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2012 BMW S1000RR Street Comparison

Monday, June 11, 2012

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2012 BMW S1000RR Street Comparison Video
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BMW reworked the 2012 S1000RR to make it easier to ride on the track. Watch the 2012 BMW S1000RR Street Comparison Video to see how those changes translated to the street.
BMW’s S1000RR has reigned supreme since it’s first inclusion into the slugfest that is Superbike Smackdown. Not only has it taken the crown in the street testing, but it has also stomped the competition in our track testing. With horsepower numbers that still remain unrivaled by any other superbike offering and a surefooted street-going chassis, BMW probably could have sat back and continued to collect more shootout trophies in 2012. Instead the German powerhouse gave the S1000RR its first technical update to make it an easier bike to ride on the track. The question is whether or not that will make it even better on the street as well?

With so much power on tap, BMW did not delve into changing the internals of the S1000RR’s Inline Four engine. Instead it worked on making the monumental amount thrust easier to control. Previously we’ve complained that in the higher power modes such as Race and Slick the throttle response is much too sensitive, even for our more experienced riders. In a straight line it’s not a huge issue, but when leaned over in a corner it can be intimidating and challenging. BMW remapped all four power settings to smooth the response during throttle modulation. After taming the beast, BMW modified all four maps to produce more low to mid-range power. Additionally a new throttle tube was fitted with a lighter and shorter pull.

The 2012 BMW S1000RR is still the power champ.
The S1000RR's throttle response has been made smoother but not more tame..
On the street these changes won’t be a marked as they would be on the track, since Sport mode is more than optimum for duty on most pieces of road. But when riders really want to test their mettle, it’s fun to experiment with Race and Slick on the street. Before this was a tricky proposition if you weren’t the smoothest on the gas. Now both these modes are useable for mere mortals. Feeding on the power is much easier while still on the side of the tire, and the jerky feel during fine-tuning of the right grip is gone.

But don’t be mistaken, just because the response has been smoothed out doesn’t mean it has been tamed. The power from the S1000RR is voracious and without a doubt unmatched by any other machine in this test. It may not have the most punch right off the bottom, but as you pass through the mid-range the power comes on strong building to a massive rush at the top. Each time we give the BMW full stick we are amazed that this much performance can be attained in in a street-legal production motorcycle.

“Oh, hell yes this thing hauls ass!” exclaims our intermediate level test rider Lori Dell. “It’s got gobs of power, but it’s totally controllable and easy to use. The delivery is smooth on and off the throttle.”

On the dyno the BMW was once again the king, not that there was any doubt that it wouldn’t be. A peak rating of 175.95 horsepower was just a hair over 10 ponies more than the second-best Ducati 1199 Panigale S. In terms of torque the
2012 BMW S1000RR Dyno Results
The ergonomics of the 2012 BMW S1000RR are perfectly in tune with its mission.
The 2012 BMW S1000RR is still the king of the horsepower charts for the third year running with a 175 ponies on tap.
S1000RR finished at the bottom with 73.7 lb-ft of torque. That power pushed the 456-pound blue Beemer to a class-leading 0-60 in 3.347 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 10.81 seconds at 147.7 MPH.

The traction control system of the S1000RR is seamlessly integrated into the four power modes, with the most intervention in Rain mode and the least in Race. On the street the electronic intervention is only noticeable in Rain mode and maybe in Sport if you really are pushing. It’s nice to know you have a safety net if something unexpected happens. Our only real gripe is that the wheelie control still comes on too abruptly and brings the front end down prematurely.

“I really like the BMW’s TC system. It’s maybe a little more restrictive than some of the other bikes – but it’s really a moot point on the street,” claims Heed. “The only flaw is the wheelie control, as it still doesn’t offer smooth calibration. I wish you could just manually disable that feature alone, but you can’t.”

The engine character of the Beemer also ranked at the top of the charts, as our testers loved the duality of the S1000RR’s personality. At lower RPMs it’s quiet and civilized, but you know there is a something fierce lurking inside. As you close in on the big end of the tachometer the shriek from the exhaust is musical and fearsome at the same time.

“The sound that the BMW makes is intense,” says Ernie Vigil. “It actually sounds and feels like a bike that has 200 hp!”

Even with all that power being produced the S1000RR is one of the better bikes on consumption of gasoline. After all our fill-ups at the pump we averaged the fuel economy of the big bad Beemer at 35.17 mpg. That equates to a 161.8-mile range from the S1000RR’s 4.6-gallon tank.

