The front straightaway at Circuito Estoril is more than a half mile long. Usually, this is where you look forward to getting some rest. Put the last few corners behind you, loosen your grip, and breathe before sweating it out for another lap. On the 2020 BMW S1000RR, however, I'm not tired enough to need a rest; this hustle has become easier.

When exiting Estoril's final third-gear right hander, the refinements to the S1000RR's ride-by-wire electronic suite prove themselves, the TC ushering me effortlessly off the corner with minimal wheelspin and wheelie control hanging the front wheel only inches above the pavement—no more, no less. Aided by seamless full-throttle gear changes, its linear power delivery makes the BMW deceptively fast. RPMs climb quickly to a 14,600-rpm redline, prompting higher gear and more speed. Tucked cozily behind the windscreen, the TFT dashboard displays 170 mph in top gear, but feels no more than 125 mph.

Four downshifts happen seamlessly and in quick succession thanks to BMW’s auto-blip downshifter and slipper clutch, while a firm two-finger squeeze on the brake lever sheds speed for turn 1. Only a handful of times did ABS intervene, effectively keeping the chassis composed and the rear wheel from lifting off the ground under serious braking. Confidence is at an all-time high for BMW. Minimal handlebar input decks the 426-pound fully fueled S1000RR to the right, where it carves a tight line through Estoril’s second-gear first corner. All with seemingly little effort.

improved chassis stability
Estoril’s final turn, the third-gear Parabolica, is hair-raising fast, yet sheds light on the S1000RR’s greatly improved chassis stability. Roll on the throttle harder. You’ll run out of track before you run into stability issues.Courtesy of BMW

The user-friendliness of the all-new S1000RR is a testament to BMW Motorrad’s hard work over the course of a 46-month developmental period. The German manufacturer didn’t want just a faster literbike, it wanted one that’s lighter and easier to ride.

Dial in TC settings
Dial in TC settings to -3 on Race mode and wheelie control to level 1, and the S1000RR accelerates away from corners hovering the front wheel for hundreds of feet. It makes you feel as if you’re a MotoGP superstar.Courtesy of BMW

Every element of the S1000RR was put on a diet, resulting in a total claimed weight loss of 25 pounds in comparison to the outgoing model. BMW says a large portion of the weight savings is found in the RR’s 999cc inline-four powerplant; much thanks to a significantly lighter crankshaft, hollow-bore titanium valves, and various other bits. The crankshaft alone saves more than 3.5 pounds dramatically reducing the rotating mass of the engine, promoting greater side-to-side agility. A smoother power curve is welcomed via the BMW ShiftCam Technology, which varies the intake valve timing at 9,000 rpm to ensure optimum power on both ends of the rpm spectrum. The result is a significant increase in low-to-midrange torque, while extracting a few more horses at peak power, bringing maximum output to a claimed 205 hp at 13,500 rpm.

Harnessing the RR’s grunt is the ride-by-wire electronic rider aid package, which now sees four selectable riding modes—Rain, Road, Dynamic, and Race—in standard trim. Each ride mode provides a combination of factory presets. Throttle response, traction control, wheelie control, engine-braking, semi-active suspension, and ABS parameters are specifically tailored for various modes of riding, but are not independently adjustable of one another. What you see on the 6.5-inch TFT dash is what you get. That’s unless you upgrade the S1000RR with BMW’s premium Race or M packages, which unlock additional race modes. Within the race modes, parameters are totally customizable, meaning you can fine-tune settings to your liking.

weight reduction
Transitioning the Double R through Estoril’s tight turns 8 and 9 is effortless—a testament to BMW’s focus on weight reduction.Courtesy of BMW

An all-new narrower and lighter chassis improves rideability as well, with advancements focused on agility. The highlight of the new chassis is an underslung swingarm inspired by BMW’s World Superbike endeavors. The swingarm repositions the rear shock further away from the engine, lessening the negative effects of heat buildup on the shock’s damping, and decreasing the amount of lateral force from the swingarm pivot to the axle point. The decreased force helps in a motorcycle’s ability to steer under acceleration, like in Estoril’s third-gear Parabolica.

Hayes brake calipers
BMW-branded four-piston Hayes brake calipers clamp onto a pair of 320mm brake discs. An overly aggressive initial bite has been solved, with the lever now offering a much more progressive feel.Courtesy of BMW

The motorcycle I tested came equipped with BMW’s M Package—priced at an additional $3,700 on top of the base model’s $16,995 MSRP—which is highlighted by fully adjustable Race Pro riding modes, carbon-fiber wheels derived from the ultra-exotic HP4 Race, a lightweight battery, and premium “Motorsport” livery. In total, the M package shaves another 7.7 pounds, bringing weight down to 426 pounds fully fueled. The day began with two 15-minute sessions with OEM-fitted Bridgestone S21 tires, followed by a trio of outings on Bridgestone V02 slick race rubber.

6.5 TFT dashboard
I found the 6.5 TFT dashboard’s Pure Riding screen to best fit my preferences on track. Other screens—Core 1, 2, and 3—offer more information like lap times, lean angle and TC intervention readings, but I prefer a simple layout. Oh, and redline is not at 6,000 rpm. Until the engine is properly warmed up, the tachometer offers a reminder to not over-rev.Courtesy of BMW

By the end of pit lane, I felt at home with the revised rider triangle. A slightly taller seat height puts the rider further atop and more in control of the motorcycle, while graciously offering more legroom and allowing for more effective input through the feet that’s needed in side-to-side transitions. Wider handlebars increase leverage without inducing uncomfortable wrist pressure under braking, and the tank offers a good point of contact to lock your knees in. Look where you want to go, apply pressure to the footpegs and handlebars, and the S1000RR will follow.

