Via its combination of raw muscle, agility and first-rate electronics, the 2012 BMW S1000RR
($15,050 as tested) has proven itself in the production Superbike ranks. A two-time Superbike Smackdown winner, it was only logical that the S1000RR face off against the Hyperbike class. After all it’s all about performance, right?
Swing a leg over it and it’s no surprise that the German bike is considerably smaller and more compact than the green and black models. Where the others feel almost like sport touring machines the S1000RR is a full-on race bike. The tall seat (0.5 inch taller than the Kawi and 0.7 inches taller than the Suzook) footpegs and low position of the handlebars equate to a very aggressive ‘sport’ oriented riding position.
It also feels substantially lighter, too. With a full 4.5 gallon fuel load the BMW weighs in at 451 pounds. That’s over 100 pounds less than the Suzuki (573) and Ninja (584). Lighter weight paired with smaller engine size equate to better fuel economy with it recording the highest average at 35.2 mpg and a range of just over 154 miles.
The two-time Superbike Smackdown winner, the BMW S1000RR faces off against the Hypersport competition for ’12.
Where those Hyperbikes glide across the pavement absorbing bumps and potholes with ease, the BMW’s suspension translates every inch of the pavement directly to the rider. A great quality for sure on the racetrack or your favorite back road, however on most other surfaces it can be overwhelming and make it less comfortable for longer rides. While acceptable for its class, the front fairing and windscreen aren’t even close to being effective at shielding the rider from wind on the highway, which again compromises the comfort quotient.
At freeway speeds the level of engine vibration can’t be deemed bad, it’s more significant than the other bikes plus the mirrors don’t offer as clear of what’s behind. However it’s not all negative, as the German bike is the only machine to offer electronic heated hand grips as an option straight from the factory—a big plus when riding in cooler weather. The digital instrument display is easy to read but lacks a fuel gauge.
As soon as you fire up the engine there is a significant difference in tone compared to the true Hyperbikes. The S1000RR has a much throatier exhaust note and just sounds like it is in a higher state of tune. Sound testing revealed that it emits the loudest decibel reading at idle (85) and at 7000 rpm (102). While we love the extra noise it certainly does attract unwanted attention from other motorists and worse, police, hence the low score in that category.
The BMW’s powerband is in stark contrast to the Japanese bikes. Where the Hyperbikes have gobs and gobs of immediate torque the S1000RR requires rpm to get the most out of it. Get the motor revving in the upper reaches of the tachometer spectrum however and it feels every bit as quick as the others. Factor in the crazy F1-style engine noises and it actually feels faster than both bikes sensory-wise.
On the dyno, the BMW generates 73.70 lb-ft of torque at a lofty 10,900 rpm. While it’s 30% less than the competition, since it is a much lighter motorcycle the difference isn’t quite as noticeable. In terms of horsepower the BMW
) The BMW is one of few sportbikes that offers heated hand grips straight from the factory. (Bottom
) The BMW S1000RR is more tricky to launch than the other bikes but it still managed the fastest quarter-mile time.
churns out a competitive figure unleashing almost 176 horses at 13,200 rpm. While it’s three less than the Suzuki and 10 fewer than the Ninja it’s still plenty impressive considering it makes use of a much smaller engine. And for those that feel intimidated by the Beemer’s hard-hitting powerband it offers a ‘Rain’ and ‘Sport’ map which curtail power slightly and make it friendlier to ride.
At the drag strip the BMW proves to be a much more difficult motorcycle to launch. Its smaller wheelbase (2.3 inches shorter than the Japanese bikes), higher center of gravity, and snappy top-end biased powerband make it very tricky to get moving as the bike wants to wheelie the entire way down the road in the lower three gears. True, the S10000RR we tested employs wheelie control but it doesn’t offer the correct calibration for it to be really useful in an advanced rider’s hands. So we left it off for the test.
Even still the Beemer shot off to 60 mph in 3.12 seconds putting it ahead of the Suzuki but behind the Ninja. It continued on through the quarter-mile in a time of 10.25 seconds at a speed of 147.1 mph. One particular feature that works in its favor is its optional electronic Gear Shift Assist. This allows for immediate upshifts by simply applying upward pressure on the gear shift lever which saves fractions of a second over a manual set-up. Another plus is the copious amount of feel available from the cable-actuated clutch, though it definitely isn’t as durable as the set-ups on the bigger bikes as cable tension had to be adjusted after each run.
Where the BMW struggles in terms of comfort on the highway, ride it around the track and you’ll instantly fall in love with it. Compared to the other bikes the thing feels like a MotoGP bike. It is much sharper—steering with more precision and capable of much higher corner speeds. It’s also incredible how composed the chassis is at all parts of a turn. The OE-fitted Continental
rubber works great too and there is loads and loads of ground clearance. While we’re not completely sold on the wheelie control functionality we are on its multi-mode traction control which allows for a safety net before things get too out of control if your throttle hand ever overpowers the rear tire. The engagement isn’t quite as seamless as the Kawi’s but it is every bit as functional.
) The BMW feels much smaller and more compact than the other Hypesport machines. (Bottom
) The BMW’s traction control gives the rider a relatively large safety net when accelerating at lean.
Since it’s a racebike with headlights and taillights, it’s no surprise that it has the most robust braking package. Hydraulic triple disc brakes employ a very intuitive anti-lock component which seamlessly adjusts the amount of ABS intervention based on selected riding mode (Rain, Sport, Race and Slick). Furthermore the system can also be disabled with a push of a button. The brakes offer much sharper feel than both the Hayabusa and Ninja. There’s considerably more stopping power, too, as evident per the braking test with it halting from 60 mph in the shortest distance, 97.7 feet (without ABS). Around the racetrack the brakes are completely fade-free and don’t require crazy amounts of heat in order to obtain the coveted level of feel.
Although it doesn’t fit the standard definition of a Hyperbike the S1000RR is such a well-rounded motorcycle that it’s easily competitive in the class. It’s got the acceleration plus the agility and handling that the bigger bikes could only dream of. Problem is it is nowhere near as comfortable to ride for extended periods of time. Plus, even with its fantastic rider safety aids including ABS, traction control and adjustable engine power modes, it still demands a lot of attention from its rider. Not only that but it is the most expensive bike in the test. However if none of those things bother you and you’re concerned only about speed the BMW will be hard to pass up.