The German Powerhouse. Here is our BMW S 1000 RR review. Test by Jeff Ware Photography by Kris Hodgson
The bike I tested here for a few weeks had some tasty bling fitted by BMW. It had lots of carbon-fibre – front guard, chain guard, rear hugger, heel guard, bellypan, front guard, upper inserts and airbox cover.
It also had billet levers, billet race rearsets, a 200/55 – 17in Pirelli Supercorsa SP rear tyre (standard is 190), heated grips, DDC, indicators, an alarm, forged alloy wheels and special paint (Motorsport). I’m sure you would agree, it looks amazing.
Having spent a lot of time on the Ducati 1299, Aprilia RSV4 RR, YZF-R1 and R1M on the road, I was interested to see how the BMW went. I knew it was going to be good but how good was the question on my mind…
The S 1000 RR is a bike I am very familiar with. I attended the original model’s world launch in Portugal and that bike blew me away like the first GSX-R1000 did when I tested that in 2001. The first S 1000 RR took everything to a new level and the other manufacturers really had to stand up and take notice.
Since the first commercial model in 2010 the S 1000 RR has continued to improve, with more electronics and a more useable spread of power. For 2015 BMW have focused mainly on broader power and handling refinements, along with the gorgeous styling updates.
In short, the cylinder-head and intake side of things has been the main focus, shortening intake tracts to obtain mid-range and bottom end – a more responsive ‘gulp’. The intake cam is part of that, along with revised airbox, exhaust and electronics of coarse. The chassis has been tweaked with a steeper steering angle, revised trail and a longer swingarm, with the engine tilted to 32º, same as the first model.
My first spin on the S 1000 RR came on a rainy, cold morning in late August, so heated grips on two, Rain mode engaged and off I went.
The throttle is super smooth in Rain mode but the DDC suspension settings, particularly the front, are soft, making the bike feel front heavy like the previous model. The feeling was highlighted particularly with the fitment of the forged wheels, with the already powerful front brakes having even more initial bite due to the reduction in weight. In fact, I found the brakes too powerful on initial bite, upsetting the bike and overpowering the Pirelli tyre on initial application, even with a single finger touch – the first time I have ever said that in a test.
DDC settings can be customised but I test as standard – however, an owner could tune it out.
In the wet and slippery conditions I would like the option to turn the reverse shift quickshifter off. I still prefer to backshift the old way in almost all conditions on the road and modulate engine braking and revs myself as conditions change from turn to turn.
The Pirelli trackday/sports tyres are good in the wet despite almost slick-like appearance. The 200-section rear tyre fitted to the bike also meant the steering angle was a bit steeper than stock, so the bike was a little nervous in the slick conditions and I can’t say I felt confident on it – which is rare, as BMW motorcycles generally excel in wet conditions. The bike was fitted with aftermarket billet levers, which look great but lack the feel offered by the stock levers. The clutch lever adjustment also caused an intermittent problem where the shifter would not work.
My next ride was dry and I used Sport mode and then Race mode and words fail to describe just how quick this bike is and what a top job BMW have done at extracting torque and mid-range from this engine, while retaining, and increasing, the amazing top-end. It truly is fast and thrilling to ride.
There is power everywhere but it really starts to haul from 5000rpm. It doesn’t have the initial punch of the 1299 of course, being an inline four, but the mid-range and top-end is out of this world. It feels stronger than the RSV4 RR and R1/R1M and the quickest road bike aside from the H2 that I’ve ridden this year.
When it was working, the quickshifter was typically BMW perfection but the downshifts feel spongy and a good look at the set-up revealed why. The pressure switch, which is two-way, allows an extra 10mm or so of lever travel past the shift point. So there is excessive lever travel and it is hard to feel the shift due to no ‘solid stop’ as in when a gear is engaged.
It feels like the gearlever is rubber and bends on downshifts. The misfiring problem turned out to be the clutch switch. With the aftermarket levers fitted, there had to be zero cable free play. The faster I went, the more the lever would be blown back by the wind, releasing the switch and then the quickshifter did not work. It was very confusing until a California Superbike School staff member noticed and fixed it for me. Then there were no more problems.
The throttle action is silky smooth on the S 1000 RR and power seamless. The engine makes the bike a much better streetbike and a good chassis backs the engine.
The steeper steering angle and revised trail, along with the longer swingarm, means the S 1000 RR has a tendency to go where you look, something not quite there previously and a real asset on the road. The bike tracks through turns nicely and the DDC is overall a firm ride but it really is brilliant. Yes, you could set-up mechanical suspension better for a given road but there is no chance you can get a normal set-up to work so well everywhere. DDC as an option is a no brainer for me and I could not fault it on the road. The harder I pushed the better the bike got.