Chassis stability was exceptional, exhibiting total composure from corner entry to exit. Gone is the rear-end weave that hindered the predecessor’s ability to perform well in areas of hard acceleration, and in its place comes a physical relief for the rider as the throttle is opened. The new chassis provides a sure-footed feel in almost every area of the racetrack, but still lacks a confidence-inspiring feedback during corner entry. Throughout the day, I fettled with the Marzocchi fork’s DDC settings, but only found a degree of solution to the issue when the V02 race slicks were spooned on for the afternoon sessions. I assume a lighter fork spring would use more suspension travel, which could create more feel in the stroke at corner tip-in.

maximum output 205 hp
BMW Motorrad claims it increased maximum output to 205 hp on the RR, but it’s the smoothened power delivery that steals the show. Throttle response is much more linear, and no longer tries to rip your arms out under acceleration.Courtesy of BMW

Toggling between the three engine-brake settings, I regained some confidence to push the boundaries at corner entry. I chose level 2 of the three engine-brake settings for its ability to help load the front tire under deceleration, without over-slowing the motorcycle prior to the apex. Level 1 offers the least amount of deceleration, making it easy to overshoot the corners or apply an unnervingly amount of brake pressure.

Flicking from knee puck to knee puck is where the updated RR shines. The combination of reduced weight, significantly lower rotating mass crankshaft, and the M Package’s composite wheels destroys these transitions with very little body language. Our muscles thank you, BMW.

M Package-equipped S1000RR
The M Package-equipped S1000RR boasts a classic BMW Motorsport scheme, while the base model is only available in Racing Red.Courtesy of BMW

Little drama comes from an aggressive corner exit, thanks to a more tractable throttle response and refinements made to the traction and wheelie control systems. Four basic settings of TC are available in Ride Pro modes—Rain, Road, Dynamic, and Race—while each offers 15 total settings of adjustability, with +7 being the most intrusive and -7 being the least. I began my first session on slick tires in Race at the +2 setting, and progressively decreased the level of intrusion throughout the stint via switch gear on the left handlebar. I settled on -3, where the TC system would counteract puckering slides while still allowing the motorcycle to drive forward off the corner. Unlike the previous system, it works with rather than against you, finding a happy medium between acceleration and traction management.

underslung swingarm
BMW used data collected in the World Superbike championship to create an underslung swingarm for the 2020 model. The revised design decreases later force at the rear end, which in turn improves steering under acceleration.Courtesy of BMW

Initial delivery is impressively linear, even in the most aggressive throttle response mapping, with low-end grunt readily available from 5,000 rpm. The revs climb quickly, with a noticeable, yet comfortable hit coming at 11,700 rpm. Level 1 of the RR’s wheelie control system carries the front tire slightly off the ground in a MotoGP-esque manner. Power continues pulling strong until redline, where clutchless upshifts allow the S1000RR to continue accelerating at full steam ahead. Quickshifter delays are vastly improved. The RR’s predecessor was infamous for slamming heads against the windscreen on upshifts, but HP4 Race-inspired settings smoothed acceleration. Seriously fast—truly drama free.

While the precision of the Double R’s updated rider aid suite is downright impressive, navigating through the system’s interface is unintuitive and time consuming. A tricky combination of switch gear and a toggle wheel on the left handlebar is required to scroll through the settings, and the wrong push can send you in the wrong direction. On-the-fly adjustments? You’re limited to TC settings and complete riding mode changes, meaning engine-brake and throttle response settings are out the window. It’s a shame to see the S1000RR’s electronics come so far, only to be a nuisance to adjust.

carbon-fiber composite wheels
Exclusive to the M Package, a pair of carbon-fiber composite wheels derived from the HP4 Race shed an additional 3.7 pounds, which helps contribute to the RR’s wicked-fast transition capabilities.Courtesy of BMW

Regardless of a few rough edges, BMW has achieved making the S1000RR more rider friendly. A more linear power delivery, forgiving chassis, and precise electronics permit a full focus on fast lap times. More speed with less energy, period. The sweat doesn’t bead like it used to.

2020 BMW S1000RR Specifications:

MSRP: $16,995
ENGINE: 999cc, inline-four, 4 valves per cylinder
BORE X STROKE: 80.0mm x 49.7mm
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE: 6-speed/chain
CLAIMED HORSEPOWER: 205 hp @ 13,000 rpm
CLAIMED TORQUE: 83 lb.-ft. @ 11,000 rpm
FUEL SYSTEM: Electronic fuel injection w/ RBW
CLUTCH: Multi-disc, wet, anti-hopping clutch, cable operated
FRAME: Aluminum composite bridge frame
FRONT SUSPENSION: 45mm USD fork adjustable for compression, rebound and spring preload
REAR SUSPENSION: “WSBK” aluminum swingarm, full floater pro, adjustable for compression, rebound, and spring preload
FRONT BRAKE: 4-piston fixed calipers, dual floating 320mm discs; BMW Motorrad Race ABS
REAR BRAKE: 1-piston floating caliper, 220mm disc; BMW Motorrad Race ABS
WHEELS, FRONT/REAR: 3.50 x 17 in. / 6.00 x 17 in.
TIRES, FRONT/REAR: 120/70ZR-17 / 190/55ZR-17
RAKE/TRAIL: 23.5°/3.7 in.
WHEELBASE: 81.6 in.
SEAT HEIGHT: 32.4 in.
FUEL CAPACITY: 4.4 gal.
CLAIMED DRY WEIGHT: 434 lb. (427 lb. M package)
CONTACT: bmwmotorcycles.com