MCN Fleet: 5252 miles on our BMW S1000R

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600 miles 

26 May, 5pm: take delivery. Having had the original S1000R in 2014, which I loved, I can’t wait to ride the new one. It’s much like the old bike, albeit that bit more refined and doesn’t grab you straight away, like a KTM Super Duke, Ducati Streetfighter V4 or Aprilia Tuono V4 would, but the longer you ride it, the better it gets

The engine feels slightly flat compared to the super naked big hitters, but once you’re past that initial disappointment, the BMW can be as seriously quick, or as calm as you want it to be. The riding position is perfect for me, although it’s nowhere near as pretty as the Streetfighter V4 S I had last year.

Things I like right off the bat are the dash and this Sport model’s heated grips, cruise control and keyless ignition, although you still need a key for the fuel cap. I love the M Endurance gold chain that comes with the M Package (satisfies the blingy Kent boy in me), although it’s hard to say whether the lightweight forged ali wheels are worth the extra, having never ridden a standard S1000R. 

1557 miles

Replace the standard Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II tyres (which are barely worn) for their latest Diablo Rosso IVs. They’re slightly less sporty, but longer lasting and better for general riding in all weathers. They’re still going strong 3695 miles later although the rear is starting to square slightly.

They’re great around Brands Hatch when I do a track evening there, but the Beemer isn’t as sharp as I’d hoped. It’s bloody quick and the brakes are superb, but the semi-active suspension is soft. Unlike the S1000RR there isn’t a big range of adjustment in the settings to really stiffen it up. It whispers through noise testing at 96db.

1204 miles

Set off on a beautiful 1200-mile, five-day road trip to Scotland…two-up and if I had to do it all over again, I’d still take the S1000R. It’s perfectly comfortable for both if us and anything more touring orientated wouldn’t be half as much fun on the glorious roads up around Skye and Fort William. Heated grips and cruise control make long distances a pleasure and the tank bag and accessory screen gives some shelter from the windblast. The dash’s turn-by-turn sat nav is superb.

2605 miles

Three weeks later the travel bug hits again – this time for a 500-mile jaunt to Wales. A fairing would be nice around the gale-force coast of Anglesey, but the Beemer is still a gem.

4531 miles

The S1000R is commandeered for an MCN group test (it finishes last…boo) and Bike magazine feature. They stick it on a dyno (163bhp at the back wheel) and weigh it full of fuel (203kg). I also ride ‘The Rutland TT’ with some mates but get a puncture in the rear before we set off. The repair plug is still in there…

5252 miles

Time for it to go back to BMW and in all these miles it still looks like new. There are no scuffs, chips, corrosion and it hasn’t used a drop of oil. I haven’t needed to adjust the endurance chain, either, although being a chain-cleaning nerd I wouldn’t have needed to anyway.  

Looking back the BMW S1000R isn’t a super naked in the lary sense, but to actually live with I’d take it every time.



Update five: BMW S1000R take on the Rutland TT

Published: 22.10.21

Continuing operation: ‘Not travelling to Europe this year because it’s a big bloody mess’, a bunch of us embarked on a road trip closer to home.

I’ve already ridden my Beemer to Scotland and Wales this summer, which I wouldn’t have done normally, but I’m very glad I did. This time I decided pick a day’s riding that takes in some of the great roads MCN use for testing and photoshoots – like a road-testing greatest hits, if you will. And because I live near Rutland, I decided to call it the Rutland TT.

More long-term tests

Turns out there’s already a Rutland TT. It’s the same route as mine, so great minds must think alike out there, but I added an extra loop to make it last all day (196 miles in total).

It also includes a morning coffee stop at Café Ventoux in Tugby, lunch at the petrol head’s paradise that’s Caffeine & Machine near Stratford and a section of our old MCN250 route near Silverstone in the afternoon.

A Smorgasbord of undulating swoops and curves it’s a day of B-road heaven and riding it on a weekday there’s hardly any traffic on the best bits.

And despite riding alongside mates on some of my favourite bikes: an Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory, big bang Yamaha R1, KTM 1290 Super Duke GT and my bro’s Ducati 1299 Superleggera, I can hand on heart say my BMW S1000R was the perfect choice for the trip.

Yes, the Tuono, R1 and Superleggera are more exciting in small doses and the KTM best for big distance, but the S1000R is friendlier, easier to ride, comfortable and when it’s time to open the taps still goes like stink.

I rode that fancy pants Ducati for a stint and it’s amazing, but horrendously hot, uncomfortable and awkward. It belongs on track and I was relieved to give it back.

