Tech Specs
BMW S1000RR Sport

Engine:
999cc across the frame four. Liquid cooled, with ShiftCam and four valves per cylinder. Dual overhead cams. 6 speed gearbox with chain final drive.

210bhp at 13,500rpm.

Chassis:
Aluminium composite bridge frame. Fully adjustable semi-active front forks and monoshock rear. Monobloc front calipers on twin 320mm discs. Single rear disc brake. Lean sensitive (Race) ABS incorporating anti-wheelie. Multi-mode adjustable traction control.

Tyres:
120/70 17"
front
200/55 17" rear

Length: 2073mm
Seat height: 832mm
Wet weight: 197kg
Fuel capacity: 16.5 lit.

Price: £ 18,615 (£21,415 as tested)

 

 


More of the same? No, just more...

2023 BMW S1000RR Sport

Words and pics by Simon Bradley

A library pictureTraditionally, it seems, one should open an article about any BMW S1000 variant with a discourse on the wonder with which the original RR was greeted way back in 2010; how it blew the opposition away and how the sober, sensible purists were horrified. So let's just take it as read that I've done that and get on, if that's OK with you? Because there's more to discuss than you might think.

This is, depending on how you look at it, the fourth or fifth version of the S1000RR. On paper the differences between the previous version are slim and, for the road at least, largely pointless. That may seem harsh, but in the cold light of day it's true.

The most obvious difference is the addition of winglets to the front of the fairing. And they really are obvious, screaming the BMW's track cred in your face. But I don't think, to be fair, that you're likely to need - or indeed notice - the additional downforce on Britain's camera and pothole riddled roads. There's some extra power coaxed out of the engine, which is always nice to have but doesn't exactly address a yawning lack of power in the previous model. Anything North of 200bhp is serious power, so while more is always good it was never necessary.

The larger, taller screen is A Good Thing though, as are the tweaked clocks which now remember your last settings rather than reverting to default every time you turn off the ignition. And the surprising inclusion of a USB charging port under the seat is welcome, though it does mean that there's essentially no room for anything else under there..

Now this bike has some options - sports exhaust, smart emergency call, the M-Endurance chain and forged wheels. You'll also see in some shots that it sports some R&G crash bungs and front brake lever guard, plus Eazi-grip tank grips. These are obviously not standard, and will be reviewed in the future. It's fair to say, though, that the forged wheels in particular make some comparisons with the earlier bike quite difficult as they are obviously much lighter, so unsprung weight benefits accordingly.

A library pictureAnyway. There's no denying that this version of the S1000RR has presence. The wings make it seem bigger than it is, and the lovely metallic black paint gives it a sinister, eveil empire sort of appearance. If Darth Vader rode a motorbike...it would be this I think. It is beautifully put together and has an astonishingly solid feel that just makes you confident that nothing untoward is going to go on.And being a BMW, that impression continues as you sling a leg over it. Everything is in the right place, and even though there are a lot of handlebar switches they are all logically arranged and easy to reach as needed. Ergonomics is definitely a BMW strongpoint.

While we're on ergonomics and usability, let's look at some practical bits. The S1000RR has mirrors, of course. The fact that they work pretty well and give you a view of more than just your elbows or shoulders shouldn't be a surprise...but somehow it still is. They not only have a decent field of view but they stay pretty vibe-free as well. Not perfect, but perfectly usable. The rear indicators and lights, like the ast version, are combined into single units. It's neat for sure, but does mean that if you drop the bike off its stand, for example, and lose an indicator then you also lose half your rear light and brake light. Which isn't ideal. On the plus side, the new bike's slightly shorter tail is both better looking than the previous and more rigid, making it better for strapping luggage onto. It's perfectly feasible to go touring on this bike - there's room on the seat to get (and stay) comfortable for all day riding, the peg are high but not cramped and the pillion seat (yes, it's an option but definitely one worth having) is large enough to take a decent size bag strapped to the rear pegs and undertray. It's not about to threaten its more urbane BMW stablemates as a long distance mile-muncher, but for the occasional hop over to, say, the Nurburgring, it's absolutely fine.

