ME: I don’t need to track a 1000cc Bike because I like wringing a 600’s neck. I don’t like electronics because I value feeling the machine’s raw feedback when I’m doing something wrong and learning from it. I’m hesitant to track a 1000 because I feel I won’t even be able to enjoy the power as it throws me off and terrifies me.
CHANGE MY MIND.
BMW Motorrad USA : OK. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.
This last week I had the privilege of attending the North American BMW press release showcasing the all new 2020 S1000RR M Package.
I set out Thursday afternoon for one of America’s most beautiful tracks—Barber Motorsports Park with great anticipation. After getting a run down of the bike’s features and sales pitch, myself and a group of journalists made our way trackside to get acquainted with our new machines. Each one of us was assigned a personal bike for the day with our own setup to suit our riding style (GP shift/standard and lever adjustments). At first introduction I could already appreciate the precise German craftsmanship and engineering as all the bikes glistened in the morning sun perfectly lined up and ready.
Coming into this launch I was extremely excited but also hesitant on how I would feel about riding a 1000cc machine. I’ve always been of the belief that I’ll never need anything bigger than a 600. My reasoning for that is simply I enjoy being able to use close to all of the power of a bike and I feel that I simply wouldn’t be able to use a 1000s properly or even remotely to 50% of the bike’s potential. I just felt why bother with something that I’m not skilled enough to fully use… Well I’m here to say that this machine single handed changed my perspective.
First and foremost BMW engineered this latest model to appeal to the end user [you] before they took into consideration the competition. Even with its intimidating 205 HP, the S1000RR is absolutely manageable at any level thanks to its electronics. The standard model comes pre programed with 4 modes: Rain, Road, Dynamic and Race. The M package comes with additional Pro Race modes that allow you to a la carte and farther tailor settings to your personal riding style needs for power delivery, engine braking, traction control, wheelie control, ABS and DDC. Initially I thought I wouldn’t really feel a major difference between the modes, but they are vastly different. Rain mode reduces power and manages traction to the max. Road creates a plush set suspension that will tackle anything the street throws at you providing a very comfortable ride. Dynamic stiffens things up for a spirited canyon run, while Race allows you to let it all hang out on the track with a much stiffer suspension, significantly less dive under braking and traction control that allows you to whack the throttle as if you’re on a 600.
Each mode still allows for an extremely smooth and linear power delivery at as low as 5k rpms. This is absolutely wonderful for street riding as you could lug the motor if needed and still move like lightening. My first session out as I was getting acquainted with the machine I actually kept it in 3rd gear the entire lap around Barber and even dropping to 50mph still felt solid and didn’t even think about sputtering at me. If you are looking for that true power feel then the machine definitely comes alive at about 10k rpms while instantly ripping it’s front wheel off the ground. The motor itself has been completely updated shaving 8.8 lbs off overall. This is an extremely significant weight loss, however you can feel a vibration in the bars as you’re ragging on it right under redline due to this weight reduction (less dampening than it’s predecessor). While noticeable at first I don’t feel it’s a big issue as it’s outweighed by the massive grin you’ll have.
All that is beautifully balanced with a very progressive and smooth braking system. While the predecessors had an incredibly sharp bite, the new system offers a gentler “ease into braking” feel which I think is something less experienced riders will appreciate and is more useful in street riding. I’m not a heavy braker, generally I just brake smoothy and trail into a corner so this new system really made me feel confident and comfortable. I can say the brakes are just super intuitive; however don’t get me wrong, as you squeeze past the first couple millimeters the bite is there and the machine will stop on a dime.
Perhaps the most confidence inspiring feature is the S1000’s chassis. BMW made an overall 25 lb weight reduction bringing the bike to 434 lbs. wet. The M Package I rode was even lighter coming in at 427 lbs.—to give you an idea, that’s only 13 lbs. heavier than my 600rr! When I first swung a leg over and stood the bike up I immediately noticed how perfectly balanced it was. The kickstand makes it stand a little bit more upright than what I’m used to. This mean less weight to lift to center, making it feel incredibly light. The new suspension and geometry changes are simply marvelous. I’ve never ridden a machine that can be pointed so well into and through a corner. You simply look where you want to go and it goes at the slightest footpeg or bar input. In my opinion this is huge as it allows you to be lighter on the bars, and doesn’t wear you out as much as other 1000cc machines. You simply don’t wrestle it as much. Even under head shake and opening up the throttle while shifting near readline I felt in control. This of course is also in due part to all of the electronics working together to allow you to feel in control giving you confidence. The only thing holding me back was my physical inability to hang onto the machine under heavy acceleration—I found myself having to lift off the gas because I simply didn’t have strength to manage the g forces (apparently I need to hit the gym harder).
The lean angle on BMW’s has always been immense, I feel it’s capable of more than most other manufacturers out there. Feeling the new rear WSBK swingarm in action is amazing. You can actually feel how planted the rear wheel is in the corner and how it’s holding you in. It actually surprised me a few times as I dipped in lower than what I’m used to and it felt AMAZING! I could truly feel the grip and this sensation of gliding across the asphalt while feeling super secure on it.
The ergonomics have also all be revised for optimal lock in position. This newest model makes you feel like you are in the machine rather than on top. I found it extremely comfortable and even without tank grips I felt super secure and didn’t have to strain to stay on the bike at 55 degrees of lean angle. The bars are pushed out a tad bit wider for better leverage. The foot pegs are machined and provide the best non slip grip on the market; not once did my boot slip off anywhere even if my foot wasn’t completely locked in. Lastly the seat on the M was super comfortable and allowed me to effortlessly move about; I felt it had just the right amount of grip for me.
The list goes on with all the other amazing features this exquisite machine possesses; but that would make this review ungodly long. I wanted to convey some of what I felt were the most noticeable and important features in actually experiencing this machine in motion.
Please note that I am not a professional rider, I do not race and I don’t have a TON of experience such as the other media folk that attended with me. I however feel I can give you an honest perspective from my raw emotional feedback and a skill level that probably speaks to the majority of the riding community. My final thoughts are that this is truly an exceptionally well balanced machine. BMW designed this one to grow with you and encourage your abilities to grow your skills. There’s no need to upgrade with this beauty, as your skillset grow you simply adjust the modes and settings. In the end it doesn’t matter if you are immensely skilled or not, the emotional response of joy from riding this machine is the same.
Lastly, I personally tend to feel that so many electronics hinder a new rider in learning how to properly understand your machine. And while I still believe there to be truth in this school of thought, I also see these electronics as a solid teaching aid because of their adjustability. In the end this is a powerhouse of fun that will bring giggles to anyone that turns its throttle. Its ease of maneuverability is confidence inspiring and will urge riders to progress faster without fear, and to me that’s a solid plus.
Sooo does this mean that I was able to use the S1000RR to it’s full potential—absolutely not, not even remotely close.
Did I have as much fun as if I did—Absolutely YES!
Make Life a thrilling Ride!