In what came as somewhat of a surprise to us, BMW recently announced an updated version of its capable – but still very new – S 1000 RR. More surprising is the fact that, just mere weeks after hearing about the bike, we found ourselves on a plane headed to Valencia, Spain to ride the revamped beast on none other than the famed Circuit Ricardo Tormo.
Goal: make the best better
We already discussed a number of the changes that were made to the 2012 “facelift” model in our First Look story, and will provide a more detailed look at each of those changes in our March 2012 First Ride story. For the impatient, and those too lazy to jump links, we will briefly recap here.
The revamped S 1000 RR is slightly different visually; revised fairings with winglets have been utilized for increased aerodynamics and a reshaped tail section has been incorporated. The bike is available in an assortment of new colors, including Racing red and Alpine white, Bluefire blue, Sapphire black metallic and BMW Motorrad Motosport colors.
Rain mode has been changed the most and now offers 163 horsepower instead of 'only' 152 horsepower. "
The “facelift” S 1000 RR runs the same four riding modes (Rain, Sport, Race and Slick), although the throttle, power and torque curves of each have been revised to make the bike more manageable for the average rider. Rain mode has been changed the most and now offers 163 horsepower instead of “only” 152 horsepower. Said mode also gets its own throttle curve, while Sport, Race and Slick all share a second curve good for a more direct and spontaneous response (Note: in the past, there was a separate throttle curve for each mode).
Peak power goes unchanged, although that’s not a concern considering our 2011 test unit spun our dyno’s drum to the tune of 177.8 horsepower. Torque has been increased though, especially between 5000 and 7500 rpm. The new airbox design, reshaped velocity stacks and 20-percent larger intake opening are likely the cause.
New gearing also contributes to that slight increase in low-end and mid-range power, although the real benefit of replacing last year’s 44-tooth rear sprocket with a 45-tooth example was a reduction in wheelbase dimensions, claims Chassis Project Manager Ralf Schwickerath. Rake has gone from 23.9 degrees to 24 degrees and the steering head offset is 2.5mm shorter. The swingarm pivot has been raised 4mm and both the fork and shock have been modified internally to provide more feedback to the rider. We will discuss those changes further in our First Ride report.
Different bike, same great feel
Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain is flowing yet technical. A number of fast, sweeping corners are matched with a handful of technical corners that require the rider be patient and smooth. After just a few laps aboard the “facelift” S 1000 RR, it was clear that the aforementioned changes were to the bike’s benefit. Handling is still exceptional and the abrupt power delivery we experienced with the previous model is absent. The additional power in Rain mode is quite noticeable, and by the end of the track’s long front straight, the BMW was still carrying a head of steam in said mode.
In Sport, Race and Slick mode, all 175-plus horsepower are released and smiles are prevalent. "
The S 1000 RR’s ABS intervention is high in Rain mode and there is an elongated delay between when you open the throttle and when the bike puts power to the ground. If the track were wet, we would have been enamored. But it was a nice, warm day in Spain, and as such, we opted to switch modes.
In Sport, Race and Slick mode, all 175-plus horsepower are released and smiles are prevalent. While the electronic aids activate frequently in Sport mode, the systems’ transparency makes the mode ideal for overzealous riders trying to learn a new track. And so long as we were smooth with throttle and brake application, we could ride at a relatively quick pace without much obtrusion from the TC and ABS.
No, that's not your eyes playing...
No, that's not your eyes playing a trick on you; the 2012 S 1000 RR will come with heated grips as an option.
New triple clamps are employed...
New triple clamps are employed and steering head offset has been reduced by 2.5mm. A redesigned tachometer display has also been fitted and is easier to read at a glance.
Winglets have been added to...
Winglets have been added to each of the side fairings and are said to improve aerodynamics.
Switch over to Race mode and you’ll notice that the wheelie control system is among the only real hindrances. Try lofting the front wheel out of a corner and the bike comes slamming back to Earth. That gripe aside, we feel like Race mode is the best option for the average rider in the majority of circumstances.
In Slick mode, the S 1000 RR is every bit as exciting as it was in previous years. Power is in abundance and the latter half of the revised tachometer is swallowed in mere milliseconds. Corner exits are thrilling and the wheelie control is much less obtrusive, which allows you to drive forward with ease.
Upon corner entry, the modifications to the bike’s engine braking characteristics were immediately noticeable, although we feel that the lack of engine braking in Slick mode may take some by surprise. More noticeable – and more welcomed – were the changes made to the front fork, which provide greater feedback to the rider.
Without giving too much away…
We have to admit that the 2012 “facelift” S 1000 RR is better than last year’s model. It’s not a drastically different machine, but the minor suspension changes have made the bike much more stable and communicative. Add to that optional features like heated grips, a best-lap-in-progress program (an option that shows the rider in real time whether or not they are going faster than their fastest lap so far) and speedwarning function (an option that warns the rider when he/she has exceeded a self-indicated speed limit) and you have the ultimate package. What it will cost is still unknown though, as MSRP has yet to be announced.
Be sure to grab the March 2012 issue of Sport Rider Magazine for an in-depth look at the other changes that make the 2012 S 1000 RR better than before. And hold tight as we gather the troops for this year’s much anticipated literbike comparison.