Ride Quality & Brakes
A new riding position is no less comfy than before, but the RR is more compact and airy-light, like a 600. It makes the old machine feel like a podgy tourer with a 20kg bag of spuds for an engine. Bars are splayed out further and you’re sat more in the RR, up against a taller, far slimmer tank.
All-up weight is reduced by 11kg (14.5kg for the M version) - the motor alone is 4kg lighter and the exhaust weighs less than the single cylinder BMW G310R’s. Steering is lighter, crisper and BMW claims improved rear tyre wear on track.
Gone is the old girder-stiff chassis that could make the S1000RR tricky to set up on track. A new ‘Flex Frame’ (with the engine as a stressed member), plush new Marzocchi semi-active suspension (replacing Sachs) and an underbraced swingarm, forcing the rear tyre harder into the tarmac on the gas, all give more feel and confidence.
Powerful new Hayes calipers have a friendlier initial bite than the old designer Brembos and show no sign of fade under hard use.
Riding the BMW S1000RR in the dry
Since the bike's initial wet weather launch, MCN also got the chance to ride it in the dry on Bridgestone S22 tyres at Jerez, Spain, as part of their own seperate launch.
This adds up to a significant leap forward in the handling department. The previous S1000RR was a formidable track weapon, but pushed hard it would struggle to stay tight in a corner at full lean and be prone to understeer on a fast lap. It was never the easiest to set up for serious trackday work or racing, either.
Things couldn’t be more different now. Steering is racebike-crisp, light, accurate and even on the S22 street tyres we’ve tested the BMW on in the dry at Jerez (we’ve also ridden in in the wet at Estoril), you’d swear you’re on hot, sticky slicks that just want to lean and turn. On hot sticky slicks the BMW is going to be sensational.
Being able to carve such effortlessly tight lines, you can attack corners faster, crack the throttle sooner on the exit and when you do the S1000RR treats you to another new trick – its advanced electronic riding aids.
BMW has refined its traction control to a pretty decent level since 2010, but this is next generation stuff. Now when the rear tyre slips the electronics holds it in place, but still lets you drive smoothly forward at a ferocious rate. It’s like riding up against a soft, silicone berm.
Electronics on road bikes generally slow you down on track (and you end up switching them off), but now on the S1000RR you can use them to go fast in safety. The same goes for the anti-wheelie, which was never refined enough to set quick lap time, but now the electronics let the front wheel gracefully hover over the tarmac while controlling the anger of 200-plus bhp.
New Hayes calipers have a friendlier initial bite than the old designer Brembos, but they’re every bit as powerful. Just like the old Brembos they fade to a point after a few laps, then stay at a consistent level, so you’re best off setting the brake lever span too far out to begin with.
BMW S1000RR: chassis technology deep dive
"The main aim was to develop further enhanced riding dynamics as well as significantly reducing weight, compared to the predecessor model. We were able to meet this target by means of the new main frame: the engine is now much more closely integrated as a load-bearing element, and there are a whole range of optimised details," explained Marcus Mund, Project Engineer Suspension.
Dubbed the 'Flex Frame', the concept behind the frame is similar to before; a structure of four cast aluminium elements welded together using the engine as a stressed member and integrated at a 32-degree tilt. But in order to save weight, the top tubes, steering head and engine mounts are reduced in mass, relying on the engine more for an increased load-bearing function but with special effort for the load paths to the engine being as short as possible.
The new frame also benefits from being as narrow as possible, reducing the width of the bike by up to 30mm. All of this also reduces the frame weight by 1.3kg, which contributes to the claimed 11kg weight reduction of the new bike.
The S1000RR also boasts a new swingarm now with under-slung bracing. Superbike racing S1000RRs (which are allowed aftermarket swingers) have been using under-slung bracing for years and there are a number of advantages to it. Firstly, when it comes to packaging, there is more space below the swingarm rather than above it and this means there is more flexibility with bracing design.
Secondly, the way they flex allows a reduction of lateral tyre contact patch movement during flex. The bracing below has also allowed more freedom in the placement of the damper and spring unit, which can now be further away from the engine unit for reduced heat transfer.