Cornering on the BMW S1000R

My S1000R on the other hand is spacious and kind on my dodgy wrists and knees. I could wear summer gloves all day, even in the morning chill thanks to its heated grips and to keep a lid on speeding the cruise control is worth its weight in gold.

Best of all I could find my way through the bits of the route I hadn’t ridden before thanks to the big dash’s app-powered sat nav. The only glitch I had was opening the garage door in the morning to a rear puncture. We plugged it before the off (handy having a tyre-fitting brother) and was fine all day…and still is.

My ‘Rutland TT-plus’ doesn’t quite scratch the itch like the Pyrenees or Route Napoleon would, but as far as great rides on your doorstep goes, it comes pretty close.

BMW S1000R previous updates:

Update four: Shunning the bright lights of Europe on the BMW S1000R

Published: 06.08.21

Neevesy checks out the stunning sights of Scotland

I’d usually pack my rucksack and head somewhere hot and twisty during the summer, but it’s a pain to go abroad right now so went to Scotland and Wales instead. I’m glad I did because I had some of the best rides of my life – I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to discover what’s been on my doorstep all along.

My first jaunt was a 1200-mile, five-day schlep to Fort William that takes in Matlock, the Pennines, Moffat, Skye and an idyllic Dunoon ferry crossing. I lucked-in with the July heatwave, so as well as discovering best scenery and roads in the UK, the glistening Lochs of Linnhe, Lomond and Ness may as well be Como or Garda under blue skies and sunshine.

I’d never have believed you could go entire days (thanks to Dave Smith at the Buccleuch Arms, Moffatt for the routes) without ever seeing a straight piece of road. I haven’t experienced that kind of blissful biking since riding in the very similar backdrops of New Zealand or Tasmania. 

Taking in the views of the Scottish Highlands

More long-term tests

A three-day, 500-mile dash to the slatey ruggedness of Snowdonia and a lap around the picture postcard coast of Anglesey a month later also leaves me wondering why I’d never ridden here before. All this four-odd hours from my front door – I’d have barely cleared Calais in that time.

My BMW S1000R is a fantastic high-performance tourer. Lighter and less stodgy than a conventional tourer or adventure bike, it’s genuinely comfortable and as unruffled on the motorway as it is keen through the seemingly endless switchbacks from Fort William to Skye.

Despite its lack of bodywork it isn’t even that blowy, or noisy at sustained high speeds, especially with a tank bag and £167.80 accessory screen fitted. Brakes, acceleration and stability are all as sharp as a superbike’s and Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV tyres have masses of road grip and steering poise. The rear is still going strong after 3000 miles.

Even on eight-hour riding days the BMW is so spacious it doesn’t make my knees or wrists ache and there’s no sore bum either, even with its sporty M seat. Life is made even easier thanks to cruise control, heated grips and built-in turn-by-turn sat nav, which helps me trace Dave’s Scottish routes, via way points, perfectly.

Great roads and not a straight in sight!

It’s even happy to carry a pillion for both trips in comfort (in relative comfort – the rear seat is quite small) and without blunting the handling too much. It does around 49mpg and you squeeze a good 170-odd miles out of the tank, thanks to its handy fuel reserve counter.

‘Road’ riding mode has the gentlest power delivery and setting the suspension soft with extra pillion support via the switchgear buttons give the best balance of poise and suppleness two-up (I go stiffer for solo riding).

Discovering some of the UK’s hidden gems on two wheels over the summer is something very special and to do it on the brilliant S1000R is the icing on the cake. 

Update three: BMW S1000R takes on Brands Hatch

Published: 06.08.21

Neevesy takes the BMW S1000R to Brands Hatch

Track evenings are my favourite. Compared to track days you don’t need to leave at silly o’clock to get there and your fellow riders are generally less pent-up and full of ego, so there are fewer red flags.

The tarmac is nice and warm from the get-go and going from 5.30pm to 8pm with just two groups (novice, inter/advanced) running 20-minute sessions, there’s lots of circuit time. They’re cheaper and MSV Trackdays run a tight, but friendly ship.

Riding Brands Hatch, my home track is always a treat and the perfect place to try my S1000R flat stick for the first time.

BMW S1000R in Brands Hatch pit lane

More long-term tests

It’s easy to morph the S1000R from mild-mannered road bike to track weapon via the dash functions. In ‘Dynamic Pro’ riding mode you can adjust wheelie, traction and engine braking control, as well as the engine’s eagerness. The rear ABS can be disabled to get rid of unwanted intrusion under hard braking and you can play with fork and shock damping, but adjustment is limited to soft, hard and a slightly tougher pillion setting. 

