Author: DRIES VAN DER WALT
The formula is familiar: take your flagship superbike, strip off its fairing, detune the motor for mid-range punch, and put it on the market as a naked roadster.
Put that way, it almost sounds as if naked versions of superbikes are an afterthought but modern nakeds are much more than that. Such is the case with the BMW S1000R – ostensibly a stripped-down version of the S 1000 RR.
This single-R version brings a unique character to the table to ensure that, while bearing a strong resemblance to its sibling, it can take on the world on its own terms.
TWO ENGINE MODES
BMW, in the process of undressing the RR, changed the geometry of the cast aluminium frame better to suit the more upright seating
position. The fork rake is also less steep and the wheelbase has been lengthened to give the bike greater stability. Added to the mix is sophisticated electronics for both engine and chassis.
The standard S1000R has two engine modes (Rain and Road), traction control and anti-lock brakes. The review bike was equipped with the optional Sport package which added engine modes (Dynamic and Dynamic Pro), cruise control and dynamic damping adjustment – the latter straight off the HP4.
The 999cc engine has a redesigned cylinder head, new camshafts, revised injection system and new exhaust. Its rev limit at 12 000rpm is 2000 less than in RR guise. Although maximum power is down to 118kW from the RR’s 144KW, the bike feels noticeably stronger below 9000rpm.
Torque peaks 500rpm lower, contributing to the R’s punchier mid-range feel, but as impressive as its engine performance may be its chassis performance is even more so. In Road mode the DDC semi-active suspension gives the bike a surprisingly comfortable ride but if you’re feeling adventurous you can select Dynamic or Dynamic Pro mode, which firms the suspension and adjusts the ABS to transform the BMW into an agile, responsive sportster.
The tiny fly-screen over the instrument pod provides some wind protection (more so than any of the other naked Boty finalists) but the R is by no means a long-distance bike – though it could be made one with the addition of a bigger after-market screen.
Nevertheless, the riding position is well suited to lower speeds and the bike is narrow and light enough to make it an excellent “super commuter” in addition to its prowess on the track or as a weekend warrior.
QUICK, AND HANDLES WELL
What BMW has achieved, in my opinion, is to take the narrowly-focused S1000RR and give it broader appeal, albeit at the expense of some bragging-rights performance figures.
The S1000R is plenty quick and handles well enough that only a select few riders will ever approach its limits, but it is its usefulness as an everyday bike that should win the hearts of the buying public.
What may count in its favour: Light, powerful and nimble.
What may count against it: Clunky gearbox.
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