2010 BMW S1000RR - Finally!

The Long-Awaited First Superbike From The First AMA Superbike Champions

Little known fact: Reg Pridmore won the inaugural AMA Superbike Championship on a BMW R90S in 1976. That fact should be more widely known, but kids these days don't much care about history. To them, Pridmore is some old guy who used to race-and that's Reg's son, Jason.

Yes, it's been more than three decades since the Bayerische Motoren Werke has had a presence in Superbike racing, but it's back with the new S1000RR. The all-new inline-four is being campaigned in this year's World Superbike Championship by Alpha Racing with veteran riders Troy Corser and Ruben Xaus.

Why enter the sportbike market now? According to Hendrik von Kuenheim, second-generation president of BMW Motorrad, it's all about business. "Some 85,000 1000cc sportbikes are sold per year worldwide, and we want to gain a foothold in that segment," he says. "We've set a goal of attaining a 10 percent market share, 80 percent of which we expect to be conquest sales."

Of course, going head to head with the Japanese and Italian competition won't be easy. "With this bike, we are taking the battle to their battlefield, to play by their rules," von Kuenheim acknowledges. "This year we hope to develop the bike and finish in the top 10. For 2010, we expect top finishes and commercial success."

Those are lofty goals for a company that was never expected to build a superbike. As Project Leader Stefan Zeit recalls, "When I started at BMW, I had an interview with Markus Poschner, and he asked me, 'What should BMW do next?' I told him a sportbike, and he said, 'No, BMW will never do this!'"

Ironically, Poschner himself now oversees the project as General Manager. And he can scarcely contain his enthusiasm. "Thirty-two years ago, when I started at BMW, I dreamed of these kinds of bikes," he smiles.

Code-named K46, the superbike project started four years ago in unorthodox fashion. As a company BMW had no formal experience with supersport bikes, but many of its workers ride such machines on weekends, and Poschner assembled them into a team.

The first order of business was benchmarking the competition. "Normally we look at the two best bikes in the segment, and very often one of those is our own," Poschner says. "But in the supersport segment, we needed to look at what all the others do."

Knowing that a supersport bike such as this would be raced, one of the first questions asked was MotoGP or World Superbike? "We discussed this and decided to go Superbike because it is the same bike racing that you can buy," Poschner says. "In MotoGP the customers see Valentino Rossi, but not the bike."

Poscher's boss, Dr. Christian Landerl, reinforces that decision. "It would be very special to be in MotoGP, but also very expensive. Not only are Superbikes production-based, they might even be faster [than MotoGP bikes] if they had the same tires!"

Landerl helped design the S1000RR's engine before he was promoted to management, so is intimately familiar with its inner workings (see Hard Parts, next page). "The biggest challenge was to convince everyone within BMW that this bike was necessary," he laughs. "And also not to do what people would have expected BMW to do-to use some technology that nobody else is using.

"Of course we considered different engine configurations," Landerl continues. "A twin was ruled out quite early and a triple would have been too heavy because of the balance shaft. We also considered a V-4, but it's complicated and expensive. We decided on an inline-four because it offers the better package."

While the S1000RR is largely conventional mechanically, it makes great strides in electronics, with standard ride-by-wire throttle and variable-length intake tracts, plus optional anti-lock brakes and traction control. Explains Leit, "The main thing was to make a no-compromise supersport with assistance systems that were very aggressive and race-like." So far, that has been the race team's stumbling block, as BMW's engineers are determined to develop their own electronics instead of buying an off-the-shelf system.

One thing there's no denying is the S1000RR looks great, even if the asymmetrical styling is controversial. "There's a lot more of that than you realize," says Vice President of Motorcycle Design David Robb. "Things like exhaust systems are asymmetrical, especially if you have a single-sided swingarm.

"The GS was the first bike where the headlights were kind of winking at you. I call it the 'pirate look'. So you take that further with the S1000RR, where on the left side you've got the fan behind the radiator but on the right side there's no fan so you have more room to work with. I think it looks like an endurance racer.

"On the one hand, it's another job," Robb continues. "We've done off-road bikes, we've done adventure bikes, we've done tourers...we can do a supersport bike. But on the other hand, it's like finally!"

2010 BMW S1000RR
Hard Parts

The lightest, most powerful production superbike yet

This has got to be the most conventional BMW motorcycle engine ever. Unlike the slant-block four that powers the K1300, the S1000RR's cylinders are canted forward just 32 degrees. The crankcase is split horizontally, with the upper case half holding the Nikasil-plated cylinders and 13.0:1-compression pistons. Cylinder dimensions are vastly oversquare at 80 x 49.7mm, making for an extreme bore/stroke ratio of 0.621:1. Titanium intake and exhaust valves are set at shallow angles of 11.2 and 13.3 degrees, respectively, necessitating long, narrow spark plugs to reach the combustion chambers. A reduction gear above the crank drives the double overhead cams via chain, and the cams open the valves via Formula 1-style finger followers-so small they were given to the press as key fobs. The stacked gearbox isn't cassette-type as on the new Aprilia RSV4, but the cable-actuated wet clutch is a slipper, or what BMW terms "anti-hopping." The stainless-steel 4-2-1 exhaust features balance tubes with cable-actuated valves between the #1&4 and #2&3 cylinders, plus twin catalysts within the MotoGP-style muffler. Claimed output is 193 bhp at 13,000 rpm, redline is 14,200. Top speed is given only as "greater than 200 kph (124 mph)." We'd guess 300 kph (186 mph) is more like it.

