—  BMW S 1000 RR; A year on with the Bavarian Bahnstormer
By Trevor Hedge

Since riding BMW’s new S 1000 RR at Portimao last year we have now ridden the S 1000 RR at Phillip Island in both standard and HP equipped versions, and also ventured out to play on some of Victoria’s best public roads.

We already knew from our Portuguese experience that the S 1000 RR was seriously good and blisteringly fast but I did mention some reservations about how the cutting edge weapon would handle Australian roads.

After experiencing the German Wunderkind on familiar ground those reservations have been put to rest. The suspension does cope with Australian roads remarkably well and the S 1000 RR is easy enough to live when outside the confines of a racetrack.

On the street the BMW does not punch out of a corner like Honda’s Fireblade or Suzuki’s GSX-R1000, nor does it have the rapturous note of Yamaha’s YZF-R1, but when the noise needle nears the red zone the BMW goes seriously ballistic.

If top end power is what you crave, the BMW is the bike for you. The S 1000 RR has a top end power delivery that makes other litre class sportsbikes feel somewhat pedestrian. Not since the first generation YZF-R1 hit the streets at the end of last century have the power goalposts been redefined in a way that the BMW has managed.

Even for a seasoned litre bike veteran the top end rush can be a little frightening at first, but that trepidation quickly gives way to a manic craving to experience that wailing 14,000rpm top end again and again. It is seriously addictive!

I also recently sampled a BMW S 1000 RR with the HP Power Kit options which both lowers weight by nearly 7kg and clearly boosts both power and torque through a new exhaust and ECU. The kick up top gets extended in both breadth (rpm) and strength (horsepower) but the real benefit felt in the seat of the pants comes in the shape of a healthy mid-range boost, an area of power delivery that the standard bike is found a little wanting in comparison to the competition.

The attached dyno charts clearly show the difference in mid-range torque, and my on track impression backed the claims up. I am not sure I could justify the extra $5831 ask for the HP Power Kit, which also signs away your factory warranty, but if you want to unlock the full potential of the bike then it certainly does add a lot more mid-range kick. Perhaps a diet for the rider might be cheaper… The bigger mid-range hit would also add a great deal of fun to street riding.

Ticking the box for the Sport model gets you the full suite of electronic aids. While a $2500 ask over the standard bike it is a feature that will eventually repay itself when it comes time to sell as a BMW with options is always far more sought after on the used market than a base model.

BMW Australia has been generous enough to include the excellent electronic power shifter feature as standard on all variants of the S 1000 RR. Full throttle clutchless upshifts are sublime and accompanied by sharp and seamless changes in exhaust note as the ignition is cut for a few milliseconds during the shift. The slipper clutch is light to use and the six-speed box smooth. It’s a class act.

Braking performance from the radial mount Brembos is exceptional.

The Dynamic Traction Control system offers four modes with the power delivery, throttle response and ABS interventions matched to each mode. Rain, Sport, Race and Slick increasingly allow for sharper response and more extreme parameters of wheel slip and lift before the electronics intervene. The systems can also be switched off at the press of a button and the modes can be cycled through on the fly via a bar mounted button. Simple.

The inverted 46mm forks are fully adjustable; the same goes for the Sachs shock. The S 1000 RR suspension may not have the electronic adjustments of their touring cousins but BMW have still added a healthy dose of user friendliness to make the job less painful. The ignition key doubles as a rebound and compression adjuster on the forks. Rebound and compression settings are marked 1 through 10 and colour coded for convenience at both ends. Smart fella’s these Germans…

Ride height is also adjustable front and rear. Suspension travel is quite generous for a sportsbike, 120mm at the front and 130mm at the rear helps endow the S 1000 RR with a surprisingly supple ride on the highway. It’s certainly not a couch but in sportsbike terms it is quite compliant and veritable armchair in comparison to a Ducati.

Overall the S 1000 RR is a well-polished first venture into hard core sportsbike territory for BMW and they have kicked some serious goals in the process. There was never any doubt BMW could build a fire-breathing engine, the real impressive feat is successfully designing a chassis and suite of electronic aids to harness that power.

It is fair to say that in pure performance terms the Germans have shown the Japanese the way forward. Still, I find the BMW a little too clinical in some ways. It seems they have outdone the Japanese on that score also.


pecs – BMW S 1000 RR
Engine – 999cc, liquid cooled, DOHC, in-line four-cylinder
Bore x Stroke – 80 x 49.7mm
Transmission – Six speed, chain final drive
Seat Height – 820mm
Wet Weight – 204kg (206.5kg with ABS)
Fuel Capacity – 17.5 Litres
Average Consumption on test – 7 litres per 100km
Range – 250km
Warranty – Two years
Price – Expect to pay around $22,290 for the base model, $24,790 for the Sport model that includes Race ABS & DTC.

Verdict – ****

+ Advanced electronics suite
+ Excellent brakes
+ Impressive top end power

– More expensive than Japanese competitors
– Low down power a little soft