First Ride: Ruben Xaus' BMW S1000RR Factory Superbike

On-bike video: This BMW is fast!

Ruben Xaus' BMW S1000RR Factory Superbike - First Ride

Ruben Xaus' BMW S1000RR Factory Superbike - First Ride

Holy Heimlich Maneuver! Rubén Xaus' factory BMW S1000RR took my breath away. In race trim, this fuel-injected inline-Four makes more than 200 horsepower and has none of the road-going niceties—heated handgrips, anti-lock brakes or hard saddlebags—I associate with the Bavarian bike maker. Luckily for me, Xaus doesn't wear a flip-up helmet, either. After my Arai (and Alpinestars leathers, gloves and boots) got held up in customs, I had to borrow his custom-painted full-face Premier for my five-lap stint on his bike at the fantastic Algarvé circuit in Portimão, Portugal.

Xaus' World Superbike-spec racer is brutally fast, with surprisingly linear power delivery. At times, the engine felt like it was running lean, and I was waiting for a funky on/off-throttle power surge. Instead, all I got was crisp throttle response. My summation of this engine? Wow! Suspension was firm but nicely balanced, and there was little apparent weight transfer during hard acceleration or braking. Plus, traction was very good; I was able to sense what felt like individual granules of rubber.

Once, I got into left-hand, second-gear Turn 13 too hot, carrying too much entrance speed. I reached for the foot brake to slow the bike, but the pedal wasn't there; both Xaus and teammate Troy Corser use left-thumb-actuated rear brakes. Leaned way over, still braking hard, I discovered that the sidewalls of the front Pirelli slick are stiffer this year. The tire pushed a little, but it didn't flex and change shape.

Too soon, I had to exit Algarve's Turn-15 pit exit, but I came away with a new respect for BMW and its new S1000RR Superbike.

Ruben Xaus' BMW S1000RR Factory Superbike

Ruben Xaus' BMW S1000RR Factory Superbike

Ruben Xaus' BMW S1000RR Factory Superbike

Ruben Xaus' BMW S1000RR Factory Superbike

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Ruben Xaus' BMW S1000RR Factory Superbike

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Ruben Xaus' BMW S1000RR Factory Superbike

Ruben Xaus' BMW S1000RR Factory Superbike