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BMW's new S1000R reviewed

Back in 2009, BMW Motorrad lifted the supersport motorcycling world to lofty new heights with its track-focussed S1000RR.

autos Updated: May 29, 2014 17:34 IST

Back in 2009, BMW Motorrad lifted the supersport motorcycling world to lofty new heights with its track-focussed S1000RR. Following on the heels of such grand global success, the Bavarian bike specialist decided to build a naked version, offering similar performance with an ergonomics edge very much part of the package.

Typical of a modern day BMW bike, the S1000R relies on an angular, cutting-edge industrial design theme. Overall quality and fit-finish are staggering, as expected from all bikes bearing this well known German maker's badge.

The front shows off a set of unique, asymmetric headlights. Its traditional, yet well laid out instruments offer a sporty, white-back analogue rev-counter, while the digital display shows speed, a gear shift beacon, lap-timer and other performance settings along with the basics.

The motorcycle comes with beautifully shaped reach-adjustable control levers, excellent quality switches and mirrors, with everything easy to operate and intuitively simple to come to terms with. There’s a compact fuel-tank, panels reaching down to cover the otherwise exposed frame sections.

Gill-shaped slats on the minimal shrouds enhance the bike's overall visual appeal. At the rear sits a dinky LED tail-lamp, similar to the RR.

Its powertrain is based on the RR, a 999cc, four-stroke, liquid-cooled and fuel-injected engine with revised camshafts, tweaked fuel-injection system and a retuned exhaust.

Being a street-naked, it is de-tuned to 160bhp at 11000rpm, over 30bhp less than the RR. Peak torque is prodigious, 11.4kgm made at 9250rpm, developed 500rpm lower than on the RR. It all adds up to a vastly capable and lightning quick motorcycle, with cracking performance.

It needs a careful throttle hand to prevent its front end pawing up, as the bike powers effortlessly towards the horizon when hard on the gas in its first three gears, as it works its way to silly speeds. An exhilarating bike to ride, it revs effortlessly, smoothly through its wide, really punchy powerband all the way up to its rev limiter. There’s power from just over idle, building past a tidal mid-range wave into this tsunami of a top end.

The shiny exhaust looks spectacular, but sounds even better as the in-line four screams its way through the rev range, with a sporty burble barking out under hard deceleration. Exciting when pushed to its limits, yes, but it is also versatile, an easy motorcycle to live with, master and ride at sedate speeds. The clutch feels perfect, as does the gearbox, a quickshifter making flicking up through its six ratios without clutch application or shutting the throttle a doddle. Throttle response stays sharp and aggressive even when riding outside ‘dynamic pro’ riding mode, another three softer modes available for riders looking for more usability, including ‘rain’ for wet days, which limits power to a relatively sedate 136bhp. BMW has loaded the top-end S1000R with a solid array of electronic riding aids, traction control and ABS, all working to help you stay in command even when riding conditions turn a bit iffy.

The new bike comes with an aluminium twin-spar chassis, similar to the one on the RR, slightly modified to suit its more upright but still pretty sporty, riding ergonomics.

It also gets flat set handlebars, and adequate legroom despite its rear set footrests. A highlight is semi-active electric suspension, with three setting offering a soft, medium and hard ride.

Button controlled and effortlessly shifted on the go, ride quality is firm even when riding this lightning quick bike in its softest suspension mode, suitably sporty to complement the R’s tall dynamic capabilities.

The BMW handles and steers with precision and a light, taut turn in, still providing a planted feel around corners.

Its light for the class, with a kerb weight of just 207kg, a brilliantly engineered chassis helping the motorcycle feel surprisingly light and agile at all times. There’s a set of 320mm, four piston radial mounted caliper front disc brakes, supported by a 220mm disc at the rear. The ABS system works like a dream, and the brakes work in tandem to provide really solid bite with a reassuring feel at the lever.

It also comes with top grade tyres front and rear, the bike gripping the road even when pushed to its limits. Cornering capabilities are impressive, right up there with the best in the class.

Which brings us to the fine print; it is priced at a whopping Rs 22.83 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai) in India. The very best litre class street-naked motorcycle sold in India? Yes, undoubtedly, as the bike scripts a strong case compared to rivals as able as Kawasaki’s Z1000. The best value for money litre class street-naked motorcycle in India? No, not by a long shot! It is retailed in Mumbai by Navnit Motors, as an exclusive bike for an elite few, for whom price is no object.

For lesser mortals like you and me, this amazing BMW makes a brilliant bike to aspire for.

Rishad Cooper