BMW’s design mandate for the all-new third-generation S 1000 RR was simple: Make it one second faster around any track and 10 kilograms lighter (22 pounds). The company achieved both enhancements through a multi-pronged strategy, which also remarkably improved handling.
The new inline four-cylinder engine is 8.8 pounds lighter than the previous model. It also includes the new ShiftCam variable valve timing technology recently introduced on the R 1250 boxer engines (MCN 6/19). BMW claims these changes increase peak output to 205 horsepower and torque to 83 pound-feet, while maintaining at least 81 pound-feet of torque from 5,500 rpm all the way to 14,500 rpm.
The improved torque curve was noticeable at lower and medium engine speeds, where street riders can use it. BMW also designed a new, 3-pounds-lighter and more flexible frame, with the engine bearing more load, and refined suspension geometry. This is said to improve ergonomics, but more importantly it provides more chassis feedback, damping and traction. More benefits for the street rider.
The new RR features BMW’s next generation of electronic dynamic damping (DDC). The up-spec M (Motorsport, formerly HP) model, also adds stock carbon fiber wheels, a lithium-ion battery and other bits, for a further 7-pound weight loss. The new exhaust system is 2.9 pounds lighter. The final weight reduction was 25 pounds on the standard and 32 pounds on the M. Electronics upgrades include a new 6-axis sensor that manages the standard dynamic traction control (DTC), wheelie control, hill start control, dynamic brake assist (closes throttle on heavy braking) and ABS, even while leaned.
In Pro modes, DTC, wheelie control, ABS and even engine braking are individually configurable in the system settings and hill start engages automatically on an incline. In addition to the Rain, Road, Dynamic and Race standard ride modes, the new Ride Modes Pro option adds launch control, pit lane speed limiter and three individually configurable Race Pro modes. Race modes can be individually configured for rider preferences and variable riding conditions, e.g., on the track. A quick shifter is now standard, and the shift pattern can easily be reversed by moving a single lever arm bolt. The more street-oriented Select package includes tire-pressure monitors (TPM), cruise control and heated grips. The same new 6.5-inch TFT instrument panel from the R 1250 GS offers excellent data visibility, which can be displayed in four different default configurations on either model.
The bike now features all LED lighting and the headlights are symmetrical. Turn signals are self-canceling, fronts integrated into the mirrors and the rears also function as brake lights. This makes all limbs easily removable for track use. The new RR is half an inch narrower, with a wider handlebar offset. When combined with the lightweight M package carbon wheel, it makes for razor-sharp and precise turn-in and amazingly fast side-to-side transitions. The combination of lighter weight (particularly unsprung carbon wheels), in combination with various rider-aid technology allows the bike to easily correct minor rider mistakes and surface irregularities that would have thrown the previous RR off course.
BMW won’t import base models to the U.S., so only three packages are available. Select (street) package, with cast wheels, TPM, DDC, cruise and heated grips for $18,395; Race, with forged wheels and li-ion battery, but no ride-by-wire convenience features, for $18,595; and M, with the Select Package, plus custom red, white and blue Motorsport livery, a sportier seat, li-ion battery, Ride Modes Pro and carbon wheels, for $22,095. Riders won’t find a better deal than $3,700 for carbon fiber wheels with a manufacturer’s warranty, making the M upgrade essential for those who can afford it or plan to ride on the track.
We loved the extremely focused improvements to this platform, which make it an exponentially better bike than the outgoing model, for both road and race riders. The 2020 S 1000 RR is a major accomplishment, as the previous bike was already excellent. MCN