Upon finding myself back on the William Hilton Parkway I was able to open up the full tap on the littlest BMW engine in North America. The N20 did not disappoint on torque – it rewarded a heavy right foot with a punch of torque and a seat-of-your-pants feeling of speed. Where the N52 felt a bit sluggish down low in the rev range, the N20 rewarded with instant acceleration – in Sport+ mode, the car feels downright racey though with a somewhat sensitive throttle response. The engine feels like Mr. Hyde, a monster in a small frame but always up to go rampaging across the countryside. Another interesting feature of the N20 (in Z4 guise) is the noticeable sound of the turbo as it spools up and hurls further power into the engine – an interesting touch that adds to the sporty sound to the engine and is a bit surprising as BMW embraces the turbocharger versus trying to disguise the whoosh. It makes you want to push the tachometer closer and closer toward the 7,000 RPM. However, therein lies a problem with the nature of the N20.
“They also serve as radiator covers and are now finished in body color, as are the front mudguards. What is more, the spring of the rear spring strut is finished in red to highlight the sporty character of this naked bike. The Sport windshield finished in body color and the white direction indicators are now part of the standard equipment of the new F800 R.”
By spring, Clement could start the engine, but it would quit when it got hot. The problem was with the magneto, which generates the voltage needed to fire a spark plug. Two replacement coils from Germany and a rebuilt coil from Chicago failed to cure the problem. After troubleshooting every other component in the ignition system, Clement realized the glitch was an internal defect in the magneto. At the end of September, a replacement magneto arrived from Germany and Clement once again began to test drive the bike.