The 2012 BMW S1000RR earned top honors in eight out of ten subjective categories.
The S1000RR fit all sizes of riders  short to tall.
The 2012 BMW S1000RR chassis has been revised for better racetrack performance, but that did not hurt the bike's road going prowess in any way.
Slowing down the S1000RR rocket ship is the responsibility of a set of Brembo calipers that are not of the Monobloc variety. They are the less-coveted two-piece cast four-piston unit, but they do a phenomenal job in hauling the BMW down to speed. Our testing crew rated them the best of the bunch, and in the objective testing on our skid pad the Beemer stopped second-best 131 feet with the ABS switched off.

Our second lady tester, Leah Petersen, succinctly summed up the BMW brakes, “The brakes are so perfect you don’t even realize what’s happening.”

The second area BMW’s engineers focused on is the handling prowess of the 2012 S1000RR. On the street we had no complaints about the previous model year, but on the track in racing trim professional racers have had their struggles. BMW set out to balance the chassis better from front to back. To achieve this goal the engineers shortened the rear shock by 4mm and raised the front end by 5mm. Then the wheelbase was decreased by 10mm, and the fork offset was reduced by 2.5mm. The steering head angle was revised, and lastly the swingarm pivot was raised by 4mm to increase rear wheel traction.

Out on the street, we don’t ride anywhere near the limit of the capabilities of these superbikes, so to be honest the 2012 BMW S1000RR didn’t feel that much different than the 2011 model. That is a good thing. Just like the Honda, the BMW is easy to ride for just about any skill level, but it gives more feedback to the rider, making for a more exciting ride. Every corner makes you feel like you are Leon Haslam. Turning in takes just a slightest bit of muscle, but once on its side the BMW is rock-solid, yet light feeling. The suspension worked well right out of the box for all of test riders. The front fork is compliant
The multiple power modes allow the 2012 BMW S1000RR to go from mild to wild.
The BMW S1000RR still reigns supreme on the street - no easy feat considering the caliber of the competition.
and provides a direct link to what the front wheel is doing. Out back the rear shock is firm in the turns, but not so stiff that it’s a buckboard on the freeway.

“The S1000RR is confidence inspiring and very well mannered at any speed,” says Lori. “It isn’t upset by imperfect road conditions, and I always knew the it would track true.”

Our testing crew also rated the comfort of the S1000RR as the highest. It has just the right mix for a do-it-all sportbike. The seating position is compact as a superbike should be, but the pegs are not as high as the Honda or Kawasaki allowing for a little more room on the longer stretches of road. Front to back the attitude of the bike is fairly level keeping pressure off the wrists, but when it is time to get aggressive the stance is sporty enough to tuck in and do work. Our only real criticism the engine is slightly buzzy, and it transfers those vibes to grips and footpegs. We'd call it more of an annoyance than a deal-breaker.

When the Ducati 1199 Panigale was introduced we thought the S1000RR’s time at the top might have been over. But pounding out the miles on the best roads Southern California has to offer proves this is not the case. Once again the baddest BMW ever constructed has cleaned house in our Superbike Smackdown Street test, topping over 50% of our scoring categories. While the bike doesn’t feel much different on the road from the previous model, it’s obvious BMW has raised the bar even higher for the ultra competitive superbike class. Stay tuned to see how it performs on the track, but if the street testing is any indication, BMW’s rivals are going to have to be pretty spectacular to knock it from its throne.

