After a decade of keeping the performance bar set high, BMW ensures this third-generation S1000RR remains a favourite supersport machine.
Story by: Costa Mouzouris
Photos by BMW
When BMW introduced the S1000RR in 2009, it raised the supersport performance bar considerably despite being the German motorcycle maker’s first attempt at a high-performance superbike. It was BMW’s first motorcycle with a transversely mounted inline-four, and the bike entered a class dominated by machines from Japan. Despite being entirely new, it entered the category with class-leading power, claiming 193 hp, when the best of its competitors from Japan were topping out at about 180. But, the S1000RR also brought a slew of technology changes into the category; it was the open-class supersport machine to feature advanced traction control and ABS as standard features in Canada, and did so at a very competitive price.
BMW’s S1000RR enters its third generation later this year as a 2020 model, boasting the biggest changes since its introduction a decade ago. BMW held its international press launch at Circuito do Estoril in Portugal.
The first thing you notice when looking at the new S1000RR is that it no longer sports those polarizing asymmetrical headlights. They were hallmarks of the German-made supersport machine since its introduction, although they weren’t unanimously appreciated; some people liked them, some people didn’t. There’s no denying that the new symmetrical headlights have given the S1000RR an entirely new look. While I found that the former oddly shaped headlights gave previous incarnations of the bike a distinctive look that set it apart from the masses, I like this new design.
From the saddle you’ll see a new high-resolution TFT instrument panel, controllable via handlebar-mounted switches and multi-function thumb wheel. There are several display options and seemingly endless parameters you can adjust via the screen – many more than I had the chance to sample during a day of track riding. The interface is relatively user-friendly, although I would have needed more seat time to get accustomed to accessing all of the functions available via the new screen.
The S1000RR now features advanced six-axis sensors, which provide much more intuitive and precise traction and wheelie control than before. There are four ride modes – Rain, Road, Dynamic and Race – although real tuning is available in the optional Pro modes. With Pro modes, you get three sub-modes – Race Pro 1, 2 and 3 – each allowing you to select from three levels of each parameter – including throttle response, traction control, wheelie control, engine braking and ABS – and save them to the mode’s memory. You therefore can have three customized maps to select from when riding on the track, although they must be selected before you ride, by using the menu in the TFT screen. There is a button on the left handlebar switch assembly that does allow you to tune the level of ABS and traction control further, on the fly, within the parameters you’ve already selected in Race Pro mode.
On a Diet
Weight has been taken off everything – the engine, chassis, exhaust, electronics – for a total of 11 kg, dropping the weight to 197 kg wet for the S1000RR; when equipped with the optional M package, which we’ll get to later, the weight now is 193.5 kg.
The 999 cc inline-four is entirely new, and like the new R1250 boxer engine, it incorporates BMW’s ShiftCam technology. This system provides variable lift and duration at the intake valves, much as if the engine had two different intake cams. There’s a set of electronically controlled cam lobes that boost low-end torque and another that enhances top end. The high-power lobes always work above 9,000 rpm, while engine load determines which lobes operate below that engine speed.
North American bikes must adhere to slightly tighter sound regulations than European bikes do, and therefore there is a small difference in engine output. The factory claim is 204 hp for Europe and 202 hp for North America. BMW’s Canadian website publishes the European kilowatt numbers but uses the North American value, which translates to 207 hp – which is generous. In any case, the new engine is roughly four per cent more powerful than before. However, the big gains are at lower revs, a result of BMW’s ShiftCam. At least 73 ft-lb of torque is available beginning at 5,500 rpm, peaking at 83.3 ft-lb at 11,000 rpm. Fuel economy is said to be four per cent better.
The aforementioned S1000RR M package adds track-oriented items, such as the Pro ride modes with adjustable traction.