Before we get onto the whole riding thing, let me get the options out of the way. This bike has, as we've already agreed, got a few of them. Forged wheels are smart looking in satin black with a discreet ///M logo engraved on them. At the back the slightly larger rim allows the uncompromised fitment of a 200 section tyre while weighing in a good couple of kilos lighter. And as we know, reduced unsprung weight means improved agility, which is A Good Thing. The M Endurance chain is a bit of magic, apparently negating the need to lubricate it or adjust it. Ever. That was at least the original suggestion - now it's reduced maintenance and bettwer power transmission from reduced friction. Frankly I'll take anything that means I don't have to lube and adjust the chain so often as it's a pain in the neck. Another little bit of magic is the smart SOS system. If the system decides that you've had a small crash then it checks with you to see if you're OK - the dash displays a countdown timer and if all is well then you can cancel the alert by flipping open the SOS switch cover on the right bar and holding the button for 2 seconds. If you need help then do nothing - it'll connect you to a call centre and you can speak (and listen) to that same box. If the system decides it's a big crash then there's no delay - you're getting a call. If you can't answer then the emergency services will be despatched to your bike's current position. See someone else in trouble? Stop the bike, press the button and you're through to the same call centre where you can summon help - again they know your position so vital time could be saved. Clever, right? Last, and probably least important, there's a sports exhaust. It's just an end can and it's beautifully made by Akrapovic. It is also The Quietest Sports Can In History. And that db killer you can see...isn't removable. There's another bit of wizardry has gone on inside the bike. Out of curiosity I fitted the Arrow can that was on the previous model. No db killer and a lovely growl, with a crackle on the overrun. Perfect. Except on this bike it's still just as quiet, with no crackling or anything. So somehow they've got more power and less noise. Impressive but slightly frustrating at the same time.A library picture

I think I've waffled enough now. Let's ride. It will, I'm sure, come as no surprise to learn that starting is utterly drama free. Turn the key, let the dashboard go through its startup (you can start the bike before that's finished) and press the button. If the bike is cold then it settles into an agressive fast idle for a few moments before dropping to the civilised tickover you'd expect from a BMW. Pop up the stand, click into first and off you go. The clutch isn't heavy, but it's not over-assisted either. In fact it's not assisted at all, being cable operated, but don't let that worry you. As soon as you're moving the cluch is redundant anyway, the quickshifter allowing smooth clutchless changes up and down. The adaptive suspension is as reactive as ever, offering a smooth and controlled ride at low speed. Steering is precise without being too keen to drop into corners or get flustered on potholes and the riding poition is just right. The seat is, apparently, about a centimetre higher than the last model but it's still an easy reach to the ground even for someone of my very average dimensions.

Get out of town and allow things to open up a bit and the S1000RR sort of clears its throat and just goes. And goes. And goes. I'd like to describe just how fast this thing is but I've run out of cliches. It is utterly bonkers andyet completely and totally civilised. While I would not under any circumstances suggest that a novice rider should take one for a good thrash, this is without a doubt the easiest bike to go ridiculously quickly on that I have ever ridden.

I don't mean it's fast. That much is obvious. No, I mean it's quick. It covers ground at an indecent rate because it is so controllable. That steering stays precise at all speeds but as you get quicker it becomes something more than just accurate. The bike changes direction, and line, with no effort whatsoever but remains totally planted at the same time. The brakes are superb, with plenty of feel and the reassurance of some astonishing electronics if you do overcook it. It's a bike that rewards commitment by giving you the same in return, but forgives ham-fistedness as far as the laws of physics will allow. The traction control is something else entirely. I think there's a small army of magicians all concentrating really hard in the Berlin factory, maybe each one dedicated to one particular bike and keeping it out of trouble. I got a little overenthusiastic on a roundabout and managed to break traction while cranked over. I felt it go, but before I could do anything about it the elctronics just gathered everything up and got it tidily back in line without anything more than a chirp from the back. The race ABS allows A library picturemassive liberties the other way - go into a corner too hot and you can still be hard on the brakes as you turn in. Obviously at the end of the day physics takes charge, but the safety margin that the electronics offer is just enormous.

