The BMW’s Dynamic Traction Control and ABS is simply incredible. And the best part is that you can turn it off easily.
For the first-time ever, German motorsports giant BMW enters Superbike Smackdown competition with its all-new S1000RR. Earlier we had the opportunity to ride it during a stand alone test in Portugal. Read about it in the 2010 BMW S1000RR First Ride and then check out how it fared in our Superbike Smackdown VII Track
test too. BMW’s flagship Superbike features more techno-wizardry than any other mass-produced production street bike. Adjustable multi-mode engine power, traction control and ABS, an electronic quick-shifter, and an ultra high-tech Inline Four engine that spins up to 14,000 revs and delivers 180-plus rear wheel horsepower all for a price that is competitive with all four of the motorcycles from Japan. It’s amazing.
Powering BMW’s S1000RR is a liquid-cooled 999cc Inline Four with a conventional firing order as used on the Honda, Kawasaki, and Suzuki. Bore/stroke dimensions are 80 x 49.7mm which gives the BMW the most oversquare piston size of the four-cylinder group. A 16-valve cylinder head with double overhead camshafts is also shared. Intake charge is compressed to 13:1 ratio which is identical to the RSV4R but down 0.4 compared to the class-leading KTM.
Twist the grip and you’ll notice that its pull feels heavier than rest of the bikes, which takes a bit of time to get used to. Power comes on nice and smooth but feels mellow like the rest of the four cylinders with exception of the GSX-R. Engine vibration is minimal and right on par with the Ninja but is still not as balanced as the R1. As revs climb through 6000 rpm the BMW churns out a linear spread of power but it’s nothing too impressive compared to the punch of the V-Twins and the CBR. However, keep the throttle pinned and when the tach needle hits nine grand things start to happen quick…
All of a sudden it feels like someone pressed the nitrous button with a burst of acceleration. Peak torque is reached at a lofty 10,700 rpm with it churning out 80.31 lb-ft of the good stuff, giving it the highest peak torque figure aside from the Twins. But it isn’t over yet. As revs increase further the whirl of the valvetrain makes a sound like you’re at the controls of an F1 car—no joke, it sounds insane. Hold on tight as the engine shrills to life pumping out more horsepower at 11,000 revs than any other bike in this test! And the best part? You still have another 3000 rpm to go! With the throttle buried to the stop the engine sounds like it’s about to explode throwing you forward with such voracity that all other liter-class bikes now feel slow.
At 13,300 rpm, peak horsepower is reached with a whopping 182.83 horsepower delivered at the rear Metzeler tire. If you missed it I’ll say it again: Nearly 183 horsepower out of a bone-stock street bike! With 700 revs to go before redline, horsepower barely tapers when the rev limiter comes in at 14,000 rpm.
“It’s kind of lacking off the bottom and the mid-range isn’t that impressive either especially compared to the Honda,” explains Atlas of the BMW’s engine performance. “But find a straight stretch of road, dial in full throttle and you better be hanging on tight. It has 20 more horsepower than the competition and more power than most people’s cars. It may not be that useable during the commute to work but who cares.”
Although the S1000RR’s engine shrieks at high rpm, at idle it is quiet and identical to the Honda recording a decibel rating of 82. Add some more rpm and it again matches the Honda bellowing out a conservative 100 dB at half of maximum engine speed (7000 rpm). And despite that it cranks out upwards of 180-horsepower, the Beemer delivers 32.3 mpg. This equates to a range of 145 miles with a full fuel load in the 4.5-gallon tank.
As expected the BMW uses a very tight and precise feeling gearbox. Neutral is simple to find when stopped and there is very little play in the shift lever. We also never encountered any missed-shifts. During quick stops the slipper clutch performed without fault just like the Japanese bikes.
One of the coolest features of the BMW’s drive train is its optional $450 electronic quick-shifter. This allows you to maneuver through the 6-speed gearbox without having to let off the throttle or use the clutch. Simply apply some pressure on the shift lever and bam you’re in the next gear.
This substantially decreases acceleration time as evident in the quarter mile test. Here the Beemer recorded the fastest ET of the test by posting a 9.681 with a top speed of 150.4 mph. That’s nearly 5 mph faster than the speedy Ducati 1198S Corse. Further aiding the BMW off the line is its optimum 17/44 final drive gearing and cable-actuated clutch with terrific feel. However we do have one minor gripe and that is that clutch lever pull is heavier than the Japanese bikes.
ERGONOMICS / COMFORT
The BMW S1000RR’s appearance looks much better in the optional $750 Motorsports Alpine White colorway.
Jump into the seat and the Beemer feels similar to the Honda. It is narrow and the seat height is on the low side only measuring 32.0 inches off the floor. Reach to the controls and the handlebars feel wide but they are slightly lower than the Honda’s. It is by no means uncomfortable just a hair more aggressive. The fixed footpegs offer good balance between hard-core track and street use.
