Staff bikes: BMW S1000RR - Star of the 'ring
The moment I realised I’d made the right choice borrowing the BMW S1000RR instead of my regular BMW R1200RT arrived as the S1000RR hit an indicated 181mph down the main straight at the Nurburgring. I was left giggling like a little boy before realising I was going to have to lose some speed into Antonibusche, shut the throttle and sat up.
The BMW S1000RR isn’t my long term test bike as I am running an R1200RT but a training course at the Nurburgring was far more suited to the class-leading superbike rather than a brilliant tourer.
Swopping bikes with S1000RR keeper Trevor Franklin on a Friday meant I had a day and a bit to get ready for the trip. First up was a change of tyres as Franklin’s choice of Pirelli Diable Supercorsa BSB were going to be a horror show if it was wet on the way or back. Or more worryingly, while I was there.
A set of Metzler M5 Interacts were put on instead. BMW were kind enough to send in one of the very clever moulded tailpacks for the bike. Unfortunately, Franklin’s choice of full Akrapovic exhaust meant there are no pillion footrests and it wouldn’t fit. Instead I used my new Kriega R30 waterproof rucksack which was rammed with clothes, cameras, notebook and waterproofs. Despite a number of soakings it was perfect and was as comfortable as any rucksack could have been.
The S1000RR was horribly uncomfortable to ride over the 350 miles out there but more than made up for it once it was let loose on the course. The fact it was shockingly fast was a given with over 190bhp but the stability, tyre-shrieking brakes, unobtrusive ABS and traction control were all awesome. Even in the wet the bike was simply fantastic…orange traction control light flashing away as it kept wheelspin under control out of some of the more slippery corners like Adenauer Forst.
The bike behaved perfectly apart from the pinchbolt on the gearbox output spline working loose leaving me stuck in fourth gear until I could stop and borrow a 10mm spanner to tighten it up.
The best bit for me was hearing that crowds of spectators had been so impressed by the sight and sound of the S1000RR coming blatting down the main straight (no need to pull into the pits like you do on a public day) they were rushing to get to the fence to witness it. The noise with the full Akrapovic exhaust was awesome I am told.
The course is run by the BMW Club Mulheim and Ruhr and it’s now in its 48th year. Public days are full of local heroes mixing with clueless idiots out to prove how fast they are. The result is loads of accidents and lots of time where the track is shut because of the inevitable and often serious accidents.
The course runs over three days – the first two taken up with ‘section training’ where all of the groups (both cars and bikes but separated) move around the track to deal with each section in turn. You follow tutors learning the line before you do solo runs and get a brief assessment. Each group then moves around the course to learn the next section. You get an hour of free lapping on the Monday and Tuesday but newcomers ride behind an instructor.
The idea isn’t to go fast, it’s to be accurate. The speed comes as a result of knowing where you are going and that you can keep it pinned into that blind crest because you know exactly what’s over the other side.
On the third day each person does an assessed lap around the course; completely on your own. You start from the famous barriers at the pits but the difference is that there is a two-minute gap between each person. Instructors are watching your every move and hide in 16 places around the course to observe your speed, line and bike control. Each section is then marked from one to 10; one being the best with results divided between experts (Routiniers) and newcomers. In the afternoon there is five hours of free lapping where you can ride around as long as you want.
I was really, really proud to take fifth place in the expert class. I was automatically seeded into the expert class after winning the newcomer class in 2009.
The course is expensive at £1200 but you get two full evening meals with an awards night on the last night and lunch provided on all three days. You also get exclusive access to the ‘Ring while it is shut to the public. I managed to cover more than 600 miles around the course over three days.