2014 BMW S1000R: Superbike performance in a user-friendly package

Stripped-down version of RR retains race-ready goodies in an everyday street bike.

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MALLORCA, SPAIN?When BMW launched the S1000RR motorcycle in late 2009, it took the supersport class to a new level.

It out-powered its nearest competitor by about 10 horsepower, handled like a race bike, and immediately won magazine shootouts against its Japanese rivals.

With such a sharp focus on performance, BMW didn’t initially divert resources toward designing a naked bike based on that platform. However, now that the S1000RR has proven itself in showrooms, the focus has naturally turned to a spinoff bike ? one that would offer the RR’s performance but in an ergonomically friendly, everyday-useable package.

The result is the 2014 S1000R, which will be at showrooms in early spring. Priced aggressively at $14,700, it’s on par with the Aprilia Tuono V4 R and the Triumph Speed Triple ABS, so it should give its naked European competitors some grief in the showroom.

It also undercuts the S1000RR by almost $3,000, costs $2,500 less than the K1300R, and is even $1,350 cheaper than the R1200R boxer.

In losing one R, many changes were incorporated into the high-performance roadster to make it a more manageable street bike than the RR.

To counter the rearward-shifted weight bias after removing the fairing, the wheelbase was stretched by 22 mm to 1,429 mm. Its wide handlebar and lack of wind protection can affect stability, so the chassis geometry was slightly altered for less-aggressive steering.

The 999cc inline four-cylinder engine has been subdued for naked bike duty, now rated at 160 hp. Despite this 33-hp deficit compared to the RR, peak torque remains unchanged at 83 lb.-ft., although the R’s engine mapping has been tweaked to produce 7.5 lb.-ft. more torque below 7,500 r.p.m.

The R keeps all of the RR’s race-ready goodies, such as a slipper clutch, ride-by-wire throttle control, selectable ride modes, semi-linked Race ABS, ASC, adjustable front and rear suspension and a steering damper.

It also gets the racier options, such as the adjustable DTC (dynamic traction control) and electronically adjustable, semiactive DDC (dynamic damping control) suspension.

The DTC is part of the $950 Sport Package that includes an electric shift assist. Opting for this package gets you the capability of adding Dynamic and Dynamic Pro ride modes to the standard Rain and Road modes, via a coding plug in the wiring harness.

The S1000R looks better in the metal than in photos. It’s angular and futuristic, but not as bold as the new Kawasaki Z1000, which has taken naked motorcycle styling to a very different place.

Where the BMW’s styling comes apart for me is below the waistline, where it is obvious that the exposed crankcases and muffler were designed to be concealed by a fairing.

BMW does have an accessory engine spoiler to cover this, available alone or as part of the $775 Dynamic package, which also includes the electronically adjustable, semi-adaptive DDC suspension.

During our morning ride briefing, we were told it could get as low as 3 C in the mountains of Mallorca. Fortunately, my test bike was equipped with the optional heated grips.

The S1000R has an upright riding position, with ample legroom, and it produces a nearly intoxicating exhaust sound for an inline four. It’s by no means loud, but it produces a rich, low-pitched growl ? I kept rolling off the throttle in town just to listen to its burbling, popping overrun.

The roads got progressively tighter as we headed into the mountains and, within an hour, they were almost too tight for even a supermoto.

Switchbacks curled around themselves, sometimes at more than 180 degrees, and the R proved just a bit ponderous in these tight quarters. The more relaxed steering geometry gave the front end a slightly disconnected feeling, although to be fair, Mallorca’s pavement did little to inspire confidence.

We were told during the morning briefing that the light-coloured asphalt found throughout the Balearic island was somewhat lacking in grip. What we discovered was pavement with the friction coefficient of eggshell.

Our testers were equipped with DDC and DTC, and the different ride modes made a considerable difference in the bike’s behaviour. The ride modes integrate throttle control, ABS, DSC and DTC settings.

My only gripe with the bike is that it is geared a bit shorter than the RR, causing it to rev a bit high at highway speeds.

It’s a docile machine when needed, but if you wick it up (especially in one of the Dynamic modes), it becomes a genuinely heart-palpitating hooligan.

Transportation for freelance writer Costa Mouzouris was provided by the manufacturer.

2014 BMW S1000R

Price: $14,700

Engine: 999cc, liquid-cooled inline four

Power/Torque: 160 hp/83 lb.-ft.

Fuel Economy (L/100 km): 5.5 hwy. (claimed)

Competition: Aprilia Tuono V4 R, Kawasaki Z1000, Triumph Speed Triple ABS

What’s Best: S1000RR performance in a user-friendly package

What’s Worst: High engine revs at highway speeds

What’s Interesting: BMW engineers initially stripped down an S1000RR but found its handling too nervous for production, hence the revised chassis geometry.

  • 2014 BMW S1000R: Superbike performance in a user-friendly package

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