BMW S 1000 R – First Ride

2014 is poised to be the year of the supernaked. With the all-new KTM 1290 Super Duke, Kawasaki’s Z1000, and the rather sexy Ducati Monster joining Aprilia’s Tuono – the class pacemaker – and Britain’s own Speed Triple R, we’ve got a new player in town.

Fresh from years of success with the S 1000 RR, BMW enters the supernaked market with the S 1000 R and I’ve just returned from the press launch in Mallorca, seriously impressed. It’s based heavily on the RR so BMW could hardly bugger the job, could they? Featuring the same motor but retuned for more torque, midrange and bottom-end grunt, the R’s powerplant is still a brute with 160bhp. The R also features full ride-by-wire, rather than the semi r-b-w, cable-fed throttle of the RR, adding a little refinement.

I’d like to rave about the front-end and how beautifully it steers, but it didn’t spend much time on the Tarmac. The S 1000 R has more relaxed geometry than the RR and a longer wheelbase (not that you’d notice), presumably to neutralise spontaneous wheelies but doesn’t sacrifice handling. We were riding the fully-loaded Sport version, complete with Dynamic Damping Control (DDC) semi-active suspension, and race-derived traction control. Testing bikes used to be solely about the chassis and motor capabilities but now, with all the riding modes, engine parameters and electronic suspension on offer, bikes like the S 1000 R have a number of different attitudes built in – press a button, and the whole ride changes. This top-spec model also had the optional cruise control, handy for sparking a tab or throwing shapes.

The R is also well priced at under £10k. Yep, £9,990 for the base model (you still get a quickshifter and basic riders aids) while the Sport version will be £11,390. When you consider the KTM Super Duke is £14k, the Beemer is a bargain. Sadly, you’ll have to wait until March for your fix.

Read the full review in the next month’s mag…

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