In Slick mode the 2012 S 1000 RR is every bit the animal we remember it to be, although that onslaught of power is controlled — and delivered — in a much different manner. The bike’s DTC has been revised to mimic the performance that the BMW Race Power Kit previously offered. The result is a much more transparent system that you rarely feel activating. Experienced riders will notice that you can steer the 2012 BMW with the rear more than ever in Slick mode. The system not only lets you step the rear out more, but it also cuts the power much smoother, which means the rear of the bike isn’t left undulating as much upon intervention.
The 2012 S 1000 RR features...
The 2012 S 1000 RR features the same radial-mount Brembo calipers biting on dual 320mm discs, which work well to bleed off the surplus of speed the 999cc engine is capable of building. The ABS system has been slightly revised to work better with the changes to the suspension and the pumping from the fork we used to experience when the system was activated is thankfully gone.
The S 1000 RR’s engine braking characteristics have also been altered in Slick mode to provide “increased directional stability during braking and turning,” says BMW. But with so little engine braking built into the S 1000 RR, it’s easy to overshoot a corner and get caught out. BMW staff notes that you can tune this out with the HP Race Calibration kit, if you’re into spending money on that kind of thing. When you do get into a corner a little hot, the radial-mount Brembo calipers biting on 320mm discs do an admirable job of getting things slowed down in a hurry. As with the previous model year’s brakes, the initial bite is strong and there is great power all the way through the pull. The RR’s Race ABS still seems to take a little bit of edge off the bike when speeds pick up. And as we have done in the past, we were able to activate the system on occasion when entering the track’s fast turn one. This was of course under extreme braking. Nevertheless, the system’s cycling left an unnerving feeling in our stomach.
When not making small mistakes, we couldn’t help but gaze down at the best-lap-in-progress lamp to see if the display showed green. The light surely kept us entertained throughout the day at the track, and albeit an option we never thought we’d see on a sportbike, we have to admit that this feature is one most riders will utilize often.
Helping you keep that light on more and more is the bike’s revised power delivery and suspension. In numerous tests, we have squawked about how the bike’s ultra-sensitive throttle required a surgeon-like touch. The new RR doesn’t have such a trait though, thanks in part to those new throttle curves. And despite the shorter-pull throttle, it’s extremely easy to put all of the BMW’s power to the ground in a controllable manner, a characteristic that street riders will appreciate just as much as track-day riders.
The fully adjustable Sachs...
The fully adjustable Sachs rear shock is now 4mm shorter to offset the 4mm rise in swingarm pivot height. The shock also features a larger 18mm piston which allows more oil to flow through the low/mid-speed valve and a longer top-out spring. Ride height changes can still be made by flipping the cam-shaped upper shock mount.
And riders of all disciplines will appreciate the reworked 46mm Sachs front fork and shock, both of which are noticeably more composed. The front fork provides a great deal more feedback too, especially upon corner entry. It also provides a great deal more confidence when the bike is cranked over on its side, where the previous fork felt somewhat stiff and vague. Out back, the Sachs rear shock and altered swingarm pivot height allow the BMW to finish corners with relative ease. What the shock seems to benefit most from is its longer top-out spring, which keeps the bike more controlled in the rear under heavy braking and over small ripples in the pavement. Without having any other literbikes on hand to compare to, it’s hard to determine whether or not the bike is handily better in terms of agility, but we will say that in either of the track’s tight sections that required quick steering, the new S 1000 RR seemed to be at ease.
The 2012 RR will be available in an array of different schemes including: plain Racing Red with Alpine white, Bluefire, Saphire black metallic and BMW Motorrad Motorsport colors. Pricing was yet to be announced as we went to press.
But is it better?
It’s not one change that makes the 2012 S 1000 RR that much better than its predecessor, but a handful of small tweaks that make it that much more confidence inspiring and that much more fun to ride. With a number of other manufacturer’s releasing their own updated literbike weapons, the class is sure to see some excitement for 2012. Based on the RR’s past success and based on the new model’s superb feel however, we have a feeling the competition is going to have their hands full at this year’s shootout. Stay tuned as we gather the troops. SR
2012 BMW S 1000 RR
Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse DOHC inline four, 4 valves/cyl.
Bore x stroke: 80.0 x 49.7mm
Compression ratio: 13.0:1
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: 24 degrees/3.9 in. (98.5mm)
Wheelbase: 56 in. (1422.7mm)
Seat height: 32.3 in. (820mm)
Fuel capacity: 4.6 gal. (17.5L)
Claimed wet weight: 450 lb. (204kg); 455 lb. (207kg) with Race ABS