BMW S1000R Review (2021)

 

BMW admits they could have produced a 200bhp S 1000 R. In fact, they could have done that back in 2014, but it would have been unusable on the road and, in their opinion, you don’t need that much power on a naked bike, when you simply can’t hold on.

Therefore, unlike most of the competition in this highly contested class, BMW has chosen to upgrade the engine, which is now lighter and Euro-5 compliant, but not increase its output, but instead to reduce overall weight (by 7kg) and make the all-new S 1000 R more versatile and accessible.

We’re used to manufacturers bragging about peak horsepower, getting as much as they can in order to grab headlines and impress potential customers. But BMW has kept peak power the same – 162bhp/121kw and 114Nm/84tlb of torque – while focusing on reducing weight wherever possible. The standard bike is 7kg lighter than the previous model and the M-Sport (on test), a further 5kg lighter.

But it’s not just lightness and power. BMW is keen to point out some of the ‘real world’ benefits: longer 4th, 5th and 6th gears for better fuel consumption and fewer vibrations at touring speeds; a tighter turning circle; and state of the art rider aids and electronics like the new 6.5in TFT display. BMW claim this is a road bike, which has been improved for the urban and touring environment, whilst still being enjoyable to ride in the twisties and on track.

BMW provided us with the ‘top spec’ £17,325 M model for an enjoyable day on the road, followed by an evening carving up the demanding Cadwell Park racetrack.

 

For and against
  • Lightweight feeling and handling
  • Electronics and rider aids, including the dash
  • Semi-active suspension
  • Brake lights in indicators
  • Power figures won’t impress down the pub
  • Fuel cap not keyless

BikeSocial's road testing leviathan, Adam 'Chad' Child, was enlisted to ride the new BMW S1000R on the UK press launch on road and track (Cadwell Park)... and he's bagged one as a long termer too so expect plenty more updates throughout the year.

2021 BMW S1000R Review Price Spec_28

 

BMW S 1000 R M Package (2021) Price

As tested: £17,325 (plus alarm fitted @ £225, E-Call Emergency SOS system - £305, and front brake guard (due to Cadwell requirements) - £145).

The base model starts at a very reasonable £12,035, and with that you get the same power and torque as the M model, LED lights, a TFT display, cornering ABS and TC as standard, and three riding modes. Suspension is conventional, but you have all the benefits of the new frame, and the bike is 7kg lighter than the previous model.

The next logical step is the premium model Sport at £14,525. It has the same chassis and engine but adds semi-active suspension, the Comfort and Dynamic package, plus headlight Pro, RDC (tyre pressure monitor) (E-Call). Finally, the bike on test: at £17,325 it’s as the Sport model but with the M package.

The M model is the ultimate S 1000 R, with semi-active suspension, forged wheels (carbon rims are an option), a lightweight battery, a titanium silencer (by Akrapovič), an endurance chain, the Motorsport livery, M seat, M fuel cap, three screen options, and the M Laptrigger enabling code. The M package reduces weight by a further 5kg, which is 12kg saved overall compared to the previous generation model.

Which one you go for depends on what you want from your S 1000 R.  The base bike at just over £12,000 undercuts the sporty competition by some margin, but the ‘top spec’ M model is more comparable to what those bikes offer. The M is more expensive than Triumph’s new Speed Triple 1200 RS, which comes with conventional suspension, but cheaper than Aprilia’s Tuono V4 Factory, which is £18,100 and still a decent saving over Ducati’s Streetfighter V4S, at £19,999 – and both Italians come with semi-active suspension by Öhlins.

 

Power and torque

BMW openly admits they could have given the S 1000 R more power, even used ShiftCam technology, as per the S 1000 RR. But, they say, it isn’t necessary, you can’t use it and most riders don’t require it – it would only add cost. In Rain and Road mode BMW already limits power in the lower gears and, according to BMW, high top speeds and over rev are not needed on a naked road bike and are only used infrequently.

For this reason, BMW has chosen to use the new engine from the current RR, which brings a weight saving of 5kg, and has focused on strong mid-range torque and control. Peak power is now 162bhp/121w and 114Nm/84ftlb of torque.

To put the new performance into context, the S 1000 R produces 10% more torque than the RR at the bottom of the rev range, has a smoother and fatter torque curve than the old model S 1000 R, even though peak figures are the same.

For 2021, the R receives longer 4th, 5th and 6th gears, which cuts vibration, fuel consumption and noise levels when touring. The lower gear ratios stay the same as the previous model. The clutch is also new for 2021 and features a lighter feel – just over 20% lighter on the now adjustable lever.

