The turbulent, visceral engine vibes of the BMW S1000RR really reminded me of my old, built-to-the-hilt 2001 Yamaha YZF-R1 AMA Formula Xtreme racebike but with even more massive urge. The BMW’s raw power was amazing, and with traction control set to Slick mode, wheelspin was tempered only by what was left of the Race 1 Metzeler rubber’s usable life. Rest in peace, my friend…
During the first laps, I spent a lot of time power-sliding during exits by late-apexing. After I found so much confidence in exits, the BMW began to convince me to put a little faith in front-end grip, too. More corner speed meant more lean angle and made my size nines start dragging, so I pulled in to save some boot to kick ass tomorrow.
When tomorrow came, the scuttlebuzz was that the BMW had posted some impressive practice times. I steered clear of Motociclismo’s Guillermo Artola at MasterBike timing and scoring, concentrating instead on my four laps and my 10 percent safety margin as I started charging ahead on track. Was it just me, or was the quick-shifter’s kill duration too long as I made the short shift for the important Turn 10/Turn 11 left-hand combo where you spend what feels like 10 minutes a lap on the side of the sliding tire? Something wasn’t right; I could feel the traction-control system cutting in instead of letting me cut loose.
Unfamiliar with the BMW, I pressed on and continued to feel the shame and frustration of acceleratus interruptusat every corner exit. Along the downhill back straight, the S1000RR was a missile. But when I went for the brake and two backshifts, the bike wouldn’t let me; I had to take to the run-off. Flustered and at a loss, I turned around and went after what was left of my allotted time. Downshifting worked without a glitch when I did it at lower rpm and used more clutch (like with the GSX-R), and at least I could get the BMW turned with less effort than I could on the Suzuki. But I continued to feel the bike’s traction control busily working away at every turn, and my boots kept dragging, keeping this bike from being my favorite. Yet the two other fastest Masters mustered their best times on the S1000RR. What gives?! Upon my return to the pits, the BMW support staff wanted to know what went wrong. I confessed my electro-inhibitions, and they went straight to the right handlebar. “Ah! You just rode it in Sport mode! It should be in Slick setting!”
What’s that mean? In Sport mode, the BMW system provides liberal intrusive interruption of power when accelerating while leaned over, puts the kiboshon steering with rear wheelspin, delivers a Newport-Beach-PD level of wheelie inhibition and allows ABS to shut my hacked-out corner entries right down. The BMW people tell me Slick mode would’ve taken at least a second off my best time of 2:03.662, and that would’ve made it my fastest time…but no.
Even in Slick mode, Freddy Papunen from Motorrad Sweden, who set the fastest time of the whole test on the BMW—1:59.927—felt like the bike held him back just a bit: “When I pushed for lap times, the traction control cut in a little too aggressively while changing direction under acceleration. It also stopped some small wheelies and I didn’t like that.” But you can’t argue with the raw numbers. This thing is fast.