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2019 BMW S 1000 RR First Ride Review: German Saddle to Precision Street

2019 BMW S 1000 RR First Ride Review: German Saddle to Precision Street

The BMW S 1000 RR has been one of the best value for money performance motorcycle for the longest of time, but now there is an all-new S 1000 RR that has been launched in India. We take it out for some hot laps at the Buddha International Circuit to see whether it builds up on its reputation.

It was the year 2009 when BMW first came out with the all-new S1000RR and that rewrote the rules of what makes a good performance motorcycle. What it did was that brought all the cutting-edge technology that one was used to seeing on race bikes at that time to the average consumer and that completely changed the game and shifted the goalposts for the superbikes that were to follow, setting a standard so high that it managed to stay on top of the competition for almost a decade.

Now, though there is a new BMW S 1000 RR which was globally unveiled at the Milan show last year and finally, it has come to India. Launched in a total of three variants – the Standard which has been priced at Rs 18.5 lakh, the Pro which is priced at Rs 20.95 lakh and the top of the line M Sport variant which costs Rs 22.95 lakh (all prices ex-showroom).

Without a doubt, it is a good looking motorcycle, but it’s not until unless you take a look up close at the BMW S 1000 RR that you realise just how good of a motorcycle it is as it has immaculate attention to detail and build quality. And yes, it sounds fantastic as well, thanks to the in-line 4-cylinder setup.

BMW-S-1000-RR-4BMW S 1000 RR is a lot sleeker than before. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)

But let’s address the elephant in the room first – those headlights. Yes, they are not asymmetrical like how they used to be in the older S 1000 RR and yes, perhaps the first thing that you would notice about this bike is the fact that it barely has any similarity to the older model. Now, looks are a subjective matter and as for me, I’m perfectly alright with it looking different because well, it is an all-new motorcycle! And surely, it doesn’t need to look like the older one.

BMW-S-1000-RR-10BMW S 1000 RR no longer gets the qassymetrical headlights and that's okay. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)

And when you stop drawing comparisons, well, the next thing that will come to your mind is compactness.

BMW-S-1000-RR-3BMW S 1000 RR feels compact, almost like an 800cc motorcycle. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)

The whole profile of the motorcycle is sleek and for those eagle-eyed amongst you, well, the ‘gills’ have been retained in the fairing and that looks awesome. Also, the huge ram air intake between the LED headlamps gives it a lot of character. But what I liked the most was the tail section because there is no tail lamp! Well, no, that is not really true as it is now a part of the indicator stocks which is a very, very nice design element. The idea behind this is that you can simply unscrew the whole tail light assembly and turn this into a track bike in no time.

BMW-S-1000-RR-9The 'gills' on the BMW S 1000 RR have been retained, thankfully. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)

Now that you’re done drooling over it, let’s have a look at the performance because the S 1000 RR has always been about performance. And frankly, this one pulls out all the stops to live up to that expectation.

The new BMW S 1000 RR is powered by an all-new 999cc in-line four-cylinder engine that makes a whopping 207 horsepower and 113 Nm of torque. What’s new, other than the bump in power, is BMW’s ShiftCam technology which switches to a different cam profile above 9000 RPM to give it better top-end performance, and yet manage to give good torque below that mark as well. This engine comes mated to a 6-speed gearbox that comes with an auto-blipper and a quick-shifter which means you can just simply go about the track without worrying about the clutch, and hence making yourself faster.

BMW-S-1000-RR-6A quick-shifter and an auto-blipper makes life a lot easier on a race track. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)

BMW has also fiddled around with the torque delivery as the motorcycle now makes more torque between 4500-8000 RPM. Add to that a long list of electronic rider aids which, depending on the variant, can get you features like wheelie control, traction control, slide control, adjustable engine braking levels and all of this is further helped by a 6-axis IMU which takes the motorcycle’s lean angle into account to better judge the electronic intervention.

And of course, the suspension is electronically adjustable which can do its magic within 10 milliseconds.