Amazingly, despite its complex structure, the new S1000RR’s swingarm is cast in one single piece before being machined for the chain adjusters and mounting points. It’s also 300g lighter than the previous bike’s swingarm.
BMW have also played with the new bike’s geometry, lengthening the wheelbase by 9mm to 1411mm (Superstock racers have traditionally pulled the wheel back as far as it can go for the same effect) in a bid to aid stability.
That extra wheelbase has allowed tighter, more extreme steering geometry as well, being 0.4 degrees steeper at 23.1 degrees while trail has been reduced to 93.9mm. All of which points to a machine that is lighter, more nimble and more stable all at the same time.
BMW’s screaming 999cc inline four never lacked top end power, but the new slimmer, lighter-cranked motor revs harder and faster, head butting its redline with the savage alacrity of a pukka superbike engine.
The way it dispenses with straights, with a strange kind of violent calm, is a sign that few of its rivals, if any, will get close on the drag out of a corner. A lighter crank, hollowed-out intake valves and lary high rev inlet valve timing, helps it to a claimed 204bhp – stick a full race pipe on a you’re looking at over 215bhp.
With all its power stuffed at the top of the revs, the previous RR was a peaky devil, like a big supersport 600, but not any more. BMW’s new variable valve timing system (Shift Cam) laces the throttle response with the kind of mid-range grunt and broad spread of power that would make a V4 proud, especially between 4300rpm and 8000rpm.
Beneath the Shift Cam’s 9000rpm go-mental-threshold, BMW’s monster motor has a newfound level of smoothness and tractability, which can only be good news for S1000RR on the road.
Official MCN BMW S1000RR speed test results
Venue: Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground, Leicestershire, UK
Weather conditions: cold, with damp patched 5mph headwind
Top speed: 185.01 mph
0-60mph: 3.29 secs
0-100mph: 5.98 secs
0-150mph: 10.42 secs
0-180mph: 20.13 secs
Standing quarter mile: 10.29 secs @ 150.69 mph
Top gear roll on 40mph-120mph: 8.04 secs
Fourth gear roll on 40-90mph: 3.82 secs
Braking 70mph-0: 3.55 secs in 52.08m
BMW S1000RR engine tech deep dive
Valves have a hard life. Whacked open by a cam then slammed shut by a valve spring, on a high-performance motor such as the BMW S1000RR, the inlet and exhaust valves go through this cycle at an incredible rate.
At the old RR's redline of 14,200rpm, each valve opened and closed 118 times per second but for 2019 BMW have increased the limit on the new ShiftCam engine to 14,600rpm. To achieve this, while maintaining reliability, they’ve introduced a world-first in production bike design: hollow-bored titanium valves.
Lightweight titanium valves have been used in production sportsbikes for over 15 years because they are 40% lighter than steel, so reducing valve-train inertia and the possibility of valve-float at high revs. Hollow-boring takes this one stage further.
Reducing the mass of moving parts
"On a sportsbike motor you need to reduce the mass of the moving parts due to the fact you can see acceleration G-forces of 5000G acting on a valve," explains Karl Viktor Schaller, BMW Motorrad’s Head of Engineering.
"When you reduce a valve’s weight you can go higher with its acceleration. By using hollow-valve technology we have been able to raise the RR’s rev limit by 400rpm as
the valves are 10% lighter than normal titanium valves."
But what would have happened if BMW hadn’t used this technology? "The valves themselves are capable of withstanding these forces, however the critical area is the disc that retains the valve spring," says Schaller.
Changing the production process
"The valve has a groove machined into it that two wedges (known as collets) sit in to retain the disc. Under high acceleration, these wedges tend to be forced through the disc, causing the valve to fail."
To create this new valve, BMW have changed their production process. A standard valve is made in two parts (a stem and a base) and these two are then friction-welded together to create a valve. Now, in simple terms, BMW have hollowed out the valve stem before joining the two parts together.
"The size of the valve shaft is the same at 5mm but we take 2mm out of its centre through a secret process," says Schaller. "To be honest, when I first saw hollow-bored valves I thought 'This can’t work', but it is fantastic technology. Steel valves are for normal motorcycles, titanium is for sportsbikes and hollow-bore titanium for top-end sportsbikes such as the new S1000RR."
