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20 Sep 2022

What We Dislike
Doesn't sound anywhere near as good (or loud) as before
A lot of money for performance you rarely can use
It's a freaking sports bike, man...

The new S1000RR is a monstrous sports bike with sharper agility and immense power, yet somehow made more accessible and usable.

This is the new second generation BMW S1000RR, originally launched in 2019, and I feel like I may be both the best and worst person to do this review.

Best, because I own and daily a 2015 S1000RR, so I'm intimately familiar with the ins and outs of riding such a bike regularly on Singapore roads (the good and the bad).

The second generation S1000RR brings significant changes and improvements over its predecessor
Worst, because I can't see how this ends well for me. Either I spend too much time comparing this to and be slightly hung up on my own bike, and thus be slightly underwhelmed by what should be seven years of progress (and BMW probably won't be overly thrilled either). Or, I really like this new one and spend too much time looking at loan interest rates and trying to figure out how much BMW will give me for an overtrade.

Not entirely sure how I'll feel when I eventually have to get back on my own bike (it's even the same tricolour paint, god damn it), but here goes nothing.

Tightened sharpness

The iconic asymmetrical head lights are no more - instead there are now sleek and mean LEDs
This is a ground up redesign of BMW's sports bike. Gone is the asymmetrical face in favour of a sleeker, symmetrical twin-LED setup. It makes the bike look meaner and leaner. And while this is still a full fairing bike, the fairing comes up a little shorter than before, especially at the lower half of the bike, to accommodate the large exhaust system.

At the rear, the bike has a notably stumpier tail. While I'm sure there's weight-saving rationale to it, I think it looks a little bland compared to the shard-like integrated taillight from before.

The bike has undergone significant nip and tick to make it look and feel more compact
The pillion seat has also shrunk, so it's less pillion-friendly than before, though let's be honest this was never ever a pillion-friendly bike. There's also less storage in the already comically tiny storage compartment.

Overall it's a more compact-looking bike (even though the wheelbase is slightly longer). It's very neatly and tidily packaged, with the clear intention (and outcome) of tightening up the overall look and feel of the S1000RR. And of course, it still turns heads anywhere you go. So, it's a sports bike for sure.

Lightning power

Carbon wheels (as part of the M Package) contribute to the bike's overall lightness
A key change on this second generation model is the engine - a lighter 999cc in-line four engine that now features ShiftCam technology to provide a more linear torque curve.

The power is absurd, obviously. You get 204bhp and 113Nm of torque in a bike that weighs 193.5kg fully fuelled (in this M Package trim), which is more than 13kg lighter that before. That's a power to weight ratio greater than almost every road-going supercar in the world. Insanity, and to think that there's an even more powerful version of this bike.

Let's be honest, modern 200+bhp superbikes have so much more power than anyone can reasonably use on public roads. Redlining this bike in 1st gear will already smash you past the national speed limit, and there are five more gears to go. 

The S1000RR's straight-line pace is outrageous and completely overpowered for public roads
But it's not just about making the bike faster. Key improvements to the S1000RR have been focused around lightness and agility, and it shows.

The bike feels immediately lighter and more willing to rocket forward, and the engine pumps out ample torque no matter the revs. The redesigned engine also feels much more free-revving, and generally a lot more refined.

It's also a more compact bike. The tank and seat (especially this M sport seat) are narrower, and you sit slightly closer to the handlebars. The more compact package makes for a more aggressive leaning and riding machine. The seat height is also slightly higher, so directional changes feel sharper, the steering a little quicker, and the whole bike just feels racier.

There's an increased sharpness and responsiveness to directional changes
There is a noticeably more more fluid and instinctive feeling to how the bike steers - it's effortless and responsive, and you don't ever feel like you’re 'working' for it. It's fantastic.

There's also a whole bunch of customisable settings, including three Race Pro modes, so you can configure the bike to exactly how you want it. I'd dial up more engine braking, but beyond that I think it's great out of the box.

As a result, the S1000RR feels more effortless to ride, especially quickly. Obviously there's no way to evaluate anything close to the limits of its performance, but for a road-going superbike it feels more forgiving and accessible than before. It's much more refined and sophisticated for day-to-day riding (the Hill Start Control to be a very handy feature), and is also much more intense performance-wise as well. 

Three Race Pro modes allow for ample customisation of the bike's dynamic settings
One subtle but (at least for me) notable improvement is the overall thermal management. The new fairing design (which is a lot more open) allows hot air to be dissipated better. On the 2015 model, the fairing has some specific air vents that channel hot air directly onto your ankles, which means that wearing cuffed jeans is a strict no-no. There are literally some jeans in my wardrobe that I cannot wear when I know I will be riding. With this new model, your wardrobe choices will expand - the bike is more generally toasty (in the inner thigh regions) rather than specifically hot.

Qualms? It's nowhere as noisy as before, which is a slight shame because you really have to push the engine past 7,000rpm to enjoy the in-line four's soundtrack. The upside of that is that you can actually use a helmet headset to listen to music, which is handy as you can also connect up you headset to the bike and control functions via the iRide system. Downside, is, well, it just doesn't sound as good.

The tradeoff for increased refinement is that the engine is no longer as loud and rowdy as before
I do think the front brake feel isn't as good (this has Nissin callipers as opposed to the Brembos on the predecessor model), but it's effective nonetheless. The wing mirrors also vibrate a ton at speeds, so much so that at highway speeds it's hard to see a clear image (though given the bike's peformance, it's safe to assume everything is just getting smaller in the mirrors).

And of course, all the requisite compromises of riding a sports bike on public roads still exists. U-turns are no fun. Idling at traffic lights is no fun. The riding position is slightly more comfortable than before, but long rides in an untucked position will still cause sore wrists. Long rides in a tucked position? You're a more committed biker than I am.

So much and so much more

In just about every measurable way, the new S1000RR is just a better overall bike than before
Unsurprisingly, the new BMW S1000RR is, in almost every way, better than before. It's faster, lighter, more agile, more technologically sophisticated, actually more usable daily, and I'm sure it's better on the track as well. It dials up the performance in what was already over-the-top performance, yet also makes it a bit more accessible and usable as well.

I wish it sounded like my 2015 model, but as we all know emissions regulations are throttling anything with an exhaust pipe, so we have to accept it for what it is.

The S1000RR allows you to deploy its ballistic performance relatively effortlessly
It's perhaps not the most exotic litre sports bike in the world, but where the S1000RR shines is how ridiculously easy it is to deploy its performance, even if it's just a fraction of it in small bursts. In every road-going situation the S1000RR feels lightning fast, accurately responsive, and an absolute bullet of a machine.

Am I a little forlorn getting back on my own bike? You bet I am. I guess I'll just have to drown that out with plenty of ear-bleeding engine noise. That's at least something I do still have.

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bmw  bmw motorrad  motorrad  s1k  s1000  s1000rr  rr  bmw rr