BMWS1000 RR

Fast Bikes - - CORE TEST | RULING THE ROADS -

fter an hour or so in the Aprilia’s un­re­lent­ing sad­dle, I jumped on the BMW’s arm­chair equiv­a­lent. The two bikes are at the po­lar op­po­site of the com­fort spec­trum, and pretty much ev­ery other spec­trum for that mat­ter. Ini­tially, the Beemer felt slug­gish and un­re­spon­sive – largely down to not be­ing based on a WSB racer – but its road-based eti­quette soon got our juices flow­ing with tid­ings of com­fort and joy, rapidly dis­cov­er­ing there are zero chinks in its ar­mour.

You see, 90% of the time, the S 1000 RR was the pre­ferred sad­dle of choice for all fourou testetesterss bot­both in com­fort and per­for­mance as­pects. Peo­ple laughed when BMW an­nounced heated grips, sim­i­larly when cruise con­trol was in­tro­duced to a pro­duc­tion su­per­bike. I was the one laugh­ing on a brisk spring­time morn­ing while the oth­ers couldn’t feel their pinkies.

Be­ing a rocket-pow­ered mas­sage chair, the er­gonomics com­ple­ment both road and track, with plenty of ground clear­ance yet the most bear­able over 300 miles. Rid­den at 90% is pure ev­ery­day fod­der for the RR. You might as well en­gage au­topi­lot. It’s so easy to ride fast, so in­tu­itive, sniff­ing out cor­ners and spit­ting them out with con­sum­mate ease. You get the urge to open the throt­tle sooner, carry more en­try speed and there’s an air of in­vin­ci­bil­ity aboard the BMW. Dare I say it, it feels like the most un­crash­able of the four­some. On the flip­side, it’ll man­age ev­ery­day chores with aplomb. Per­fect fu­elling, a quick­shifter and blip­per that func­tion just as well at 20mph as they do at 120mph and a comforting, in­nate bal­ance that be­lit­tles the bike’s mag­ni­tude.

Steer­ing at medi­ocre lean an­gles and flick­ing from side-to-side, the S Thou’ an­ni­hi­lates the oth­ers. It’s only when a Suzuki comes in to skir­mish that the BMW starts to be­come flus­tered. Now, this might not ap­ply to you, but the semi-ac­tive sus­pen­sion is ut­terly stun­ning on UK roads. Classlead­ing in fact, but it’s not per­fect. For the same rea­sons that none of the pure road rac­ing teams con­tinue to use this elec­tronic sus­pen­sion, the BMW loses points when the pace gets se­ri­ous and the roads get rough, which it did as we headed back in to Lin­colnshire. It just can­not cope with UK bumps and shitty road sur­faces as well as con­ven­tional damp­ing and suf­fered against the Suzuki’s ruth­less surge.

Watch­ing Boothy aboard the Suzuki smother black lines onto the Lin­colnshire roads was pure mo­tor­cy­cle art. It was also deeply frus­trat­ing as he edged away, and the Beemer and me had no an­swer. There are no sta­bil­ity is­sues, noth­ing in­nately dan­ger­ous: it’s just that the com­puter says no.

Away from the track where tenths mat­ter lit­tle, the en­gine is ab­so­lutely flaw­less. While some oth­ers blame Euro 4 regs, BMW em­braced the chal­lenge, main­tain­ing peak power and that cheeky en­gine (only twin pipes be­fore the en­trance to the can is the 2017 model give­away). There’s enough power any­where through­out the rev range to frack a county. We could be wrong, but it feels as though the Euro 4-spec en­gine has sac­ri­ficed a smidgen of bot­tom-end grunt. This could, how­ever, be down to the Suzuki’s tric­knol­ogy and bar-rais­ing an­tics, although the BMW cer­tainly isn’t as lively from low revs.

As well as rid­ing dy­nam­ics and sheer thrills, there’s an on­slaught of prac­ti­cal­i­ties which makes own­ing an S 1000 RR even more ap­peal­ing. There’s a lot to be said for Ger­man engi­neer­ing, and trin­kets such as be­ing able to turn off the ABS and switch modes (while you’re rid­ing) at the touch of a but­ton makes life so much eas­ier. And there’s even more to be said for BMW’s dealer net­work – some­thing so su­pe­rior to any other man­u­fac­turer.

The Beemer’s clocks are easy on the eye. It wasn't just the heated grips that Al was a fan of...

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