BMW S1000RR revisited: Still up there with the best

Published: 17 June 2016

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What we said then
“The BMW feels like it could do 10-second quarter-miles without breaking a sweat and pass the ‘gentleman’s agreement’ 186mph limit in record time. Handling in standard trim will make the other manufacturers wince with embarrassment.” MCN launch report, November 18, 2009

But what is it like now?
BMW’s fiery superbike has been a big part of my life since it burst on the scene in 2010. I’ve ridden dozens of S1000RRs on MCN tests and launches, raced one for the past six seasons and been on all its various incarnations, from the limited-edition HP4 (which I also raced), adventure-sport S1000XR and the S1000R super-naked I lived with in 2014.

The good news, if you’re after a secondhand S1000RR, like this mint condition original with 9645 miles on the clock, is that the BMW hasn’t really changed that much over the years.

In 2012 it got a bit more midrange, plusher suspension and quicker steering and in 2015 BMW polished a few more rough edges and added extra electronic rider aids into the mix (such as electronic suspension, air bleed and an autoblipper), but it’s fundamentally the same bike now as it was in 2010. A quick way to spot 2012-on models is their higher swingarm pivot position and sharper, vented tail unit.

If we entered this six-year-old bike into a current superbike group test it would still beat the Blade, GSX-R1000 and even the new ZX-10R. Only the new R1 and 1299 Panigale have moved the game on and that’s down to their latest-generation electronics controlled by six-axis gyros.

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This is an unmolested bike that still has its original numberplate hanger, untouched footpeg hero blobs, toolkit, pristine chain and sprockets. It even has its original exhaust, but like all S1000RRs the cat boxes have discoloured and look scruffy.

It bursts into life with that now distinctive, almost wince-inducing, mechanical clatter and settles into a smooth tickover. Blip the throttle and the needle flies across the tacho with the urgency of a race engine.

The BMW might deliver searing acceleration, slicing through its smooth six-speed box, but at normal speeds there’s lots of grunt and the ride-by-wire throttle is smooth and accurate. Handling remains sharp, brakes are still the best in the business and the electronic rider aids, including a quickshifter, ABS, traction and wheelie control work as efficiently as they did when they wowed the world in 2010

Unlike many ‘knees around your ears’ superbikes, the S1000RR has a spacious riding position and a comfy seat – all this for less than nine grand.Good condition S1000RRs really hold their money. For the same price you could have a ’12 Blade, ’13 R1 or ’14 ZX-10R, but none come with the performance or electronic toys.

Common faults explored
Lots of S1000RRs have been raced in club or National Superstock 1000 championships. The obvious signs are things like drilled sump plugs, but suspension can also be a giveaway. A bike with upgraded fork internals (which are hard to return back to standard) and a standard rear shock (which is easy), smacks of an ex-racer. This BMW has had an easy, well-cared-for life and the dash isn’t displaying any service lights or fault codes.

Essential extras
Whoever bought this bike new ticked every option box. It’s finished in the red/white/blue ‘motorsport’ colours and comes with the full package of electronic rider aids and rider modes (including the dealer-activated ‘Slick’ mode). The one thing missing from the toys cupboard is the heated grips.

It also has R&G crash protection, rim tape (bit unnecessary) and new Bridgestone BT-016 tyres. But if this bike were mine I’d fit something more in keeping with the performance, like the Metzeler Racetecs that would've been standard with the bike when it was new.

Interested in purchasing an S1000RR, see all of them on sale here.

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