The average UK motorcyclist will see around 3,500 miles added to their odometer each year. That’s the equivalent of riding the shortest way from John O’Groats to Baku, in Azerbaijan. Not a bad little jaunt. Sadly I’m yet to leave England with the RR, but we’ve still managed to cover some decent ground over the last four months. So what have I learned?
The billion-dollar question over ownership happiness has certainly been resolved, and to some degree I’m surprised by the answer. If I were in the market for a new superbike and took the RR for a 30-minute test ride, I think I’d be in awe, but not convinced of its charms. In performance terms it boasts a clinical ruthlessness that’s easy to respect, but harder to feel any emotional connection with. The story is the same aesthetically, to my eyes. But an average riding year on, and I really get it. It’s like your favourite tool in the toolbox, the one that fits your hand perfectly, always makes you look stronger and more talented than you are, and never fails to get the job done.
That’s not to say there aren’t quibbles. I was (semi-jokingly, I think) recently accused of being an irresponsible journalist for pointing out that I don’t really get the point of all the riding modes, but I’m sticking to my guns. I don’t need them. I completely get the attraction of the Race mode, and plan to use it to full effect at an upcoming trackday, as it’ll give me all the control, confidence, and pace I need, while ensuring that I don’t get black-flagged for pulling wheelies out of every corner and over crests. But the rest of the time, wet or dry, I ride in Slick mode. I’ve tried it in Rain mode – in the rain, fittingly – and I just don’t get the attraction. The immediacy in the throttle is replaced with hesitancy, and when you’re picking it up out of a corner, that momentary delay gives me palpitations. I love the traction control safety net, but the throttle modes are not for me.
On the flipside, the gimmick in the RR’s arsenal that I expected to deride, but have become addicted to, is the lean angle display. I wanted to dismiss it as a childish concession to the PlayStation generation, but find myself checking it before I kill the ignition on every ride. Why? It’s not pure narcissism, but more fascination. Whatever the journey, and whatever my best guess for the results, I’m persistently surprised by two things – how much dangle you can get on seemingly mundane rides, and how often the right and left indicators read the same figure. It’s genuinely spooky.
BMW S1000RR Sport, £14,760
Servicing £140 (first service)
Mods to date £2599.10
More updates at: Richard's BMW S1000RR