Kramer Evo2: The story behind the bike
“I’ve been around motorcycles from an early age,” says Shaun Anderson. Hardly surprising when your dad is the current BMF Finance Director. An early start riding motorcycles inevitably followed, and by 2007, in his early 20s, Shaun started twirling the spanners for friends who’d started motorcycle racing.
Tempted to try racing himself, he bought an old R6 and began competing in the Irish Clubmans series in 2008. Shaun soon discovered a talent for the sport and, as his racing skills became clear, he and his father formed a race team – Anderson Race Developments (ARD) – to focus on developing a machine to exploit Shaun’s ability.
Things moved up a gear with the acquisition of a one-litre bike for the 2009 season and Shaun found himself instantly gelling with the larger capacity machine, winning the Ulster Championship and taking second in the Irish Clubmans Championship in his first season.
By the end of the 2010 season, Shaun had won the Senior Support Championship in Ulster, taken second in the newcomers championship at the Manx GP and been awarded the Cromie McCandless and Martin Smith trophies for outstanding newcomer.
The ARD team’s success continued in 2011 with Shaun competing against the top names in the sport – including the Dunlops and Ryan Farquhar – and then a TT debut in 2012 with a 24th place finish in the Superbike class. Several podium finishes behind the dominant Farquhar followed in 2013 and 2014 but then Shaun’s life changed. An offer from Austrian manufacturer KTM to become Project Leader in their Road Bike Research and Development Department was too good an opportunity to turn down, so a move to Austria followed and road racing was put on hold.
“I really thought 2015 was going to be my last year of racing,” Shaun recalls. “Trying to keep an amateur road race career going at the same time as pursuing a career in the motorcycle industry was always going to be difficult, especially since there are not the same racing opportunities in Austria. There are no road races as we understand them in Britain, racing over there is based on three- to four-kilometre hillclimbs against the clock.”
Anyone who has raced motorcycles knows it is highly addictive, and leaving is not so simple. By the end of 2015, mutual friends in the motorcycle industry had arranged a meeting with a young engineering entrepreneur called Markus Kramer.
Markus is the founder of Kramer Motorcycles and head of a small team producing bespoke racing motorcycles designed to meet FIM Supermono regulations. Powered by the KTM LC4 single-cylinder 690cc shortstroke motor, the Kramer Evo2 is a potent, pure race bike already proving its effectiveness against much larger machinery.
“Markus had a proven product and of course I was well aware of his work through KTM,” says Shaun. “We met, I saw his workshop and facilities and, as we discussed the possibilities around road racing the Evo2, we both became invested in the project more and more. We could see real potential for pushing the Evo2 project forward.”
European Supermono riders already knew the Kramer Evo2 and its capabilities, but the bike had not yet reached a breakthrough point in road racing circles. A plan began to take shape: combine Markus’s engineering and manufacturing skills with Shaun’s proven road race and product development experience to get the Evo2 on the European road race podium. Then, in turn, raise the profile of the Evo2 in racing circles and drive more sales for Kramer.
“I like to approach things from a scientific angle and love to be on the development side, so the match looked like it could work,” says Shaun. “I am analytical and have ridden enough old and new bikes to know what’s good or bad, while Markus had reached saturation point in his existing market.”
A deal was soon struck. Shaun would campaign the Evo2 as one of two Kramer factory riders; feedback from his riding would then be used to further develop the bike and racing successes would drive further sales for Kramer Motorcycles – and Shaun would be road racing at a competitive level again.
“A bike was prepared in winter 2015 for a first shakedown race at Rijeka in Croatia,” recalls Shaun. “I was blown away by the bike and its engineering, and saw it had huge potential. Although the bike had won the European Supermono championship the year before, riders and bikes don’t always ‘gel’ so it was nice to get a good feeling from it.”
The Kramer motorcycle showed its capabilities by finishing second in its first competition in the Supermono class at the Austrian hillclimbing competition, then another top-five finish at the Nürburgring in the first round of European championship. The first win came at Horice in the Czech Republic later that year. Shaun jumped back home to Ireland to ride his superbike at Tandragee and then to 14th place in the Senior TT with a lap just shy of 128mph. He then returned to European racing with the Kramer and another win at Frohberg, Germany in the Supertwins class. By this time, Shaun had shown just how competitive the Kramer motorcycle could be – even on very fast, closed road circuits.
This year, the wins have continued with another success at Horice and lap record, then qualifying in second place on the grid at Tandragee in Ireland in the Supertwin class against some of the best riders on the best bikes in the world. Unfortunately, that meeting had to be abandoned before the race could take place, but the qualifying result was none-the-less a huge achievement. The lighter weight and gentler power delivery of the Evo2 was helping Shaun to compete against much more powerful machinery.
“The really interesting races that have shown the bike’s true potential have been against the twin-cylinder race bikes,” says Shaun. “The Kramer now bridges the gap between Supermono and Supertwins, so now the big goal is to get the bike into competition at the TT.”
Next stop: Isle of Man
Getting the Evo2 into competition at the legendary TT will require opening up lines of discussion to obtain special dispensation from the organisers, but Shaun is cautiously optimistic. “Our hope is entry to the Lightweight class, which is effectively a Supertwins class. Twins such as the Paton and ER6 traditionally dominate, so to have a 690cc single competing against 650cc twins would need dispensation and a freeing of the rules to allow us in.
“But it is not too big a stretch; there have been other dispensations, for example the non-production Nortons and the Padgetts Honda RCV, neither of which are homologated. The Kramer Evo2 is a ‘bike of interest’ to the event and would be interesting to the public – there is a value to that, which is what we are banking on.”
Next step on the path is for a privateer on the Evo2 to compete at the Manx GP. Markus Kramer, Shaun and his father Howard will be watching with bated breath to see how it handles the mountain course prior to opening up discussion with the TT organisers.
“Last year we applied for consideration but it was too short a timescale. By the 2018 TT, we will have had many more discussions and we are open to suggestions about how best to steer things to dispensation,” says Shaun. “We are optimistic but cautious and the more we raise the profile of the bike the more feasible it becomes.”
Meanwhile, Supermono racing has taken an upswing recently with two domestic UK championships in place, allowing Kramer motorcycles to appear on the grid of some high-profile race meetings. This gets the bikes under the noses of ACU organisers, so they can see its potential up close.
“Since the Kramer Racing name is still not widely known in road racing circles, the uninformed assumption is that it is a bike built by a man in a shed with an angle grinder and blowtorch. We need to convince the world – and the TT organisers – that this is not the case,” says Shaun. “Kramer Racing is a professionally run business, with a production run of world-class machinery – not a one-man band. Getting the bike into the public eye will showcase its capabilities and convince racing fans it’s a project worth following closely”.
Markus Kramer is a young engineer with a passion for racing who, like many creative engineers working in the motorcycle industry, found himself as a small cog in the big machinery of an OEM bike manufacturer. So, in 2010 Markus took the decision to go it alone with the development of a race bike based on a highly modified KTM 690. Evo1 became the test mule that led to the development of the current bike, the Kramer Evo2.
Using the KTM 690LC4 motor – widely seen as the strongest single-cylinder bike on the market – the Evo2 is built from the ground up using the best components. While the running gear and wheels are also KTM, the frame and swingarm are designed and built using GP race bike geometry. The bike also uses Brembo brakes and a uniquely designed subframe which incorporates the tank and seat as an integral part of the design. Beautifully hand-crafted, the Evo2 is a pure racing machine, developing 80hp and weighing just 125kg.