All of these settings can be adjusted through a dial mounted on the handlebar that lets you scroll through the menu and fiddle around with the help of a huge 6.5-inch colour TFT instrument display.

BMW-S-1000-RR-7The instrument cluster on the BMW S 1000 RR is simply great. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)

And there’s Bluetooth connectivity to show things like navigation, calls and music. Lastly, wrapping up the luxurious list are heated handlebar grips which is not what you would expect in a motorcycle like this and it is a pleasant surprise.

BMW-S-1000-RR-5Features like heated grips and cruise control make the BMW S 1000 RR feel luxurious. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)

But, in the case of the new S 1000 RR, it has been about weight saving more than it has been about extracting outright horsepower as the new model is a whole 11 Kg lighter than the older one. The M Sport variant was the one that we rode at the track and that model is an additional 3.5 Kg lighter thanks to a lighter battery, Carbon Fibre wheels (Yes!) and a different seat which is best suited for track riding.

What I really liked is that, in this variant, you get three additional riding modes called Race Pro modes which lets you save the exact settings that you prefer in three different variations. For example – one, could be for you, the other for your friend or maybe the third one for wet track days or even if you simply want to compare setups – this is hands down a great addition.

But let’s take up the biggest question which is – HOW IS THE NEW BMW S 1000 RR TO RIDE?

Well, let’s start with the way the BMW S 1000 RR pulls. It is a lot linear and smoother and the shift to a different cam is barely noticeable as everything is gradual and progressive. The throttle response is just lovely and under full acceleration, the front-end feels light and floaty – and that comes to down to a rider’s preference on whether they like it or not. It is not an “explosive” motorcycle by any means, like how some of its direct competitors are, but that’s just the nature of an in-line engine as opposed to well, a V4 layout. The M-Sport gets carbon wheels which means lesser rotational inertia which means the motorcycle switches directions at the drop of a hat. So much so, that it takes a bit of time to adjust to just how flickable it is.

BMW-S-1000-RR-8The swingarm of the BMW S 1000 RR is like the ones you see on WSBK motorcycles. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)

But it is not all perfect.

While it is quick to turn in, and it is stable during high leans, the motorcycle feels twitchy during the transitions. The way out for this is to constantly load the front or the rear tyre by braking till the apex and getting on the gas as early as possible because, during that brief period when you don’t, the bike just wants to stand up. What makes it worse is that the front-end which feels light and floaty at high speeds lacks feedback to the rider despite being very capable. And the same thing happens when you are braking hard to enter a corner, with the motorcycle sliding and weaving about – which in itself wouldn’t be a problem – but since the front has little feedback, you don’t get the confidence to push your braking marker further.

BWM-S-1000-RR-2BMW S 1000 RR is very quick to turn in. (Photo: BMW Motorrad India)

So clearly, this is not a point and squirt motorcycle that makes time on braking and acceleration but something, that has the potential to gain a great amount of time during corners but that is where the catch comes.

You see, we had limited time with the motorcycle so we could not really alter the setup. In order to extract the most out of it, you will need to have a good understanding of how a bike should be set up and for which kind of a race track. If you do, then this monster of a machine will be one of the friendliest litre-class packages and will ride lap after lap as if it’s on rails. Lastly, the riding posture isn’t as extreme as some other bikes in this segment which means it will be a way better choice to ride on the streets than anything else out there while bringing you all the performance that you need at a race track.

BWM-S-1000-RRIf set up properly, the BMW S 1000 RR will be a magnificient machine. (Photo: Asif Zubairi)

So to sum up it all up, it is a very forgiving and friendly motorcycle for those who just want to have an experience of a 200+ horsepower motorcycle. But if it is lap times that you are after, you need to know how to set it up properly and find the permutation and combination of all the electronics on board that works for you. And when you do, this will be insane value for money taking it right to the top of the list of best performance motorcycles in India right now.

Gear Courtesy: Atomic Motorsports