 

 

Engine, gearbox and exhaust

The standard Akrapovič titanium silencer sounds soulful with every blip of the throttle. Around town, there’s a charismatic burble on the overrun, even at low rpm. At times it’s only just noticeable, allowing you to filter through town with just a hint of a menacing growl. It then builds and sounds wonderful as the revs increase. The cut in the ignition during clutchless up and down-shifts on the Shift Assist Pro, adds even more enjoyment to my eardrums.

I can see why BMW hasn’t wasted R&D money searching for more power. How much power do you need on a naked superbike that will be primarily ridden on the road? 162bhp puts it in the fight with Triumph’s Speed Triple RS (177bhp) and Aprilia’s Tuono V4 Factory (175bhp) both of which I’ve ridden recently on the road and track. Despite producing some 10bhp less, it doesn’t feel it, and I guess that is because the 1000cc inline-four weighs less than the competition, especially in the attractive M package. BMW claims the S 1000 R (M), once fuelled up ready to ride, is the lightest bike in this class, and in back-to-back tests, even out accelerate Ducati’s 205bhp streetfighter to 0-100kph and 0-140kph, and is almost identical on time to 0-200kph.

Aside from its lightness, the key to the BMW’s acceleration and speed is the way its power is so usable, and far from intimidating. The throttle connection is lovely, the rider aids superb, and in Rain, Road, and Dynamic mode power is limited in the lower gears enabling less experienced riders to get on the gas sooner.

Rain, Road, and Dynamic come as standard, but our M-spec test bike also gained the Dynamic Pro mode, which essentially frees up the rider aids for experienced riders on the road or track and allows you to personalise settings.

For the first part of the test, I spent most of the ride in the standard Road or Dynamic mode. The TC is lean sensitive and is very similar to the system used on the current M 1000 RR and Tom Sykes’s World Superbike ride. There is a noticeable step between the modes: Road mode is very forgiving, the fuelling is excellent both around town and on the open road; then when you flick into the Dynamic or Dynamic Pro there’s a noticeable change (added by the change in semi-active suspension, more of which later), especially in the Pro mode, which neutralises the anti-wheelie control and allows you to have fun.

In the Pro setting, wheelies are inevitable and, although my method isn’t exactly scientific, it’s a great mode in which to test the fuelling and intimidation level of a bike. Some bikes are daunting on the back wheel – each degree of the throttle has a dramatic change on the height of the front wheel – whereas the BMW isn’t. On one wheel it’s as intimidating as an angry kitten.

On track at Cadwell Park, I was revelling in the new advanced rider aids and forgiving power. The notorious track was damp in sections, wet under the trees, then dry for the rest of the lap. I was thankful for the reduced power in the lower gears, and a little TC to keep the rear under control. Each lap I could feel the TC working, controlling the rear 200-section Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa 2 in the damp conditions, yet it wasn’t intrusive over the famous Mountain section as the front lifted.

The track dried out, so back in the pits I quickly flicked into the Pro mode, reduced the TC to a minimum, and went out for more fun. The clever electronics allow wheelies over The Mountain yet are there in the background should you get a little too carried away – and remember, they are lean-sensitive. The new TFT dash makes the rider aids accessible and easy to use.

On a drying track, especially down the back straight to Park Corner, I had the throttle pinned to the stop. And while it was quick – very quick – it wasn’t rapid in the same way a Ducati Streetfighter V4 would have been at the same point. The Ducati packs a bigger bunch than the BMW, and on track this would be noticeable, depending on the length of the straight.

But there is a flip side. I rode all evening around Cadwell, at times staying out for 30 minutes, and when I came back to the pits, I wasn’t exhausted – that wouldn’t have been the same story on the Ducati. The usability of the BMW S 1000 R makes it a doddle to ride on track. Even inexperienced hands won’t feel intimidated by it, but they would by some of the competition.

Obviously, we didn’t have the competition to the BMW at Cadwell, but I have ridden all the main protagonists, and know them very well. I’d estimate the Ducati and maybe MV Brutale would lap quicker, but they would be hard work. And I think the average rider would have more fun, feel safer, and eventually lap quicker on the BMW.

 

 

Handling, suspension and weight

As we tested the M model, the mode changes the semi-active suspension, and how it reacts. Several times whilst attacking bumpy B-roads at speed I found the semi-active suspension a little harsh in the Dynamic mode, but with a flick of a button and into Road mode, and the suspension became more compliant, plusher and took the punishment with ease. Again, the new 6.5in TFT dash displays this information clearly, and it’s easy to flick between modes. BMW has moved the rear shock backwards, away from the heat of the exhaust, but more importantly it has a longer stroke, whilst maintaining the same 120mm of rear-wheel travel. This enables a plusher feel.

The reduction in weight is instantly noticeable, even more so on the M-model which equates to 12kg lighter than the previous model. The M’s sport seat is slightly higher than before, but because the seat and frame are thinner, my 5ft 7in frame can still securely get two feet on the ground.

