First Ride

First ride: 2017 BMW S1000R Sport review

For 2017 BMW’s super naked has lost weight and gained power, but there's more to it than that

MORE POWER, less weight. Is there a better phrase in motorcycling?

Of course not. Thankfully BMW is on the same page as me, which is why the 2017 S1000R makes 5hp more power (up to 165hp) and at 205kg, has dropped 3kgs thanks to a lighter frame.

I know those numbers might be small, but every little counts; they go towards making the S1000R an incrementally better bike. So do the rest of the changes it’s received this year, such as a quick-shifter that works up and down the ‘box, plus cornering ABS, lighter forged wheels and a new Akrapovic exhaust can as standard.

During a day spent jumping between the new BMW R nineT Pure and R nineT Racer, also I rode the S1000R Sport, which is £12,365 on the road. It’s the one with that comes with all the toys, including electronic suspension, cruise control, heated grips, quick-shifter and cornering ABS.

That means the BMW is the cheaper than the new Yamaha MT-10 SP (£13,399), and comes with a longer spec sheet plus more power. Compared to another recent super naked from Europe, the KTM 1290 Super Duke R, the S1000R Sport is down on power by 9hp, but it’s cheaper than the £13,399 KTM and equipped with a more extensive spec list out of the box.

Visually, very little has changed. Thanks to a reduction in the size of the plastics either side of the radiator, a little more of the engine is visible, but that’s it. To look at, it’s still compact and razor sharp, with an unchanged front end. To my eyes, thanks to the front lights, the S1000R wears the look of an unhinged, homemade-knife-fashioning cellmate.

As striking as the styling is, the first thing to grab my attention is the deep sound that growls out from the ugly Akrapovic silencer as the bike idles. Get moving and the S1000R sounds awesome, with an angry inline-four engine sound. Best of all is the stuttering whirr it briefly emits when the throttle is first closed - it reminds me of the sound made by BMW’s old WSB race bike with its traction control cutting in.

The fierce exhaust sound is matched by a savage turn of speed from the engine. I’ve ridden the previous S1000R and it’s impossible for me to pinpoint the additional 5hp, but I can vouch for how ultra-smooth the engine is…

… But a smooth engine isn’t exactly the sexiest compliment to pay a heavy-hitting super naked. Well how about the fact that it’s a motor that has such a complete spread of perfectly-delivered power that it’s difficult to pick out a highlight? The engine is strong everywhere. It’s got it all – heaps of torque through the rev range, plus an exciting top end rush. Whether you’re bumbling around under 6,000rpm or trying to break the shift light as you chase the 11,00rpm redline, the engine always feels like it’s giving you its best.

Simply put, the S1000R is blisteringly, effortlessly, and clinically fast. In fact, it’s so smooth and effortlessly quick that at times I only realised how fast I was going when my neck muscles began to burn with the effort of supporting my head and clinging on become more of an effort. The only criticism I can levy at the S1000R’s engine is that it’s not quite as fun as the short-geared lump in the Yamaha MT-10; the BMW just coolly gets on with the business of going fast.

Good job the brakes are excellent. Well, still excellent. The stoppers on the 2017 bike haven’t changed, so the front wheel is still graced by a pair of Brembo four-piston monoblocs that provide sharp initial bike, one-finger stopping power and superb feel, much like the brakes on the Aprilia V4 Tuono. Take note, Yamaha.

The bike I rode also had BMW’s ABS Pro system. That’s cornering ABS to you and I. When the roads of the launch ride weren’t soaking wet, they were dusty and slippery and although I never squeezed the lever in a bend, it was nice to know that I had the option, should I need it. On track, I’ve no doubt it’s something that could bail me out of trouble.


... which I'm sure that akro helps with. I accept lack of character (mt10) for such a smooth well engineered I4, and this is what Honda should be making. But satisfyingly, it's not a massive improvement on the old excellent s1000r so I don't need to think about jacking mine in until it wears out!

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