Famed for mentally fast, techno-packed cars, and creating the world’s best-selling motorcycle, BMW tore the industry a new botty when launching the original S 1000 RR. It was, and still is, the benchmark for 1000cc four-cylinder weaponry.
The 2009 S Thou’ was akin to a CBR600RR injected with some severe German muscle, belittling its Japanese rivals with sublime handling mated to a silly-fast motor. And with the addition of just a pipe and fuelling module, a genuine 200bhp was readily available for public consumption for the first time. The 2015 BMW S 1000 RR is even leaner and meaner, and we got to ride it at the world press launch in Monteblanco, Spain.
Are you ready? Deep breath… For 2015, every little nook and cranny of the RR has been fiddled with. We’ll leave the looks and extendabenda exhaust to debate amongst yourselves. As if the motor wasn’t fast enough, BMW have added another 6bhp that equals a claimed 199bhp at peak. A revised cylinder head, a new intake cam, and lighter valves are the crux of the internal fettling. A bigger airbox and induction intake, plus some throttle body adjustments also play a part, and BMW claim some extra bottom-end and midrange guts.
The big news on the chassis side is the Dynamic Damping Control (DDC) semi-active suspension, lifted from the HP4 mothership herself. The S 1000 RR’s weight has been slashed by 4kg to 204kg fully fuelled – a new exhaust is responsible for 3 of those kilos.
The lighter frame features new rigidity settings and fresh geometry digits. BMW has smashed the front into a wall (not literally) for sharper handling, increasing the steering head angle by 0.5° to 66.5°, and shortening trail by 1.5mm to 96.5mm. The swingarm pivot has been lowered by 3mm and the wheelbase has taken an 8mm hike to 1,425mm to aid stability and grip.
And then there’s the electronic bombardment. De rigueur traction control, race-ABS, a quickshifter and the HP4’s launch control are joined by a pit lane limiter (perfect for 30/40/50mph zones) and an auto-blipper, which negates the need for even thinking about touching the clutch during downshifts. Oh, and heated grips.
Who got da keys?
Press launches are usually hosted at lavish circuits across the globe. Not the 2015 Beemer. Some of you probably haven’t even heard of Monteblanco, but while it’s no GP track, it’s a brilliant test venue: a bumpy, coarse, rut-filled surface, blending tight and technical sections with balls-on-the-tank faster bits: a bit like the UK’s roads, I suppose.
It didn’t take long to taste 2015 in Spain. The RR’s 100% ride-by-wire ‘E” throttle is as light and easy-going as you’ll ever experience, deliciously smooth to hand and precise without attempting to mimic a console controller.
And then there’s the newfound power, particularly from low down and swelling into the midrange, yet sacrificing none of its top-end silliness. No amount of chassis geometry tweaks are going to halt power wheelies. The previous incarnation was continually 5-10mph faster than anything else road legal, and the 2015 RR is another notch up on the warp-speed scale.
Aside from big buck superbikes tested over the years, I’ve never had to be as conscious with the right hand as I did with the Beemer’s extravagant wedge of power on tap. This thing is rabid, yet soothingly controlled. You can feel the RR’s rear dig in, the DDC suspension bestowing oodles of grip and, at the same time, 199 gallivanting horses/stallions manically attempting their escape through a minimal contact patch. As if that wasn’t enough, BMW’s super-sexy traction control lets you know exactly where the limit of adhesion lays beneath you, with a subtle, dull hesitation through the throttle. It really is an enchanting mix of mechanical and electrical grip in coalition, and should function well with a wide spread of rider ability.
As I picked up the pace, the RR was being a little more subjective in its demands. BMW engineers have reduced engine braking (in all modes), which makes the bike run into a corner a little too valiantly. This, and the culmination of the DDC-controlled suspension conveying a slightly vague sensation from brake release to apex, subtracts some confidence needed to really give it the berries. The fork feels as though it’s constantly too far up the stroke, although we’re sure it could be dialled out. And I didn’t crash, so the grip is obviously there.
Any 2015 RR owner will tell you it’s very soft as standard. The DDC’s main function is to provide sublime bump management and poise when called upon, although BMW has tangibly softened the semi-active suspension’s parameters. Monteblanco’s myriad of gnarly surfaces were sucked up and spat out by the Beemer. If I attempted some of the piss-taking antics on any of the BMW’s rivals, I’d probably be sucking Christmas turkey through a straw.
I’d be lying if I told you the new S Thou’s 4kg diet was palpable, yet the magic sum of its 2015 revisions lend the RR some added athleticism, particularly in changes of direction. I can’t think of another bike that steers with such pace and stability, putting you in total control from upright to the full 60-degrees of lean.
While the BMW suffers from a Trojan horse-type computer virus on brake release, you can’t deny its initial braking aptitude. The addition of a throttle blipper on downshifts means you’ll never have to touch the clutch lever again, aside from pulling away: scrubbing off speed has never been so sexy. Another handy feature worth mentioning is the new ‘User’ mode, which lets you personalise traction control, power, engine braking and other aids. And the live lean angle display on the dash is so cool, although may induce a sharp rise in RTAs and pub smack talk in 2015.
We didn’t get the chance to sample the Beemer on the roads but I’ll bet a bollock on the RR remaining undefeated on Her Majesty’s highways. It’s just so easy. The extra relish at the bottom-end of the engine puts it in the everyday mix with less focused rivals, and the DDC suspension simply takes the piss, laughing in the face of any bump, pothole or crevice.
If you’re a tasty superstock rider reading this, and wondering if the 2015 RR is the kiddy, well, it is. But you need conventional suspension or a computer/data boffin to configure the DDC trickery. Sylvain Barrier scored several top-tens onboard a DDC-kitted BMW in World Superbikes.
There will be two models making their way into the UK: the base version and the fully-loaded ‘Sport’, which is the puppy we tried. Considering the bulging price tags of its 2015 rivals, a yet-to-be confirmed £14k for the S 1000 RR is a bargain.
Now, let’s be having this new R1…
Price – £14,000 (TBC)
44T rating – 9.5/10