The street version of BMW's new S1000RR superbike is nearing completion, if these spy photos are any indication. Captured during final road testing in Germany, these photos reveal the Bavarian firm's signature asymmetrical styling has been applied to the RR-complete with mismatched headlamps, lopsided fairing vents and clever combining of black and painted panels to minimize the plastic-wrapped appearance typical of most sportbikes. It won't be mistaken for anything but a BMW, not even at a glance.
A large, fox-eye headlamp on the left side of the fairing is paired with a smaller right-hand unit, shaped like a circle with the top edge cut flat. Although the fairing silhouette is mostly conventional (dictated by aerodynamics rather than a designer's pen), swatches of unpainted black plastic combined with relatively small painted panels (marked with a swirling pattern here to disguise their shape) will produce the visual illusion of a motorcycle with relatively minimal bodywork. Separate inner and outer fairing sections create an exit path for hot air leaving the radiator, which is ducted away from the motor by separate, gill-like outlet vents on the left and a single, larger diagonal opening on the right.
Technical specifications remain scarce, beyond BMW's stated 190 bhp/190 kg. (418 lbs.) power/weight target. BMW sources have let slip that the inline-four employs some manner of "positive valve operation," which many have taken to indicate desmodromics. BMW experimented with desmo valve actuation in the early '90s on its R1 Boxer prototype, and Ducati has proven that this is a reliable way to eliminate the power-sapping effect of valve springs, prevent valve float and allow higher revs. This is a credible suggestion, since the S1000RR is rumored to rev upwards of 16,000 rpm-a rumor supported by the shrieking exhaust note of the World Superbikes tested by Reuben Xaus and Troy Corser at Valencia, Spain.
Caught here using white graphics to camouflage the dimensions of its avant garde bodywork,
Another possibility is some form of electronically operated variable valve lift system, similar to the patented Valvetronic system already offered on some BMW automobiles. This system is so advanced that engines using it no longer need conventional throttles, as the amount of fuel/air mixture entering the engine is controlled entirely by valve lift. Variable valve timing, along with variable-length intake tracts, ride-by-wire throttle and traction control, would make the S1000RR the most technologically advanced streetbike yet.
Even though it will be almost a year before most of us can get our hands on an S1000RR (deliveries aren't expected until late 2009, when the first 1000 homologation machines will be made available), development appears to be virtually complete. The exhaust even shows stamped lettering that indicates it's passed European noise and emissions tests, leaving little beyond a final splash of paint to distinguish this prototype from the production machine.