The launch of BMW’s S1000RR sportsbike was at Portimao. And we were there to test ride it
I’m cautious about telling you just how good the BMW S1000RR is but I’d be lying if I didn't tell you I've just got off it here in Portimao and I'm pretty bloody impressed.
One of BMW’s biggest intentions with the 1000RR was to attract sportsbike customers to the ‘brand’ who wouldn’t normally give it a second glance. You, me and certainly the Japanese manufacturers need to sit up and take notice because this is a bike to match and in some ways better rivals in the litre sportsbike class.
Much like the Honda CBR1000RR you have to ignore the slightly ugly front end and poor choice of colour (there are better ones in the range) to get to the seriously sorted bike underneath.
Aside from creating a hoo-har about the S1000RR with pre-launch launches and the WSB race team, BMW has spent a lot of time and effort developing and delivering a sorted bike. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been on a brand new model launch and found a good bike only to find a slightly more sorted machine appear from the same factory two years later. This is not one of those bikes.
I tested what will be called the 'Sport' model in the UK which comes with all the optional extras fitted for 1,400 quid more than the standard RRP of £11,190 (after Jan 1st).
Traction control is the talking point with four different 'modes' affecting how much power you get at different lean angles, wheel speeds and throttle openings. To be honest I got a bit confused and spent half the day trying to get my head around what it did when and how. These bells and whistles put it on par with the Ducati 1198 rather than its direct competitors in the litre sports bike class in some ways.
The long and the short of it is the S1000RR works and in the right ‘mode’ to suit you is flattering and rewarding to ride. Just like the 1198’s system you can nail the throttle hard and rely on the back wheel to drift but not slide out of corners. It's great fun and very addictive when you get the confidence to do it. It’s slightly smoother than the Ducati system though, particularly early in the corner when you first get on the throttle.
There’s also an ABS system which traditional BMW prejudice might tell you to expect but don’t forget Honda's Fireblade has it too. Actually it’s not quite up to scratch performance-wise with Honda’s ABS system but, in its favour it is a good deal lighter at 2.5kg.
Generally speaking the best ‘feeling’ I got from the S1000RR though was its agility. It doesn’t seem to carry the weight it should at a claimed 206kg fully 'wet' with fuel which in my view stands it apart from the Suzuki GSX-R1000. With the technology and the decent-spec chassis components it’s a serious contender.
Is it like any of its rivals? Not really, it stands alone but if anything it feels a little like the ZX-10R to sit on. There was a lot of talk about it being a GSX-R replica in the press and forums but I don’t see it much myself and I certainly didn’t feel it. While race results might not have come too easily the road bike should pitch right in the thick of the litre bike class. That ain't bad for a first attempt.
As always there’s the BMW website for more info or you can re-tune to analogue and buy the February issue of SuperBike Magazine.