A sporty BMW to take on the likes of Ducati's 999 and even the mighty GSX-R1000? Niall is intrigued...
The first part of our test was on track. After a few laps I began to recall just how effective these bikes can be if ridden properly. Providing the track's smooth the front Telelever suspension allows you to brake incredibly late and its anti-dive properties mean the harder you brake, the more support you get from the front. Which is fine until you find a bumpy corner, and then the front tends to hop. I found the trick is to find the bumps and use more engine braking over them. Stop, turn and fire - that's what Randy Mamola says, so it must be right.
Also helpful for circuit riding is increased ride height, which improves cylinder head clearance. Ever keen for a challenge I did my darnedest to deck them out, but failed. Well done BMW, and also to the Michelin Pilot Powers.
Given the huge torque, I only used four gears around the whole track. Impressive considering the variety of corners and long straights, although I felt throttle response could have been better exiting corners. Pick-up was fine but there was a noticeable dead spot as revs built which became frustrating, although it was less noticeable on the road than the track.
Although the bike wasn't perfect I enjoyed every track session, but the open road is where the R1200S is really at home. Comfortable medium-speed sports is still what this bike does best and, although it's difficult to say how much better the new S is, the power-to-weight ratio increase makes it easier to ride.
Whether you need a blast of power to pass traffic or want to cruise all day at 100mph, everything is done with ease. There is a gear position indicator on the dash but it's hardly necessary as sixth will pull strongly no matter what engine revs you are carrying.
Many BMWs have servo-assisted brakes but happily this one doesn't. I prefer the feel of standard brakes and the 320mm discs do a brilliant job. ABS is another option I'm never sure about but it worked well, especially on the rear, so I suppose if you are doing a big mileage on winter roads it can only make life safer.
If you are an R1100S fan you'll appreciate this latest model. Although lighter, it's still a big bike and not for wimps. Great on all types of road because it's comfy and eats up miles but, unless you choose Donington Park, I wouldn't plan on doing too many track days.
A good bike that can cut it on a smooth track. Don't expect it to take on sports bikes, but for road blasts it's a good option
SPECS TYPE - SUPERSPORTSPRODUCTION DATE - 2006PRICE NEW - £8955ENGINE CAPACITY - 1170ccPOWER - 122bhp@8250rpmTORQUE - 83lb.ft@6800rpm WEIGHT - 190kg SEAT HEIGHT - 830mm FUEL CAPACITY - 17L TOP SPEED - 150mph 0-60 - n/aTANK RANGE - N/A
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