If you think back, BMW took advantage of a perfect moment to bring the S1000RR on the market, it was a moment that would define a special moment in time. Japanese motorcycle manufacturers refused to push the game forward by too much while new technologies were coming main stream.
It was a revolution, emerging as it did from the Bayerische Motoren Werke factory was the last place anyone was expecting. BMW was becoming sportier, what with a toe in the MotoGP water and the radical HP series, but the introduction of the BMW Straight Shortener, or S1000RR as most people know it now, has had epic repercussions throughout the industry – much like the original Honda Fireblade did in 1992.
BMW, and project leader Stefan Zeit, did something that not even Suzuki seemed to do when revising its top model, and based its new machine on the who wheeled perfection that is the GSX-R1000 K5 – the project began not long after the Suzuki's release. Many engine configurations were considered, but Zeit's team concluded that an inline four is the proven product. Well, if it ain't broke.
The BMW certainly has that 600 feel that the Suzuki K5 does – and then some. It feels small, looks tiny, but it packs a mighty punch. The old, tired adage has been reversed over time and now control is nothing without power. The fresh face in the class took the standard inline four architecture and turned it into an absolute monster – not even the latest tight exhaust emission regulations could constrain the BMW S1000RR on its relentless charge to infinity and beyond – 193 horsepower, and more with a bit of fettling. The rain mode on the BMW S1000RR is 25 horsepower more than the original Honda Fireblade, so to imagine a 70 horsepower boost on the 1992 Honda Fireblade would have been utterly inconceivable back in the day, but now the colossal power feels completely natural – aided and abetted by the electronic artistry involved. BMW developed these technical revolutions in house, and the fact that it was cock-on first time is to BMW's eternal credit. Adding electronics to a mainstream motorcycle in the worlds most popular class was the class's next rational step – and trust the Germans to make that logical leap.
The S1000RR traction control either acts as a safety net for those exploring the edge, or an unused insurance policy that will never sparked into action. Provoking the system isn't easy, either through throttle mechanism, butterfly or ignition timing cuts, and it either takes deft skill or no skill to kick the system into life. When it does, you know about it – and the future will be in disguising its employment.
The leap in acceleration between the early machines and the BMW S1000RR is truly staggering. All the S100RR wants to do is hit its terminal velocity in as short a circuit or a tight set of bands, this should be a frightening experience but thanks not to the traction control but to the BMW;s inherent balance, everything seem achievable – doesn't speed up like its predecessors could be guilty of.
Given its rabid engine, the chassis never gets the acclaim it deserves, and this is the BMW's secret ally in its was against terrifying speeds. Its diminutive proportions turn it into a steroid fueled 600, turning with hungry intent. While the chunky 46mm Sachs forks and rear shock aren't the last word in control, it's more than up to most jobs. A likely upgrade in this department either within a few months or next year will turn the sublime into the ridiculous.
Like the original Honda Fireblade, the BMW S1000RR has created a watershed, and 20 years from now this will be the machine that will kick off the celebrations of motorcycling decadence. In this class, the only thing that counts is performance. In applying the Japanese formula to its new machine, and given BMW had no heritage in the class, BMW didn't have to just beat the opposition, it had to destroy them by building the best sportsbike in the world. The destruction is has wreaked has been total, caused by the rapid employment of everything in BMW's armory.