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BMW M 1000 RR versus the superbikes it must beat on and off the track

The winged BMW M 1000 RR has landed with more power and more tech than the S 1000 RR... but is it enough to beat its superbike rivals on and off track?.

The all-singing, all-dancing and all-winged BMW M 1000 RR has landed and while it certainly looks and sounds familiar to the S 1000 RR on which it’s based, there is a lot of significance riding on this new model
 
Firstly, it represents a new flagship for the brand’s fledgling line of sportsbikes, it will become the most powerful model in the firm’s range and - perhaps more importantly - it is the first-ever BMW motorcycle to wear the hallowed ‘M’ nameplate.
 
First, a quick crash course in BMW’s M brand - launched in the 1970s, it was initially tied into the firm’s successful four-wheel motorsport division (because M = Motorsport, obviously) and that has over the years filtered across to its roadgoing models, leading all manner of critically acclaimed M3s and M5s etc.

BMW M 1000 RR vs its WorldSBK rivals on and off track

 
But since BMW’s racing exploits on two wheels are a relatively new endeavour, beginning just over a decade ago with the first generation S 1000 RR’s WorldSBK debut, the prospect of an M variant has only existed in the rumour mill… until now.
 
Significant though it may be for the more anorak enthusiasts among us, the BMW M 1000 RR fundamentally exists because the S 1000 RR isn’t good enough… on track, that is. Indeed, while the ‘stock’ version remains a class leader in many fields, when it comes to dicing on the race track it’s not exactly set the world alight, even if it did go from hero to zero in six seconds flat when it’s 1-2 on the grid at Magny-Cours was followed by both bikes crashing at Turn 1.
 
After hitting the track in 2019 as part of a revived fully fledged factory assault on the WorldSBK Championship, there haven’t been all that many headline-grabbing moments.
 
It doesn’t take long to see where the BMW S 1000 RR is left looking a touch flaccid… let’s just say you don’t see it completing all that many overtakes in a race. Quite the opposite in fact as its out-dragged on most straights.
 
Can the BMW M 1000 RR reverse those fortunes? We’ll have to wait until it hits the track in 2021 - with Sykes and new signing Michael van der Mark fronting its charge - but there is little doubt BMW has thrown a very expensive kitchen sink at the project.
 
So let’s look at the stats. Interestingly, in terms of power, the BMW M 1000 RR remains a relatively modest 212hp - just 8hp more than the standard model - and just about on a par with the new Honda Fireblade and well down on the 235bhp Ducati.
 
However, as one can expect from BMW it is brimming with interesting tech that will no doubt be akin to inserting a very clever MENSA brain into a motorcycle, while it has upped the rpm by 500 and shed some pounds to make the most of those extra ponies, which in turn lifts top speed to a spine-tingling 190mph.
 
You’ll also notice the M 1000 RR has spread some wings, something that is becoming rather in vogue since tusk-like appendages appeared on the Ducati Panigale V4 R, with Honda incorporating them into the SP-version of its new Fireblade too.

WorldSBK Showdown! Honda vs Kawasaki vs Ducati vs Yamaha vs BMW

 
However, the M 1000 RR goes a little further with a tiered system that from certain angles looks like two little fighter jets flanking the front-end. These will likely evolve into the next generation of moveable wing-technology, which will react and move independently when riding, maximising grip when needed in bends and minimise drag when not. It’s no coincidence this very bit of tech has recently been given the green light by WorldSBK, so expect to see them flapping away at a race track near you soon enough.
 
Speaking of the race track, it does have some stiff opposition in combat because - though the S 1000 RR is only in its second season - it is already one of the older machines on the grid with the Ducati Panigale V4 R launched around the same time, while Honda’s new CBR1000RR-R arrived for 2020 and Yamaha gave the R1M a 
significant update too. Only the Kawasaki ZX-10RR is older but it’s dominating with Jonathan Rea so if it ain’t- broke… 
 
Of those bikes it is arguably Ducati that BMW is gunning for in its approach, looking for some one upmanship in the engineering stakes if it’s never going to rival a Panigale for sheer desirability.
 
It’s certainly going that way in terms of pricing because at just over £30,000 this racer for the road is for an exclusive few who can justify that much green for a motorcycle and has access to a race track to unleash its potential. Then again, the Ducati is £35,000 so who are we to judge…?

 
In terms of everyday performance, the standard BMW S 1000 RR remains an excellent choice, offering an engaging blend of thrills and refinement depending on the occasion, though the racier tone of the Honda Fireblade and the ageing but very handy Kawasaki ZX-10RR remain our go to if we’re more likely to detour home on a B road than go via Tesco.
 
Of course we’ll need to ride the M 1000 RR  to find out if the proof is in the pudding, but one can assume BMW isn’t going to this much effort just to come home from Phillip Island or Donington Park or Assen empty-handed.
 
BMW may not have the heritage - or really the silverware - to rival the likes of Ducati, Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha, but with the M 1000 RR it shows just how seriously they are taking this rebooted superbike effort.
 
In short, 2021 can’t come soon enough for the Munich marque
 

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