2010 BMW S 1000 RR Review

Monday, October 11, 2010

Whether it’s producing the perfect beer, wonderful concertos or cars whose bodies are built totally out of carbon fiber, German manufacturing is a thing of beauty.

Germany is sometimes called "Das Land der Dichter und Denker" (the land of poets and thinkers) and one could make the correlation between this type of engineering/manufacturing and a luminous poem.  Both require precise craftsmanship and if done correctly will become symbols of achievement.  If done incorrectly, they will fade into history without ever being recognized.

BMW is of course no stranger to manufacturing high quality motorcycles and has indeed achieved prominence in multiple categories (e.g. endurance, touring, etc.).  But to have burst onto the sport bike scene in 2009 with their S 1000 RR was truly jaw-dropping to say the least.

A racing inspired anti-locking braking system (ABS), gear shift assistant (GSA) and adjustable dynamic traction control (DTC) are just a sampling of the technological improvements BMW has seen fit to include on their über sports bike.  But before we go down that rabbit hole let’s start this journey with the obvious: style and design.

BMW S 1000 RR Design
A lot has been said (and written) about the appearance of the S 1000 RR.  With asymmetrical headlights, a wide left side opening and the opposing gill-shaped slits of the fairing it certainly makes a statement.  I’ll admit that from the pictures I saw I wasn’t enamored with the exterior (except the rear LED tail light -- simply gorgeous) but after seeing it up-close-and-personal it’s quite attractive.  Form follows function which only adds to its unique appearance.

That philosophy is well defined in the design of the instrument panel and executed to perfection.  Less is more and in this case a large white tachometer and two LCD screens give you all the information you need.

A gear indicator is directly below the MPH readout (no more trying to shift into the mysterious 7th gear) and is visible on the left screen with other pertinent information being displayed on the right (coolant temperature, odometer, clock, etc.).  Add in an easy to read font, highly visible shift light and the now-infamous "idiot" lights that have become standard equipment on most (if not all) motorcycles and you have what could easily be called the ideal dash.

Selecting any one of the four possible throttle response modes (rain, sport, race or slick) when riding is as easy as clicking on a right clip-on mounted button labeled "Mode", pulling in the clutch, easing off the throttle and you’re now in a new mode.  Unlike some other systems where you must be stationary, BMW’s version allows both so whenever you decide to make a change you can. 

Their proprietary ride by wire E-gas system is also found on the "S" and uses two (opening and closing) Bowden cables leading to the throttle butterfly adjuster and functioned flawlessly.

Speaking of the four modes, they break down as follows: in Rain mode, you only have 150 horsepower and with an onboard sensor for lean angle, the big 1,000 will limit acceleration if said angle is greater than 38 degrees.  The next three modes (Sport, Race and Slick) give you the full 193 ponies but vary the degrees of lean angle for each: 45, 48 and 53 respectively.

Those modes are definitely a benefit when you have a 999 cc water-cooled inline four-cylinder engine underneath you producing 193 HP at 13,000 rpm, 82.5 ft-lbs. of torque at 9,750 rpm and revving up to a redline of 14,200 rpm.

Combine a bore/stroke ratio of 80/49.7, compression of 13:1 and 48 mm throttle bodies and you have one potent powerplant. 

This is especially evident when you look at the internals BMW used in constructing this engine.  They utilized their extensive experience of creating Formula 1 engines to include such items as a high-speed, extra-sturdy valve drive with individual cam followers and titanium valves.

Channeling all of the spent gases into the atmosphere is a 4-2-1 exhaust system with dual catalytic converters that meets or exceeds the strict emission requirements laid forth by the EPA and the EU.  The short and stubby side mounted muffler curbs the heat that traditional under the seat exhaust systems create which is good, as you don’t want any additional heat while riding during summertime temperatures.

Of course, I want to curtail toxic emissions from going into the environment just as much as the next guy but I can’t help wonder what a harmony of sound a full Akrapovic Evolution system would generate on this beast.  Not to mention the increase in HP (can you really ever have enough?), weight savings and good looks.  But I digress…

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