July 9, 2008 The all-wheel-drive revolution that has swept the off-road car racing world continues to gather strength in the vastly more conservative motorcycle market. Yamaha's 2-Trac and Christini's aftermarket AWD system are well established as proof that 2-wheel-drive is an effective and significant advantage to off-road motorcycle racers, and now BMW is using a two-wheel drive system in one of the toughest arenas of all - the European Hill Climb Championships, where despite star rider Christian Pfeiffer bowing out due to injury, a 2WD F800-powered hill climb bike took fourth place in its first competition outing.

Hill climb competitions are among the most extreme tests of man and machine in the motorcycling world. The Obersaxen round of the European Hill Climb Championships has a course only 235 metres long, but in that distance it climbs 115 metres in altitude. Some parts are so steep you'd struggle to climb them on your hands and knees.

This year's fourth-placing entry by BMW was the first trial of an extraordinary competitor. Built around the engine from an F800, the hill climb special features a custom frame and lengthened swingarm, with a scooped rear tyre and a two-wheel-drive system aimed at helping riders make it past the steepest sections, provided they can keep the front wheel on the ground.

Star stunter and enduro rider Chris Pfeiffer, who has placed on the podium in this event in previous years, was forced to withdraw after injuring himself in a backflip attempt, so the task of taking the hill climber out for its first competition run fell to its builder, Silvio Scholzel, who was impressed with the bike's lightness, power and forgiving nature after placing an impressive fourth against a raft of other custom-built machinery and very experienced riders.

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