BMW S1000RR comes with launch control
Ever since the HP4, BMW has installed a launch control system to the S1000RR. This works by thumbing the starter button when in neutral at a standstill, which drops the rev limit to 9000rpm, allowing you to use full throttle but restrict engine output for a good start. It's not as quick as a properly good manual dash away from the line, but it does stop you from making an obviously bad start...
Build Quality & Reliability
Early S1000RRs suffered minor engine and electronics problems, but they have been addressed by BMW over the years and all of those lessons learned have gone into creating the 2019 model. Dealer service is excellent, so even if there is recall, or warranty work to be done, it shouldn’t cause any major headaches.
We don't have any owners' reviews of this generation of S1000RR.
Don't forget that you can learn a huge amount about the BMW S1000RR's reliability in our long-term test review.
For a summary, check out Michael Neeves's video impressions of life with a 2019 BMW S1000RR here:
Insurance, running costs & value
Superbikes have rocketed in price over the past few years, putting the base model out of reach for all but the lucky few, although PCP deals undoubtedly help. But the base S1000RR, Sport and M Package are comparable in price, or cheaper than their equivalent superbike counterparts from Italy (Ducati Panigale V4 S, Aprilia RSV4 1100 Factory) and Japan (Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade, Yamaha R1, Kawasaki ZX-10R).
Although the old S1000RR was first with the rider aids we know and (some of us) now love, its electronics have fallen behind its rivals in recent years. A new six-axis inertial measurement unit and electronic strategies are set to change all that.
Wheelie and traction control are separated for the first time and both offer refined control on track without being too intrusive and slowing you down. Dual throttle bodies are fitted to give WSB teams the chance to cut cylinders at full lean and over in the real world there’s heated grips, cruise control and now a hill hold system.
There’s so much going on with the RR’s new 6.5-inch colour dash it’s hard to get to know it properly in just a day. It’s easy enough to navigate, but there’s a lot of information, set-up menus and sub menus going on.
There are four displays to choose from and they’re large and clear to read on the move, showing revs/speed/lap time etc, but when you stop to fiddle you can fine tune everything from the traction/wheelie/launch/engine braking control, to customising riding modes (four standard and three optional ‘RACE Pro’ modes), setting the pitlane limiter parameters, engine power levels…the list goes on.
If you get BMW's free Motorrad Connected app you can connect via Bluetooth to the dash and have it give sat nav directions, too!
Ilmberger release carbon upgrades for 2019 BMW S1000RR
German carbon parts specialists, Ilmberger have launched a full set of replacement body panels for the 2019 BMW S1000RR. The new parts replace almost every piece of OEM plastic, giving a 70% weight saving and improved rigidity. All that bling doesn’t come cheap, though.
If you replace every panel you can, plus add the full selection of frame and engine guards you are looking at a cost of £8726. You can get a really clean, low-mileage 2013 S1000RR for that!
With a belly pan costing £714, side panels £446 each and rear hugger £312, it’s easy to see how the cost mounts up, but they do look really good. Ilmberger also make a range of race parts that blank off road features like headlights. For full details, visit the Performance Parts Ltd website.
Here’s the full list of parts used in our example:
- Belly pan - £714
- Rear fairing - £714
- Front fairing - £446
- Side fairing (L&R) - £892
- Air intake - £357
- Single seat - £357
- Rear hugger - £312
- Front mudguard - £268
- Tank side panels (L&R) - £536
- Rear undertray - £268
- Badge holders (L&R) - £518
- Seat unit (L&R) - £518
- Number plate holder - £223
- Tank cover - £223
- Frame covers (L&R) - £392
- Clutch cover - £178
- Swing arm guards (L&R) - £356
- Winglets (L&R) - £356
- Ignition rotor cover - £169
- Alternator cover - £161
- Front sprocket cover - £161
- Instrument cover - £143
- Heel plates (L&R) - £250
- Water pump cover - £89
- Electrical cable cover - £125