THE MOD SQUAD
Yes, you really can make Germany’s wünder-sportsbike even better. Here’s how...
How to improve a 2010-14 BMW S1000RR
HE 2010 BMW S1000RR changed the way we think about motorcycles and in the future we will look back at this incredible bike with the same reverence we reserve for the likes of the 1992 Honda FireBlade and 1998 Yamaha YZF-R1. It really was that much of a leap forward in terms of development of the sportsbike.
What made the RR so special was not its chassis, although this was pretty bloody good. Or its motor, which made a mammoth (claimed) 190bhp. What separated the RR from all of its sportsbike rivals was BMW’s adoption of electronic assists.
Lean angle-sensitive traction control, race ABS, power modes, the S1000RR had them all and much, much more besides. In creating the RR, BMW set the blueprint for the modern sportsbike – and it involved lots of 0s and 1s as well as massive power figures.
With prices of early generation S1000RR models now reaching the £7000 region, a used BMW is a very tempting prospect, especially when you consider a new RR is twice the price. And if you do buy used and have some spare cash in your pocket, you can make it even better by following our experts’ advice.
CHASSIS - Richard Adams
“If I was buying an S1000RR I’d opt for one without the electronic suspension, so the early generation models are right up my street. However, in my opinion, the OE suspension is quite simply terrible.
“Honestly, we couldn’t believe how bad the standard suspension was when we first tested it. We thought a new BMW model would be high quality, but the set-up of the Sachs suspension was awful – like a set of pogo sticks between a 190bhp motor! They lack rebound damping and while you can see why this might have been done, to allow the bike to follow the road better, on the BMW it was so extreme it ruined the ride. And it also lacked adjustment.
“The Sachs suspension has really neat adjusters with the settings marked on them, which is a great idea, but when we put them on our suspension dyno the adjuster did basically nothing at all! As a result we have sorted quite a few RRs.
“Annoyingly, Sachs used a unique 7mm hole shim. You can’t re-valve the forks so you need to fit a new cartridge kit. We have two options: a road one for £600 that retains the RR’s fork tops, or a full race one that replaced the tops as well to add extra adjustment for £1300. Most road riders opt for the cheaper system.
“There is no point even trying to rebuild the Sachs shock, you can’t buy OE spare parts and the aftermarket seals are generally quite poor quality. Swap it for a whole new aftermarket unit and you will find the horrible ‘pumping’ sensation when the back squats and unloads without any control as you exit a corner is removed.
“To be honest, as standard the S1000RR’s suspension is basically terrible as it has so much power and such poor damping it’s fairly horrible on track or a fast road ride, but happily it’s straightforward to fix.”
‘There is no point trying to rebuild the Sachs shock; swapping it for a new aftermarket unit eliminates squatting’
ENGINE - Dave Hewson
“There is no point in opening up an S1000RR’s engine unless you are either a BSB or WSB rider, and even then you are better off just calling BMW and buying one of their ready-built higher spec race motors. The road bike engines are so well manufactured, there are basically no gains to get from tuning them and most superstock racers don’t even open the motor. Instead you need to focus on the exhaust.
“The BMW exhaust system has catalytic converters and a flapper valve in it, which not only weigh a ton, they reduce the bike’s mid-range. At the top end the system is good, but low down it struggles. I’d fit a full system and an aftermarket air filter, not for improved flow as the OE unit is very good, just because you can clean and reuse it and therefore save money. Don’t worry about the airbox, there is no flapper valve in it and it works very well.
“Once the pipe is fitted you have a few options. The RR has knock sensors, so you don’t necessarily need to get a re-map, but to boost the midrange the RR benefits from a new fuelling map. Some people can re-map the ECU on the first generations of RR, but BMW have locked it down fairly well, and to gain full access to the sort of changes you’d want for racing you really need a BMW race ECU, which is around £2000. Once this is fitted you can make the bike’s throttle connection and midrange much better, which is what you want on a litre bike to punch out of bends. There is no point in having 190bhp if you can’t open the tap... If you don’t want to buy the race ECU you can fit a fuelling module instead, which will improve the bike slightly, but these can’t map for individual gears so are a more simplistic improvement than a complete fix.”
BOLT-ONS – TJ Skrobot
“Most BMW owners stick with official BMW accessories as these are what add value to a used bike, so it is unusual to see any RRs that have been heavily accessorised. That said, nearly every RR we get in has a tail tidy fitted as they clean up the rear end of the bike.
“It’s pretty common to see BMW’s Akrapovic silencers on the RR, which do sound fantastic. However, on older used bikes, owners are starting to fit other brands of pipe which are cheaper. Generally an Akra will be bought when the bike is new and added to the PCP plan, especially if it is a full system. You don’t need to re-map the bike if you only fit a can; the onboard diagnostic system will sort it all out for you within 50 miles, which is a pretty handy feature of the RR.
“Cosmetic modifications aren’t uncommon on the RR, mainly because performance is already high and big changes aren’t necessary. While the Motorsports colourscheme was an official BMW paint scheme, we do see the occasional Tyco rep. BMW’s HP range of levers, rearsets and various covers are also popular, as is a taller screen, which adds a bit more practicality.
“Personal touches are more common than serious upgrades and tuning – it’s so good that making it your own is all it really needs.” Next month: Ducati’s Monster 1100/1100S – the last air-cooled big-capacity Monster.
Analogue/digi display has a lot of info to take in
You’re much better off leaving the motor alone and concentrating on the exhaust
Sachs fork tops have particularly helpful markings on the adjusters
5 1 3 4
Cat and flapper valves add bulk and rob the RR of midrange
There’s a reason so many Superstock teams use RRs; the stock engine is a peach
...then you’’re more or less obliged to fit the HP Race titanium exhaust system
HP Race Power Kit allows access to electronics...