If the S1000RR breaks new ground, it's in electronics. Like the Aprilia RSV4 and Yamaha YZF-R1, it's got a ride-by-wire throttle and variable-length intake tracts. Dubbed E-gas, the former employs push/pull throttle cables to control a computer solenoid, which in turn opens the 48mm throttle butterflies. The latter sees the top 65mm of the torque-producing 175mm-long stacks snap out of the way at 8000 rpm, leaving power-boosting 110mm stacks in their wake. There are three engine maps stock: Rain mode softens throttle response and limits power to 150 bhp; Sport mode gives you full power and better response; and Race mode heightens throttle response. There's also a Slick mode for when you're running race tires at the track, accessible by changing a plug under the seat, after which that mode is also displayed on the dash. Race ABS and Dynamic Traction Control are available options, both switchable on or off. Though the ABS is partially linked, Slick mode disables the rear-wheel sensor so riders can lift the rear wheel under braking or do brake-slides. DTC also includes wheelie control, but Slick mode allows wheelies at less than 20-degree lean angles for up to 5 seconds. Other options include an electronic quick-shifter, plus theft prevention. Add to that cylinder-specific BMW-KP EFI with twin injectors, a CAN-BUS wiring harness, onboard lap timer and programmable shift light, and BMW left no electronic stone unturned.

Like its engine, the S1000RR's chassis is utterly conventional, without Duolever, Telelever or Paralever. It's got chain drive even! The aluminum frame is made from just four pieces: the head tube, the twin spars and the swingarm-pivot bridge. Measuring 46mm, the Sachs fork is 3mm larger than the competition for greater stability under braking, which it needs with its dual radial-mount Brembo calipers grasping 320mm rotors. Sachs also provides the shock, which like the fork features 10 clicks of compression and rebound damping, all marked so there's no counting as you turn a screwdriver. Shock spring preload is adjustable via a threaded collar that's easily accessible, and eccentrics allow 10mm of ride-height adjustment. The lengthy, banana-shaped swingarm features extra-long axle slots to vary wheelbase, and the bolt-on subframe allows for easy replacement in the event of a crash. Claimed wet weight for the bike is 450 pounds (455 lbs. with ABS).

Asymmetry is the theme, with both sides of the bike looking distinctly different. The right-side fairing features a trio of shark gills while the left has a single large cooling hole. The headlights are mismatched too, with a conventional trapezoidal-shaped lamp on the left side of the V-shaped air inlet and a round projector beam on the right. Arrowheads on each side cowl point to the BMW logo, while the twin tips on the lower cowling and above the clear LED taillight are subtly carried through to the subfender and chain guard. The passenger seat is tiny; no fruleins here! The bike is available in four colors, with the swingarm painted black on some and silver on the others.


A clean-sheet superbike, closer to the competition's offerings than anything else in BMW's range.

Every other contender on the World Superbike starting grid, from the Aprilia RSV4 to the Yamaha YZF-R1.

Price $13,800
Engine type l-c inline-four
Valve train DOHC, 16v
Displacement 999cc
Bore x stroke {{{80}}}.0 x 49.7mm
Compression 13.0:1
Fuel system EFI
Clutch Wet, multi-plate slipper
Transmission 6-speed
Claimed horsepower 193 bhp @ 13,000 rpm
Claimed torque 83 lb.-ft. @ 9750 rpm
Frame Aluminum twin-spar
Front suspension 46mm Sachs inverted cartridge fork with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Rear suspension Single Sachs shock with adjustable spring preload, high/low-speed compression and rebound damping
Front brake Dual Brembo radial-mount four-piston calipers, 320mm discs with optional ABS
Rear brake Brembo single-piston caliper, 220mm disc with optional ABS
Front tire 120/70ZR-17 Metzeler RaceTec K3
Rear tire 190/55ZR-17 Metzeler RaceTec K3
Rake/trail 23.9 deg./3.8 in.
Seat height 32.3 in.
Wheelbase 56.4 in.
Fuel capacity 4.5 gal.
Claimed dry weight 422 lbs. (427 lbs. with ABS)
**Colors ** Acid Green Metallic, Mineral Silver Metallic, Thunder Grey Metallic, Motorsport red/white/blue
Available Late 2009/early 2010
Warranty 3 yrs./36,000 mi.

BMW Motorcycles USA
P.O. Box 1227
300 Chestnut Ridge Rd.
Westwood, NJ 07675

Hell hath frozen over: BMW finally builds a superbike!

They say: "A new benchmark in terms of riding dynamics, safety and innovation."
We say: "We waited this long. We can wait a little while longer."
Cams act on Formula 1-style finger followers, which in turn lever the titanium valves open. Benefits are 50 percent less weight, faster valve acceleration and more lift in less space.
Instrumentation is simple, with an analog tach, digital speedo, readouts for gear and mode, plus a programmable shift light and onboard lap timer. Gone are the dreaded tandem turn signal switches.
Dual Brembo brake calipers bolted radially to the Sachs 46mm fork should slow the S1000RR down in a hurry. Ring gear on the front disc means this bike has anti-lock brakes.