Riding the 2015 BMW S1000RR is like getting my own little taste of perfection.
On a recent flight to San Francisco, I had a remarkable conversation with the gentleman beside me. We discussed the idea of happiness as a result of competition with oneself: the conversion of everyday activities and tasks into mini-games based on productive criteria like speed, efficiency, or something similar. This got me thinking, strangely enough, about my experience with the 2015 BMW S1000RR. Mistake me not, riding the S1000RR is nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, like folding laundry. Riding the S1000RR feels like sitting on top of a two-wheeled mag-lev train whose tracks you forge at your will. Oh and the train also weighs 412lbs and packs sharper handling than a diamond-cutting laser. Then why all this talk about laundry and mini-games? It’s because I have never ridden a bike that was more intent on making the rider compete with himself.
The 2015 BMW S1000RR is exceptionally good at challenging its rider. How deep can you lean? How much later can you brake? You can open the throttle a lot more, can’t you? And the answer to those questions? A lot deeper, a lot later, and a whole lot more. It’s not only BMW’s mechanical prowess and the bike’s physical capabilities that allow for this, a great part of it is the host of electronics that work to the rider’s advantage in the background.
The lean angle sensor is perhaps the feature of the S1000RR that poses the most outright challenge. Every deviation from the bike being upright (0° of lean) is recorded, and the max lean achieved for each turn is displayed within the instrument cluster. Of course, the deepest lean (from the time you turn on the bike until the time you turn it off) is displayed tauntingly to the right of your most recent corner’s lean. ‘I got 40° on that corner, now to beat that on the next!’ The desire to continually push the bike harder is not without the confidence in knowing that the S1000RR is built handle it.
The S1000RR is equipped with three ride modes (Rain, Sport, and Race), each offering varied levels of power. Rain mode is most obviously the tamest of the lot, yet it only maims the bike by a measly 6hp to 187hp. An optional Ride Modes Pro package adds a Slick mode and a configurable User mode.
No matter what mode you’re riding in, the Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) system works phenomenally. It incorporates the current lean angle, throttle position, and ride mode to keep firm traction at all times. In the past, BMW’s electronics have been borderline unreliable. DTC on the 2015 S1000RR was incredibly responsible in every environment, and it worked discreetly with minimal noticeable interference.
One feature I could not truly comprehend at first was cruise control. I simply thought, ‘why?’ Why would a race bike ever need cruise control? The answer is, for the purposes of racing, it really doesn’t. But when you’re riding on the highway, and you’re only in mid-second gear with a heavy throttle hand… Let’s just say we can call cruise control on this bike ‘assisted self-control’.
When you’re not just riding along with the cruise control engaged, the BMW S1000RR shows its prowess. The water-cooled, 999cc inline four has a deep bore (80×49.7mm) for a noticeable sense of stability when the engine is revving high. In contrast, low rpm riding (2-5k) in first gear has a bit of a chug to it. Realistically the engine will never be operating in this range in first gear sans clutch, so it is easily overlooked.
It’s incredibly difficult to feel the speed on this bike. The 4-piece aluminum cast chassis remains rigid, offering sublime balance, great road feedback and smooth gliding. In the corners, the S1000RR does exactly what you want it to. 412lbs never felt so light. Since the previous model, 9lbs of weight have been shed, and alterations in the steering geometry have resulted in a centre of gravity further back and higher up on the bike; it dives in without the slightest bit of hesitation and never makes you feel out of control. Minute degrees of throttle application past the 9,000RPM point offer more than enough torque to pull out of the corner, with the optional (but recommended) DTC system as a safeguard in the event of an overzealous slip of the throttle. When you need it to stop, the S1000RR’s brakes have some serious stopping power: a force truly to be reckoned with and handled with caution. This bike comes standard equipped with ABS for its twin-disc, 4-piston caliper front brakes and single disc rear brakes.
The S1000RR’s seating position is, in my opinion, the second most comfortable behind Suzuki’s GSX-R1000. The only way in which the Suzuki’s comfort exceeds that of the BMW is the seat, which has a little more padding. The S1000RR’s seat, though a touch harder, is quite deep. BMW claims it and it is noticeably true; when straddling the S1000RR, I felt as if I was really sitting in the bike, and I was in control now. The Yamaha R1, in comparison, felt very much as if I was perched on top of the bike. The handlebars on the S1000rr are not as far forward as those on the R1 either; the BMW is as a result easier to ride for longer durations. BMW’s choices with regards to seating position and ergonomics make a solid impact on increasing how connected the rider feels with their two-wheeled rocket.
Let’s talk for a moment about aesthetics. The S1000RR is, in my opinion, one of the most stylistically ingenious bikes out there. The two halves of this bike (left and right) are styled differently, yet still alike. The long, angular right headlight is complemented by the edgy gill-like fairing, and the oblong left headlight is tied to the intake on the left side. All of it comes together beyond pleasantly in the rear, and is wrapped up by the aggressive taillight. It’s available in Light Grey, Thunder Grey, Shine Yellow, and Motorsport Alpine White non-metallic, and it looks damn sexy in all forms.
Riding the 2015 BMW S1000RR is like getting my own little taste of perfection. Would I ride it every day? Maybe not. The S1000RR is meant for the track, and sitting in traffic on a hot day was not without a hellish amount of heat coming off the engine. Then again, riding this superbike is as close as you’ll get to flying without wings.
2015 BMW S1000RR Gallery
*Photos by Stephen Spyropoulos*