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Hot laps on BMW's new S 1000 RR

2011-10-22 14:53


Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer BMW
Model BMW S1000RR (Second generation)
Engine 999cc/water-cooled/4-cyl in aluminium bridge frame
Power 142kW @ 13 000rpm
Torque 112Nm @9 750rpm
Transmission Six-speed
Zero To Hundred 2.9sec
Top Speed 300km/h+
Fuel Tank 17.5 litres
Weight 178kg (dry)
ABS Optional; brakes (F) 320mm four-piston double disc, (R) 220mm disc
Front Suspension Upside down forks, 46 mm, adjustable
Rear Suspension Twin-arm swinging fork, central spring strut, adjustable
Price TBA
I’m fortunate enough to be at the Ricardo Tormo* circuit in Valencia, Spain this week, evaluating the second generation BMW S 1000 RR superbike - but my inability to ride like factory/WSB rider Troy Corser (who’s showing a bunch of journalists the way around this twisty circuit), is beginning to play mind games on me…

Fifty motoring journalists from 19 countries are here for a one-day event to see for themselves the improvements made to the BMW superbike known as the ‘S1000 Double R’.


In just under two years the bike has earned the unofficial title of the fastest superbike in production and it will be available ex-stock from showrooms in about 140 countries across the globe - including South Africa - in a few weeks.

Sales in South Africa have already have topped 200 since its introduction in late 2009. In France, however (an obviously much bigger market) enthusiasts have bought 12 080 in the past year…

I tend to get a little concerned when a new bike (or car, for that matter) suddenly receives a huge makeover so early in its life - 150 changes or so was the case for the revamped Yamaha R1 a number of years ago. So one does tend to get a little perplexed exactly what BMW aims to achieve with this “improved” model.

But there’s nothing to be alarmed about … the ‘Double R’ engine is exactly the same: 142kW at 13 000rpm of pure bliss, coupled to 112Nm at 9750rpm of stonking torque. The bike still, thank heavens, tips the scales at only 204 kg – including a full tank.


So what has happened to justify this virtual relaunch of the bike? General criticisms of the outgoing model were absolutely minimal, I’m told.

Getting down to the nitty-gritty...

Markus Poschner, general manager of the K and S series of BMW Motorrad told me: “Rideability and more enjoyment, plus selectable anti-lock brakes and dynamic traction control are basically the only new offerings.

“There’s also some small changes to the bike’s aesthetics. For example, we’re the first superbike manufacturer to offer heatable grips. You might not care much for them in South Africa, but our winters in Europe can be rather cold!”

RIGHT ON TRACK: The latest BMW S1000RR is a beautiful machine, of that there is little doubt. It proudly carries the accolade of being the world’s fastest superbike - and it’ll be available in South Africa soon.

I’m feeling just a little intimidated as I fire up the bike at the Ricardo Tormo circuit. Ahead of me in the pits lane is a South African national champion. To the left is a ‘wild card’ MotoGP rider from Japan and on my right a Canadian flat-track champ.

This is only supposed to be a practice session to warm up the motor and the back tyre but I can feel tension rising. There’s a lady rider from Switzerland — probably an average rider from this very much “health and safety” country, thought I. (Indeed, one of the requirements for the Swiss market is that all imported motorcycles must have audible and visible speed buzzers. Job done.)

The Ricardo Tormo circuit isn’t for wimps, that’s for sure. There are 14 curves to be negotiated - some of them rather extreme – five rights and nine lefts - on a circuit that’s only four kilometres long with a 900m really fast back straight.

I’m trying to remember them all in my head but I’m having difficulty concentrating. Maybe I’ll just track the female rider from Cuckoo-Clock Country, I’m sure she’ll travel at a sedate pace. Wrong!

Suffice to say I worked my way around the Valencia circuit mainly off the racing line fearing an international incident with fellow riders while one of the primary objectives pursued for the revised S 1000 RR model was to improve rideability by boosting thrust and enhancing the linearity and harmoniousness of the power and torque curves from that beautiful motor.


Gladly the highest level of active safety is safeguarded by the most advanced brake system today on the market, the BMW Motorrad Race ABS. When accelerating, the rider is supported by the dynamic traction control system; both systems have been optimised for the perfect interaction.

More than once this was put to good use on the track that day.

Under the right thumb one is able to dial in three torque curves (previously two): one each for Rain and Sport modes and an additional one for Race and Slick. Perhaps more importantly, the bike now most certainly delivers in all four modes a considerably greater amount of torque - especially in the 5000-7500 rev band - the only real criticism of the Generation 1 bike, apparently.

Mode adjustments can be made while riding and it only takes a fraction of a second. To select a different mode just shut off the throttle, momentarily, dip the clutch and flick the button - that’s it! (From rain mode (121kW) to a full 142kW in the blink of an eye.)

Working my around to Curve 14, a slow (second gear) left-hander before the-all-too short back straight consisting a 900m blast to the chequered flag, was the only place to hang on tight while easily achieving the double-ton. And then some.

Trouble was, that lass from Switzerland was already safely negotiating Curve 1 ahead of me…


There’s a whole raft of high performance/race kits available for the bike and these will be made available in SA - such as the approved Akrapovic exhaust system, a race calibration kit, a data logger with GPS and several carbon-fibre ancillaries.

For customers wanting to use the Double RR on the track BMW will offer race support in the form of data, etc, tailored to suit individual needs.
*Ricardo Tormo was a Spanish National motorcycle champion in the 1970s who hailed from Valencia, achieving 19 wins, 36 podiums and 23 poles in his short career, usually aboard Bultaco or Derbi factory bikes.

He died of leukaemia in 1999.

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