Johannesburg - After being relatively stagnant for the past couple of years, the superbike market has suddenly come out all guns blazing.
With Kawasaki’s new supercharged H2 setting the two-wheeled world alight, BMW has hit back by launching its third-generation S1000 RR, released in South Africa this week.
When it was first introduced back in 2009 as BMW Motorrad’s first true superbike, the S1000 RR was the German firm’s response to the perception that it could build fast cars but not fast bikes. And what a response it was: packing 142kW, it trounced all its Japanese and Italian rivals in terms of power output and traction-controlling technology.
The bike world sat stunned for awhile, until things got back to normal again and the competition started launching near-150kW machines of their own.
Version three of the S1000RR doesn’t get silly with steroid-boosting, but it is lustier and lighter. Power and torque have increased to 146kW and 113Nm (respectively up 4kW and 5Nm), and it’s shed 4kg to tip the scales at 204kg. More importantly, BMW Motorrad has concentrated on how better to harness those rampant horses and to make it more rider-friendly.
As before the bike’s equipped with various bits of electrickery to help keep it on the black stuff. These include Race ABS brakes, Dynamic Traction Control, improved Dynamic Damping Control, and a choice of Rain Sport Race Slick and User ride modes – all of comes standard at the R214 500 price.
Race-ready tech on the bike includes a new pitlane speed limiter, and a new launch-control system that revs the engine to the optimum level for race starts.
The S1000RR now also comes with cruise control, which on a bike capable of 300km/h is a useful spietkop-avoidance feature on public roads. Not all the improvements are software-related and BMW has also revised the chassis with more flex in key areas to aid corner-exit traction, along with a slightly lengthened wheelbase for more stability.
The 2015 bike also took a visit to Beemer’s design department for a cosmetic makeover. Most noticeable is that those distinctive asymmetrically-styled dual headlamps have been swopped around, while the tail is slimmer. The silencer is noticeably larger, but the whole exhaust system is actually 3kg lighter than before.
A revamped LCD display offers a greater array of functions and info, and includes a readout that shows the maximum lean angle achieved.
I rode the S1000RR around Pretoria’s Zwartkops racetrack at its media launch and the power is completely bonkers, but it can be dialled-down to feel quite civilised when you fiddle with its electronic settings.
Rain mode gives reduced power and gentler throttle response with increased traction-control assistance, which also takes lean angle into account.
This is a basically idiot-proof mode where you can gas the throttle hard out of a tight turn without being unceremoniously unsaddled in a high-side. You can keep the throttle pinned open and the computer feeds the power in nice and gradually as the bike’s lean angle decreases.
With a flick of a handlebar switch the Sport, Race and Slick modes give progressively more power with reduced nanny assistance (there are no less than seven levels of traction control), and firmer suspension, while the User mode allows you to personalise each individual paramater to your liking.
One of my favourite features, and something that helps shave those laptimes, was the HP Gear Shift Assist Pro which allowed clutchless upshifting and downshifting. It allows for an almost seamless power delivery, and also provides an oh-so-cool throttle blip on downshifts. - Star Motoring
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