Some things just go without saying.
Ok, so the exhaust is ugly....
Ok, so the exhaust is ugly. But you're gonna yank it off anyways so it doesn't really matter!
Canadians knows how to use hockey sticks, Russians prefer vodka for breakfast, and Germans know how to make cars (and beer, of course). From F1 racing all the way down to tuned street burners, BMW has it dialed. But bikes have been a different ball game for the four-wheeling firm. Until the S1000RR, BMW has struggled to produce a high performance bike that appealed to the masses using the basics: power and style. True, it's had some notable "sport" bikes in the past, but a Boxer motor wrapped in a bikini fairing with a hefty price tag was never really gonna cut it against the Big Four Japanese juggernauts. For sportbike aficionados who could afford to be a part of the exotic elite, there were various Ducatis or MV Agustas to scratch their itch. Italian sex appeal and raw performance easily knocked German sophistication in the dirt time and time again.
Apparently BMW had enough.
The license plate hanger removes...
The license plate hanger removes easily and reveals one of the tightest behinds in the biz.
What was the result? Build a superbike that would beat the Big Four at their own game with an inline four-cylinder motor with traditional suspension-at a competitive price.
Nobody really took the threat seriously, much like when Ducati announced it would enter the MotoGP championship. But the laughing stopped when Ducati immediately started winning races, and BMW isn't messing around either. And the only one with a smile on its face at the moment is BMW (and anybody who has ridden the S1000RR).
BMW had quite a task though. The Suzuki GSX-R1000 has been a perennial benchmark for pure power in the liter bike class since its introduction nine years ago. It's always been at the top of the dyno chart, and the seat of the pants experience was oftentimes life changing for many riders. But there's new muscle in town and the old guard is in for a rude awakening.
The rumor mill has been churning away for months regarding the S1000's power output. Reports of 200 horsepower made up most of the buzz, but we've heard that several times in the past with both the ZX-12R as well as the Hayabusa. Both turned out to be pretty far from the truth, so we figured the BMW would be a similar case. Wrong. The BMW tech boffins dropped a 193 horsepower bomb during the press conference prior to our ride that obviously dropped a few jaws. 193 HP!
OK, that's at the crank, but once it makes its way to the wheel we're still talking a ballpark of 175. And from the cockpit this brute feels pretty darn close to that number. On paper that figure annihilates anything out of Japan (even the hyperbikes like the ZX-14 and Hayabusa) by a long shot.
The first impression of the bike was anything but overwhelming however, as BMW suggested we "get used to it" in the Rain power mode. Though the four modes (Rain, Sport, Race, Slick) might seem like overkill they each have their place. The Rain setting is a nice introduction to the electronics as it limits power to "just" 150 and lays down the optional DTS (Dynamic Traction Control) really thick. Each subsequent mode offers full power (Slick has a touch more on the top end), but delivered in different levels of throttle response. The ABS and traction control slowly thin out and interfere less as higher modes are selected, but exploring each setting allows the rider to build trust and understanding of the electronics.