When you're pressing on a bit, or even if you're just cruising along out of town, the new raised screen will be a definite benefit. The ride is quieter, smoother, more relaxed and more of the bugs go over your visor rather than into it. Still plenty of wind to take the strain off the wrists, but it's a nicer place to be than the previous model. Of course you still have heated grips and cruise control - it is a BMW, after all...

Of course we can't always get opportunities to ride like that. In town the S1000RR is transformed. Not like some other performance bikes which become recalcitrant, unhappy, oveheating pains in the neck. Literally. The riding position is relaxed enough for it not to be aproblem, even at low speeds. The mirrors are good and also easy to fold in if you need to filter better. The brakes are progressive and strong and the horn is, at last, no longer a pathetic little thing but actually sounds as though it means business. It's a little thing but it's important. Though I haven't tried it, I believe there is a specific BMW semi-hard bag which straps on the back and would make it easy for you to carry your laptop and shoes. I use the Knox Trekker we tested a few months ago instead, but it's your call.

All this performance really needs a racetrack to try properly. So a day at Snetterton with the BMW Club of Great Britain in sunny Norfolk was a very convenient opportunity to explore a bit further. What I can tell for sure is that the easy manners and blistering performance carry through to trackday activities very well indeed. I decided against dropping the tyre pressures, even though the Dunlop SportsSmart rubber that came as standard supports lower pressures on the track. I was instructing and didn't expect to be going especially hard, plus I wanted this to be a continuation of the road test. While I didn't get the speeds and lean angles I got last year when I was just playing, it was very obvious that the bike had the measure of anything else on the track and was far faster than me. Despite hitting some very high speeds I can't honestly say I noticed any improved downforce on the front, though the bike was utterly stable. I do think the brakes are better and turn-in is definitely faster on this model than last year's, which was a fantastic bike in its own right. Tyres ended up well scrubbed butwithout any sign of tearing, ABS remained unused and there A library picturewere no dramas. Running around Snetterton's glorious 300 circuit I was constantly surprised at just how easy it was, and how good the bike made me look.

Then I rode it the 120-odd miles home and could have done it again. This really is a remarkably adaptable motorbike - one which you could genuinely have as your only bike and use it for everything. Commute during the week, go touring at the weekend and do a few trackdays as well. It won't grumble, and neither will you.

To sum up, then. The 2023 BMW S1000RR Sport is, on paper, barely any different to the 2020 model it has replaced. It's a bit more expensive (partly because of the options fitted) but time has moved on. It has a little more power and it's a little taller. Visually you'd be pushed to tell the difference. And yet ride it and you will realise that the differences are actually huge. Subtle, for sure, but game-changingly huge. Three months ago if you'd asked me what the best bike I'd ridden was I would have said my 2020 S1000RR Sport. Now if you catch me after a ride and ask me I'll just giggle like an idiot and, if I'm particularly coherent, point at this.

The only thing I don't like about this bike is the slightly uncomfortable feeling that this is it. Motorcycles can't get any better than this. And with the current trend toward EVs, will the next incrnation of the S1000RR be a mild hybrid, or even electric completely? Ot will the rule makers just kill it off? That would be sad.

I should end on a positive note. If you're looking for what is probably the best real world sportsbike on the planet then you could do a lot worse than calling Cara Jones at BMW Park Lane. Not only is she really nice to deal with, she's also bloody good at her job and knows the product really well.

SB

On the way home from the main article shoot I saw the sunset and couldn't resist...

 





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