The new S 1000 R feels much lighter, more flickable and more agile. We were told in the press briefing that it now feels like a 600 and goes like a thou’. I’ve done this job for over 20 years and heard similar claims before, but the BMW really does feel and handles like a much smaller bike. I was truly surprised by how flickable and friendly the BMW is. I always remember the old bike as bit of a bruiser, like the competition from Triumph, but now it’s much nimbler.  

This lack of bulk, combined with such a user-friendly engine, makes the S 1000 R more forgiving than ever. Around town it is a doddle to ride. The steering lock was 27-degrees, now it is 33, which means you can turn even tighter. The clutch is lighter, even though you only need it once to set off as the Pro-Shift is perfect. In Rain mode, a complete novice would find the BMW as aggressive as a hamster. I can’t think of many bikes that are just as comfortable cutting up traffic on a daily city commute as they are on a racetrack. The versatility of the S 1000 R has certainly improved.

That lightness and response also translated onto the track at Cadwell Park. Cadwell requires fast direction changes, it’s one of the most physical tracks on the British Superbike calendar, yet the Beemer took it with ease. In the Dynamic Pro mode, the semi-active suspension was on the money, offering great feedback. Years back, I was a little critical of some semi-active suspension systems, especially on track and on the limit, but the Beemer’s feel and feedback were excellent. BMW opted to run the same Pirelli rubber we used for testing on the road and simply dropped the pressures. Possibly with slick tyres, the suspension may require an electronic tweak to cope with the greater forces, but in the standard form the standard setting was almost faultless, only struggling a little on the one particularly bumpy apex.

 

 

BMW S 1000 R M Package (2021) Comfort and Economy

The design and engineering team in Germany hasn’t wasted time searching for more horsepower and how to control it, which has allowed them to focus on other areas like comfort and everyday usability – where the BMW S 1000 R scores highly.

The riding position can be adjusted to accommodate different sizes (the 830mm seat is standard, but there is an 810mm and 850mm option). The new straight bars can be moved upwards and forward by 10mm and, as mentioned, both levers are adjustable. There are even bar risers in the accessories catalogue that raise the bars by another 10mm.

Those with a keen eye will have noticed there’s no pillion seat or pegs. Instead, the S 1000 R comes with an attractive rear section and no pillion seat in all three versions. However, when you purchase your S 1000 R you can opt for a pillion seat and pegs kit, with the pillion seat now 10mm thicker. Personally, I like the bespoke single-seat, while the ‘jet fighter’ flap which neatly covers the lock is a quality touch, one of many to be found all over this classy bike.

As you would expect, cruise control and heated grips come as standard with the M package. Combine these with the plush, semi-active suspension, comfortable riding position, and taller gearing for less vibration and increased mpg, and you have a naked more than capable of churning out some serious miles. On test, I averaged 44mpg on the road, which gives a theoretical tank range of 158 miles.

For me, what really sets the BMW S 1000 R above the competition is its hugely informative and intuitive 6.5in TFT dash. I’ve owned BMWs previously, so I’m possibly biased and familiar with the BMW navigation wheel, but still there is no denying the clarity and clear information the clocks provide. From lap times and lean angle, even the amount of TC intervention in the race format, to tyre pressures and multiple trips and tank range… it is one of the best and most informative displays on the market.

 

BMW S 1000 R M Package (2021) Brakes

The BMW-branded brakes (no longer Brembo) are the same as found on the BMW S 1000 RR, and the M model comes with slightly thicker discs for track riders (from 4.5mm to 5mm).

Cornering ABS comes as standard on the base model and ranges from 5 in Rain mode to 1 in Dynamic. There is also multiple engine braking and rear-wheel lift detection. The MSR works stronger in the lower gears at high rpm, when there is more engine braking and a greater chance of locking the rear. This all combines to produce very strong braking on track, yet the lever actuation is smooth rather than sharp.

On the track the stoppers were impressive; again the bike’s new lightness giving the radial calipers an easier time. Even on a long stint on track, there was no fade, and on a damp track I was hugely thankful for the cornering ABS.  It will be interesting to see how the BMW items compare the Brembo items found on the majority of the competition.

 

 

Rider aids, extra equipment, and accessories

The list of rider aids and equipment you get on the R depends on which model you chose. But even the standard £12,035 bike gets cornering TC and ABS, plus rider modes, and LED lights. Speaking of which, I don’t like the brake lights incorporated into the indicators.  Our test model M is at the other end of the spectrum, with every rider aid possible, plus extras like cornering headlights, more rider aids and modes, even lighter wheels, and nice touches like the very attractive Motorsport livery, which isn’t available as a paint-only option. In the M package you even get the not-so-obvious lightweight battery and endurance chain. Interestingly, the M uses a 200-section rear Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa 2 as opposed to the 190-section Dunlop Sport Smart MK3 on the standard model.

