Fast Bikes - - GROUP TEST -

W hat a dif­fer­ence a year makes. Some peo­ple were alive 12 months ago. Now they’re dead. It re­ally is a lengthy pe­riod of time. And thanks to some bar rais­ing from other man­u­fac­tur­ers, the reign­ing SBOTY cham­pion couldn’t even make it on the podium in 2017. Last year, it set the fastest lap time. This year, it couldn’t get any­where near the new kids on the block and found the hangin’ tough (sorry, I’ll get my coat...). The pe­cu­liar thing is that there’s noth­ing in­te­grally faulty with the BMW S 1000 RR and it’ll sat­isfy a vast range of rid­ers, proven by its un­sur­passed sales fig­ures of re­cent years. It’s a sta­ple su­per­bike, the bench­mark. It just feels a touch out­dated thanks to this sea­son’s techno queens.

De­spite claims that power isn’t af­fected by Euro 4 com­pli­ance, there’s no doubt that the Beemer has lost a soup­con of its in­her­ent bot­tom-end and midrange shove. It’s slightly more lax at pick­ing up revs, and wait­ing for the engine to play catch-up with throt­tle in­puts which was ev­i­dent ex­it­ing hair­pins. It’s neg­li­gi­ble but no­tice­able none­the­less.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still as bal­lis­ti­cally fast and hasn’t hin­dered any of its straight-line prow­ess, and the Beemer has al­ways been de­cep­tively fast be­cause of just how smooth it is. As the power builds grad­u­ally in its tur­bine-es­que de­liv­ery and morphs into that no­to­ri­ous BMW top-end, you’d ques­tion just how it could be bet­tered. Granted, the quick­shifter and blip­per is a lit­tle third-world in com­par­i­son with crisper sys­tems and it’s cer­tainly more suited to road con­di­tions, but the rest of the an­cil­lar­ies are per­fect. And, of course, there was the added bonus of heated grips at Por­ti­mao. In sum­mer...

In the RR, BMW pro­vides a les­son in proper ride-by-wire re­fine­ment. Whereas the bikes in the com­ing pages pos­sess jerky throt­tle and in­con­sis­tent maps, the BMW’s ac­tion is as silken as the rest of the pack­age. For an in­line four, the rear wheel con­nec­tion is prob­a­bly the best on test, mak­ing feel­ing for grip ev­ery­day fod­der for the S Thou’. Even the ag­ing TC and an­ti­wheelie proved ex­cel­lent.

And rid­dle me this – if Euro 4 dic­tates ABS has to be fit­ted to all new mod­els, then why are ALL the other man­u­fac­tur­ers giv­ing us se­ri­ously ham­pered bikes with non-switch­able sys­tems, when the BMW’s can be ditched with the press of a but­ton? Brak­ing was ab­nor­mally un­trou­bled for the S Thou’ and, oddly, didn’t suf­fer in the heat. Its 600 physique made light work of Por­ti­mao too.

There’s not one area of the cir­cuit that the BMW strug­gled with. It’s so easy to ride fast and ex­plore the lim­its of ad­he­sion, with feed­back from either end that’s rarely out­done. It steers neu­trally, über fast and with the metic­u­lous­ness we’ve come to love, and it al­ways feels poised and primed to be chucked around with aban­don.

Dur­ing our lit­tle warm-up soiree be­fore the timed laps, I kinda guessed that the BMW would suf­fer when the GPS was fired up. The harder I rode it and pushed for the tar­get times set by the Aprilia and Suzuki, the more shapes it would throw.

Bereft of snazzy gold and Gucci elec­tronic Öh­lins like the rest of the sheep, its semi-ac­tive Sachs didn’t cope with Por­ti­mao’s car-in­duced bumps and swells as well, but it makes up for this triv­i­al­ity with rather won­der­fully con­trolled weight trans­fer. She’s still bril­liant!

The BMW would do any­body proud!

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