BMW S1000RR Traction Control Comparison

MotorcycleUSA Staff | August 31, 2012

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MotoUSA investigates traction control and learns how each top manufacturers system performs in this 2012 Superbike Traction Control Comparison Video.

BMW is a pioneer in electronics and safety enhancements for motorcycles. Its success comes from a philosophy of engineering technology independently. This ideology facilitates unique solutions that cannot be duplicated or shared amongst rival brands and the proof is the optional Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) on the 2012 BMW S1000RR.

The S1000RR also employs sensors on each wheel to measure rotational speed. The system factors in throttle and gear position, just like many of the other brands. But the hardware that separates it from the competition is the pair of electronic gyroscopes that measure true orientation (including lean angle). It uses data from all channels to calculate what degree of engine torque reduction is required. It applies adjustment by reducing spark and/or limiting fuel to one, or more, of the four cylinders. It also has the ability to alter the throttle body position to help give the engine more linear acceleration feel when engine torque is decreased. Wheelie control is integrated into the electronics, however, it cannot be adjusted and there is no launch control.

In contrast to the other brands the BMWs Dynamic Traction Control is linked to engine power modes and throttle maps. Wed prefer if each setting could be tuned individually.
In contrast to the other brands the BMW’s Dynamic Traction Control is linked to engine power modes and throttle maps. We’d prefer if each setting could be tuned individually.

Aside from Kawasaki’s set-up, the BMW offers the least adjustment with four modes available (Rain, Sport, Race and Slick). But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as each configuration is easy to understand based on its designation (Slick is for use with treaded or tread-less race tires). Another unique feature is each mode is linked to a specific throttle and power map, though we’d prefer if power modes and DTC settings could be tuned independently as offered by the competition. Switching between levels is accomplished by pressing a button on the left handlebar. Pulling on the clutch lever confirms the setting. Adjustment can be made while riding, but the throttle must be closed. Furthermore it can be disabled by holding down the same button until the yellow traction control warning light illuminates. However, the motorcycle must be at a complete stop to do so.

BMW S1000RR Suspension Settings:
(From full stiff)
Preload: 4 lines showing
Compression: 4
Rebound: 8
Preload: stock
Low-Speed Compression: 3
High-Speed Compression: 3
Rebound: 3

Both of our test riders were generally pleased with the functionality of the BMW’s DTC in both Race and Slick settings. It did a respectable job of reading road camber and offered smoother engagement than all but the Aprilia, Kawasaki and Yamaha systems. Reviewing corner speeds from Turns 2, 8 and 14 illustrates how confident our testers were with it recording speeds that were on the upper side of the spectrum.

It also made the bike easier to ride in certain situations by mellowing out power slightly, which is important as the BMW has tremendous top-end power hit. Acceleration force numbers for both of our testers were toward the bottom of the group demonstrating how efficiently the Beemer’s electronics are at modulating engine torque under acceleration off a corner. Even though the force data was low the BMW recorded the highest top speed at the end of the straightaways (156.8 / 139.6 mph) for Waheed and the second-highest number for Siglin when averaged (151.8 mph).

The yellow warning/activation light was also easier to see at a glance behind the windscreen. The DTC facilitated reliable and manageable slide control, but the functionality of the wheelie control proved to be too harsh for it to be deemed truly useful.

There were some aspects of BMW’s DTC that we genuinely liked. And based on the data it does make it easier to ride in certain conditions. But the electronics needs added refinement and a smoother transition between on and off throttle to be a true asset when putting in fast laps at the track.


The S1000RR logged high acceleration force numbers proving how effective it is at the racetrack.
The S1000RR’s DTC was predictable but needs to be a little smoother in application. The calibration of the wheelie control is downright poor.

CHRIS SIGLIN: “It felt very sensitive to lean angle. At some parts of the track it was really smooth and others it came in a little too aggressively. Overall it needs better transition between on and off. The wheelie control is way, way too harsh causing the front end to slam down violently. If BMW could just smooth things out it’d have a winner on its hands.”

ADAM WAHEED: “The BMW’s TC is pretty dang good. For me, it made the bike easier to ride [Slick mode]. For sure it prevented the bike from accelerating at maximum in some corners but at the same time, it bred a lot of confidence and was one three bikes I could trust completely and mash the throttle wide-open without having to worry about excessive tire spin. My biggest gripe, however, is the poor functionality of the wheelie control. And the worst part is that you can’t disable it without turning the entire system off.”

BMW S1000RR DTC Race
BMW S1000RR DTC Slick

MotorcycleUSA Staff