But if you wish to keep spending more money, there are even lighter carbon wheels, 2.8kg lighter than standard. If you have a fondness for carbon, there are extra dashes that you can treat yourself to as well.  

From a practical point of view, there is a range of luggage, side bags and tank bags, plus a fly screen.

 

Rivals

Oh, what a class this is. Almost every manufacturer has a fast naked in their line-up but some have supernakeds and the bar keeps getting raised with performance, rider aids and price.

 

Power

Torque

Weight

Price

Ducati Streetfighter V4S

205bhp (153kw) @ 12,750rpm

90ftlb (123Nm) @ 11,500rpm

199kg (wet)

£19,999

KTM1290 Super Duke R

177bhp (132kw) @ 9500rpm

103ftlb (140Nm) @ 8000rpm

189kg (dry)

£15,749

Aprilia Tuono V4 Factory

175bhp (129Kw) @ 11,350rpm

89ftlb (121m) @ 9,000rpm

185kg (dry)

£18,100

Triumph Speed Triple RS

177bhp (132.4kw) @ 10,750rpm

92ftlb (125Nm) @ 9,000rpm

196kg (wet)

£15,100

 

BMW S 1000 R M Package (2021) Verdict

It does lack the top-end excitement and thrill compared to the Ducati Streetfighter V4S, and I’d guess if you are just worried about lap times and bhp figures it might not be for you. But for 95% of the naked superbike market, the all-new BMW S 1000 R is ticking a lot of boxes, and in terms of versatility and usability, I can’t think of a bike in this category that can match it.

We’ve only touched on the looks, but the M package gets my approval; I like the exposed trellis subframe and high-end finish. And it goes as well as it looks and is just as happy cutting up city streets and even touring as it is on the racetrack.

An exciting, enjoyable road and track bike, which is easy to ride with usable rider aids and electronics, it might not have the headline-grabbing performance figures of the competition, but it’s a significant improvement over the old bike, which was already a good bike. This category is intensely competitive, but for those not seduced by lap times and horsepower, the BMW is an attractive ‘sensible’ option. If 162bhp naked superbike can ever be described as sensible.

 

I’ll be running the S 1000 R with M Package as my long-termer for BikeSocial this year so check back for updates on my adventures as I get to know the bike better.

 

2021 BMW S1000R Review Price Spec_12

 

BMW S 1000 R (M) Technical Specification

New price

£17,325

Capacity

999cc

Bore x Stroke

80x 49.7mm

Engine layout

4-cylinder

Engine details

Water-cooled, 4v.per cylinder

Power

121kw / 165hp @11,000rpm

Torque

114Nm / 84.08 lbft @ 9250rpm

Top speed

160mph (EST)

Transmission

6-speed

Average fuel consumption

44mpg - tested (road)
46mpg - claimed

Tank size

16.5 litres

Max range to empty

158 miles - tested

Rider aids

Riding Modes x 4, TC, anti-wheelie, engine brake, hill start, cornering ABS

Frame

Bridge aluminium

Front suspension

45mm inverted 120mm travel

Front suspension

Fully adjustable semi active

Rear suspension

Single rear shock, 117mm travel

Rear suspension

Fully adjustable semi active

Front brake

2x 320mm disc, radial Monobloc BMW four piston caliper

Rear brake

220mm disc, BMW one-piston caliper

Front tyre

120/70 17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa 2

Rear tyre

200/55 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa 2

Rake/Trail

24.2°/96mm

Wheelbase

1450mm

Seat height

830mm

Dry weight

194kg wet (M Package)

MCIA Secured rating

4/5 stars (Fitted with steering Lock, Immobiliser, Tracker and Datatag Marking but no Alarm)

Warranty

Unlimited miles / 3 years

Website

www.bmw-motorrad.co.uk

 

To learn more about what the spec sheet means, click here for our glossary

Photos by Double Red

 

2021 BMW S1000R Review Price Spec_MCIA

 

What is MCIA Secured?

MCIA Secured gives bike buyers the chance to see just how much work a manufacturer has put into making their new investment as resistant to theft as possible.

As we all know, the more security you use, the less chance there is of your bike being stolen. In fact, based on research by Bennetts, using a disc lock makes your machine three times less likely to be stolen, while heavy duty kit can make it less likely to be stolen than a car. For reviews of the best security products, click here.

MCIA Secured gives motorcycles a rating out of five stars, based on the following being fitted to a new bike as standard:

  • A steering lock that meets the UNECE 62 standard
  • An ignition immobiliser system
  • A vehicle marking system
  • An alarm system
  • A vehicle tracking system with subscription

The higher the star rating, the better the security, so always ask your dealer what rating your bike has, and compare it to other machines on your shortlist.

 

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