Biker Boy: New BMW S1000R a high-tech sports bike
I thought I was on familiar ground when I straddled the latest BMW S1000R. After all, I had ridden the first-generation S1000R in 2015.
Five minutes into riding the German-made motorcycle, however, I nearly dropped it halfway through a medium-speed turn.
I was caught off guard when the S1000R - shod with a new 200-profile rear tyre - went lower than I expected at the turn. Luckily, a quick flick of the throttle straightened the motorcycle and saved the day.
In terms of looks, performance and handling, the third-generation M-specced 2021 S1000R is also quite different from its older siblings.
The lines of the super naked BMW are smoother and the ugly flared Akrapovic silencer has been replaced by a longer one with a carbon-fibre end.
The iconic "angry eye" headlamp is gone, replaced by a single robot-faced headlamp with a horizontal day-running light.
Brake lights are now incorporated into the two rear signal lights, just aft of its trellis-type sub-frame. A reverse banana-styled swingarm rests on an M-type forged rear wheel.
The red, white and blue livery gives the 999cc S1000R a clean look.
But while the six-speeder may look more genteel and refined, its performance is anything but tame.
The 165bhp and 114Nm BMW can zip from 0 to 100kmh in 2.8 seconds. Its stated top speed is "over 200kmh", but some published test reports point to a peak close to 260kmh.
The keyless S1000R feels more like a race motorcycle that has been given street-legal status. But it is a more forgiving ride than its track-focused, full-fairing cousin, the S1000RR, which makes 207bhp and has a top speed close to 300kmh.
Still, it is the sportiest S1000R by far. It is as light as a 600cc sports bike and weighs 199kg when fully fuelled, making handling agile and steering quick on its wide dirt-bike handlebars.
While power has remained the same as the second-generation S1000R, there is more mid-range torque. At 3,000rpm, the bike produces 80Nm to provide robust acceleration.
Looking at the gauges on the 6.5-inch TFT screen is like watching the on-board controls of a video game. The revs shift from left to right as quickly as you can twist the throttle towards its 12,000rpm ceiling (which is 2,500rpm shy of the circuit-focused S1000R).
The S1000R has customisable riding aids usually found on top-shelf motorcycles - cruise control, suspension damping, wheelie control and even hill start control - which take real-time readings from a six-axis sensor.
Acceleration on its up/down quickshifter can be described as tofu smooth, with no jerk even when upshifting from first to second.
Another hint that the S1000R is track-ready is a drilled hole on the gearshift lever. BMW says it is to facilitate a reverse-style gear shifter, which is commonly used in circuit racing.
The engine tells you it is willing to be ridden hard - if you dare.
In Dynamic Pro mode, the S1000R is at its most responsive and aggressive. There is the tell-tale exhaust backfiring whenever the throttle is shut, just like how souped-up race bikes sound on the circuit. Hard stopping can be done with just two fingers on the front brake lever.
But thanks to modern electronics, you can ride the S1000R without popping a vessel. Its suspension fore and aft are fully adjustable.
A longer wheelbase gives the bike more straight-line stability. The 16.5-litre fuel tank imparts a range of about 230km.
But while the S1000R can guarantee you a spirited ride every time, its small odd-shaped mirrors lack coverage and wind blast can tire you at higher speeds.
At the end of an 80km ride, my shoulders and wrists ached - perhaps also because of the bike's downward riding stance.
BMW S1000R (M package)
Price: $64,800 without COE
Engine: 999cc 16-valve inline-4 water-cooled
Transmission: Six-speed manual, chain-driven
Power: 165bhp at 11,000rpm
Torque: 114Nm at 9,250rpm
0-100kmh: 2.8 seconds (tested)
Top speed: Over 200kmh
Fuel consumption: 6.2 litres/100km
Agent: BMW Motorrad Singapore