Nico Bakker QCS 1000

Yamaha were the first company to put an alternative front end into mass production on a motorcycle, but they were by no means the first to experiment with replacing the front forks in favor of a better design. One of the pioneers of alternative front ends is Dutch ‘Specials” builder Nico Bakker, a man with several decades of chassis and suspension building to his credit and an impressive consultancy list that includes BMW and laverda. And his QCS1000 (QCS stands for Quick Change System, both wheels can be changed in a very short space of time) is the latest incarnation of his own very effective design.

Traditional front forks are inherently flexible and can affect a motorcycle’s steering geometry as they compress in corners. A method of separating the steering from the front suspension is generally considered to be the way forward for motorcycle design, and as yet only Yamaha and BMW have put alternative front suspension systems into production. But Nico Bakker has a system which he has been using since 1998 which is both clever and effective.

The QCS is a hand built ‘special’ that uses a Yamaha FZR1000 engine for its motive power, around which is wrapped an aluminium alloy square-section chassis onto which are bolted single-sided swingarms front and back. The front suspension system works in a very similar way on that Yamaha GTS1000 – the steering is handled via a spar running from the hub of the front wheel to the steering crown, while the suspension is actuated by the single-side swingarm that bolts onto the front of the chassis. The benefits of this system can best be realized by a high-performance sportsbike, which makes Yamaha’s decision to fit it to a modest-performance sports-tourer surprising.

But the performance of the QCS is anything but modest. The derestricted FZR1000 engine oozes power and torque. The five-valves-per-cylinder inline four makes 145 bhp in the QCS and is capable of whisking it u to 165 mph in the QCS and is very short order. The rear suspension is also a single-sided swingarm affair, but without the necessity for steering the system, is used primarily for fast wheel changes (Honda developed this system for their endurance racing bikes, and it has subsequently been used on road-going machines by Honda and Aprilia)

On the road the QCS delivers exactly what it promises. There is no front end drive when hard on the brakes, and the bike is rock-steady mid-turn. It exhibits none of the drawbacks of traditional front forks and, unlike the GTS1000, the steering response is both fast and positive. A massive front disc brake gripped by a six piston caliper helps stop this 160 mph beast, and a massive 180/55 section rear tyre helps the QCS tenaciously in the corners. The svelte bodywork and ‘unusual’ suspension system give the QCS a look all of its own – the swoopy styling and bright red paint tells the world that this is one serious, and very powerful, motorbike.


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