2020 BMW S 1000 RR First Ride Review

We ride BMW’s overhauled S 1000 RR superbike in this review.

BMW set the bar high when it released the original S 1000 RR for the 2009 model year. Fast-forward to today and the German company is seeking to reclaim the top spot in the Superbike class with its 2020 S 1000 RR. Fully overhauled from the inside out, it awaited us at Alabama's Barber Motorsports Park for its official US press introduction.

2020 BMW S 1000 RR racing on track.
Known for its hard-edged performance, BMW offers a softer and more versatile S 1000 RR for 2020.Kevin Wing

The S 1000 RR is BMW’s top-of-the-line sportbike designed for competition, trackdays, street riding, and all-around sport fun. All of the wonderful qualities that we loved about the first- and second-generation bikes are present in this third-iteration machine, albeit in a smoother and more controlled fashion.

2020 BMW S 1000 RR on track.
The 2020 S 1000 RR retails for $22,095 with the optional M Package and mandatory Select Package.Kevin Wing

As always, it continues to deliver whooping engine performance, to the tune of 183 hp at the business end of the back tire as measured on our dyno (six more ponies than the 2017 machine). But for 2020 it’s even more agile and lighter-feeling. Specifically, the reengineered chassis has more favorable flex characteristics, especially when loaded, full throttle. But the most notable improvement is the way it steers.

It turns so much sharper than before. This makes for a bike that you can put exactly where needed on track. Even with its newfound agility, the S 1000 RR hasn’t given up any stability—which is important in a nearly 200-hp sportbike. Credit goes to not only the honed steering geometry but the improved rigidity balance and works-style inverted swingarm.

2020 BMW S 1000 RR racing on track.
Without question, the S 1000 RR’s improved steering manners and agility are stand-out improvements compared to its predecessor.Kevin Wing

The optional M-spec carbon fiber wheels (available as a $3,700 upcharge as part of the M Package) further boost handling, especially when hustling the BMW from side to side, in quick transitions. This option also adds a lighter lithium-ion battery and embroidered “M” rider’s seat. It also unlocks the Ride Modes Pro settings, which allows the rider to tweak individual brake, traction, wheelie, and ABS control settings. There is, however, a caveat: You have to opt for the $1,400 Select Package, which includes cruise control, Dynamic Damping Control (semi-active suspension), heated grips, and Tire Pressure Monitoring System. This elevates the S 1000 RR’s MSRP to $22,095.

2020 BMW S 1000 RR 999cc inline-four engine.
The 999cc inline-four has been completely reengineered. It is not only lighter but more powerful in terms of horsepower.Kevin Wing

The M Package sheds 7 pounds from the curb weight. With its 4.4-gallon fuel tank topped off (0.2 gallon less capacity than the 2015–2018 model) it weighs 427 pounds. All told, the M Package-equipped 2020 S 1000 RR measures 32 pounds less than the machine it replaces—an amazing feat considering that the original double-R couldn’t be deemed obese.

2020 BMW S 1000 RR cockpit.
The S 1000 RR’s cockpit is more civilized and accommodating for most riders.Kevin Wing

The same crisp 6.5-inch color TFT-display that adorns the R 1250 GS keeps tabs on the motorcycle's vitals. Individual settings are manipulated via BMW's traditional multifunction control wheel on the left clip-on. The menu setup is different than the previous RR's but remains logically arranged. It will take some time to learn the menu structure and get familiar with all of the settings (there are a lot of them!).

2020 BMW S 1000 RR racing on track.
BMW engineers worked diligently to optimize the flex characteristic of the chassis.Kevin Wing

The S 1000 RR has always featured an electronics package near the top of the class. But the new electronics package takes things even further, adding new features, as well as a tremendous range of adjustability. There are a dizzying array of settings to choose from. It would take a rider numerous trackdays and a pile of 190-series rear tires to dial in the ideal parameters. Still, it’s nice to know that BMW offers this high level of adjustability.

2020 BMW S 1000 RR Ride Modes Pro setting on dashboard.
The M Package unlocks the Ride Modes Pro setting which allows the rider to adjust the individual electronic settings of the motorcycle.Kevin Wing

The new electronics package, as well as the restrictive US-spec ECU programming (the ECU won’t allow the engine to accelerate during full throttle application between approximately 5,800 and 7,000 rpm in certain gears) neuter the powerband as compared to the previous hard-hitting S 1000 RR.

This makes for a motorcycle that is easier to control but also less-connected feeling, and not as competent at setting fast laps. Rider’s seeking full access to the S 1000 RR’s muscle will require a European-spec ECU, or a reflash/reprogramming from the aftermarket.

