2023 BMW S1000RR review - the easiest litre-class supersport to go fast on!
Ever since its launch in 2008, BMW has been constantly updating, upgrading and evolving its track-bred motorcycle - the S1000RR. BMW may be known for its adventure tourers, but the supersport S1000RR quickly rose to the top of the charts and has always remained a desirable track tool ever since. Since its inception, it has flirted with that 200PS power figure even when the competition was lingering in the 160s and despite packing in so much power it has had impeccable handling dynamics on the track while being exceptionally comfortable and controllable on the road. The 2019 model went compact compared to its predecessors but did not lose the charm or comfort that made the original so likeable. It is considered to be the fourth-generation model in the lineage and what you see here is the updated version of it with a more flexible chassis, more advanced electronics, revised rider geometry, better suspension, higher power and a more aggressive design.
BMW's move to a symmetrical front end in 2019 may have been a bit polarising, but with the 2023 update, a bit of the asymmetry is back with the offset decals and a bit of the radicalism is back with the massive wings on the front end. These are inspired by the 2020 M1000RR, albeit not made in carbonfibre. You do get carbon fibre for the heel plates and more importantly, in the wheels!
While the rest of the motorcycle follows familiar design cues of its predecessor, the cast aluminium frame has been drilled in multiple areas to reduce weight and increase flex. Geometry changes include a longer rake and trail, a lengthier wheelbase and increased ride height.
So if you have had a go on your friend's 2019 S1000RR and want to get yourself the new one, do try it out before buying, because the higher ride height may not be to everyone's taste. Especially since the seat is broad, and here on the M Sport model it is simply a thin sheet of foam which is ideal for the track, but not the most comfortable for long distances.
Ride and handling
The increased ride height might not be the only thing you will notice if you ride the predecessor and the new S1000RR back to back. The advantages of the chassis level changes may be hard to come back unless you are a riding god who can push the bike to its limits. I'm not. But what's immediately noticeable is the improved agility of the motorcycle and how supple the new Marzocchi forks feel in comparison to the outgoing Sachs. These too feature electronically adjustable damping and while they are better than the outgoing legs, the S1000RR still feels a bit firm even in its 'Road' setting. The 'Dynamic' mode dials up the stiffness so much that the bike becomes unrideable in our conditions - always bobbing over undulations and making the rider feel like a jockey floating a few millimetres above the seat at all times.
Once you figure out the right settings for your favourite road, the S1000RR is a hoot to ride! Tractability in the city and around tight switchbacks is unbelievably good for a litre-class supersport. And you can hang off the bike in the long sweeping corners with plenty of confidence. The longer wheelbase and the revised ergonomics contribute to that effect. The steering geometry seems lazier on paper, but the carbon wheels make turn-ins feel nice and sharp. It doesn't feel as razor-sharp as a Panigale V4 S but feels more neutral in comparison and that will appeal to a broader spectrum of riders with different skill levels.
Even the brakes are more confident than before! The Nissin callipers are a welcome change from the many Brembo brakes we have been sampling lately on most European and Japanese motorcycles. These too come from the M1000RR and have superb stopping power without feeling too bitey or grabby for the road. You can fine-tune the brake bias and rear lift control and if you prefer to brake into a corner sideways - there is braking slide control too! Furthermore, you also get to choose the level of engine brake control you want. It will play with the throttle maps and the butterfly valves to fine-tune the deceleration offered by the powertrain. That precision can also reduce the nose dive, so in some kind of corners or switchbacks where you simply need to roll off the throttle to shave speeds, the bike will do so and glide through the corners without upsetting its form. The new S1000RR can sting like a bimmer and float like one too!
Speaking of the sting, the engine is uprated to 210PS (only 2PS shy of the M1000RR). Needless to say, the power comes nice and strong throughout the rev range and you will never find yourself complaining about the lack of it on the road or track. That said, the S1000RR doesn't feel like it wants to kill you by the end of the lap.
The electronics work discreetly even when you are in the higher realms of the revs and speed and the power always seems manageable and in control. It is only when you ride past the mid-range and closer to the red line that the hell breaks loose and the rider god in you needs to be summoned. 12,000-15,000rpm is the savage territory where the S1000RR's gentlemanly mannerisms end and the animal comes out.
And if you are a riding god that can tame that kind of power without the need for electronic aids, then there is a new easter egg for you - slide control! The new S1000RR will let you slide into the corner like a WSBK or MotoGP guru to target those final milliseconds on a lap record. But I call it an easter egg because the only way to activate it is by letting go of the traction control system. You need to have the skill to control 210 German horses with the traction control set to its lowest setting in order to activate slide control and that level of skill or bravery isn't everyone's cup of tea.
Therefore, the biggest advancement of the 2023 S1000RR is one that not many can use. And yet, if I had to buy an S1000RR today, it would have to be the 2023 model. I would buy the top-of-the-line M Sport model in a heartbeat because it seems like 95% of the M1000RR at almost half the price. And that's a steal in my books!
That is the simple way to sum this up! You already know this is a fast-litre-class bike with the best equipment you can think of in 2023 and I think it offers tremendous value for its asking price. But the thought I want to leave you with is this - when you got a litre class machine from a couple of decades ago, went fast with them and lived to tell the tale, in your head, you would be laughing and screaming, "Oh I'm glad I survived the day!" You would expect those laughs and screams to be louder on a modern-day 200+ PS machine. But instead, the S1000RR leaves you thinking, "Did I go fast enough, or was that the bike doing everything?" Depending on how you translate that statement will tell you if the S1000RR is the bike for you or not.
Words Rohit Paradkar
Photography Anis Shaikh
Starts Rs 18,50,000
Starts Rs 23,50,000