2021 BMW S1000R
It's a difficult thing to break, the mental picture of the one and only motorcycle we can imagine when we say “king of the road”. How then should we classify the BMW S1000R? BMW produces other models that are leaders in their own classes, leaving everyone else in the dust. BMW has set themselves two high-as-heaven hurdles to clear. First, deliver a worthy successor to the outgoing one. Second, do a job of it so darn good that as much of the competition gets left behind as possible. Again.
Facelifted in 2021, the BMW S1000R still looks sharp, sleek and up to date as it can be. Nothing about it looks tired. The fact that competitors take inspiration from the design of its bits here and there exceeds flattery. Everything about this, down to the R in large font and three tone colour scheme are unmistakably BMW. The full LED lighting package is a boon, with low profile signal lamps on the front and sufficiently bright integrated brake/signal lamps on the back to keep things simple and tidy. Very much appreciated and pleasing in this form for probably the most OCD prone of riders.
In the cockpit, the TFT display carries a whole different flavour from other manufacturers. Common across the entire fleet, start up graphics are unique to each model range, something to look forward to on any TFT equipped BMW. Cycling through the different functions is easy with the navigation wheel. Changing the riding modes on the fly was childsplay. The only hassle at all was setting up the bluetooth connection with our smartphones. This took a few more turns of the nav-wheel and jabs at the buttons. A number of folks would probably not be doing that anyway.
How about posture? Swing a leg over and all at once, the machine feels versatile. Not sculpted like an Italian but it fits several positions decently well, from cruising to aggressive riding. The gel in the seat is dense but not hard, easily fitting different positions. It is angled to hold the rider in place with a slightly forward-leaning stance, making commuting with this ride a breeze. Commuting. *ahem* The S1000R is confidence inspiring. Among the multitude of features, information displayed on the TFT screen like lean angles makes challenging limits both tempting and rewarding. Go for it and blend with the machine, make use of its handling and control abilities. You’ll see what we mean.
The S1000R features a majestically grand suite of equipment and electronics. From brakes, to suspension, to rider aid and safety. Braking? Good enough to mash your eyeballs into their sockets. M-endurance chain? Better longevity, less downtime. Dunlop sportmax shoes come as standard. We didn’t have the S1000R long enough to gauge the rate of wear but the feedback and road holding in dry and wet weather left nothing to be expected with the typical urban/city/expressway riding.
Exploring the range of electronics as much as we could, was the turning point for us. The exact moment we started to reject the idea of returning the test bike. How could we let go of something this good? Stopping on a slope? Facing up or down, hill hold takes over as you throttle up to go and that’s just the foam on your cappuccino, the icing on the cake. The S1000R literally floats on its electronically adjustable suspension. Set it to Road and the suspension adjusts itself to just about soak up all the imperfections thrown at it like a champ. Don’t believe us? Check out our video review (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gn0aHIdzgcc) of this machine and watch carefully as the wheels react to the road but the body rises and falls gently. With Amos in the cockpit, almost none of the bumps are transmitted. His head almost doesn’t bob with the bumps. Setting it to Dynamic or Dynamic Pro (our test model came equipped with the M-package) firms up the suspension for track riding, making every steering input from the rider as sharp and accurate as possible. On the less refined road, those bumps we mentioned? Some do get through, but does it really matter when the engagement is this exciting? Slinging the S1000R around the bends, its sporty rake and nimble chassis make light work of each apex. Directional changes are almost mental, requiring only the slightest touch. Something else to look forward to, this machine dances around the bends.
With great road holding, response and feel for traction, the S1000R makes a demon of its rider. The confidence rewarded makes chewing miles in the cockpit a breeze. Heck, it feels like a lot of bike for just a little bit of road. BMW’s shift-cam technology and tuning for the second generation S1000R make this machine a real hoot to ride. The engine is tuned to be torquey and ultra responsive at the lower RPM range while unleashing the stable of furious German stallions in the higher RPM range. It’s downright amazing how BMW managed to squeeze this much versatility out of its in-line 4.
BMW delivered such a good package in the S1000R, finding fault without restraint entails a lot of head scratching. It is far easier on bikes carrying less expectation and reputation. Really if anything, the S1000R doesn’t fall flat but feels like it could have been done a little better in the looks department. It’s not made to push boundaries or win design accolades. It just feels, safe. No wings, no flashy bits or bobs stuck to the outsides, screaming at folks as you pass them by. The S1000R isn’t made for talk, it's made for action. The other little issue to dig really is with the electronics package. It’s great and all but for riders coming off older generations of machines, pre-tech leap days, the analog feel is gone, replaced with a layer more finely tuned senses can feel. Trust and embrace the layer however and the rewards are far greater.
Priced at SGD $58,800 for the base model and SGD$64,800 for the optional M package, excluding COE. The S1000R is competitive in both price and ability against the offerings from other European manufacturers. This highly intelligent usurper for the title “King of the Road” takes its challenge to the title and wallet very seriously.
See You On The Road