I had been looking forward to a test ride on the BMW S1000RR ever since the BMW hype-machine started sending me emails last year. So when my BMW F800S had a puncture I decided to go with the BMW garage, even though they refused to repair a perfectly good tyre. Days before, I was frequently checking the weather report because of all the unsettled rain we were having and was massively pleased when the day came that it was going to stay dry – hallelujah.
The reviews said this bike was a couple of technological generations on from what the Japanese are putting out and I was shocked and awed by all the technology that goes into making this 193BHP beast a pussycat to control and live with on a day-to-day basis.
As the man from Chandlers Brighton explained, the key to this bike is the mode setting you have it in. He started me out in 'Rain Mode' and said that even if I were to rev the engine to max and drop the clutch, then the bike wouldn't lift of the floor. The other modes available where Sport, Race and Slick.
I soon discovered that this mode selector changed the entire dynamic of the bike. It wasn't just about "comfort settings" as I had experienced on the BMW K1300S, but completely tweaked all the gadgetry to suit the occasion and conditions.
And there is a lot of cutting-edge gadgetry to tweak.
I really liked the way the ABS wasn't about being on or off, but varied the point at which it stepped in. This "shades of grey" appealed compared to the stop/start ABS system out there where you surge forward unexpectedly.
I also really liked the "wheelie control", traction control, alteration to the throttle response and the gyro which detects the angle the bike is leaning at. All of which putted me at ease as the modes trade features between safety and performance.
The rain mode also cut power to 'only' 145BHP which along with the more forgiving throttle response made the bike extremely easy to ride in slow moving 30MPH and 40MPH traffic. In the past, I have found high-power bikes irritating to use in these situations because they are just too jerky.
Before I pulled away for the first time, I had the image of the German technicians laughing about renaming this 'Girl Mode' – but I take that all back. Rain mode elevates this bike from being a great high-speed but ultimately pointless road bike, to becoming a truly useful every-day tool that you're not scared of taking out on non-perfect days.
Quite frankly, I don't know what the top-end of this bike is like as my road test was restricted to 70MPH . That required all the maturity that I was able to muster because it is far too easy to rocket to speeds that even I would consider unreasonable. As such, Sport Mode and Race Mode were irrelevant to my test as I couldn't tell the difference at the speeds I was travelling at. When you do a nought-to-70MPH in just a couple of seconds it's hard to gauge how much faster each mode makes you go. It was however most reassuring that a novice like myself was being looked after by the technology of a bike immeasurably superior to my superbike riding ability. Fears of flying off in some kind of mad-wheelie episode were completely subdued by all the gadgets and technology which goes into making this monster reasonable.
Aesthetically, I love how the bike looks – I think it is drop-dead gorgeous. I visited the Birmingham bike show in 2008 and didn't find any of the bikes there as sexy as the BMW S1000RR.
If I had the cash for a £13,000 toy and a garage to keep it in, I'd love to own the BMW S1000RR. Not for every day use, but for those special occasions when you just decide to for a ride without a thought to where you may end up. That's when this bike really shines and you can truly appreciate the joy of being on the road.