Anyone who follows auto racing knows that BMW has a very stout technological and engineering background and the capability to be competitive at any motor-racing discipline it puts its mind to. The Bavarian manufacturer is now targeting a younger riding audience for its motorcycle lineup with a slew of new models boasting high performance that never would have been thought of 15 years ago from the brand best known for touring machines. Rumors spread that BMW was interested in getting back into World Championship competition, and there was some speculation that it would enter MotoGP after some riders were spied testing a three-cylinder prototype at a Spanish track in 2006. But then BMW Motorrad VP Peter Muller announced at the '07 Paris Show that the company intended to enter the World Superbike Championship in 2009 with a 1000cc four-cylinder machine.
Ever since then everyone has been wondering what kind of technology and innovation would be used on the new four-cylinder, as well as what configuration BMW would use. Well, the wraps are off, with the bike officially tabbed the S1000RR. And unlike previous BMWs this one has no alternative front-suspension setup, no quirky engineering exercises, no shaft drive-in fact, when it comes right down to it, the S1000RR is actually a fairly conventional superbike.
The engine is an inline-four, but with no radically canted cylinder bank and using a conventional exhaust system. The frame is the usual twin-spar aluminum unit, with a regular Ohlins GP telescopic fork up front and a standard-style twin-sided swingarm. A ride-by-wire throttle and traction control are said to be part of the package as well, but that's nothing out of the ordinary in this day and age.
BMW officials have pulled no punches in stating their intentions with this machine-they're not looking to make up the numbers in the grid; they're looking to win right from the get-go. The S1000RR will undergo a long test season before BMW officially enters the World Superbike Championship in 2009, with the German Alpha-Technik team handling the logistical and race development chores.
The great part about the S1000RR is that BMW must build at least 1000 production models for sale to the public in order for the bike to be homologated for World Superbike competition. We can hardly wait. -K.K.