembo controls.

The BOTT XR1R Pikes Peak motorcycle—winner of the Exhibition Powersport class
Building a bike to race Pikes Peak is impressive in itself—but this machine not only won its class, it also set the fourth fastest motorcycle time overall. What’s even more jaw dropping, is the fact that Bottpower actually ran out of time and couldn’t do everything they wanted to to the XR1R.

Next year’s bike will see more data acquisition, a titanium exhaust, and a new Brembo brake system at the rear. Plus even more power, less weight, and more sophisticated electronics—with traction and anti-wheelie control.

The BOTT XR1R Pikes Peak motorcycle—winner of the Exhibition Powersport class
There’s also going to be a new rider: Just two days ago, Sánchez sealed the deal with Rennie Scaysbrook—this year’s overall second place finisher, and one of the few to conquer the hill in under 10 minutes.

If you fancy your own chances, Bottpower are planning a limited production run of five XR1Rs next year. Reckon you have what it takes?

Bottpower | Facebook | Instagram | Studio photos by David Sánchez | Race photos by Larry Chen

The BOTT XR1R Pikes Peak motorcycle—winner of the Exhibition Powersport class