Third-gen 2019 BMW S1000RR gains 8 hp, loses 24 lb, and gets symmetrical
Putting one of the world's most competitive superbikes on a 10-pound diet is difficult, so dropping 24 lb (11 kg) from the S1000RR is a pretty herculean achievement for BMW. The Bavarians have also ditched the RR's pop-eyed asymmetry, jacked up the power and torque, and added the option of M-series upgrades in a complete overhaul of the bike.
The original S1000RR blew the superbike class right open on its 2010 debut. The revised edition we first saw in 2015 got faster and a bit lighter, and added cruise control, to stay right at the top of most road- and track-focused comparison tests. And it seems with the 2019 model, BMW's gone all-out to put this barnstorming literbike on a crash diet.
Working over pretty much the entire design, the team managed to get the fully fueled weight down to 434 lb (197 kg), representing what the company claims is a weight loss of 24 lb (11 kg). We're not quite sure how that works, given that the 2015 model launched with a claimed weight of 450 lb (204 kg) as we reported at the time, but what's a few pounds between friends anyway?
The impossibly compact 998cc inline 4-clyinder engine leaps from 199 to 207 hp, while shedding an impressive 9 lb (4 kg). Some of that power increase will be due to the ShiftCam variable valve lift system running on the intake cams, a system we first saw on the new R1250 GS and RT a month and a half ago. This kind of gear helps manufacturers optimize power and torque both for low-rpm street riding and flat-out racetrack work, so the extra power will likely do nothing to detract from the RR's legendary road manners and round-town rideability.
BMW speaks of "a substantially increased torque across a wide engine speed range," with "at least 100 Nm (74 lb-ft) of torque from 5,500 to 14,500 rpm" and that's exactly what we like to hear. The RR certainly wasn't lacking in power or torque last time we rode it. It blew our minds, inspiring what we called "a constant and infectious state of joyous disbelief." But in the ever-escalating war that is the modern superbike class, more is always better.
The frame and suspension, too, have been fully overhauled. The engine now takes even more weight through it as a structural member, leaving the frame thinner as a result, which lets it flex sideways more easily to aid the suspension in dealing with bumps when the bike's leaned over. A revised geometry puts more weight on the front wheel for lightning-quick steering, and the overall revisions are said to give the 2019 S1000RR "significantly improved ergonomics" compared to its predecessor – although whether those ergos are improved in the direction of sports riding performance or all-day comfort, we'll have to wait and see. We certainly found the old one far less punishing over a long day than the average sportsbike.
Pretty much everything else has been replaced or revised as well. The exhaust is smaller and lighter, and actually looks pretty good for a standard can; the dash is now a full color 6-inch TFT instead of an LCD, and offers you several different ways to visualize your performance data; ABS Pro with cornering sensitivity and DTC traction control are standard – including adjustable wheelie control as an option – and the suspension is revised, as is the optional dynamic damping semi-active system.
The standard bike comes with rain, roady, dynamic and race modes, and you can option this up with extra configurable pro modes, launch control and a pit lane speed limiter. Cruise control is still an option, as well – and the sooner that becomes standard on all bikes, the better.
Perhaps the biggest shock with the new S1000RR is that BMW has chosen to ditch its trademark asymmetric design. Maybe that shouldn't be surprising, as the wacky cock-eyed look of the previous bike's headlights was the first thing a lot of bikers would talk about. I reckon I'd have heard half a dozen riders say the headlights are the main reason they wouldn't buy one. Personally, I liked it, both as a point of difference and as a design philosophy, but the market has spoken and the new RR has a symmetrical, evil angel-eyed look that won't stand out nearly as much. Pity, but the bike still looks great.
M Options and M Performance Parts
In the car world, BMW's M subsidiary is responsible for high-performance models and motorsport-level parts programs. Now, for the first time, BMW Motorrad is getting its own M treatment.
Optioning the S1000RR up with its own M package gives you a special race team paint job, carbon wheels, a lightweight battery, rear ride height adjustment, adjustable swingarm pivot points, a sport seat, and all the Pro mode options listed above.
What's more, BMW is going racing again, with Tom Sykes and Markus Reiterberger preparing to take the new S1000RR back to the Superbike World Championship (WSBK) paddock, where it'll face off against the very scary new Ducati Panigale V4R and take another stab at world production racing superiority.