“Speed is our Religion…” — Sultans of Sprint
We’ve loved watching the rise of Sultans of Sprint in recent years, a European drag racing championship that stars custom air-cooled two-cylinder machines with engines up to 1600cc, many of which run nitrous-oxide injection, turbos, or superchargers.
Besides outright 1/8-mile E/T’s, the series rewards competitors for style, creativity, and outright craziness:
“It’s perfectly normal to bump into zombies, yetis, Frankenstein and Hercules: Sultans wear crazy outfits. Because not only speed but also performance and power in the form of style, creativity and craziness are very much part of it… Freaky is the name of the game.” –BMW Motorrad
The Sultans of Sprint series is really one big crazy family. Competitors come from garages and workshops all over Europe and the world to compete, with races often taking place during big shows like EIMCA and Glemseck 101. One of the workshops most active in the series is Radical Guzzi, a family-run German workshop with an Italian heartbeat. Says headman Stefan Bronold, Jr.:
“Somewhere down the road of being obsessed with motorcycles we felt the Italian heartbeat — shortly with Ducatis and then — unstoppable – Moto Guzzi…. Radical Guzzi builds custom bikes — so far always based on Moto Guzzi models. We also develop parts and produce them serially in small numbers, so that our customers can also optimize their motorcycles.”
Several years ago, Radical Guzzi built their first Sultans of Sprint drag bike, “NOSferatu” — utilizing a heavily-modified Moto Guzzi Quota 1100 dual-sport frame and a bored-out Guzzi engine making 180-220 hp with nitrous-oxide injection.
Father Stefan Sr. served as designer and team manager while younger brother Simon raced the bike. Says Stefan Jr.:
“We had so much fun racing the 1/8-mile and traveling around Europe with our old NOSferatu, so we decided to build a second bike. I was not racing the old one because my little brother raced it, but I tested it one time and it was real fun to do it. So I built a second one for me.”
That led to “NOSferatwo,” which has a completely custom frame, a Griso 1200 8-valve engine bored to 1400cc, NOS injection, a custom ECU, and a handmade alloy seat and tank:
“The design concept was simple: everybody must see on first view that it’s a bike from Radical Guzzi. That’s why the tank and seat is close to our well-known design bike, the MGR 1200.”
Originally, the bike was known as “NOSferaTURBO,” as it had both NOS injection and a KK26 turbo! However, the team soon realized it was too much power without a wheelie-bar. Says Stefan:
“With a KK26 turbo and NOS injection she dropped me off the bike while I shifted in third gear and I made a somersault backwards… So we saw that the power was too much with a turbo and no wheelie-bar.”
Stefan says that some people might think an 1/8-mile straight-line drag race sounds simple, but it’s anything but:
“We do 200 meters in about 6.4 seconds with a max speed of about 220 km per hour. That feels like you’re sitting on a rocket, and when you push the NOS button it’s quite amazing. Under your helmet it starts to flapping and your view becomes like in a tunnel.”
Put another way, these air-cooled twins hit trap speeds of 135-140 mph in just 6.4 seconds — talk about two-wheeled rocket ships! Below, we get the full details on the build and more killer shots from photographer Kerstin Streit (@photos_kerstin).
Moto Guzzi Drag Bike: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
My name is Stefan Bronold, Jr. and I’m 34 years old. I started my workshop in 2009 — my father had started it long before that and wanted to close it. After I made it bigger, we started to produce more parts and special bikes.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
The NOSferatu 2.0 we built four years ago after we’d already built the original NOSferatu in 2014. There is no model for this bike — the frame is self-made, the engine comes from a Griso 1200 8v and we bored it to 1400cc. Engine year is 2008.
• Why was this bike built?
The bike is built for the Sultans of Sprint competition, which is a kind of European championship for old-school sprint racers with air-cooled two-cylinder engines, aspirated with NOS or blown with a turbo or supercharger.
We had so much fun racing the 1/8-mile and traveling around Europe with our old NOSferatu, so we decided to build a second bike. I was not racing the old one because my little brother raced it, but after I tested it one time and it was real fun to do it. So I built a second one for me. My father is the team manager and mostly all the design of these bikes came from him.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
The design concept is simple: everybody must see on first view that it’s a bike from Radical Guzzi. That’s why the tank and seat is close to our well-known design bike, the MGR 1200.
The bike is a complete piece of custom work, there is really nothing that’s original. The frame is self-made, engine and gearbox modified, NOS injection system, ignition system with ECU self-made with our speedo. Handmade alloy tank and seat, etc., etc.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
The nickname is “NOSferatwo” and sometimes “bitch” — “bitch” because with a KK26 turbo and NOS injection she dropped me off the bike while I shifted in third gear and I made a somersault backwards… So we saw that the power was too much with a turbo and no wheelie-bar.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
To go for 200 meters straight-on seems for many people to be simple, but believe me it isn’t. One small failure and you’re out. We do 200 meters in about 6.4 seconds with a max speed of about 220 km per hour. That feels like you’re sitting on a rocket, and when you push the NOS button it’s quite amazing. Under your helmet it starts to flapping and your view becomes like in a tunnel.
• Was there anything done during this restoration that you are particularly proud of?
I’m particularly proud that on this build my brother did the welding work — he is a master in welding. My father collected parts, figured out how to put it together; I did the ECU work and the electronics. Many of our friends helped and traveled with us as fans and helpers to the races.