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 new 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’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 power curve 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
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.
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.