2019 BMW S 1000 RR: First Ride Review

01 July 2019, 06:00 PM Janak Sorap

Introduction

Back in 2010, BMW Motorrad had introduced a motorcycle that set new standards in the litre-class segment. Bearing the name S 1000 RR, this was a motorcycle that offered MotoGP-inspired electronics, track-spec handling attributes and an inline four-cylinder motor at punched out 190bhp which was way more than its rivals who were offering around the 160bhp ballpark.

While other manufacturers took a couple of years to close up the differences in performance and handling, the S 1000 RR evolved over the years, offering more power and more rider aids, thus staying a step ahead of the game. Now, after a decade, BMW has brought in the 2019 model, the third generation model of the supersport which, according to the manufacturer, is an all-new machine with a fresh design, newly developed motor, new chassis and a host of new and improved rider aids.

Recently, we were invited by BMW Motorrad at the Buddh International Circuit (BIC) to ride the 2019 S 1000 RR. Here’s the first ride review report.

The Visuals

The first thing you’ll notice is that BMW has departed from the quirky asymmetrical design to a symmetrical one featuring a pair of compact LED projector lamps. The new S 1000 RR features an all-new fairing which makes the bike look more compact and sleeker. The brake lamp has now integrated into the turn indicators which give it a clean and minimalistic look at the rear. The bikes arranged for us at BIC were the top-spec Pro M Sport variant featuring red, white and blue livery along with carbon fibre wheels which made it look absolutely stunning.

The 2019 S 1000 RR now also comes equipped with a 6.5-inch colour TFT instrument console replacing the semi-digital one. It comes with a total of four views, one being a pure view which displays only the essential information to the rider while the other three provide a plethora of information like lap timer, best lap, DTC settings, brake application pressure and also a lean angle indicator. The unit also features Bluetooth connectivity for navigation and call alerts. Overall, the new instrument console makes the experience a whole lot simpler to set up the bike or to browse through the different settings as and when needed.

The Package

Ex-showroom, Mumbai

 18,50,000

The new RR features an all-new aluminium twin spar frame or Flex Frame, as BMW prefers to call it, with the engine as a load-bearing component. The design is narrower with a slimmer fuel tank design, thus allowing the rider to sit in the bike and with better knee fit. The new chassis is also around 1.3 kg lighter than the previous generation. Furthermore, it sports an all-new beam swingarm that allows more load to be applied onto the rear wheel which benefits in improved grip and balance under heavy braking and acceleration.

Now, another major update on the motorcycle is its motor. BMW has developed an all-new engine for the 2019 model that is narrower and lighter, a good 4 kgs to be exact. The weight reduction has been achieved by opting for a lighter crankshaft, titanium valves and a redesigned cylinder head. The exhaust system is also new, featuring a compact muffler that is another 1.3 kgs lighter. However, the most significant tech in the new motor is the new variable cam timing system (BMW calls it ShiftCam). Over here, the intake side features one camshaft with twin cam lobs for two different cam profiles. While one operates from low to mid revs, the second one kicks in at about 9000 rpm, keeping the valve open for a longer duration for high-rpm performance. 

All these new additions in the new motor have resulted in gains across the rev-band. The power output now stands at 204bhp, a massive 11bhp gain, and a torque output of 113Nm, available in a linear manner as the revs go up. The gearbox on the new S 1000 RR is a six-speed unit that now comes with a bi-directional quick-shifter and a self-reinforcing slipper clutch that reduces load at the lever. 

As far as the cycle parts go, BMW has replaced the Sachs setup with semi-active Marzocchi inverted forks for the front. The rear is also a Marzocchi monoshock with electronic adjustment. Depending on the ride mode selected, the semi-active units prevent the bike from nose-diving upon braking and also stiffens the setup during quick changes in direction inspiring more confidence through corners. Next is the new Hayes braking system with BMW branding on the calipers. While the front features four-piston fixed calipers, the rear comes equipped with a single-piston floating caliper.

Now, while the S 1000 RR is already an electronic-savvy motorcycle, BMW has plonked in a few more into the basket, while improving the existing ones. It now gets a six-axis IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) that provides the bike with more precise control of electronic aids like cornering ABS, dynamic traction control and wheelie control. Other features include adjustable engine braking and hill start assist. The motorcycle now comes with four riding modes as standard, Rain, Road, Dynamic and Race. In addition to that, the Pro and Pro M Sport variants get additional three Race Pro modes for setting up the bike as per individual preferences.

The Ride

As soon as you sit astride the motorcycle, the first thing that registers is how compact the motorcycle has become compared to its predecessor. Despite the marginally taller new seat height of 824mm, the slimmer waistline allows the rider to rest the foot comfortable on the ground. And as you get the bike off the stand, you instantly realise that the weight reduction has affected the entire balance of the motorcycle. Now weighing lesser by a healthy 14.5 kg for the Pro M Sport (11kg on the standard), it makes a world of difference compared to the older model.

Split into batches of seven riders, we had eight laps around the track while following the lead BMW rider. Now, for any litre-class motorcycle, there is a certain amount of weight, commitment and aggression that you need to be well aware of. Surprisingly, all these factors felt irrelevant as the S 1000 RR feels like a 600cc middle-weight. With each lap, the bike's agility, weightlessness and instant yet linear power delivery itched to push further, brake later and corner harder. Despite riding the bike in Race mode, the electronics made the experience so much approachable that you wouldn’t hesitate much to open the throttle more. Even if you did gas it a little more while exiting a corner, the dynamic traction control and wheelie control do an excellent job at holding the rear wheel to the desired line while limiting the lift to the front wheel at just 6-inches or so, like a pro. The electronics take care of things so well, that it doesn't take much time for a God-like professional rider feeling to seep into the head.

Now, the BIC can be quite a challenging track if one is not well-acquainted with the lines, gradient, corners and the speeds to carry them with. So understanding the ideal speed and racing line can be challenging with a litre-class bike. Surprisingly, despite not being that well-versed with the track, the RR doesn’t leave you by yourself to figure out the situation. If you enter a corner hot or lean too soon into a corner and had to make minor corrections mid-corner, the bike lets you do all that thanks to the cornering ABS, wheelie/slide control and traction control all dialling in their inputs to help you get back on the desired line.

The backstretch on the BIC exists for the purpose of doing top speed stints where the RR managed to clock 282kmph just before the upper crest on the other end of the stretch. And just as easily, the Hayes brakes did a flawless job at shedding speeds too. You can feel the tail to be lighter and possibly weaving but the progressive braking holds the bike to its line with complete finesse.

Our Take

The new S 1000 RR in the hands of the professional rider could be the ultimate machine to be desired considering the level of customisation available and the top-spec components that have been painstakingly crafted for the ultimate experience. On the other hand, the motorcycle is equally attainable for a not-so-experienced rider who can exploit both the power and handling capabilities of the bike without fighting it.

The BMW S 1000 RR had been a proper track machine that had dominated over the segment rivals by setting new standards in terms of power, electronics and handling. With the 2019 edition, we’d say that BMW is back in the game with the new RR and they are set to claim top honours amongst other litre-class production motorcycles in the market once again. 

With a starting price of Rs 18.5 lakhs for the standard variant, which goes up to Rs 22.95 lakhs for the top-spec Pro M Sport model, the 2019 S 1000 RR is, remarkably enough, available with the same power output across all variants, while ticking nearly all the boxes for any supersport buyer in the market.

Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi

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