2020 BMW S 1000 RR “M” embroidered seat.
An “M” embroidered seat also comes as part of the M Package.Kevin Wing

Due to the electronic restrictions, it was difficult to hard to decipher if BMW's newly developed ShiftCam Technology, which modulates valve timing based on engine load/throttle application, performs as well as it does on the R 1250 GS adventure-touring and R 1250 RT sport-touring rig. Dyno testing reveals a flatter overall torque curve as compared to the 2015–2018 machine but with a slight reduction in peak torque (77 pound-feet).

2020 BMW S 1000 RR doing wheelie on track.
The S 1000 RR certainly isn’t a slouch in the engine department, however US-specific tuning restricts engine acceleration in the lower gears.Kevin Wing

Electronic restrictions aside, the S 1000 RR’s inline-four engine continues to offer its signature growl at idle and an exhilarating wail at high rpm. It remains an exciting sports machine, especially when you consider its newfound agility. Though the engine does emit a fair degree of vibration, especially at higher revs.

2020 BMW S 1000 RR with control interface on the left clip-on.
All of the electronic settings are adjusted using this control interface on the left clip-on.Kevin Wing

As always the BMW’s braking components are solid and at the top of the class. The Hayes-sourced radial-mount calipers have slightly less bite than we recall on the old bike, but offer a more progressive feel as the brake lever is squeezed. The brake lever offers an even greater range of adjustability, which will be great for riders with larger hands. Manually disabling ABS isn’t as easy as is on its predecessor, and even on its lowest setting, front ABS remains on.

2020 BMW S 1000 RR with carbon fiber wheels.
The S 1000 RR is the first production sportbike to benefit from carbon fiber wheels as an option from the factory.Kevin Wing

Ergonomically the 2020 S 1000 RR feels more contemporary, akin to the latest crop of Japanese and European-spec superbikes. The tall-rider friendly and stretched-out cockpit of the previous generation has been replaced with slimmer and more well-proportioned controls. Yet the cockpit remains accommodating for a 6-foot tall rider, but taller folks might feel pressed for room. The rider triangle feels more neutral and less demanding than before (higher clip-ons, flatter seat). One complaint however: We wish the windscreen was taller. BMW offered a taller windscreen accessory on the previous-gen S 1000 RR, but no word on whether it will offer one for the 2020 model.

2020 BMW S 1000 RR racing on track.
As always, the BMW’s braking components are well adept at shedding speed. Brake bite is a tad softer than before (not a bad thing).Kevin Wing

There’s no doubt the 2020 S 1000 RR is a softer, more balanced machine than the bike it replaces. It continues to offer cutting-edge performance, especially in terms of handling and digital age adjustability. But with its restricted US ECU setting, it has lost some of the edge that made the BMW an absolute weapon on track. Still, if you’ve ever considered an S 1000 RR, this 2020 version is going to make you think twice about owning BMWs, with its softer and more well-mannered performance.

2020 BMW S 1000 RR braking components.
As always, the BMW’s braking components are well adept at shedding speed. Brake bite is a tad softer than before (not a bad thing).Kevin Wing

Gear Box

2020 BMW S 1000 RR racing on track.
Ergonomically, the 2020 S 1000 RR is more accommodating than before, especially for those under 6 feet tall.Kevin Wing
2020 BMW S 1000 RR front view.
BMW engineers nailed the styling of the 2020 S 1000 RR. We appreciate its symmetrical face that features styling cues from its predecessor.Kevin Wing

2020 BMW S 1000 RR Specifications

PRICE $22,095 as tested
ENGINE 999cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled inline-four; 16 valves
BORE x STROKE 80.0mm x 49.7mm
FUEL DELIVERY Dual-stage electronic fuel injection
CLUTCH Wet multi-plate slipper clutch; cable actuation
FRAME Twin-spar aluminum
FRONT SUSPENSION 45mm Marzocchi inverted fork, three-way adjustable for spring preload, compression, and rebound damping; 4.7-in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION Sachs gas-charged shock, three-way adjustable for spring preload, compression, and rebound damping; 4.6-in. travel
FRONT BRAKE Radial-mount four-piston calipers, 320mm discs
REAR BRAKE 1-piston caliper, 220mm disc
WHEELS, FRONT/REAR Carbon fiber; 17 x 3.5-in. / 17 x 6.0-in.
TIRES, FRONT/REAR TBD; 120/70ZR-17 / 190/55ZR-17
RAKE/TRAIL 23.5°/3.7 in.
WHEELBASE 56.7 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 32.4 in.
WARRANTY 2 years, unlimited mileage
CONTACT bmw.com