Review: BMW S 1000 R

After the release of the new BMW S 1000 RR in 2019, we were looking forward to the launch of the updated BMW S 1000 R. Its predecessor already had some years on the clock: in 2014 it appeared in showrooms for the first time, as a direct descendant of the then RR.

Of course the design of the new S 1000 R is the first thing that catches the eye. The rather classic headlight makes you frown less than the one on the previous generation. The bike looks shorter and more muscular (although it’s actually three centimeters longer). Just one glimpse is enough to know that this bike goes hard.

BMW logically started off from the all new RR when developing their supernaked. The 1000 cc engine has been revamped to broaden the torque band, just like its predecessor. The RR’s ShiftCam technology was thrown overboard too. The philosophy behind these adjustments is that the RR must excel on the track, while the R has to show its best performances on the street – and therefore the highest revs are visited less often than with the RR.

BMW also invested in weight savings. For example, the R borrows the swingarm and shock absorber from the RR. The standard R now weighs in at 199 kg, which is 8 kg less than the previous R.

Jump on the seat and you’ll immediately know that you are sitting on a BMW. The display, the buttons … we’ve seen it all on other models. And there isn’t anything wrong with that. As far as I’m concerned, for a while now this display is one of the best you can find: uncluttered, easy to read and beautiful to look at. Combined with a clear menu structure, the well-thought-out buttons and the scrolling wheel: this level of user experience is something many constructors can learn from.

From the first meters it’s clear that BMW has left the excellent throttle response unchanged. Even if you have 165 crazy studs between your legs, you can still master them effortlessly. They’re willingly led by your right hand. Ride calmly? Not a problem. Speed off with a loud howling exhaust, almost throwing the asphalt into the air? No problem either.

The quickshifter is on the option list but it’s simply a must on this model. It works flawlessly and unlike the previous R you can now shift both up and down. Without a quickshifter, the six-speed gearbox also shifts excellently, but for furious accelerations (and every R rider wants that, right?) you should absolutely check this option.

The R doesn’t seem to have got any faster, though – and let me be clear: that’s absolutely no problem because it’s amazing how fast you can accelerate with it – but the bike did become lighter and more agile.

Whether you make a relaxed or abrupt steering movement, take a fast or slow turn, it is striking how easy and stable this naked bike follows your instructions. I can’t remember the previous S 1000 R being so playful.

Despite the light-footedness, I could never catch the suspension making any mistakes. The R, in my case, was equipped with the semi-active suspension DDC, which automatically takes into account things like rider input, lean angle and road surface. It has two settings levels: Road and Dynamic. Dynamic turned out to be just a little too much on bad asphalt, but those short-lived inconveniences were not insurmountable. Besides, you don’t buy an R because you want a comfortable bike, do you?

Speaking of comfort: of course this sports bike is sporty, although the burden on wrists, shoulders or back isn’t too bad. It is mainly the knees that need to stretch after an hour of riding.

The semi-active suspension and the quickshifter can be found in the same option package as the Dynamic Pro riding mode, and the latter is also an option you’ll probably want, for various reasons.

This naked has 3 riding modes: Rain, Road and Dynamic. Each affects throttle response, ABS and traction control. With the optional Dynamic Pro riding mode you can adjust the engine braking, traction control, wheelie control and ABS to your heart’s content. But the biggest fun factor of this mode is that the muffler treats you to pops and bangs. And these sounded so good that you can guess in which riding mode I rode almost all of my approx. 700 test kilometers.

That’s a lot of praise for now, so aren’t there any false notes? The Keyless Ride maybe? If you pay extra to start the bike with the key in your pocket, why do you still need the key to open the fuel cap?

However the R’s biggest flaw is probably its price tag. Without options it costs $13,945, but buying it barebones is nearly impossible. The quickshifter is simply indispensable, you will probably also find heated grips and cruise control useful, and then there are things on the option list such as the Pro Riding mode, the semi-active suspension, LED daytime running lights or an alarm system. So you might want to find a few thousand euro’s extra for that.


The new BMW S 1000 R is a brilliant motorcycle. The previous generation was already great, but the new developments make it even more attractive. The R still is insanely fast, but now it’s even easier to throw it into a corner. The biggest question, however, remains whether you want to dig this deep into your pocket for a motorcycle with limited using capacities. Then again, you’ll have bought one hell of a fun toy.

Photography: Michele Micoli


+ Insane engine
+ Lighter and more playful steering character than its predecessor


– Some things shouldn’t be on the option list, but provided as standard – a quickshifter for one!
– Price tag

Tech specs


Type: Oil/water-cooled four-cylinder four-stroke in-line engine with four valves per cylinder
Bore x stroke: 80 mm x 49.7 mm
Capacity: 999 cc
Rated output: 165 hp at 11,000 rpm
Max. torque: 84 lbs-ft. (114 Nm) at 9,250 rpm
Compression ratio: 12.5 : 1
Mixture control: Electronic port fuel injection, BMS-K+ electronic engine management with RPM cut-off, twin-spark ignition: BMS-O with ride by wire.
Emission control: Regulated three-way catalytic converter
Maximum speed: Over 124 mph

Electrical system

Alternator: Permanent magnet generator with 450 W (nominal capacity)
Battery : 12 V / 8 Ah

Power transmission

Clutch: Multi-disc oil bath (anti-hopping) with self-reinforcement
Gearbox: Synchromesh six-speed gearbox, built into engine housing
Drive: Chain 525 17/45
Traction control: DTC

Chassis / brakes

Frame: Bridge-type aluminum laminate frame with load-bearing engine
Front wheel location / suspension: Upside-down telescopic fork with a diameter of 1.8”, spring preload and adjustable rebound and compression stage
Rear wheel location / suspension: Aluminum swingarm, central shock absorber, adjustable rebound and compression damping and adjustable spring preload
Suspension travel, front / rear: 4.7”/ 4.6”
Wheelbase: 57.0”
Caster: 3.8”
Steering head angle: 65.8°
Wheels: Cast aluminum
Rim, front: 3.50 x 17″
Rim, rear: 6.00 x 17″
Tire, front: 120/70 ZR 17
Rear tires (with M wheels): 190/55 ZR 17 (200/55 ZR 17)
Brake, front: Twin-disc brake with a diameter of 12.6”, four-piston fixed caliper
Brake, rear: Single disc brake with a diameter of 8.7”, one-piston floating caliper
ABS: BMW Motorrad Integral ABS, partial integral

Dimension / weights

Seat height: 32.7”
(OE seat low: 31.9”, OE seat high: 33.5”)
Inner leg curve: 72.2”
(OE low seat: 71.4”, OE high seat: 73.1” )
Usable tank volume: 4.4 gal.
Reserve: approx. 1 gal.
Length: 82.3”
Height (excl. mirrors): 43.9”
Width: 31.9”
Unladen weight, road ready, fully fuelled: 438.7 lbs. (with M Package including M Carbon Wheels: 427.7 lbs.) 1)
Permitted total weight: 899.4 lbs.
Payload (with standard equipment): 458.5.lbs.

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