Ride Quality & Brakes
Handling and braking power are up there with the early S1000RR superbike it’s based on and you’ll be hard pushed to find its limits on the road. Both before and after its 2017 upgrade where it got the 2015 RR frame and lost a couple of kilos (barely noticeable), it steers crisply, has loads of ground clearance and stability, other than at very high speed, where the lack of downforce on the front will give a vague, sometimes flighty feeling, but that’s the hallmark of any naked.
Sat on its semi-active Sachs forks and shock (we’ve only ridden it with electronic suspension - BMW press bikes are always fully loaded), it’s smooth over bumps, comfortable at low speed and controlled when you up the ante.
Pegs are rear set and the seat gets uncomfortable after prolonged riding, but generally the upright riding position is spacious will let you enjoy superbike performance and handle big miles with few aches or pains. Wind protection is limited, but that’s easy rectified by an accessory or aftermarket screen.
In its day the S1000R was a super naked class leader, but now the chassis lacks a little refinement compared with the best of its rivals, especially the bikes we’ve ridden with less than impressive Original Equipment tyres. Fitting the latest sports tyres will make a huge difference to ride quality, grip and confidence.
Starting life as the inline four-cylinder 999cc 2010 S1000RR engine, the R is tuned for more midrange oomph with a different cylinder head, redesigned ports, cam profiles, mapping, ignition coils and camshaft sensors.
Power was trimmed from 193bhp@13,000rpm to 160bhp@11,000rpm initially, but it gained another 3bhp when it was Euro 4’d in 2017 – useful, but barely detectable. Its peak torque of 83ftlb was the same as the RR’s but made, but 500rpm lower and remained the same after its 2017 update.
MCN actually made its own S1000R in 2013, a year before the R’s launch, by taking the fairing off an S1000RR to see what it would be like. It was raw, angry, aggressive and wheelied so much it was pretty much un-rideable, so while the R doesn’t have the superbike’s headline power figures, it’s so much more usable.
It still has the muscle to wheelie off the throttle in third gear and will go faster than your neck muscles will stand for any length of time. But for normal riding the motor is nice and grunty, the throttle is smooth and its electronics, both before and after its update work well, aren’t overly intrusive and can be easily adjusted on the move via the switchgear buttons.
Build Quality & Reliability
There are no major issues to worry about. We ran an S1000R on our long-term test fleet over the summer of 2014, grinding out over 10,000 miles of commuting, European touring and trackdays with no problems along the way, apart from a new clutch switch fitted to cure a stalling problem and the side stand mountings, which stripped their threads.
The standard exhaust gets grubby very quickly, even with regular cleaning and some look like they’re built to a price, which they no doubt are.
Our reader reviews and Facebook #ride5000miles member feedback is generally positive and many have racked up big touring and commuting mileage. But there are some things to look out for: the clutch lever doesn’t have a span adjuster – a problem for small hands, there can be excessive engine noise and some owners have had problems with cam chain adjusters and even broken valves.
Insurance, running costs & value
There are plenty of bargains to be had on early models and even brand new, a fully-loaded S1000R is much cheaper than its similarly-spec’d European competition, which make it a lot of fiery super naked for the money, but BMW servicing isn’t the cheapest and insurance will be on par with a superbike.
Its main competition comes in the form of the KTM 1290 Super Duke R, Yamaha MT-10, Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 and now Ducati’s Streetfighter V4.
Insurance group: 17 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.
Although its multi-function LCD dash looks decidedly old-school nowadays, especially compared with BMW’s latest colour displays, which are the best in the business, the S1000R is pretty well equipped, even in standard trim, not that you’ll find many that aren’t the higher-spec Sport models with all the bells and whistles.
The base bike has two rider modes, stability control, ABS, fully adjustable suspension and Brembos. Find a Sport model and there’s two more riding modes, full traction control, cruise control, heated grips, bellypan, LED indicators and DDC suspension. A large range of aftermarket and official BMW accessories are also available - tank bags, tail packs, performance goodies…the list goes on.
In 2017 BMW updated the S1000R Sport.