2012 BMW S1000RR | First Look

Evolution makes an even better Beemer superbike

By Aaron Frank, Photography by BMW

BMW didn't need to update its S1000RR superbike. It was already the most-powerful sportbike in the world, and one of the best selling, too-24 percent of all sportbikes sold worldwide in 2010 were S1000RRs. But BMW didn't reach the top of the sales chart by being conservative, so just two years after its debut the model has already been given a significant "facelift." The awesome, 193-horsepower engine is mechanically unchanged, though electronic reprogramming is said to make power delivery feel "punchier" at low- and mid-range rpm, while numerous chassis changes inspired by World Superbike and Superstock racing address sluggish steering and make the bike more agile and responsive than before. The changes are subtle-evolution, not revolution-but significant in number, and address all our criticisms of the first-generation machine. It looks like one of the best sportbikes on the market just got better.

The S1000RR still offers four drive modes-Rain, Sport, Race and Slick-but numerous engine-mapping changes have been made to optimize throttle response and power delivery in each mode-including increasing Rain mode's peak output by 11 horsepower, to 163 hp. The throttle-response curve has been recalibrated to respond more immediately in Sport, Race and Slick modes, and the power curve has been boosted for stronger acceleration in Race and Slick selections. In addition, physical changes to the throttle assembly that include a lighter throttle-valve spring and a shorter rotational angle from closed to wide-open throttle all combine to make throttle response and acceleration more direct and forceful.

Revisions to the airbox, including a larger air intake and revised intake stack geometry, along a redesigned stainless-steel exhaust, produce a slight increase in torque output between 5000-7500 rpm. This additional midrange power, coupled with slightly lower final drive gearing (now 17/45, compared to 17/44 before) is said to further improve rideability especially when driving off corners. Additional electronic trickery now eliminates the overrun fuel cutoff in Slick mode, to minimize engine-braking effect and improve stability during corner entries.

Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) and Race ABS programming have been optimized for even greater sensitivity in Race and Slick modes, and wheelie control specifically has been altered to activate the throttle valves in a much "gentler" fashion-addressing a major concern with the previous-generation S1000RR, which suffered from too-abrupt wheelie abatement.

The S1000RR chassis has been slightly revised to optimize steering behavior and suspension action. The steering head angle has been changed from 66.1 to 66.0 degrees and fork offset has been reduced by 2.5mm to 29.5mm for quicker steering response. The wheelbase has been shortened 5mm as well.

The Sachs suspension components have received attention as well. New springs front and rear offer a wider range of useful adjustment, which will especially benefit trackday riders who have different set-ups for street (comfort) and track (performance) riding. The fork valving has been recalibrated to make the compression damping circuit more responsive. The rear shock gets a larger, 18mm piston to also speed up compression damping reaction, in addition to new needle geometry on both the compression and rebound valves for more predictable, linear response.

All seemingly minor changes, but in collaboration these add up to something meaningful and should go a long way toward polishing the few chinks in the Munich Monster's otherwise unblemished armor. We'll find out soon-we're on the ground at Valencia, Spain, and will have an initial riding impression in just a few hours. Watch this space.

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