2011 BMW S1000RR | Doin' Time

Photography by Jim Moy

Wrist: Matt Samples
MSRP (2011): $16,630
Miles: 13,855
MPG: 39
Mods: Metzler Z8 tires, MRA windshield, R&G rearsets, case covers and sliders, SW-Motech luggage, Akrapovic full exhaust system, Power Commander V with Auto Tune, K&N air filter, 520 Renthal chain and sprockets, Fast Bike Industries suspension work

As is often the case with our long-term tests, just when we get the bikes the way we like them it’s time to send them back! This S1000RR is no exception. The Berlin Brute has always put a smile on my face, especially so after a full year of development that resulted in it being truly optimized. Knowing how good the bike is today makes it even harder to send it home to BMW.

I've been through a lot with this bike: a four-day, 2500-mile cross-country road trip from LA to Chicago via the Rockies and Badlands, track days everywhere from Chuckwalla to Road America, a Southeastern sport-tour through the Great Smoky Mountains and Ozarks, and countless commuting and recreational riding miles. Who says a superbike can’t do it all?

Of course, I made some modifications along the way to improve performance across a wide range of real-world riding conditions. The best mods made were suspension upgrades that helped improve chassis geometry. First-generation S1000RRs suffer from slow steering and often have a hard time holding a line. David Behrend at Fast Bike Industries (www.fastbikeindustries.com) sorted the BMW out with an Öhlins rear shock that allowed us to add much needed ride height, along with stiffer springs and an Andreani Group piston/revalve kit to improve fork performance and tunability. These customized tweaks, designed by David to suit my use and costing $2534 total, made the first-gen bike turn even better than the much-improved second-generation S1000RR. The suspension changes also helped squeeze even more miles out of the Dunlop D211 GPAs that this bike preferred on the track.

Other smart moves involved improving the ergonomics—namely a taller MRA windscreen and adjustable R&G rearsets to make the bike almost all day comfortable (it is still a hard-core superbike, after all.) I reported on these mods before and remain happy with them through the end of the term. An accessory lead for the battery provided power for the First Gear heated undergarments that were the only thing that made riding through a 40 degree sleet storm in South Dakota survivable. Tidy SW-Motech Blaze saddlebags from Twisted Throttle made it possible to carry a week’s worth of gear, but the aftermarket Akrapovic exhaust burned a hole in the bottom of the right bag. Be sure to check compatibility with any luggage set up if you’re running anything other than the stock exhaust.

Another good touring trick was swapping the sticky racetrack rubber for longer-wearing Metzeler Z8 sport-touring tires—in the last installment, I’d put 2500 miles on the set and was hoping they’d last twice as long. Close: The Z8s hit the wear bars after 4000 miles, which is a huge improvement over the stock tires’ short lifespan. As in 1500 miles short. I would have liked a bit more front grip but the touring treads were a good compromise for the rear, providing plenty of grip everywhere short of full throttle. To be fair, full throttle puts down a lot of power, and in the case of the S1000 all it means to have less grip is that the traction control comes on earlier.

In retrospect, the motor mods were somewhat less successful. The $3000 spent on an Akrapovic Evolution titanium exhaust and a Power Commander PC-V fuel module added just 2 peak horsepower (raising the total to an admittedly remarkable 186 at the rear wheel), along with a more substantial 8 bhp boost to the middle of the curve. That slight boost just goes to show how good the BMW’s inline-four is out of the box. That three grand might be better spent on tires.

It’s no surprise that the new-and-improved 2012 S1000RR won our Sportbike of the Year award. After a full year of riding, my enthusiasm for this earlier model didn’t diminish one bit. The performance is unbeatable, the build quality off the charts (there were no maintenance issues or failures whatsoever) and the fun factor is sky high. Did I mention this thing will power-wheelie all the way through third gear? That kind of performance and complete reliability make for a compelling combination.

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