The 2012 BMW S1000RR
I recently had the opportunity to test ride the new 2012 BMW S1000RR from South Sound BMW Motorcycles in Fife just north of Tacoma here in the North West.
Ok, so of course you want to know how fast it is and if it handles. Yes of course you do, but let’s start by asking a few questions. First, when there are so many hot Japanese street bikes on offer from Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha and Kawasaki why would someone want to buy the BMW? Fair question I hear you say. Honda’s 1000CBRR and Yamaha’s R1 are pretty much revolutionized each year to be kept near the top of the pile of affordable superbikes.
In comparison with a car, for the asking price of around $14000, you can buy some of the best technically designed but mass produced crotch rockets around. With power outputs of 160 to 180 bhp typical in this sector now, why should someone shell out that little extra for the 193 bhp Beemer?
But is it all about horsepower? Should this be the whole story as to why you want a superbike?
I first set eyes on the BMW’s revised 2012 S1000RR at the exciting Progressive International Motor Show in Seattle where us journo’s had the opportunity to see the latest and greatest for 2012. For sure the new offerings from Ducati with the next generation 1199 Panigale attempted to steal the show. The 195 BHP Panigale with the lowest curb weight in its class at 415lbs is sure to set a new standard, but at what exactly, with its ‘World Superbike’ fans? The ability to draw a crowd, such is its aesthetic design? We all know, most, will be used for a few hours on any nice Sunday, or like many of my friends who own Dukes, their bikes sit in either the garage or in the day room to admire and look at like an expensive canvas, similar to owning their own Monet or Amedeo Modigliani.
In fact, such was the desire of the assembled throng to capture some shots of the new Duke; I made my way over to the BMW stand where the S1000RR took pride of place beckoning onlookers to take rest on its saddle. It’s beautifully built, every inch of it, every component. You sense the BMW engineers kept the ‘bean counters’ locked, out of the design studio and forbade them to enter the engine dyno room, for sure with a list price of $15050 it’s almost like the product managers slipped it out of the back door while no one was looking and told them the S1000 RR stickers on the side were only for show and really the bike is a 600. Over the next twenty minutes or so, I cast a very speculative eye over the bike and asked myself the second most important question, could I use the S1000RR as my daily rider?
The 2012 model has seen a number of revisions to both the chassis and electronics. These are in principal to promote more rider confidence and usability. Though the engine pumps out a similar 193bhp and 93lbs torque at 13000 and 9750 rpm respectively, small changes have been made to the intake system, throttle bodies, ECU and DTC (traction control system) to achieve better low speed throttle response and provide increased driverability throughout the rev range. The 46mm throttle bodies have been modified and now incorporate small secondary part throttle butterflies to provide enhanced low speed flexibility, the DTC now features separate stage traction control settings or performance curves, for ‘Rain and Sport’ modes. The Sport setting has a subgroup featuring Race and a first for a road bike a ‘Slicks’ option making no pretense as to the primary purpose of the bike. The chassis too has gone undergone some major revisions both in the head-stock angle and offset. In addition the rear swing arm pivot has been repositioned. The new 66 degree angle for the headstock, not only allows the bike to turn in better than the 2010 model, but with the addition of the new 10 stage mechanical steering damper allows the Beemer to be settled earlier into the corner. Revised spring rates front and rear help the bike remain compliant deep into the corner further enhancing rider confidence. Make no mistake 193bhp could be a handful on normal tarmac, especially on the choppy poor surfaced Seattle based roads and the very typical varied weather conditions that we generally have to ride in. So imagine how surprised I was when this iconic superbike handled the conditions as easily as my daily ride, my K1200RS. Having scrolled through the on board computer, I didn’t think on this day I would get much use out of a lap timer, but with ‘Rain mode’ traction control selected, to arrest the full performance reaching the back wheel, the Beemer was easy to pilot around very damp, North West Peninsula roads.
Having completed about seventy miles out to Joemma Beach (pictured), I was indeed surprised at the ease in which it handled the conditions. Showing only 41 degrees I applauded BMW’s implementation of the heated grips, a first on a superbike. Although this is part of a collection of accessories, with others ranging from Race DTC & ABS control, I welcomed the two stage heated control function to keep the cold attacking my fingers. Normally the weather would put a spoiler on my biking, but I couldn’t wait to hop a leg over the very comfortable seat to continue my ride. Back on the rural roads and with a dry line emerging, though still taking consideration of the road conditions, I started to asses this bikes performance envelope, Though I would twist the grip, the motor would dispel its power in a smooth almost linear way, limiting both wheelies and wheel spin, keeping them both, under strict control.
As the weather marginally improved ‘Sport mode’ was selected and this transformed the engines character, a sharp bark from the motor and snappy performance delivered much more power to the fat rear 190 Metzler tire. Now the Beemer took on a very different role. I remember thinking ‘here we go then’ twisting the throttle now sent the bike tire squirming and looking for grip on the tarmac and with my instincts on full alert, I set about discovering what the BMW S1000RR is all about. As I punched through the ratios using the flat change no lift electronically controlled gear lever, the smile on my face said it all. This bike is beautifully balanced. You pilot the machine through a number of ever increasing tighter radius corners and the bike would follow every command that I inputted into the bars…in almost a subliminal, kinetic way. After spending the day with the bike I had unwittingly promised to return it back to the dealer on the same day. The journey back was one of reflection, yeah for sure I was smitten, I was in love, but how deep was my affection? I had been surprised how comfortable it had been to ride and although the rain was once again falling, this all too brief encounter simply wasn’t enough for me. I remember trying to work out how this new S1000RR could find its way into my garage; how I could surreptitiously slip it under the nose of my wife, replacing the K1200RS.
At the dealership Sales Advisor Jon Bizjak asked me how I enjoyed the bike and remarked on the poor weather blunting my experience, but you know that was the amazing part yeah for sure, obviously the weather limited my performance testing of the new S1000RR, but it was a real test of character for the bike. If this was the worst I could throw it at and I stepped off beguiled by its virtues, imagine those lucky enough to enjoy and use it in great weather on the road, or better still at home on the circuit, where the S1000RR could really excel.
This new BMW is a beautiful bike. Stunning to look at and with the sum of all its parts having been beautifully put together, it’s fit and finish is better than any bike I have cast my eyes upon that runs the other side of 25K. The new BMW S1000RR also puts a great big fat smile on your face- especially when, you remember you only had to shell out, just over 15K to buy one. Whether you use it at the weekends or to commute every day, this new Beemer is a brilliant bike. To answer the question fully, would require you, yourself to ride this new bike. For me it comes down to being very different from the normal Honda and Yamaha. Yes the Beemer has more power, but it’s the way the guys at BMW have put it together. They have spent a lot of time developing this machine, you can tell that every nut, bolt and fastener has been weighed and only used if really necessary; with each component being used because it’s the best, the electronics tested and retested to ensure its compatibility to all the other features, very evident in its usability to put the power down on the tarmac. This BMW doesn’t come at the expense of bone shaking ride quality either, or the need to stop every fifty miles to get some feeling back in your lower limbs, roll your wrists and visit your chiropractor once a month. Yeah I may be getting older but this bike provides me with the joy of youth, it’s the Dalai Lama of superbikes, the pure embodiment of an ideal.
Even better, every time you park, people will flog around it like a supermodel at the Oscars, staring in wonderment as to its provocative style and performance.
For more info contact your local BMW motorcycle dealer or call Jon Bizjak at South Sound BMW Motorcycles on 253-922-2004