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The most influential bikes of the last decade: BMW S1000RR

As part of MCN Compare’s count down of the most influential bikes of the last decade, this week we chose to look at 2010 and the BMW S1000RR.

You simply can’t overstate the impact that BMW’s first inline four sportsbike has had on the two-wheeled world. When MCN tested the S1000RR in late 2009 we said afterwards that "from now on the world is a different place…"

And we weren’t exaggerating, by the time the RR was in dealers in 2010 it had changed everything we thought we knew about modern sportsbikes.

While the RR’s basic design was nothing radical – it had a conventional inline four engine, aluminium frame and standard suspension – what separated it from its rivals and truly allowed it to move the game on was BMW’s use of electronic assists.

Although Ducati with the 1098R and Kawasaki with the ZX-10R had dabbled with traction control the year previously, BMW went all-in.

Not only did the S1000RR come with a ride-by-wire throttle, power modes, ABS and traction control, but all of these systems were linked together, creating the ‘smartest’ motorcycle the world had yet seen. And one that actually looked at how you were riding and acted accordingly…

READ MORE FROM MCN COMPARE'S MOST INFLUENTIAL BIKES

Thanks to a gyroscope located under its seat, the S1000RR was able to calculate how far you were lent over and alter its traction control settings to suit, something that was truly remarkable back in 2009.

To put this into context, it took Honda and Suzuki a further eight years to fit a similar system to their premium sportsbikes, that was just how far ahead of the game BMW were – it was genuine MotoGP technology on a road bike.

Why were these assists so necessary? That was the other key part of how the RR changed the motorcycling landscape. While the inline four was nothing that new in terms of its format, what separated it from rival Japanese machines and moved the game on was how BMW engineered it.

As well as using rocker fingers rather than a ‘bucket and shim’ valve train, BMW made the RR’s motor very ‘over-square’ with a wide bore and short stroke. In essence, they went all-out in terms of power as this design of motor is built to rev and through revs you get power.

Boasting a claimed 190bhp with 83ftlb of torque, the RR blitzed its rivals’ power figures, but thanks to its advanced electronic assists, it felt far from wayward. Very fast, but not uncontrollable.

This was the other way the RR changed the motorcycling landscape, it demonstrated that if you develop clever electronics to control the power delivery you can release a road bike that makes nearly 200bhp – something that is now the benchmark for any modern sportsbike to be taken seriously. It is also worth noting that over-square motors and finger rockers are pretty much standard now on all modern sportsbikes, again thanks to the RR and its game-changing power output.

BMW’s bold decision to not only enter the sportsbike world, but to also pioneer the use of electronic assists on a motorcycle has radically altered the whole two-wheeled world over the last decade.

By forcing the Japanese manufacturers to up their game in terms of electronic systems, the S1000RR proved the tipping point that has seen the birth of the electronic revolution and nowadays even modest middleweights and scooters come with traction control as standard.

Not only this, but these ever-more complex and intuitive systems have allowed sportsbike manufacturers to push the boundaries in terms of power as the intervention of traction control, wheelie control and slide control has made taming even a 200bhp beast accessible to all and not just world-class riders. It is hard to think of a bike that has had such a massive effect on motorcycling in the last ten years as BMW’s revolutionary S1000RR.

Interested in riding your own S1000RR? Why not compare insurance quotes now? The average premium costs just £906 per year! The price calculated from average quote premium for base models, based on an average MCN Compare customer.