What you see here on these pages is the culmination of BMW's watershed between its long history of creating somewhat more sedate motorcycles for its loyal clientele who are older and more sophisticated (or as some derisively refer to as the "pipe and slippers crowd"), and the company's move toward attracting a younger, more performance-driven customer base that has traditionally been the backbone of the Japanese sportbike market. BMW management realized that its longtime customer base is rapidly aging itself out of the market, and that the real growth segment for the future is the sportbike sector. But the company isn't content to just dabble in the category with a half-hearted attempt and pick up the scraps left behind by the long-dominant Japanese manufacturers.
"We expect this bike's sales to be 90 percent 'conquest' sales-that is, a buyer who has previously owned another brand of sportbike," stated BMW Motorrad USA vice president Pieter de Waal, himself an avid motorcyclist. And part of that plan involves an MSRP not to exceed the average Japanese literbike price by more than $1000, another reason why this new model-designated the S 1000 RR-is not your typical BMW. This motorcycle isn't meant to be some sort of quirky alternative to the major sportbike brands; it is intended to go straight after those potential customers who have long been traditional Japanese (and/or European) sportbike buyers. BMW isn't asking for an invitation or trying to slip in a side door to the party-they're basically busting the door down and marching straight in.
Those of you chuckling at the thought of BMW making a serious sportbike that could challenge the established might of decades of performance R&D might want to reconsider that disdain. While we all know you can't ride a spec sheet, this new BMW's stats are nonetheless very impressive. And the company has come a long way since the days of the "flying brick" K-bikes of the past; its resume of racing and technological achievements in Formula One and other four-wheeled endeavors has become both extensive and impressive. And with its brand now firmly established as a performance model in the four-wheeled sector, BMW is looking to do the same on two wheels.
S 1000 RR
Rather than attempting to redefine the sportbike world with an alternative design, BMW went with the tried-and-true inline-four configuration for the S 1000 RR's powerplant. Although company engineers say they looked at other designs, there are many reasons why the inline-four has been the dominant engine concept in sportbikes (and racing) for years, and they couldn't ignore them. But, as per usual BMW practice, they've instilled their own brand of innovation into the design.
With its extremely large bore/short stroke measurement of 80mm/49.7mm, the S 1000 RR is the most oversquare engine in the literbike class, surpassing even the '09 Yamaha R1's radical 78 x 52.2mm configuration. The very short stroke means that very high rpm will be required to extract maximum power, and here BMW borrowed a design from its Formula One auto racing engine. Instead of running the camshafts directly over the valves and using valve buckets for actuation and lash adjustment, the RR's cams are positioned inward from the valve axes and utilize finger-type followers for valve control. Because the followers aren't totally reciprocating weight like valve buckets, BMW claims a near-50-percent reduction in reciprocating mass, which in turn allows more aggressive cam profiles without the risk of valve float at high rpm. Also, unlike conventional cam follower pivots that are always positioned outside of the cams, the RR's intake follower pivots inside the cam (making both intake and exhaust followers pointing rearward instead of each pointing inward toward the spark plug).
This valve-train design provides other benefits, including a straighter intake port angle at the valves, a tighter included valve angle, and shorter cylinder head overall front-to-back. Included valve angle is a steep 24.5 degrees (11.2 degrees intake, 13.3 degrees exhaust), with an intermediate gear between the crankshaft and cams shortening the cam chain drive's length for better timing accuracy at high rpm. The huge bore makes room for the largest valve sizes in the class, with the titanium intakes measuring 33.5mm and the titanium exhaust poppets coming in at 27.2mm. With such a steep included valve angle comes a low, flat combustion chamber resulting in a compression ratio of 13.0:1.
