2014 BMW S 1000 R Road Test Review

Beasts, Not Beauties - 2014 Big-bore naked-bike comparison test

2014 BMW S 1000 R

This review is part of our 2014 big-bore naked-bike comparison test, featuring the Aprilia Tuono V4R, BMW S 1000 R, Ducati Monster 1200 S, Kawasaki Z1000 ABS and KTM Super Duke R. Read the remainder of the test, and the reviews of the other bikes, here: Beasts, Not Beauties.

Although it looks like an S 1000 RR superbike sans fairings, BMW’s new S 1000 R is actually that: brand new. Among other changes, it has a more relaxed chassis (5mm more trail, 0.8 degree more rake, and a 22mm-longer wheelbase), retooled engine, and repositioned footpegs for more comfortable riding position.

Those revisions are, for the most part, in line with class standards, so while you sulk over words like “retooled,” consider this: Our BMW S 1000 R produced 151 hp at 11,000 rpm and weighed just 461 pounds. For comparison, the Super Duke R made just 1 more horsepower despite holding a 300cc displacement advantage, and the Tuono V4 R weighed a total of 9 pounds more, this despite it being the second-lightest bike in the test.

2014 BMW S 1000 R

The S 1000 R’s rider interface is nearly on par with the KTM’s, though its asymmetrical headlight/gauge cover actually causes some wind buffet. The saddle is thicker but the foam more dense than the cushion on the KTM, so long-range comfort is questionable, and in around-town situations we weren’t huge fans of its wide tank/seat junction, heavy steering traits, or intrusive steering locks. “It feels like it has the same steering radius as my truck,” said guest tester Eric Nugent after nearly dropping the S 1000 R during a simple U-turn maneuver. Fortunately, riding modes, cruise control (optional), heated grips (optional), and Dynamic Damping Control settings (DDC is also an optional extra) are incredibly easy to adjust.

The S 1000 R doesn’t have that huge hit at low rpm as the KTM’s torque-rich powerplant, but it revs quicker than any other powerplant in this comparison and builds power so smoothly that you almost don’t realize how much horsepower is being managed by your right wrist. The on/off throttle transition is smoother than the same transition on any other bike too.

2014 BMW S 1000 R

The BMW’s DDC-equipped suspension is just as good, with both the fork and shock calibrated in a way that, regardless of the pace, allows you to take your mind off the same bumps that’d severely upset the Tuono. The bike never moves around at either end, and despite the DDC system not having a finetuning option like on the HP4, you don’t really need it.

So where does the BMW fall behind? Well, for starters, the brakes are much too aggressive for any type of riding outside the confines of a racetrack—the initial bite will literally send you over the handlebar if you’re not careful, and there’s so much power through the pull that it’s almost overwhelming. Learn to modulate the stopping power with your finger and you can get by, but don’t and you’ll be oft reminded of what it’s like to hit a wall at 70 mph; the stopping power is that significant.

Another shortcoming is the S 1000 R’s heavier steering traits, though, to be honest, if it weren’t going up against the light-handling Super Duke R and Tuono V4 R, the BMW probably wouldn’t feel like such a slouch. Even still, the bike takes some convincing at the entrance of a corner and some influence when you go to pick it up onto the fat part of the tire. Transitions tax your upper body a bit too.

Those shortcomings alone aren’t enough to make the BMW a less-than-stellar option. And to be frank, the only reason the S 1000 R landed behind the winner of this comparison is its lack of personality. Dare we say it’s too smooth?

2014 BMW S 1000 R
A plethora of switches make handling individual adjustments a cinch. Optional cruise control and heated grips are nice, too.

Test Notes
+ Well-tuned DDC suspension
+ Great ergonomics
+ Smooth on/off throttle transition
- Overly aggressive brakes
- Steers heavy at turn-in
- Ridiculous steering radius
x As good as a naked s 1000 rr could be

Suggested Suspension Settings
FRONT: Spring preload—6 lines showing on adjuster; rebound damping—NA clicks out from full stiff; compression damping— NA clicks out from full stiff; ride height—2 lines showing above triple clamp
REAR: Spring preload—5mm thread showing; rebound damping—NA clicks out from full stiff; compression damping—NA clicks out from full stiff

Continue reading our 2014 big-bore naked-bike comparison test here: Beasts, Not Beauties.

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