BMW 2019 BMW S1000RR - first ride

2019 s1000rr

It’s 'any Porto in a storm' for Al as he fights the North Atlantic hurricane season astride the new 2019 BMW S1000RR…

Average: 4.5 (1 vote)
It looks stunning, packs in huge performance and tech and did an incredible job in the conditions
Strong engine, huge tech, great value, M-Package
Off-brand brakes/suspension compared with opposition

THE FINAL session of the day brings in a new woe. It’s definitely drying out a bit, and now the wets are starting to fall apart - yay. There’s no time to change tyres, so the Bridgestone techs reduce the pressures a bit, and we’re sent out anyway.

I have an awesome time in the first few laps – now there’s much more confidence in the grip and the conditions, and I’m happy braking harder, leaning more, and have the track nailed down a bit better in my mind. But just as I’m getting right into the groove, I have a nasty old slide off the rear. It's not the end of the world, but it's a bit of a warning from the fast-fading wet tyres. Mixed dry and wet spots on the track are also making it a bit of a lottery in places, so I roll off a little, and finish off the session with a bit more care.

BMW S1000RR 2019 Onboard

As we pack up for the day then, I’m still pretty excited about the new BMW superbike. It looks stunning, packs in huge performance and tech, and has done an incredible job in these conditions, despite Estoril’s best efforts to spoil it all for us (as it happens we were lucky: the group after us had absolutely no dry track time at all…)

It’s also very good value. Like the old bike, this new model offers a stack of kit for the cash, with amazing baseline performance. Compare the £19k M-Package bike with, say, a slightly pricier Honda Fireblade SP, and there’s no contest. Okay, the Honda has Öhlins semi-active suspension, but the BMW’s carbon wheels, variable valves and 18bhp more claimed peak power probably more than makes up for that you’d have to say.

We’ll obviously need to get some hot, dry miles in at home before giving the new S1000RR a final all-over rating. And Aprilia’s new 2019 RSV4 1100 will no doubt have something to say on the matter (we’re riding that in a fortnight’s time, woo!) But as it stands, the first impressions are really very good…



A major upgrade, with lots of size and mass optimisation. It’s now 12mm narrower, and a hefty 4kg lighter – but the big news is of course the Shiftcam variable valve system. This uses sliding outer camshafts which move axially along a splined inner drive shaft (see detail pic above), bringing one of two cam profiles into play, one for low-down performance, one for peak power. The cams are moved by a clever solenoid pin system, and spiral grooves on the sliding shaft. When the ECU pushes one pin out, it engages in the groove, and as the shaft turns, that moves the cam profile along. To change back, it pulls out that pin, and pushes another down, to engage the grooves the other way, moving the shaft back again.

The result is a massive boost in low-down and midrange power, better fuel economy and reduced emissions. It’s not quite performed the brute-force power boost of an 1100cc engine – but it’s close.

Looking at the rest of the head design, the four valves per cylinder are all titanium, and the larger intake valves are ten percent lighter thanks to hollow shafts – an obsessive approach to weight loss in the valve train. Together with new, miniscule 8-gramme DLC-coated finger tappets, they allow a higher rev limit – up to 14,600rpm from 14,200 revs.

Away from that, we have a new exhaust that’s 1.3kg lighter, and looks like the inside of an oil refinery, all stainless pipes and chambers and link tubes. The crank position is now sensed via the alternator, saving wiring and sensor on the crankshaft end, and the crankshaft has just one main gear now – the starter motor pinion now operates via the clutch/primary drive instead of on its own starter gear. The engineers have also packaged the oil and water pump together down low at the back of the engine, saving space, weight and pipework.

Y NO 1100 THO?

I asked BMW engineer Rudy Schneider, who heads the four- and six-cylinder line why they didn’t make an 1100, like Ducati and Aprilia. ‘Racing’ was the tight-lipped answer, with an explanation that the superbike rules restrict them to a 999cc maximum. Obviously that also applies to the Italian firms, who make different 999cc homologation models for racing. But it seems BMW wants to stick to one model for racing and the street – with its Shiftcam system adding torque in the midrange to almost match the bigger motors.


