Now in its 3rd generation, the 2020 BMW S1000RR gets a complete refresh to keep it ahead of a very packed 1,000cc superbike category. But are the new changes enough?
Engine – The 2020 BMW S1000RR still has a 999cc inline 4-cylinder engine but with a few changes that make it drastically different from the previous generation. Firstly, it now produces 207 hp at 13,500 rpm which is a modest jump from 199 hp. Secondly, the BMW engineers managed to reduce the engine’s weight by almost 9 lbs. That may not sound like much for a car but on a motorcycle that only weighs 434 lbs, it is a big improvement. And finally, the engine now has BMW’s Shiftcam technology; similar tech to Honda’s VTEC. At 9,000 rpms, the engine shifts from the “mild” camshaft profile to a “hot” camshaft profile for more top-end power. The engineers tried to make the torque curve a bit more linear throughout the mid-range rpms. But once you hit that 9,000 rpms mark, the speed really builds up.
Of course there are also a few drive modes to choose from. Rain mode reduces the engine’s torque and enables the ABS and traction control systems to their most aggressive settings. Road mode switches the ABS and traction control to a dry road setting but still enabled. Dynamic further reins in the ABS and traction control systems while Race mode unleashes the engine’s full power, sets the ABS to a track setting as well as turns off the rear wheelie control, and sets the traction control in a track setting for the least amount of intervention. If you opt for the M or Race package, the S10000RR adds 3 Race Pro modes where you can customize each setting to your specific desires along with engine braking, dynamic brake control, wheelie control, hill start control, and dynamic damper control.
Transmission – A 6-speed sequential gearbox with a quickshifter and auto-blipper does the job of delivering the power to the rear wheel. Shifting gears with the quickshifter and auto-blipper is super easy and is easily one of the smoothest of any motorcycle on the market today. Whether it’s at full throttle or just part throttle at low rpms on the street, the using the quickshifter and auto-blipper is an absolute joy.
The clutch is cable actuated and it feels a little bit lighter to pull on when compared to the previous generation S1000RR. The bite point is also easy to spot although that can change depending on how you prefer the clutch lever to be adjusted.
The only issue I had with the transmission was when I wanted to put it in neutral at a stop. It is quite difficult to find “N” without going into 1st or 2nd when stopped. I found out the best way to do it is to shift into neutral while still rolling up to a complete stop.
Braking – The big change for the 2020 BMW S1000RR brakes, is the move away from Brembo front calipers. The rear is still Brembo but the fronts are BMW’s own with a Nissin master cylinder. But although it doesn’t say Brembo on the calipers anymore, the brakes still clamp down hard on the discs. The initial brake bite is not as strong as the previous generation but the overall feel of the brakes is more linear and predictable. ABS and corner ABS are standard with varying amounts of assist depending on the ride mode.
Handling – 11 lbs have been shaved off the 2020 BMW S1000RR from the chassis and suspension with an additional 7 lbs of savings if you opt for the M package which includes carbon fiber wheels and a lightweight lithium ion battery. The last S1000RR made it very easy for just about any rider to hop on it and have the confidence to go very fast. This new S1000RR is just the same and the reduced weight makes it even easier to toss into a corner. You get the feeling that it wants to do nothing but go fast around a corner. Marzocchi now supplies the suspension with 45 degree forks up front and a “Full Floater Pro” shock in the rear, both electronically adjustable with the M package.
Through the Rain to Race modes, the computer adjusts 90% of the damping while the remaining 10% is static. But switch over to the Race Pro modes that come with the M or Race packages, and those numbers are inverted making for a more predictable riding experience when you’re on a track.
Ergonomics – The BMW S1000RR has been one of the more comfortable – relatively speaking – superbikes on the market. This 2020 BMW S1000RR feels very familiar but with a few slight tweaks. The engine and gas tank are now narrower with the clip-ons being integrated into the upper triple clamp. With the wide and relatively soft seat, the new S1000RR is still one of the most comfortable superbikes you can buy. Heat management is a bit better than the last S1000RR. The shark fin on one side and open hole on the other reduce the engine’s overall heat by 10%. The frame on the last S1K was known to get quite hot especially in stop/go traffic but this new S1000RR doesn’t feel as bad if you’re stuck in traffic.
Ride Comfort – This particular S1000RR is equipped with the M Packages which includes the Dynamic Damper Control. The system adjusts the damping depending on the ride mode that you’re in with Rain mode being the softest. Move up the order and the dampers progressively become stiffer with the ride modes. In Rain and Road modes, the suspension does an excellent job of ironing out most of the smaller and medium sized bumps on the road. But move up into the Dynamic or Race modes and the suspension can make even the smoothest of street roads feel like you’re going off-road. The feedback through the handlebars and seat are excellent in those modes but not so good for long journeys.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – This particular S1000RR is equipped with a full SC Project exhaust system. It is a very loud exhaust system but also a very nice sounding one too. The S1000RR has a slightly deeper tone than other Japanese superbikes but at higher rpms, it is still a screamer. Just like the stereotypical motorcycle exhaust noise that you’re thinking of right now.
There have been other journalists that said the 2020 BMW S1000RR feels a little buzzy at higher rpms but I never felt that while riding this bike. Yes, there are a few points through the rpm range where the engine’s harmonic frequencies don’t really “jive” but it’s not something that would ruin a trip.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – Just like their automotive counterparts, the BMW motorcycles are starting to become inundated with a lot of convenience features. This new bike features a bright 6.5-inch TFT display that is controlled via a rotary knob on the right clip-on. It takes some getting use to using the rotary knob, especially while on the move, but it soon becomes muscle memory. Although it’s recommended to only dig through the menu settings when stopped. In addition to being able to scroll through several different styles of displays for the speed and tachometer, the screen makes it much easier to view and adjust each parameter of the motorcycle. Oh, and it also has a built-in navigation system. It’s not a map like you would find in a car infotainment system but rather turn-by-turn navigation.
Other features include heated grips and cruise control with the addition of the Dynamic Damper Control package. You can also fit the S1000RR with an alarm system, tire pressure sensors, and stand alone carbon fiber wheels from the factory without opting for the M package.
Speaking of packages, the M package is only available with the BMW motorsport paint colours (as shown) and it’ll set you back $4,875 CAD ($3,700 USD). There’s also the Race package which adds the same Race pro ride modes as the M package along with forged wheels M rear height adjustment and M swingarm pivot for $2,075 CAD ($1,600 USD). And finally there’s the Carbon package which adds a lot of carbon goodies to the bike for $2,650 CAD ($1,900 USD).
Design – The asymmetric looks of the older generation BMW S1000RR bikes is – for the most part – gone with the new generation. The LED headlights are now symmetrical and contributed to the weight shedding. But some asymmetry remains when you look at it from the side as the fairings are different from side to side. My only major complaint of the new design is in the rear. The taillight on the older models was nicely integrated into the tail section. This new bike uses the fender mounted LED turn signals as the running lights and brake lights. I prefer the older design more as the taillight looked as though it was encased in a crystal.
The 2020 BMW S1000RR starts at $18,900 CAD ($16,995 USD) and goes up from there depending on what options you choose when ordering your bike. For the amount of technology and performance that you’re getting for that price, it is the bargain of the year. The only other superbike that comes close to the base MSRP of this bike is the Aprilia RSV4 at $18,995 CAD ($17,499 USD). But the 2020 BMW S1000RR is still the one to go for because it gives you the confidence to hop on it and go fast right out of the gate. Maybe not at the bike’s 100% potential but you will feel more comfortable more quickly on this bike than on any other 1L superbike.
Thank you to the owner for providing the motorcycle.