Via a button on the right clip-on, the rider can choose between Rain, Sport, and Race modes. Clipping the S 1000 RR's wings to "only" 150 horsepower, Rain mode offers an "extra soft and smooth" throttle response to maintain traction off the corner, with the DTC cutting in early in order to avoid any wheelspin whatsoever. Sport mode provides full engine output at a claimed 193 horsepower at the crankshaft, but with a more spontaneous and direct throttle response, with the DTC waiting until much later before intruding on the proceedings. Race mode was "developed specifically for racing the S 1000 RR on racetracks using street-legal supersports tires...with even more direct and significantly more dynamic [throttle] response at all speeds" according to BMW, and again here the DTC stays out of the picture even later than the Sport mode in order to exploit the increased traction available. Not only are these different maps accessible via the bar-mounted button, but they can also be switched on the fly (although it requires that the throttle be completely shut and the clutch pulled in).
The S 1000 RR's cockpit is...
The S 1000 RR's cockpit is clean and purposeful, with a dual LCD panel display offering a wealth of information without being too cluttered. Programmable shift light is large and positioned in the right area.
The extruded aluminum swingarm...
The extruded aluminum swingarm sports a banana-style curvature on the pipe side to make room for the stainless steel under-engine exhaust with short-tip muffler. Note the thin spokes of the cast aluminum wheel, as well as the wide range of axle adjustment in the swingarm carrier.
Radial-mount/four-piston Brembo calipers grip 320mm discs that are mounted directly to the front wheel hub, eliminating the need for disc carriers. Optional Race ABS disc rings are visible in this photo; inverted cartridge fork sports 46mm tubes for better stability under braking.
The bottom end of the engine sports the now-ubiquitous stacked gearshaft arrangement to make the overall assembly more compact front-to-rear, with a ramp-type slipper clutch helping to reduce back-torque wheel hop. Nikasil-lined cylinders have been cast into the upper case half for strength, and the gear engagement dogs have been undercut to ensure positive shifts.
A large centrally-located...
A large centrally-located ram-air intake ensures maximum airbox pressure at speed. Note the three cutaway holes on the outer portion of the windscreen; these allow pressure equalization behind the windscreen at speed and reduce buffeting.
Inhalation is through a ram-air system being fed directly through the steering head from the center point of the fairing nose, with the 7.9-liter airbox featuring the BMS-KP ride-by-wire EFI system utilizing 48mm throttle bodies with single throttle plates and dual injectors per cylinder. As with the Yamaha R1/R6 and other newer sportbikes, the intake trumpets are length-variable in two stages according to rpm to help with intake pulses for better low and top-end power. In order to ensure maximum pressure at speed to the intakes, the air filter is positioned vertically instead of horizontally (laying flat) in the airbox to avoid excessively diverting the direction of airflow. The system also has a cylinder-specific anti-knock control that can adjust ignition and fuel requirements according to the octane rating of the fuel, with two O2 sensors ensuring optimum low-rpm fueling requirements.
The BMW's under-engine exhaust...
The BMW's under-engine exhaust utilizes three internal chambers to reduce noise, along with an exhaust butterfly valve to regulate back pressure and allow a short exit muffler unit out the right side.
The stainless 4-into-2-into-1 exhaust utilizes the increasingly popular under-engine chamber/pre-silencer to centralize mass, with three internal compartments to help reduce excess noise and emissions before exiting the short exit muffler. To assist cylinder scavenging, the primary header system features balance connector pipes with two internal butterfly valves controlled by the ECU that help "tune" the exhaust to a particular rpm/throttle setting for maximum power.
These cutaway CAD illustrations...
These cutaway CAD illustrations show how the adjustable intake trumpets are moved into two positions by an ECU-controlled motor according to rpm. Note that the paper air filter is set up vertically instead of laying flat like most airbox installations; BMW feels that forcing the airflow to change directions is detrimental to airbox pressure and power production. Air enters straight through the hollow steering head.
Borrowing some of its Formula...
