Added functions like the best-lap-in-progress lamp and speedwarning program are more exciting. The best-lap-in-progress program is for track use and indicates to the rider, in real time, segment by segment, whether the current lap is better than the previously set best lap. The speedwarning function is conversely for street use, and could actually save your butt. When the self-indicated speed is exceeded the shift lamp lights up and the word “SPEED” appears on the display, warning you to slow down.
HP race parts are also available for the S 1000 RR, should you have the money and time to spend utilizing them to their full potential. And how could we leave out the final option (read: excessive, but cool add-on) made available for 2012: heated grips. Yes, you read that correctly, heated grips with two levels will be an option for those who don’t live in ever-sunny Southern California.
Swingarm pivot has been raised...
Swingarm pivot has been raised 4mm and a 45-tooth sprocket replaces last year's 44-tooth example. The result is increased anti-squat, which helps the BMW finish corners.
When the Tech Talk Stops
The real question is whether or not the surplus of small changes makes the S 1000 RR that much better than its predecessor. We headed to the famed Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain to find out. What better place to test the reworked S 1000 RR? The 2.5-mile track is tight, with a grouping of corners that would test the bike’s agility and select sweepers that would test not only the BMW’s modified traction control system, but also its stability when cranked over.
Important to mention is that during the launch, each of the S 1000 RR test bikes were outfitted with the various options such as Dynamic Traction control (DTC), the Gearshift Assistant powershifter and heated grips, all of which have and will prove their worth.
We cycled over to rain mode for our first on-track session so that we could get accustomed to the track and equally acquainted with the revised mode. Immediately apparent was the additional power that BMW engineers have fed into this once heavily restricted mode. The bike delivers that additional power in a manageable way — one that would be beneficial if the track were wet. The bank angle sensors won’t allow you to put the power to the ground though, unless the bike is stood well up on the large part of the tire, and the Race ABS threshold is lowered enough that the system can easily be activated with just moderately aggressive actuation of the lever. Given that the track was dry, we opted to switch modes as soon as the Metzeler K3 tires (which are great in their own right) were up to temp. And yes, the heated grips work quite well. Toasty!
Slick and Race mode share...
Slick and Race mode share their own power and torque curves, while Sport and Rain get their own. The more linear torque curve of Sport mode increases the RR's rideability. Plus, Rain mode now offers 163 horsepower instead of "only" 152 horsepower.
No 2011 S 1000 RR models were on hand during the launch to directly compare the power delivery, but the 2012 model feels much more refined in Sport mode. The difference is attributed to the new power curve, which has been designated solely for this neutered mode and provides a more linear buildup of power. This equates to a much more suitable ride when conditions aren’t ideal, or for instance, when you are still getting the feel for a new track. Don’t think for a second though that the S 1000 RR is incapable of turning quick lap times when in Sport mode. The traction control max intervention lean angle is backed off, so there’s a lot more acceleration available. So long as you are smooth with the throttle and work to pick the bike up out of the corner, impeccable drives are still manageable. All 193 horsepower are available past 10,500 rpm too, so the straights will still fly by in a hurry.
The BMW’s wheelie detection was “optimized” for 2012, according to BMW engineers — a thankful modification considering the 2011 S 1000 RR’s system was rather gruff and had the bike pogo-sticking over nearly every rise as power was retarded and then returned. The only change is to the throttle valves however, which are now designed to open more gently when a wheelie is detected. Despite the change, the wheelie detection still feels rather aggressive in Race mode. And when lofting the front wheel out of a number of corners, we found the bike to be nearly as aggressive when bringing the front wheel back to earth. In our opinion, the bike would benefit from a more advanced wheelie control system like that of the (more expensive) Aprilia APRC SE model that we tested earlier in the year (“Max Potential,” September ‘11), which lets the front wheel hover just inches off the ground while the bike continues driving forward.