A new ‘Flexframe’ design is narrower and lighter by 1.3kg, with optimised rigidity and uses the engine more as a stressed member. Interestingly, BMW say they they compared this layout with a ‘V4 Concept’ design, and it was only 20mm wider. Which brings up more questions than it answers frankly…

The wheelbase is slightly (9mm) longer than before at 1,441mm, and there’s a sweet new underslung swingarm which is a wild 606.6mm in length. Finally, the M-Package adds ride height and swingarm pivot adjustment (the frame pivot plates are different) to the chassis design.


The rear shock is mounted vertically, in a new ‘floating’ layout (the shock isn’t bolted to the main frame, like an old Suzuki RG500), and the fork is a new 45mm USD design. There’s optional DDC electronic damping control available, with ECU-controlled semi-active damping linked to the overall rider modes. The shock electronics are more advanced than before, and can now be tweaked by aftermarket suspension specialists. The internal shim stacks can be altered as on high-end non-electronic shocks, to work alongside the electronic systems – before, this wasn’t possible.


A big change for BMW this year – dropping Brembo and using Hayes front brake calipers from the US, with a Nissin radial master cylinder. The rear brake remains a Brembo unit. They worked well on this launch – but the wet conditions put a kybosh on real hard braking testing. One of the other journos did seem to have a brake problem though, pulling into the pits after his lever inexplicably came back to the bar.

The ABS was seamless for me on the soaked track, and an excellent extra safety net.


The standard S1000RR has cast light alloy rims which weigh 1.6kg less in total than the old bike’s wheels. But the M Package swaps these for even lighter M-Sport carbon rims, similar to those on the HP4 Race. 


All from the top drawer of course – the base setup is a six-axis IMU plus huge colour TFT LCD dash, cornering ABS, and now a separate wheelie and traction control system. That means you can have separate limits for wheelies and traction, keeping the safety net of TC when leant over in a bend, while still having wheelie options when upright. There’s launch control, pitlane limiter, cruise control, up/down blipping quickshifter, wheelie assistant, and hill-start control on the ABS (a harder tug on the front lever locks the brake on to stop you running backwards on a hill).

The ‘M’ and ‘Sport’ package adds ‘Pro’ riding modes, that adds three additional ‘Race Pro’ customisable riding modes, plus engine brake control adjustment. It also has a cunning way round the Euro rules on switchable ABS: to turn off the rear ABS, you need to have the turn signal indicators and rear brake light removed or disconnected. That way the bike is considered a track bike and no longer 'road legal' - so it's fine to have a switchable ABS mode then. Smart.


We rode the M-Package bikes, which have electronic suspension, carbon wheels, a 2kg lighter lithium battery, special M seat, Motorsport paint job, and a chassis kit that adds ride height and swingarm pivot adjustment, as well as the full electronics package.

There’s also a ‘Sport’ package on sale in the UK, which adds electronic suspension, Pro riding modes, cruise control, tyre pressure system, hill start control.

The base bike comes with dynamic traction control, race ABS, and the four base riding modes – rain, road, dynamic, race.


Price: £15,290 (base model), £16,700 (Sport variant) £19,315 (with M-Package)

Engine: DOHC 16v, inline-four, l/c, 999cc

Bore x stroke: 80x49.7mm

Compression ratio: 13.3:1

Max power (claimed) 207bhp@13,500rpm

Max torque (claimed) 96ft lb@10,500rpm

Transmission: six speed gearbox, wet slipper assist clutch, chain drive

Frame: cast aluminium twin-beam (adjustable swingarm pivot on M-Package)

Front suspension: 45mm USD fork, fully adjustable (optional DDC electronic suspension system)

Rear suspension: aluminium underslung swingarm, fully adjustable vertical free-floating monoshock (optional DDC electronic suspension system)

Brakes: twin 320mm discs, four-piston Hayes radial calipers (front), 220mm disc, single-piston caliper (rear), cornering ABS.

Wheels/tyres: cast aluminium (carbon fibre on M-Package)/Bridgestone S21, 120/70 17 front, 190/55 17 rear 

Rake/trail: 23.1°/93.9mm

Wheelbase: 1,441mm

Kerb weight : 197kg (standard) 193.5kg (M Package)

Fuel capacity: 16.5 litres

Equipment: IMU-based traction control and cornering ABS, cruise control, four rider modes (seven on M-Package/Race Package options), 6.5” TFT colour dash, optional electronic semi-active DDC suspension, integrated rider modes with suspension, up/down quickshifter, heated grips

Strong engine, huge tech, great value, M-Package
Off-brand brakes/suspension compared with opposition