I headed to a track day on the S 1000 RR, as I really needed to get a feel for the bike on the limit, without going to the slammer!
Again, I headed off early in the morning on a freezing August day. Heated grips and winter jacket over my leathers, I was so comfy and toasty on the Beemer, heading 100km from how to track with all of the daily commuters. It was hard to comprehend I was on a sportsbike, let alone one of the fastest motorcycles on the planet.
It is comfortable, refined, and smooth and the new fairing offers good protection from the elements. This really is a good roadbike.
So I arrive at the track, sign in, take my winter jacket and gloves off, set the bike to Race and the next minute I am riding the quickest out of the crate inline-four I have ever ridden on a track.
At one point I was exiting the final turn behind a rider of similar pace who was on a 2014 S 1000 RR. Mid track I passed the rider at warp speed. It is that much quicker this year. I also went past a Kawasaki superbike with a rider on board that had just passed me on the final turn. I just opened the throttle. See you later. Amazing.
Handling is brilliant. Again, the DDC offers a great all-round set-up and adjusts to the variables. I would have liked to ride the bike on a 190/55 – tyre though, as I feel that would make the bike more nimble on direction change and make the front-end less nervous than the oversized 200 did.
Overall a top streetbike with a true Jekyll and Hyde personality.
On the road the S 1000 RR has an engine that’s almost incomparable, power comes on so smooth, with such a great connection between the throttle and drive. It’s starts docile, super controllable and readily useable in the worst of traffic and turns into the sensation that lets you know you’re moving fast, really fast. On the old models law breaking speeds were only a flick of the wrist away but now on the new bike it’s even more aggressive and builds power even faster – it just feels more raw…
On the track the torque was just incredible and combined with the bike’s agility meant I was easily able to alter my line and while I’m not a fast track rider I was feeling exceptionally confident in the new S 1000 RR just a few corners in.
The Brembo brakes are stronger than ever to the point that I had to be careful using them.
What somewhat offsets the strength of the front brakes is the electronic suspension which keeps the bike firm and stops dive into the forks, meaning you aren’t unsettled by that astronomical stopping power. On the road I struggled to get used to the firmer suspension and couldn’t quite get at home with how this effected the ride, then I went out on track and everything made sense – the bike was just so sorted at SMSP that I was almost instantly more confident on the S 1000 RR than I’ve ever been on anything before.
Where on road the suspension in Sport was too stiff for my liking and didn’t respond as I’m used to (although it’s something you would no doubt get used to with more time), on the track it combined with the strong engine and exceptional brakes in a package that literally blew me away. Even for a rider of my riding skill this bike was an absolute weapon but not in a, ‘Am I coming home in one piece’-way, but in being an absolute joy to ride with a level of control that brought my expectations to a new level, while knowing I would have to do something seriously stupid to ruffle the bike’s rock solid handling.
– KRIS HODGSON
2015 BMW S 1000 RR (Dynamic Package) Specifications
Price: $22,990 + ORC ($1,050 extra)
Warranty: Two years/unlimited kilometres
Colours: Racing Red/Light White, Black Storm metallic and BMW Motorsport
Claimed power: 199hp[146kw]@13500rpm
Claimed torque: 113Nm [83.34 lb-ft]@10500rpm
Wet weight: 204kg
Fuel capacity: 17.5L
Engine: Liquid-cooled, four-stroke, in-line four-cylinder, DOHC, four-valves per cylinder, 80 x 49.7mm bore x stroke, 999cc, 13:0.1 compression, DTC, GSA-P, Riding Mode Pro, cruise control
Clutch: Wet clutch
Chassis: Aluminium composite bridge frame, partially self-supporting engine, aluminium two-sided swingarm, Rake: 23.5°, Trail: 96.5mm
Suspension: (DDC), USD 46mm telescopic forks, (electronic compression and rebound adjustable), pre-load adjustable central spring, ASC (Automatic Stability Control)
Brakes: Linked BMW Motorrad Race ABS, dual floating 320mm front rotors, Brembo four-piston radial calipers, single 220mm rear rotor, single-piston floating Brembo caliper
Wheels and tyres: Forged aluminium 10-spoke, 3.50 x 17in, 6.0 x 17in, 120/70ZR17, 200/55ZR17 Pirelli Supercorsa SP
Dimensions: Seat height: 815mm, Overall height: N/A, Overall length: N/A, Wheel base: 1438mm
Instruments: Analogue tachometer, multi-function display onboard computer
The Verdict | Quick Test: 2015 BMW S 1000 RR Review
You have to ride one to believe it. Seriously fast…