Back in 2014 when I was first starting to review motorcycles, I spent a weekend with what was then the first iteration of the BMW S1000R, and I fell in love. So much so that I put my money where my mouth was and ended up purchasing and taking one home. The bike was everything I wanted and more, and in the years that followed has been a faithful and reliable motorcycle which I’ve grown to love more each time I ride it. When BMW Canada offered up the latest 2022 BMW S1000R, my wallet started to get really worried. As much as I love my 2015 model, I was excited to see just how much better they could really make it.
As I’m sure we all know that the latest iteration of BMW’s ultimate super-naked moto is based largely on its supersport-oriented older sister, the S1000RR. Most of the major components are shared between the two bikes: engine, frame, suspension, and the vast majority of the electronics that both bikes are brimming with. Not any huge surprises here really.
Like in the previous generation, the engine has also been tuned for less horsepower, but higher torque than the RR, coming in at 165hp and 84 lb-ft. of torque. Compared to my 2015, the 2022 pushes out an extra 5 ponies, and 1 lb-ft. of torque, which doesn’t sound like a very big difference at all, because it isn’t. Where we start to see the differences is how and when that power is applied while you’re underway.
The power application is, well, constant and surging. Delivery comes on in an incredibly linear way and the engine produces very little theatrics until you’re well up into the top quarter of the RPM range – that’s when you’ll find the bike trying to push the front wheel up before the anti-wheelie control keeps it floating perfectly level above the ground. But anywhere before that point, the S1000R just surges forward with a steady propulsion that doesn’t let up. It’s a bit disarming because the bike almost always feels like it’s going slower than it is.
Power is always there, stability is always there, but there’s not anything that flashes any teeth at you as you misbehave. The bike only feels more stable at speed, and even a hard shot of throttle won’t send the rear tire sideways – the response almost always feels like it’s been delayed a millisecond more than it needed to be, even in full dynamic-pro configuration, which certainly gives the traction control systems enough time to re-calculate your input and apply it how it sees fit.
The ride mode configuration is top notch though. Enabling the dynamic pro ride mode allows riders to select between varying levels of intervention from traction control, wheelie control, ABS, and engine response systems, so you can set it just as you like. In hopes of reducing any intervention under hard acceleration I sharpened throttle response/engine output to their highest, while winding down traction and wheelie control a bit.
I left ABS cranked up to maximum, because ABS is good and there’s pretty much no reason to deactivate it on the road. I found this to be more conducive to my riding style than any of the pre-programmed modes, and it would a welcome feature to allow for more than one custom mode to be configurable.
Another core strength of the S1000R is just how accurate it feels on corners. The lean-in is incredibly precise, and there really isn’t any point I encountered where the bike wants to lean more than you do. It adds a lot of confidence to corner entry and allows riders to always push it a bit further without things slipping away from them because that tipping point just never comes. The stability in corners is just phenomenal, and I found myself unphased while downshifting at an apex, as I hit a bump in the road. The quick shifter and dynamic suspension also did a dang good job of keeping me planted, and I can shamelessly say that the bike more than compensated for my own mistakes as a rider.
The engineers put in some overtime with this, and that’s made the S1000R a truly approachable bike: forgiving, even to a fault. You’re not riding the knife’s edge, but perhaps have firmly grasped the handle, while wearing a chainmail glove.
In the past, within the street-fighter segment the previous-gen BMW entry was certainly one of the more refined and less dramatic to ride of the lot, but this latest model makes it look like the entire extended edition of Keeping Up With the Kardashians by comparison. The 2022 S1000R is subdued. The design team really set out to make something less polarizing than the cross-eyed outgoing model, and have alienated less potential buyers with the tamer bodywork and headlight.
The engineering team has designed it into submission, and as a byproduct of their precision & prowess, the bike can ride a lot like a calculator. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, after all there’s plenty of fun you can have with calculators (like writing 5318008 and passing it to your friend in fifth grade math class) but they still aren’t the first thing you’d bring to show & tell.
Yes, by way of pure computational power it would be the best and most useful item shown in class, but it’s not going to be as memorable as the kid who tries to set off a bottle rocket in front of the chalkboard. That’s where the 2022 BMW S1000R kind of sits for me. Yes, it’s a fantastic bike that excels at everything it does, but it still has all the personality of a textbook. Is it for me? I don’t think so. But is it for a whole lot more riders than the previous generation? Only a fool would think otherwise.