2012 BMW S1000RR Street Gallery
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2012 BMW S1000RR Specs
For the third year in a row the 2012 BMW S1000RR takes the crown as the Superbike Smackdown Street Champion.
Engine: Liquid-cooled 999cc Inline Four, 16-valves
Bore and Stroke: 80.0 x 49.7mm
Compression Ratio: 13.1:1
Fuel Delivery: Dual Stage Fuel Injection
Clutch: Wet multi-plate slipper clutch; Cable actuation
Transmission: Six-speed
Final Drive: Chain 17F/45R
Frame: Twin spar aluminum
Front Suspension: 46mm inverted fork; 3-way adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound; 4.7 in. travel
Rear Suspension: Gas-charged shock absorber; 4-way adjustable for spring preload, high/low-speed compression and rebound; 5.1 in. travel
Front Brakes: 320mm discs with radial-mount Brembo four-piston calipers
Rear Brake: 220mm disc with single-piston caliper
Tires: Metzelr RaceTec K3; 120/70R17, 190/55R17
Curb Weight: 456 lbs
Wheelbase: 56.0 in.
Rake: 23.2 deg. Trail: 3.8 in.
Seat Height: 32.3 in.
Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gal.
MSRP: $15,050
Colors: Racing Red with Alpine White; Bluefire Metallic; Sapphire Black Metallic; Motorsports Alpine White
Warranty: Three year
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disreputablebastard   December 14, 2013 01:01 AM
"Also, why even talk about these bikes if you are in fear of getting stuffed or dropping it in every corner?" I don't want to get eaten by a shark. Does this mean that I shouldn't talk about them? How stupid of a comment can you make, really. Sure you can go through life ignoring the lack of practicality and outright danger of motorcycles, have a good time doing that while it lasts. You can also go around mocking people who are afraid of getting into accidents and dying or getting paralyzed on a bike, that makes perfect sense too. Do any sort of stupid thing you want to do, it's your life. Not like being reckless is illegal or unethical or anything like that. Seriously I love riding fast bikes as much as anyone else here, that doesn't mean that I either want to or suggest that anyone else rides them like an idiot. Regardless of how fast or how slow they are. And the fact is that when you're popping wheelies or dragging knee on the street you're just a few degrees from a wreck. Each and every time. Something every motorcyclist should keep in mind. Most won't of course but still.
faze   June 19, 2012 06:04 PM
I don't get the point of you trolling a superbike smackdown, jfc1, with your highly subjective and narrow point of view. I recently got the new 2012 R1, and I commute on it regularly to Detroit. It handles great, is a properly fast machine, and is plenty easy to operate at any speed. These reviews are hair splitting competitions, and it comes down to get what you want. I am a Yamaha fanboy, but I did strongly consider the BMW and the Ducati... I am pleased with my decision! Though I commute, I still get to enjoy the nearby twisties we affectionately refer to as the West Side Loop. To say people don't canyon carve or hit the twisties with regularity is completely naive. Also, why even talk about these bikes if you are in fear of getting stuffed or dropping it in every corner? Either get better insurance, or nut up. NYCRider's response was priceless! I love the new R1! If you are in the Detroit area and see a (faster) blue R1, it's probably me with a huge grin hidden by my Shoei. These bikes are all awesome: if you are in the market, just get the one you think is coolest...
Gibby   June 13, 2012 02:07 PM
In regards to the BMW you write: The engine character of the Beemer also ranked at the top of the charts, as our testes lover the duality of the S1000RR’s personality. When you write TESTES did you mean the bike appeals to you in a deep emotional way... Awesome.
NYCRider   June 13, 2012 10:11 AM
I'm with you jfc1. In fact, I don't know why anyone would pay to ride a motorcycle at all when there is public transportation. After all, canyon roads only take you to the top of a canyon, and a Bus can get you to place you actually need to go, like work for example. Canyon roads are very dangerous too, and none of the bikes in this test have safety belts or airbags, all which come standard on economy class compact cars which can be purchased for the same price or even less than some of the bikes in this comparo. I'm a little confused in fact why such alternative options weren't included in the article. I myself would probably be leaning toward maybe a Toyota Corolla, or a Ford Focus, if not for the fact that 1. the bus is still cheaper, 2. Buses and subways are even safer since a trained professional does the driving. It just does not make sense to drive yourself when someone hired and trained by the State is available to do the job. Most days I stay at home if I can and keep the doors lock. It is safer, and also I avoid spending money on useless consumption (movies, social events with friends, etc.). I need to save my disposable income for my bus pass anyway.
AnthonyD   June 12, 2012 03:47 PM
Well that's a rant if I ever read one! @jfc1
Piglet2010   June 12, 2012 03:34 PM
@ jfc1 - If I had only one bike for the street, it would have to be something with locking panniers and top box; anything less is just not practical enough for a daily commuter and shopper. If I want it to go really fast on the straight and around the corners, but not weigh 700+ pounds, I would likely end up with a Honda VFR1200F (especially since they can be found in the Upper Midwest in the middle of winter for several thousand below MSRP).
hari   June 11, 2012 10:49 PM
Could not agree more with neo1piv014. Yes, i do understand that these machines are designed by their respective manufacturers to be the fastest on the tracks, but hello, the vast majority of buyers cannot afford to have two bikes, one for the track and one for daily use. So most of us use these machines as our daily rides, I'd like to see things like rating the comfort of the bikes, the spread and visibility of the headlights at night, rating their windscreens (as to how comfy is it to sit behind the windscreen at lets say 60mph) etc etc.
neo1piv014   June 11, 2012 11:20 AM
On the final score board, the BMW took top honors as the most comfortable bike. However, in the page about it, there wasn't a single mention about the seat, ergonomics, comfort, etc. Can you elaborate a bit as to what made it the most comfortable bike over the roomy GSXR, adjustable KTM, more upright Honda, etc? When looking at the street comparisons, a lot of us are looking at comfort as one of the major factors in picking a bike like this. For many of us, our bikes are our primary whips, so if my bike makes me loathe my daily commute to work, I'm less likely to want to get out and play on the weekends.