First Ride: 2010 BMW S1000RR

BMW launches its four-cylinder S1000RR superbike in Portugal.

2010 BMW S1000RR - First Ride

2010 BMW S1000RR - First Ride

Normally, pinning the throttle wide-open on a liter-class supersport machine while at or near full lean in a corner would spell certain disaster. Common sense rules out grabbing even half a handful of gas while at the apex of a tight bend. Yet despite survival instincts honed through nearly 30 years of riding and racing experience, I found myself at full throttle with my knee skimming the tarmac and wanting even more from the fuel-injected, dohc, four-cylinder engine that powers BMW's new-for-2010S1000RR.

Okay, that's an extreme example of the Bavarian bike maker's race-developed Dynamic Traction Control in action. But it was nevertheless my experience aboard a production S1000RR during the first of several 20-minute sessions at the world press introduction staged this past November at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimão, Portugal.

Per BMW's direction, I spent my initial on-track stint in "rain mode," the tamest of the RR's four selectable power-delivery modes that can be toggled on the fly via a handlebar-mounted switch. With a full day of warm, sunny track time ahead, I felt no sense of urgency to explore the more potent Sport, Race or Slick settings. I haven't spent that much time at full twist on a road course since I raced a Kawasaki Ninja 250 back in the day!

A particularly interesting aspect of the DTC strategy is the use of an onboard lean-angle sensor that restricts the ride-by-wire throttle from opening farther when lean angle exceeds a mode-specific maximum bank angle. The lean threshold for rain mode is 38 degrees, which meant it was quite easy to dip into the dead power-delivery zone in dry, grippy conditions. It was a rather odd sensation to experience such a pronounced delay in acceleration until the bike was once again relatively upright at the exit of a corner. I'm anxious to try this mode in actual wet conditions.

Switching to any of the higher-performing modes unleashed in full the engine's claimed 181 rear-wheel horsepower. Sport tempers initial throttle response, provides greater DTC intervention and a 45-degree max angle for acceleration compared to the one-to-one response and even deeper electronic lean limits of the Race and Slick modes.

The Metzeler RaceTec K3 radials had barely broken a sweat until I put in a series of hard laps in Race. With DTC watching my back, I was able to execute controlled slip-'n'-grip drives out of nearly every corner of the 13-turn circuit with remarkable ease. Apparently, the throttle control and sense for available traction that I've carefully honed during the past three decades has been rendered obsolete. Button-mashing video gamers should feel right at home on this new Beemer. And I haven't even discussed the Race ABS brake system!

One thing is certain: The S1000RR is the real deal. BMW has finally produced a sportbike that performs on par with the current competition from Austria, Italy and Japan. Look for a full riding impression of the S1000RR in an upcoming issue of Cycle World.

2010 BMW S1000RR

2010 BMW S1000RR

2010 BMW S1000RR

2010 BMW S1000RR

2010 BMW S1000RR

2010 BMW S1000RR

2010 BMW S1000RR

2010 BMW S1000RR

2010 BMW S1000RR

2010 BMW S1000RR