Hercules II: BMW R1250RS Sprint Racer

BMW R1250RS Sprint Bike
Photo: @uwe8320

“Hercules II” Rocket Racer from Kraftstoffschmiede x Man & the Machines…  

The BMW R1250RS is one of the world’s best sport-touring machines, built around a 1254cc shift-cam flat-twin that makes 134 bhp and 105 lb-ft of torque — more stump-pulling pounds of grunt than a KTM 1290 Super Duke or even the supercharged Ninja H2 SX.

“It devours miles, whether you’re in the mood to go far or go fast… The R1250RS is a truly supreme sports-tourer.” –MCN

BMW R1250RS Hercules II Sprint Bike
Photo: @uwe8320

In stock form, the R1250RS might be a long-range cruise missile, but Phil Ludwig of Germany’s Rennstall Moto and Kraftstoffschmiede (“Fuel Forge”) had the idea to transform the big German sports-tourer into an 1/8-mile rocket ship.

BMW R1250RS Hercules II Sprint Bike
Photo: @uwe8320

Phil’s previous drag bike, a BMW R850R called “Hercules,” was built to compete in Sultans of Sprint — the European 1/8-mile sprint series that spawned a multitude of high-powered twin-cylinder rocket ships from workshops all over Europe. The original Hercules was good for 100 rwhp…before Phil hit the 40-shot of nitrous tucked in a bottle beneath the saddle.

Phil was successful with Hercules, earning a Top 10 finish in the Sultans series, but he was reaching the limits of the older air-cooled platform. He looked to the R1250RS for greater potential, inking a deal with BMW Motorrad for factory backing.

“Very soon a brand new R1250RS with a full Option 719 package rolled onto the ramp at Kraftstoffschmiede. It was quickly stripped down to a bare rolling chassis and engine in order to lay out a plan for the build.” -Kris Szews, Man & the Machines

Phil worked closely with his friend and Rennstall cofounder Kris Szews of Man & the Machines to design, build, and tune one of the most stunning, most successful sprint bikes to come out of the entire series: “Achilles.” The bike was designed to have the same weight distribution and ergonomics as Hercules, but nearly everything else on the build was custom.

Photo: @philippwulk

The original tail section was aluminum, housing the nitrous oxide bottle and engine management, while Wilbers Suspension custom-made the fully-adjustable front and rear suspension. A set of custom CNC yokes were produced to hold the forks, complete with 50mm of extra offset for ideal weight distribution. Meanwhile, the maestros at Hattech welded up a custom stainless steel exhaust system.

Photo: @philippwulk

Achilles rolled on a set of custom-laced wheels courtesy of Kineo, and the fairing and monocoque with the BMW M-inspired design (pictured below) was printed by FKM Laser Sintering. Then there was the tuning:

EU5 emission regulations…meant countless sleepless nights for Phil, optimizing the engine setup on many dyno runs to perform like a real drag bike should. Further, a closer gear ratio taken from an R1250GS helps with the torque figures.” -Kris Szews, Man & the Machines

Photo: @kayadaek_photography

All those late nights proved worthwhile, as Achilles reigned supreme in the Factory Class during the 2019 Sultans of Sprint series. But Phil and Kris were just getting started.

“In 2020 there were a few ideas how Achilles could look like as a naked bike. So the idea was born of a homage to Hercules I. Here it is: Hercules II.”

Kris worked with Muniq Design to create a 3D model based on Achilles data and his own sketches, and a new lightweight carbon monocoque was shaped up. Meanwhile, Ilmberger produced the other carbon parts, such as the fan shrouds and belly pan.


For 2023, the duo decided to redo the colorway, and Kris came up with the BMW M-inspired livery the bike now bears.

Design: Man & the Machines

From a performance angle, the goal for Hercules II was 200Nm of torque (148 lb-ft) — a number that would require more advanced tuning.

BMW R1250RS Hercules II Sprint Bike
Photo: @uwe8320

Hattech came through with yet another trick exhaust — this time, the pipes snake through the swingarm. Meanwhile, many more hours were spent on the dyno, tuning the bike for maximum torque in the 1/8 mile.

Hercules II Sprint Bike
Photo: @uwe8320

The result is 160+ hp and 200+ Nm of torque with just 80% of the nitrous shot — mission accomplished!

