The white/blue/red WSBK paint...
The white/blue/red WSBK paint motif looks nice, but it's a $750 option.
Enabling all this racetrack aggression is a chassis that offers the same competence as the engine and electronics. While the Portimao circuit's young age meant that the pavement was still relatively smooth, the BMW still demonstrated excellent stability in all situations we could put it through. One area that especially stood out was during very aggressive braking in Slick mode; the stout 46mm Sachs fork and relatively conventional cast aluminum twin-spar frame keep the S 1000 RR stable, with very little of the twisting and movement that can be felt on some other machines. Although not quite as agile and lithe-steering as the Honda CBR1000RR, the BMW still is quite light on its feet, requiring little effort to initiate or change lines in a turn.
Speaking of the Sachs fully-adjustable inverted fork, both it and the similarly-adjustable Sachs rear shock (itself sporting high- and low-speed compression damping adjustment in addition to rebound damping and spring preload) performed superbly, providing excellent wheel control and tire feedback while still maintaining a good amount of compliance despite being set up for the track. A nice touch on both components is the clearly defined and simple adjustment positions on all the damping adjusters. There are 10 possible settings for every damping adjustment, with easy to see markings on each; no more requiring careful count of 30 or so clicks (that have little effect unless they're adjusted in groups of four or five) on an unmarked adjuster with the BMW.
The fully-adjustable Sachs...
The fully-adjustable Sachs rear shock has clearly-defined and simple adjustment gradations, easing the task of suspension dial-in (note both the high-speed compression damping adjustment arrow on the shock body, as well as the arrow on the flat-blade screw head for slow-speed compression damping). With only 10 steps in each damping adjustment, making a change and noticing a difference is much easier. Note also that reversing the cam-shaped upper shock mount allows ride height adjustment at the rear.
Radial-mount Brembo calipers...
Radial-mount Brembo calipers biting on 320mm discs (mounted directly to the wheels, saving precious grams) provide outstanding stopping power, augmented by the well-sorted Race ABS system. Stout 46mm Sachs inverted front fork's action was excellent.
Like the Yamaha R1, the BMW's...
Like the Yamaha R1, the BMW's gearshift linkage runs through the frame. Our press launch bikes were equipped with the Gearshift Assistant (GSA) powershifter, which worked well, although we'd prefer just a tad quicker ignition cut times. Swingarm pivot height is also adjustable.
In fact, the S 1000 RR reflects a lot of thought on BMW's part to ensure that all the controls are easy and intuitive to use. The white-faced analog tachometer with bold, clearly defined numbers is easy to read at a glance, the well-positioned shift light (adjustable for rpm, brightness, and flashing) is easy to spot, all the handlebar switches and buttons are easily discernable and operable with gloved hands, etc. The vast amount of info that can be recorded and gleaned from the BMW's ECU (all manner of lap dissection via the optional beam transmitter, including last, fastest, best lap freeze, lap number, all-time best, percentage of time at full throttle or brakes, minimum/maximum speed, number of gearshifts) is easily accessed through a simple, intuitive menu-again, no having to press a weird combination of buttons or sequences, just an easy, straightforward method that can all be accessed without having to take your hands off the bars. Who'd have thunk it?
All this scattered griping about the "controversial" styling from some quarters is nothing more than trivial mutterings in my opinion, especially in the face of the BMW's astounding performance. While I respect that long-time BMW designer David Robb's intention was to "break the mold" of current sportbike design, the S 1000 RR's styling doesn't seem that avant garde to me, and is just fine in my book. Besides, I find it difficult to look at a bike's bodywork while I'm riding it.
Upsetting The Apple Cart
It's impossible to not be impressed by BMW's first legitimate entry into the literbike supersport class. To use the same basic engine configuration as the Japanese left the company with no excuses-direct comparison would be inevitable, so its performance had to be up to par at the very least. Anything less would be considered a failure.
We don't think BMW should be worried about that last part. We do think, however, that the competition should be. They had better bring their absolute "A" game when the inevitable comparisons begin. The S 1000 RR is that good-believe it.
2010 BMW s 1000 RR
(price as tested with Race ABS, DTC, GSA: $15,730)
Other than its highly-oversquare...
Other than its highly-oversquare bore/stroke configuration (the largest bore size in the literbike class), the BMW's inline four-cylinder engine appears fairly conventional. Its power output is anything but.
Type: Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC inline four
Bore x stroke: 80.0 x 49.7mm
Induction: BMS-KP EFI, single-valve 48mm throttle bodies, dual injectors/cyl.
Front tire: 120/70ZR-17 Metzeler Racetec K3
Rear tire: 190/55ZR-17 Metzeler Racetec K3
Rake/trail: 23.9 deg./3.8 in. (95.9mm)
Wheelbase: 56.4 in. (1432mm)
Claimed wet weight: 449.7 lb. (204kg); 455.3 lb. (206.5kg) with Race ABS
Seat height: 32.3 in. (820mm)
Fuel capacity: 4.6 gal. (17.5L)