Bike review: BMW S1000R stands out with its effortlessly usable day-to-day character
This is the new BMW S1000R, a super naked bike that's based on the new second generation S1000RR superbike that was introduced in 2019.
The idea here, of course, is to take the superbike DNA found in the RR and translate it into something that's more usable daily, whilst still retaining a high level of agility, performance, and riding confidence.
The focus for BMW here has been weight saving, and several key components have been taken straight from the RR. The lighter and narrower Flex Frame chassis shaves 1.3kg, while the engine is also 5kg lighter than before.
This particular test bike comes fitted with the M Package, which includes lightweight components such as the M forged wheels, lightweight battery and Akrapovic titanium sports silencer. All in, this bike weighs in at a svelte 196kg, which makes it one of the lightest in its class.
On the road, the bike honestly feels even lighter than its listed weight. Part of this is down to the bike's immediate agility. The compact proportions deliver a very nimble riding experience, with the bike eager to lean into corners. This makes negotiating heavier traffic a cinch.
Unlike many of its competitors, BMW has decided against chasing raw performance numbers. As such, the 999cc engine puts out a relatively modest 162bhp and 114Nm of torque (compared to the RR's 200+ bhp).
However, the engine has been tuned for more low-end torque, as well as a broader and smoother torque curve. This translates into greater day-to-day usability and riding comfort, where you can easily overtake vehicles on the highway without having to downshift.
This makes for a very approachable ride. Yes, it's still plenty fast if you go full throttle, but there's a sharpness and accuracy to the power delivery across the rev range that's confidence inspiring.
And when you're just riding from point to point, there's an effortlessness that comes with the fact that it honestly feels like a smaller bike.
Furthermore, the engine is quiet and refined at low revs, heat is relatively well-managed, the quickshifter is sublime, and the comfortable and forgiving ergonomics also help.
There are a bunch of riding modes available, including Rain, Road, Dynamic and Dynamic Pro. Here, you have a whole slew of adjustable parameters, from Traction Control, ABS and even the preferred level of engine braking.
Additionally, you can also adjust the semi-active suspension between Road and Dynamic independently of the riding modes. Personally, I found Dynamic to be much better. Road feels a tad soft for my personal preference.
The only real niggle with the bike are the brakes. While they provide ample stopping power when you brake hard, the intial lever response (especially if you're riding the front brake) is not particularly sharp.
The new S1000R also comes with plenty of new equipment and technology. The asymmetric head lights have been replaced by a single unit, which has both Adaptive Headlight and Daytime Running Light.
You also now get BMW's excellent 6.5-inch TFT display, which is very intuitive to use once you take five minutes to get familiar with the controls.
Visibility is also outstanding, even if you're riding in the rain. Bluetooth connectivity also allows you to connect your phone and headset to the bike, and you can access useful functions like navigation (though you'll need the accompanying app on your phone).
Admittedly, the new BMW S1000R may not be the most overtly exciting bike. The engine doesn't make the most exciting noise, the bike doesn't have as much top-end intensity, and of course the unchanged power figures mean that you're not going to be winning any kopitiam arguments.
However, what the new BMW S1000R lacks in sheer drama, it more than makes up for in expansive competence. In a sea of super nakeds, the S1000R stands out for its accessibility.
It's very comfortable and easy to ride, it's not remotely intimidating despite still being amply powerful, and the accompanying high levels of equipment and features make for an all-round enjoyable daily riding experience.
This article was first published in sgCarMart.