BMW S1000RR Review

By: Terry Stevenson, Photography by: Shane Solomon and Terry Stevenson

The new BMW S1000RR is one of the most technologically advanced road-going motorcycles ever built…

BMW S1000RR Review
  • Direct Traction Control technology smooths power delivery
  • Easy to set up suspension settings
  • Crouched riding position
  • Handles very well
  • Stopping power hard to beat

Engineering and appearance

The BMW S1000RR has a crouched forward riding position with little wind deflection from the low screen. The handlebars are close, the 820mm seat height makes you feel like you're sitting in the bike more than on top, and it has rear-set, high mounted footpegs. Moving around on the S1000RR was pretty easy due to a narrow seat profile.

With its 1432mm wheelbase the S1000RR has tidy road manners, even over some pretty rough bumps when I turned up the wick.

The special BMW key tip allows you to change the adjustments - no more screwdrivers! Under the seat is a chart displaying the numbered suspension setting positions in the four DTC (Direct Traction Control) modes.

Our test BMW has an advanced Race ABS system, true traction control, anti-wheelie control and a speed shifter as standard. While the speed shifter worked a treat once I got used to not backing off when I lifted the gear lever, it was mechanically quite hard to change down without the clutch. Changing up must still be stiff too as I received toe blisters during my first ride.

Perfomance and handling

Rain mode reduces power to 150hp, however it feels a lot less than that because the DTC smooths out the way the power is applied. The three settings above Rain offer the full 193hp, although DTC substantially softens the Sport mode power delivery. Across the entire rev range it makes the bike feel far smoother to ride because the delivery is so much softer. This was excellent to use around town, and changing the modes on the fly via the right thumb only took a couple of seconds.

The Race mode has all the power, with both DTC and Race ABS in full play. Slick mode is king in my book, with everything as Race mode, but without rear ABS to permit rear wheel sliding and wheelies. The traction control level varies with the lean angle in each of the four modes.

DTC is entwined with wheelie control. In the Rain, Sport and Race modes front wheel lift is governed and the same applies when in Slick mode and you're leaning over more than 24?. These work quite well in keeping the front wheel no more than about 300mm off the deck but, unlike a true MotoGP bike, it happens in surges, with the front coming up then dropping and repeating over and over.

However, if you come off of a turn in Slick mode and hard on the gas, the DTC will permit wheelies for up to five seconds' duration and you can drift the rear to a limited extent. If you're not comfortable with any of those then you can turn them all off via a left handlebar button, and the BMW S1000RR simply turns itself into a "normal" bike.

The four cylinder short stroke 999cc engine is very user-friendly for both road rider and racer. Aside from the traction control system, the S1000RR is great around town as the motor pulls smoothly and cleanly from 2000rpm in top gear. Out on the road it provides excellent and sharp power at any revs, making the BMW quite easy to ride below 9000 revs.

The power builds strongly all the way until the 14,000rpm redline. Unlike the ZX-10R, there is no clearly defined point where the power increases, however it surges towards the top-end more than the CBR1000RR or GSX-R1000. Power gets stronger over a 2000 odd-rpm rev range, around 9000 to 11,000rpm.

Helped I'm sure by the two-stage air intake trumpets, which come in at 11,200rpm, the same revs the header valves open on the full stainless steel exhaust. Compared to other BMWs, fuel pressure has been doubled to 8 bars, with twin nozzles per cylinder.

A pair of two piston Brembo monoblock callipers bite 320mm front discs while a single piston rear calliper works on a 220mm disc, together offering superb stopping performance, especially with the seamless slipper clutch and even without the ABS.

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Engine type Water-cooled four-stroke in-line four-cylinder-engine, two camshafts, four valves per cylinder
Bore x stroke 80mm x 49.7mm
Capacity 999cc
Rated output 142kW (193hp) at 13,000rpm
Maximum torque 112Nm at 9750rpm
Compression ratio 13.0 : 1
Carburetion Electronic intake pipe injection/digital engine management including knock sensor (BMS-K-P)
Maximum speed Over 200km/h
Generator Three-phase alternator 350W
Battery 12V / 10Ah, maintenance-free
Clutch Multiple-disc clutch in oil bath, anti hopping clutch, cable operated
Gearbox Constant mesh six-speed gearbox
Drive Chain
Frame Bridge-type frame, cast aluminium, load-bearing engine
Front wheel location/suspension 46mm Upside-down fork, rebound and compression adjustable
Rear wheel location/suspension Cast aluminium swing arm, continuously adjustable rear inbound-rebound damping, high and low speed
Travel front/rear 120mm / 130mm
Wheelbase 1432mm
Brake front Twin disc, floating brake discs, radial-fixed four-piston callipers, diameter 320mm, 5mm thickness
Brake rear Single disc brake, one-piston floating calliper, diameter 220mm, 5mm thickness
ABS Optional DTC 4 mode dynamic traction control adjustment, only available with Race ABS, disengageable Optional Race-ABS*: 4 mode Race-ABS adjustment, disengageable
Seat height (unladen) 820mm
Unladen road ready fully fuelled 204kg (206.5 kg incl. Race-ABS)
Dry Weight 183 kg