BMW's radical new S1000RR

Published: 03 August 2017

BMW is about to rip the superbike sector apart with a major makeover of its S1000RR. Since the sports missile landed in 2010 the Japanese and Italians have been busy catching up. The playing field is now flatter than a bowling green, but it looks like that could all be about to change – first with Ducati’s new V4 next year, then the arrival of this new S1000RR in 2019.

The 2017 Honda Fireblade and Suzuki GSX-R1000 are certainly impressive, but neither are ground-breaking. Over the next two years we expect a new ZX-10R and R1, while Ducati’s Panigale-replacing V4 superbike is currently the worst kept secret in motorcycling. But who would bet against this ground-up brand-new BMW S1000RR being the most radical? This prototype looks so fundamentally different to the existing bike.

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Small wonder

It looks tiny. The wheels are standard (current) 17in S1000RR rims, and the reduction in physical size is clear. The wheelbase, however, is close – possibly even identical – but the genetics that deliver it are radically different.

The tail unit is a lot shorter than the existing bike’s and will offer only the smallest of perches for a pillion. The LED indicators also appear to contain the rear lights – each clearly glowing red in our spy shots. Whether this will be a production solution is unclear.

The stubby tail unit sits atop a completely new subframe that is now of tubular construction. 

Back at the sharp end

There are some big changes at the front, too. The love-it-or-loathe-it asymmetrical face  is gone. While the intricate fins and layered fairing panels are a clear evolution, the face is a dramatic departure. As well as complete frontal symmetry, there’s a pair of dazzling LED projector beam style eyes each side of a familiar-looking large central air intake. Gone too are the fairing-mounted indicators, relocated in the mirrors instead, and the main side panels have also shrunk. 

BMW on the big screen

The rider’s view is dominated by an enormous new flatscreen dash, a full-colour high-def TFT item. It’s fair to assume the RR will support functionality for adjusting everything from fuel maps to suspension settings and rider aids, while also boasting a suite of display styles to suit personal preferences. 

We’d also expect the RR to have the latest evolution of everything currently available, while mobile connectivity will be a must, and it will doubtless include satnav functionality. 

Trouble at mill

There is also a completely new engine. Some elements have simply swapped sides compared to the current mill, while the position of other elements, like the water pump, have been completely relocated. While the fundamental architecture remains, the crankcases, heads, and most of the auxiliaries are completely different. 

We wouldn’t rule out the new RR having a counter-rotating crank to help its on-track agility – something that would also explain the apparent reversal of some engine features. 

It’s also certain to be Euro5 compliant, ready for the new emission laws in 2020. So this should be a 205bhp+ package with a serious reduction in mass to give a huge performance boost. 

The exhaust system is fascinatingly small. Bigger exhausts are a reluctant by-product of recent emissions laws, but clearly BMW have found a way to clean up the combustion cycle in order to run with such a small system. 

Taking control

The chassis is all-new, too. The fork looks identical to the existing model, although the monoblock calipers are unrecognisable, although the rear appears to be the current Brembo item.

The rear shock and swingarm are completely new. With no visible adjusters, the shock is clearly electronically controlled, suggesting it’s the latest evolution of the firm’s Dynamic ESA. The swingarm is now an underbraced item and the shock moves from a canted forward location to a bolt-upright, more rearward position very close to the rear wheel, made possible by the flipped swingarm design.

The main frame is also a radical departure. Still clearly an alloy frame – not the anticipated carbon frame from the HP4 – it appears that the two large frame spars are replaced by a more convoluted series of sections, to offer more deft chassis tuning for track use. What is clear is that it is neither carbon, nor a monocoque design.

Cat attack imminent

The test mule looks remarkably well finished. There’s not much black tape or missing/bodged parts, which all point to this bike being close to production. Nonetheless, MCN’s sources suggest the very earliest a production version will be officially revealed is mid-to-late 2018, and that it will replace the current model as a 2019 cat amongst the racing pigeons.

How new engine will power more models

The four-cylinder S1000RR engine has found its way into other areas of the BMW range in recent years – supplying the massively popular (and important to BMW) S1000R naked hooligan, and S1000XR adventure sport bike. 

Both will undoubtedly also benefit from the all-new engine – but not just yet. With the new RR expected to arrive in 2019, we wouldn’t anticipate the R or XR getting their own retuned versions until 2020, falling neatly in line with the introduction of Euro5, something which the current S1000 engine hasn’t been designed to meet.

Highlights

  • All-new 205bhp+ engine
  • All-new chassis
  • Radical new styling
  • Full TFT dash
  • Expected as a 2019 model

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