BMW pulls out all the stops with the new s1000rr – a supersport for the street or the track
Story by Costa Mouzouris
Photography: Joerg Kuenstle, Alberto Martinez
For their first foray into building a supersport machine, bmw knocked its competition out of the ring when the german bike maker introduced the s1000rr in 2009. The bike produced about a dozen more horsepower than its nearest competitor, and it matched or exceeded the handling of the best bikes in the class. It also came with an unmatched electronics package that included adjustable traction control and adjustable race abs as standard equipment. And to make things even tougher on the japanese, the s1000rr was priced competitively, even if you didn’t factor in the additional horsepower or electronics.
It was clear the company had a winner, and according to bmw, the s1000rr now represents 22 percent of open-class supersport sales worldwide. That’s almost one-quarter of all supersport machines sold, from all manufacturers, and it has done so without the benefit of brand loyalty, because it’s not brand loyalty that sells supersport machines, it’s the performance numbers.
Motorcycle mojo was invited to ride the redesigned 2015 s1000rr at the bike’s recent press intro, held at a tight, point-and-shoot racecourse about 45 minutes west of seville, spain, called circuito monteblanco, where we discovered the latest s1000rr will not disappoint the converted.
More than a facelift
Since horsepower reigns supreme in the open supersport class, it’s natural the s1000rr received more of it. It claims 199 hp, an increase of 6 hp over the outgoing model. In fact, the new rr claims 187 hp in rain mode.
Horsepower isn’t everything, though, and torque has been increased from 5000 rpm upwards for a much broader powerband than before. Near maximum torque is available between 9500 and 12,000 rpm. The extra power comes from a new cylinder head with revised ports, new intake cams, a larger-volume airbox and lighter intake valves. There’s also a new higher-flow exhaust system that has lost the under-bike muffler, as well as three kilos. A total of 4 kg has been removed from the s1000rr, with the company now claiming 204 kg wet.
The bodywork is very familiar, but you don’t need a keen eye to notice that the asymmetric headlights have swapped positions; the high beam is now on the left. Other changes include optional heated grips and optional cruise control, a first for a racetrack-bred machine.
Electronics are a necessity
One of the most important features of the s1000rr is its unsurpassed electronics package, and with bikes now hovering around the 200 hp mark, electronic intervention has become a necessity. There are three basic ride modes (rain, sport, race), and two pro modes (slick, user) for the racetrack that require using a coding plug. The basic modes are meant to be used with street tires and include factory presets for the abs, traction control (without bank angle sensors) and wheelie control. The pro modes, meanwhile, are intended to be used on the racetrack, and let you select from seven plus or minus levels of dynamic traction control (dtc) with bank angle sensors for high accuracy. Wheelie control is also shut off in the pro modes. As on the previous model, you can select modes while riding, but now you just have to shut the throttle to confirm your selection; there’s no more need to pull in the clutch.
Newly available on the 2015 s1000rr is optional dynamic damping control (ddc), previously available exclusively on the higher-spec hp4. This adjustable, semi-active system uses sensors to monitor suspension travel, damper-piston speed, road speed, throttle opening and brake pressure to adjust damping rates on-the-fly in less than 10 milliseconds.
While the pro modes are optional in other markets, they will be standard in canada, as will be the dtc and electronic shift assist, which allows clutchless up and down shifts, blipping the throttle automatically when gearing down. Within the slick and user modes, you also get programmable launch control and a programmable pit lane speed limiter, just as on race bikes.
The lcd instrument cluster has a plethora of information available, most of it catering to the track rider. Available info includes abs, dtc and, if so equipped, ddc data, and you’ll find items such as current and maximum bank angle, maximum deceleration rate, lap times and gear changes per lap, as well as a host of other info, that will make your track-day sessions more complete.
If you take your track-day experience seriously enough to bring an enclosed trailer, pitch-up tent and umbrella girl, you’ll want to invest in the accessory data acquisition system and its accompanying software (windows-based). The system ties into the bike’s computer and uses gps to log everything from throttle opening to brake pressure to lean angle, as well as way too many bits of track-related info to mention here. The data can then be downloaded to a usb key after a lapping session, and then scrutinized on your computer. At press time, canadian pricing wasn’t available for this bit of kit, but it retails in europe for 600 euros.
Our test bikes were equipped with all the optional goodies, logging lap times and data as we rounded the tight racecourse. Cool morning sun draped the circuit, though overnight rain had left the surface wet, and since i’d unwittingly volunteered to join a “fast” group of american and german riders led by former german 250gp rider jürgen fuchs, the first session would prove an ideal environment to test rain mode, as well as my nerves.
The pace was surprisingly fast for the…