BMW S1000RR (2015) - First Test!

Author: Roland Brown Posted: 21 Oct 2014

Reversed asymmetrical headlights for 2015

It’s five years since BMW’s original S1000RR arrived out of nowhere to redefine super-sports performance with its outrageous blend of sophistication and sheer power. Followed shortly afterwards by the HP4 version that added the refinement of semi-active suspension and more to help keep the German four on top in most open-class shootouts.

Now, with fresh opposition on the way in the shape of revamped challengers from Aprilia, Ducati and Yamaha (to name just three), BMW has upped its game again with a second-generation S1000RR. After a day spent thrashing the new RR round the Monteblanco circuit in the south of Spain, it’s clear that its new rivals are going to have to be mighty good even to come close to matching it.

It's forthcoming rivals are going to have to be good

Apart from its reversed headlight arrangement — now with the bigger dip beam lens on the right instead of the left — this RR looks very similar to the old model, but it is comprehensively updated. The 999cc, 16-valve motor gets a new cylinder head with new intake cam and lighter inlet valves. A bigger airbox, shorter intake trumpets and new exhaust help boost peak power by 6bhp to a max of 199bhp at 13,500rpm.

The chassis is also extensively modified, incorporating a lighter frame with steeper steering geometry, revised stiffness and an 8mm longer wheelbase. Weight is down by 4kg to 204kg with a full tank. Suspension rates at both ends are tweaked, and the RR now gets the option of an updated version of the HP4’s Dynamic Damping Control semi-active suspension.

It also comes with a long list of high-tech options and accessories, including a Pro riding mode that adds to the normal three options (Rain, Sport and Race) with a track-focused Slick plus a User mode that allows a rider-defined set-up of throttle response, suspension settings and more. The launch bikes were all fully optioned-up but overnight rain meant we started in Rain mode, which softens throttle response and cuts peak power — though now only to a still fairly adequate 187bhp!

Close-up shows the array of switches and options

The first two Monteblanco sessions highlighted the BMW’s stunning range of performance and refinement. In Rain mode it made relearning a slightly damp track almost ridiculously easy, its ABS-enabled brakes helping to gauge grip levels, as did the improved DTC traction control system that smoothly moderated the power — before unleashing all 187 horses on the long main straight once the bike was sufficiently upright.

Then when the track had dried for the second session, selecting Race mode with a press of the handlebar button instantly firmed up the suspension, restored the full 199bhp max and turned the RR into an awesomely fast and sharp-steering weapon… which was outperformed only when I pressed the button again to select Slick mode, which firms the suspension still more, disables the linked braking system (which adds a touch of rear when you squeeze the handlebar lever) and enables the Aprilia RSV4-style bar-mounted buttons for adjusting the traction control on the move.

Staggeringly fast but thankfully with incredibly powerful brakes

 Of course the RR is staggeringly fast; it was still pulling hard in fifth at over 150mph on the pit straight, when I had to haul on the incredibly powerful yet standard four-piston radial Brembos for the following second-gear right-hander. But it was the BMW’s controllability and ease of use even at those extreme speeds that made the biggest impression.

 With slicks fitted for the last two sessions the ABS was amazingly good; the semi-active suspension firmed-up the front end under braking and the rear under acceleration, helping to keep the bike remarkably balanced and stable; and the traction control worked so seamlessly that this most powerful of bikes was also remarkably rider-friendly.

Available in Red & White Blue & White is one of three colour options Black for the stealth look, or for under cover policemen

Its numerous electronic features include the optional Gear Shift Assist Pro, which allows clutchless changes both up and down the box. This worked flawlessly, in combination with the slipper clutch, and I was surprised how useful I found being able to concentrate on corner entry without needing to think about down-changes.

Lean Angle Display

October 2014

I managed 58 degrees through one banked right-hander!

Roland Brown

Electronic updates also include a high-tech instrument panel that displays actual and maximum lean angle (I managed 58 degrees through one banked right-hander; uber-fast ex-GP rider Jurgen Fuchs recorded 60 degrees!), acceleration rates and more. For track use there’s a launch control and a pit-lane speed limiter that you could also use for fun in the High Street. Road riders get the option of cruise control as well as heated grips.

The S1000RR is bound to cost more than the previous model when kitted out with all the launch bikes’ features, but will cost significantly less than the discontinued HP4. Prices haven’t been announced and nor has BMW UK confirmed whether there will be a higher-spec model incorporating most of the options, as with the S1000R Sport. What is for sure is that this revamped S1000RR is a stunningly fast, sophisticated and useable machine that will be very hard to beat on either road or track.

Familiar yet refined touches on the 2015 model

Tech Spec


Water/oil-cooled, 4-cylinder, 4-stroke in-line




199bhp @ 13,500rpm


113Nm (83.3ft lbs) @ 10,500rpm

Wet weight

204kg (full tank)

Fuel Tank Capacity

17.5 litres


Aluminium composite bridge frame, partially self-supporting engine


Front: Upside-down telescopic fork Ø 46 mm, compression and rebound stage adjustable

Rear: Aluminium 2-sided swing arm, compression and rebound damping adjustable


Front: Twin disc brake, floating brake calipers, 4-piston fixed caliper, diameter 320 mm

Rear: Single disc brake, single piston floating caliper, diameter 220 mm

ABS: BMW Motorrad Race ABS (part-integral), disengageable, modes to select


Length: 2,050mm

Width (inc. mirrors): 826mm

Height: 1,140mm

Seat height



Blue/white, Red, Black

Photos: Arnold Debus, Jorg Kunstle & Alberto Martinez