Borrowing some of its Formula One engine technology, BMW engineers positioned the intake cam follower pivot on the front side of the intake cam, thus enabling a straighter intake port path for improved flow. Because the followers are not directly attached to the valve springs, reciprocating weight is reduced, allowing higher rpm without valve float.
The S 1000 RR's exhaust system...
The S 1000 RR's exhaust system utilizes two equalizer tubes connecting cylinders 1 and 4, plus 2 and 3. An ECU-controlled butterfly valve in each equalizer tube regulates exhaust pulsations to promote exhaust scavenging and improve power.
Rain, Sport, Race & Slick
Like many of today's sportbikes, the BMW offers a choice of different engine maps-but the S 1000 RR offers a bit more than the usual three modes. In addition to the different engine maps, changing modes can also select differing levels of the optional Race ABS and DTC (Dynamic Traction Control). Unlike the previous ASC (Automatic Stability Control) traction control system that had only one setting, the DTC changes its settings by determining the actual lean angle of the bike using various sensors.
But wait...there's more! By inserting a plug into the control unit underneath the seat, the rider is allowed access to Slick mode, "intended exclusively for racing on the track using slick tires." Not only does Slick mode provide full engine power and maximum throttle response, the DTC also remains hands-off until severe lean angles are reached, ensuring the rider can utilize all of the power and acceleration necessary for driving hard out of corners (because the DTC is pulled back so much in Slick mode, BMW states that the bike is unsuitable for riding on surfaces with poor traction-thus the reason Slick mode is accessible only via an underseat plug).
Likewise, the parameters of the new Race ABS are changeable according to the mode settings. With the complete control unit and pump weighing a claimed 5.5 pounds, the Race ABS is one of the lightest integrated-both front and rear brakes are linked-setups around. Using an array of sensors (including a "rear wheel lift-off" sensor that detects when the rear wheel has come off the ground from braking rather than bumps) allows the Race ABS to proportion the right amount of rear brake power in all situations. Both the ABS and DTC can be deactivated if so desired.
Chassis And Running Gear
The S 1000 RR's aluminum frame weighs just 26.4 pounds, contributing to the BMW's claimed wet weight of 455.3 pounds full of fuel. With a rake angle of 23.9 degrees and 96mm of trail, the RR definitely has the ingredients for a supremely agile-handling chassis.
The 593mm-long swingarm-one of the longer units in the literbike class-has an adjustable pivot via accessory inserts, along with rear axle carriers providing an extra-wide 45mm range of adjustment. Thus the actual wheelbase can vary from a short 55.7 inches to a stability-enhancing 57.5 inches. The rear shock features both high and low-speed compression damping adjustability, while the inverted cartridge fork sports larger 46mm tubes than the conventional 43mm measurement for improved rigidity while maintaining good feedback. And both the fork and shock have only 10-step setting gradations that are clearly marked for easier adjustment.
There's no doubt the LED taillight...
There's no doubt the LED taillight design is unique. Turn signal/license plate holder is easily removable for track use.
More weight watching is present in parts such as the cast aluminum wheels that have the brake discs mounting directly to the inner hub. Or the aluminum fuel tank, something previously only found on very expensive limited production homologation models. Or other design aspects that put function ahead of perceived style, such as the asymmetric headlight arrangement, or the varying bodywork thickness and differing body panel design on each side for improved cooling efficiency.
It's Serious This Time
BMW is taking a major risk with the S 1000 RR. The bike has undoubtedly cost a fortune to develop, and continued R&D via the self-sponsored factory team competing in the World Superbike Championship certainly isn't cheap either. Much is riding on the success of the S 1000 RR, including the brand's overall reputation in the motorcycle-much less sportbike-market.
Will the S 1000 RR do the business? The new BMW certainly looks enticing on paper, and those deriding the bike because of its asymmetric headlight arrangement in photos would do well to see the bike in the flesh, as the two-dimensional medium definitely doesn't do it justice. Preliminary reports say the press launch will be held around November, and we'll give you a full report.