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2017 BMW S1000R is the Superbike Dream Come True
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2017 BMW S1000R is the Superbike Dream Come True

In 2017, the BMW S1000R has undergone a major update, making the naked street bike the craziest machine in the entire BMW motorbike range by far. And boasting of cruise control, active suspension, cornering ABS and loads of other gizmos, it can claim to be the smartest naked motorbike in its class.

It is approaching four years since the launch of the S1000R sports bike. It blew my mind away when I first saw it in 2014, so I was excited for the 2017 launch for the Australian media held in Tasmania.

The inline 1000 cc engine, a modification of the one on the S1000RR superbike, has been made to comply with the Euro 4 standards. This has made it gain an additional 5 horsepower, bringing its peak to 165 horsepower (or 123 kW). This seems unnecessary since its throttle response and gearing already meant it was much, much faster than the RR superbike while on the road. Weight has dropped to 452 pounds (205 kilograms), a reduction of 2 kilograms, and the bike is ready to go with a full 4.6 gallons (17.5 liters) of fuel. Unbelievably, most of the weight reduction is in the exhaust, which is now titanium-based Akrapovic HP unit. It looks amazing and saves you from buying something on the aftermarket.

The quick shifter has now become standard, not an option. It works both ways, with a forceful auto-blip when it is on downshifts which makes it simply exceptional.

The frame, made of cast aluminum has been revamped, and its rear section is now lighter. The plastic composition has been reduced, making it considerably more naked than the older version.

There are two S1000R superbike models in Australia, namely the Sport and the standard R. I highly recommend the sports upgrade (costing AU$2,300, equivalent to US$1,760) because I think it offers some excellent extras. For starters, there is the DDC electronic suspension system, and an angle-sensitive update of the ABS system, coupled with a pit lane speed limiter and launch control. Cruise control and heated grips are added to the mix and although this does not agree with many people’s definition of 'sport', I am a fan of both.

The Sports model offers two added dynamic modes and the choice of incurring an extra AU$1,850 (or US$1,415) for some forged wheels that take a massive 5.3 pounds (2.4 kilos) off the bike’s unsprung weight. The same would cost you AU$6,000 (or US$4,600) on the aftermarket, and I would still buy them if I had the money.

Overall, it is not an extremely important update, but it is a notable one and an improvement on what was already a total monster of a bike to ride.

And with regard to riding, let us now look at how the bike rides in the real world, away from the spec sheet. But Tasmania’s uniqueness may disqualify it from being called the real world. When it is not winter, it is a veritable motorcycling paradise with amazing roads that wind through valleys, desert ridges, and mountains. It is the perfect environment for throttle-friendly speed enforcement.

The bike has an excellent mix of aggression and comfort that ensures you are cruising around stress-free. You can also get the elbows out and change into attack mode. The seat feels sporty and firm yet comfortable, and it is an easy bike even when in the twisties.

Starting off from a patchy section of the road, it immediately occurs to me how ferocious the engine feels, especially when compared to its superbike cousin. Push it to above 4000 rpm and it jumps forward with malice and intent with one wheel swinging in the air if you are in first or second gear and the traction control is off. 

This is not to say it is uncontrollable. The throttle response is immaculately designed with a progressive delivery and nearly no snatch on take-up. But it is backed by a lot of grunts up and down the tachometer, ready to make you eat humble pie if you fancy yourself, man-enough to keep in the lower gears.

On hitting the corners, it absolutely begins to shine- owing to its broad, anti-vibration handlebar that is sufficiently low to afford you a razor-sharp front wheel connection and provide fluent counter-steering leverage. Whereas the front wheel may feel one mile away on the S1000XR, the S1000R offers you a line to the tire that is almost telepathic.

In terms of cornering brilliance, even the standard version of the bike is a complete weapon when riding on a twisty road.

Shifting to the sports model-boasting of lightweight wheels and active suspension makes it even better. At first glance it is not a big change, owing to the excellent performance of the standard bike.

In fact, the DDC is working extra hard, enforcing compression damping and rebound changes at the rear and front up to a hundred times every second. When you hit a bump with the front wheel, the shock absorber is prepared for it by the time the back-wheel smashes into it. The bike controls the throttle squat and brake dive and firms up the bike when it detects you are in a smooth corner.

If you do a wheelie, it will ease the fork compression damping so you touch down as gently as possible, minimizing genital shock and making it as comfortable as possible. With this DDC gear, the suspension is not a compromise anymore. To add to a unique touch of luxury, you can flick back, soften it off into road mode as you finally make the freeway blast home.

With regard to complaints, the steering lock is slightly narrow on U-turns. It handles more like the way a sports bike would than a naked bike and it is likely to slow you down as you maneuver between lanes in traffic. The quick shift can mean the neutral is a bit hard to find. In addition, it took a bit of practice to wheelie it satisfactorily either due to the bike’s nose-down weight leaning or the quick turn throttle. 

But these are trivialities. It is the bike I would wish to be on if ever I need to move from one twisty to another in an emergency. It is extraordinarily fast and poised, unbelievably easy to go fast on and it is one of those motorbikes that subtly flatters your riding abilities while letting you focus on the white lines.

The bike is priced at AU$19,390 and the sports model goes for AU$21,690. Adding an extra AU$1,850 will give you lightweight rims. This is several thousand dollars cheaper than KTM Super Duke R (2016 version) and a lot closer to the price of the Tuono.

The equipment levels vary in the US, where the base version costs US$13,795. With the Sports package, you also get dynamic riding modes, cruise control, cornering ABS Pro and the up-down quick shifter, which sets you back $950. A dynamic package, which comes separate and whose price I am not sure of, offers you heated grips and the DDC active suspension, and the lightweight rims are priced at $1,375. 

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