Hercules II
Photo: @uwe8320

The Sultans of Sprint series was discontinued in 2019, but in 2022, Phil and Kris stepped up to organize Rocket Race Club, filling the vacuum. In the finals that first year, Hercules II took home victory against Stefan Bronold of Radical Speedshop on his 1700cc “Cento Anni” Guzzi.

Photo: @kayadaek_photography (2022)

For 2023, Hercules II competed in Rocket Race Club’s Brand Bash class, wearing its M-inspired livery. This is the same class as the Supercharged Indian Chieftain of PM American Cycles we featured earlier this month. Brand Bash welcomes more modern bikes into the RRC fold, allowing liquid-cooling and unlimited displacement. The regulations are as follows:

  • 2 Cylinders With NOS, Turbo, Supercharger, or Naturally-Aspirated
  • No Limitation on Engine Capacity
  • Every Kind of Gasoline Allowed
  • Shifting Assistance Allowed
  • Drag Race Tire Allowed
  • Power-to-Weight Ratio is 0.85 HP/KG
  • Inspired by Drag Race Style
  • No Launch Control
  • No Wheelie Bars
  • Max. 20% Longer Swingarm
R1250RS Sprint Bike
Photo: @uwe8320

Hercules II proved its mettle once again, winning the 2023 Brand Bash class between races held at Bikers’ Festival and Glemseck 101. A big congrats to Phil and Kris for taking home the trophy once again. We can’t wait to see what 2024 holds for Hercules II and the rest of Rocket Race Club!

Below, you’ll find our original interview with Phil, along with more detail and action shots courtesy of Uwe Fischer, Marc Holstein, Christine Gabler, and Claude Fischer. Enjoy!

Are you interested in sponsoring the 2024 Rocket Race Club series? If so, contact [email protected].

Hercules II: Racer Interview

BMW R1250RS Hercules II Sprint Bike
Photo: @uwe8320
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.

I’m a vehicle and motorcycle engineer. Besides building custom motorcycles at Rennstall Moto, I’m heavily involved in motorcycle racing out of my German-based workshop Kraftstoffschmiede.

Photo: @claudefischer (see-you.agency)

I rides everything from pitbikes to racetrack to sprint bikes — and been very successful at the latter in recent years.

Photo: @marc.holstein @myeyesbychristine
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?

BMW R1250RS, year 2018.

Photo: @marc.holstein @myeyesbychristine
• For what class of racing was the bike built?

Factory Class at Sultans of Sprint and now Brand Bash at Rocket Race Club.

Photo: @marc.holstein @myeyesbychristine
• What custom work/upgrades have been done?

Small fuel tank, carbon monocoque, short rear damper and fork, perfect geometry for sprint, NOS and new ECU especially tuned for torque. Exhaust through swingarm.

Photos: @uwe8320

• Does the bike have a nickname?

Hercules II (old one was Hercules I – see picture) – first name of this bike in 2019 was Achilles.

Hercules I (@jakubfreyphotography)
• Any idea of horsepower, weight, and/or performance numbers?

160HP / 200NM torque.
Weight: 220kg, short gearbox, shifter, and no electronics.

Photo: @claudefischer (see-you.agency)
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride/race this bike?

It works every day and night perfectly. No weak point — that’s why the name Hercules — and a lot of power.

Photo: @marc.holstein @myeyesbychristine
• Anybody you’d like to thank?

Yes. Muniq Design and my friend Kris from Man and the Machines for the nice fairing. My friend Hubert of Hattech Exhaust for the good sound, Wilbers for the special dampers — works perfect. Ilmberger for good carbon parts, Rock Oil for lowest friction lubricant, and my friend Marc for support on every racetrack in the world. But biggest thanks to my family for the time in my workshop and events.

Photo: @uwe8320

Follow the Builders

Phil Ludwig: @kraftstoffschmiede
Kris Szews: @manandthemachines | Facebook
Rennstall Moto: Web | Facebook | @rennstall_moto

Follow Rocket Race Club

Rocket Race Club | Facebook | @rocket.race.club

Photography Credits

Hercules II (Studio): Uwe Fischer (@uwe8320)
Spa 2023:  Marc Holstein (@marc.holstein) x Christine Gabler (@myeyesbychristine)
Glemseck 101 2023: @claudefischer (see-you.agency)

Are you interested in sponsoring the 2024 Rocket Race Club series? If so, contact [email protected].

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One Comment

  1. Certainly unique!

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