Overall the riding position keeps you low and inside the center of the bike similar to the Suzuki and KTM but just not quite as low. On the road the cockpit of the BMW is comfortable. It feels more-racy than the Honda but it’s by no means as aggressive as the Kawasaki. The seat is wide and offers a decent amount of padding. Not quite up to GSX-R1000 levels of comfort, but it’s close. The height of the windscreen is also above average. It’s not as big as the Suzuki’s but it is certainly effective for keeping a good portion of the rider’s torso out of dirty air. The mirrors also function well, giving a clear view of what’s behind, but they’re still not as good as those found on the CBR.
HANDLING / SUSPENSION
On the road the BMW carves into a turn with pure precision. It steers neutrally and feels quite similar to the CBR only it requires a tad bit more muscle. Once cranked over on the side of the tire the chassis feels rock solid. It’s hard to tell if it’s better than Honda or Suzuki but it’s definitely close between the top trio. In keeping with its German heritage the Beemer rolls on Metzler’s RaceTec K3 tires which feel and perform similar to the Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SPs on the other Euro machines.
Rolled onto the scale the BMW posted a weight of 450 lbs with fuel, ABS and all the other gizmos that its $16,480 as-tested price came with. That’s just nine pounds heavier than the class-leading Ducati and the BMW still costs $8520 less.
The BMW makes use of fully adjustable suspension front and rear. Despite its obvious racetrack-oriented design the suspension actually does an admirable job of soaking bumps and small pot holes that you can expect to encounter during the course of a street ride. It’s not quite as plush as the Suzuki, Yamaha or Honda but we wouldn’t say it’s bad. Chassis balance is favorable with the bike resisting the urge to pitch or squat even during heavy throttle or brake load.
“The BMW handles pretty good,” said Atlas. “It doesn’t turn-in quite as fast as the Honda but it’s still by no means slow. It’s composed at lean and it comes off the corner nicely as well. Overall I’d rank it up there toward the top for sure.”
Brembo brakes and the most advanced ABS system available graces the BMW S1000RR.
Even if it didn’t have its optional adjustable multi-mode ABS, of all the bikes the one with the strongest, best performing set of binders would be the BMW. Up front it utilizes a pair of two-piece cast Brembo radial-mount calipers that grab onto 320mm diameter discs. A radial-pump master cylinder and stainless-steel brake hoses augment the system. Out back a 220mm disc with a single-piston caliper keeps rear wheel speed in check.
Initial brake bite on the front brakes is the best of the lot which is strange considering that it employs lesser-grade two-piece cast calipers as opposed to the more expensive monoblocs on the other Euro bikes. As you grab the brake lever the brakes have a ramped stopping effect similar to the Ducati’s. In the braking performance test the BMW aced them all by achieving a stopping distance of 118 feet from 60 mph. The stop was performed in Sport mode which enables both front and rear ABS and proves the obvious stopping benefit of ABS.
Perhaps the best feature in the braking department is the multiple ABS modes. In each of the four settings (Rain, Sport, Race, and Slick) the brakes respond differently providing slightly more or less ABS effect. When activated the lever pulses slightly but it isn’t so much that it’s annoying. Another plus is that even when activated there is still an acceptable level of brake feel.
INSTRUMENTATION / ELECTRONICS
The BMW S1000RR is without question the best Superbike of 2010.
Although the Beemer’s instrument display doesn’t look as cool as the Ducati or KTM it sure does work well. Not only does it offer everything the rider needs to see from ambient air temperature to gear position, it’s easy to read and to use.
But the real bonus that sets the BMW apart from all the bikes in this comparison is its use of a sophisticated and user-adjustable engine management system. Even the $13,800 base machine offers an engine power/throttle mode selection (Rain, Sport, Race and Slick) that can be adjusted on the fly using a left-hand handlebar mounted switch. For street riding we preferred Sport setting as it tamed down power slightly and made the throttle less sensitive which ultimately made the bike easier and friendlier on the street.
The $1480 Dynamic Traction Control and Race ABS option adds functionality to the power mode selection by incorporating both a traction control and ABS that uses independent wheel speed and a lean angle sensor. And the best part about it all is that you can turn either traction control or ABS off independently with a simple push of a button.
You want the best Superbike of ’10 for the street? Well the BMW S1000RR is it. From the outrageous performance of its engine to the well-balanced chassis and phenomenal braking capabilities, the BMW does everything well. Factor in its superior electronics that not only make the bike safer but also more fun to ride and what you have is a bike that no other production motorcycle on earth can compete with in stock form. And the best part is? It can be yours for $13,800 for the base model or you can fork over some extra dough and go all the way with the $16,480 for our fully loaded version. Thanks BMW for just raising the Superbike-class bar.