My Beemer sails through noise testing at 96db (even with its M Package Akrapovic can), so off we go.

It may ‘only’ have 163bhp, which is down on most super nakeds, but that’s more than enough to hang to superbikes at small track like this. The brakes are strong and consistent, too, despite what I’ve read in reports from the S1000R’s Cadwell launch.

It’s well balanced, as you’d expect from its RR-derived chassis and easy to ride but gets loose when you push hard. The front end isn’t as plugged-in to the tarmac as its super naked rivals or S1000RR sister and without greater suspension adjustment there isn’t much you can do about it. 

Lowering the pressures reveals a warning message

I’ve been trying out Pirelli’s new Diablo Rosso IV for the past 1000 miles. They’re all-purpose sports tyres that are superb on the road and handle Brands track abuse admirably. The front comes close to trackday rubber levels of grip and only the yumps on the start/finish straight can unstick the rear at full throttle. 

But dropping the pressures sends the dash into a spin and its huge warning message, which blots out the tacho, sometimes won’t clear, which is a distraction. I later discover there’s a tick box in the menu to get rid of it…

My S1000R isn’t as accomplished as its rivals on track, but I still have a whale of a time. Best of all, I can make the BMW soft again by pressing a few buttons and enjoy a relaxing sunny evening ride up the motorway back home. 

Watch MCN’s expert BMW S1000R video review:

Update two: It’s good to be back on a BMW S1000R

Published: 06.06.21

Riding the BMW S1000R on UK roads

Back in 2014 I had a first-generation S1000R and adored it. It didn’t hang about, but it was as happy pottering to work or cruising around Europe as it was being a naked superbike. That’s what made it so special and even now it’s the best super naked I’ve owned. Sure, the Streetfighter V4 S I had in 2020 was faster, cleverer and prettier, but the Beemer was more fun at road speeds and more practical.

Now the planets have aligned again and there’s an S1000R back in my world for 2021. The engine, chassis and electronics are based on the latest-gen S1000RR, which is good news, but it only makes 3bhp more than the original (and one more than the outgoing model) and doesn’t have the RR’s clever ShiftCam system, which on the face of it isn’t so good.

More long-term tests

I’ve recently been riding my Beemer for a series of MCN riding tips videos and first impressions are the power delivery isn’t as instant or dramatic as the new breed of big cube V4s, triples, V-twins and crossplane crank super nakeds. Its performance, handling and riding position is similar to before, albeit slightly crisper and more refined, but the more time I spend with it the more I love its smooth delivery, appetite for monster wheelies and strong brakes (although reports from its recent Cadwell launch say they’re lacking on track).

In base trim the new S1000R is just £12,055 and for that you get lean sensitive ABS and traction control, three riding modes (Rain, Road, Dynamic), full LEDs and one of the best colour dash displays in the business. Mine is the £14,000 Sport with cornering and daytime running lights, an up/down shifter, an extra riding mode (Dynamic Pro, although it seems to be missing), cruise control, heated grips, keyless ignition (the fuel cap still needs a key), a USB charging socket, heated grips and engine spoiler.

On top of that mine has the £2800 M Package fitted with forged ali wheels, a sportier seat, Akrapovic can, GPS lap timer trigger, endurance chain and lithium battery. Add in the £225 alarm and £235 tyre pressure control and that tots up to £17,260, which isn’t cheap. You get a three-year warranty, though.

Cornering on the 2021 BMW S1000R

Whether all those add-ons are worth it is what I plan to find out over the summer, but right now I’m loving the keyless ignition, cruise control, heated grips and I’m always a sucker for a gold chain. My BMW connect app works from when I had an S1000RR in 2019 and the in-built sat nav still displays my favourite destination, which is a nice touch. Showing the places I visited in Europe it’s also a sad reminder of the freedom we had to travel two years ago…

This year’s trips will be closer to home with a few trackdays thrown in – I might even fit the wheels and slicks from my S1000RR race bike for one of them, just to see what it can really do.

Update one: Is the BMW S1000R all my favourite things rolled into one?

Published: 06.04.21

A side view of the BMW S1000R

Heated grips, cruise control, straight bars and superbike performance are all my favourite things – the BMW S1000R rolls them into one. I can’t wait to get out on it and enjoy the simple pleasure of doing distance on two wheels again.

The rider Michael Neeves, Chief Road Tester, 51, 6ft. 35 years road riding. Racer, tester, tourer.

Bike specs 999cc | 162bhp | 199kg | 830mm seat