For a cutting-edge sports bike the BMW is improbably well equipped and practical. Its electronic features include a high-tech instrument panel that displays actual and maximum lean angle (it’s possible to record over 60 degrees on a track with banked turns), acceleration rates and more. For circuit use there’s a launch control, plus a pit-lane speed limiter that can be deployed for amusement in town. More down-to-earth options, invaluable to long-distance riders, include cruise control and heated grips. The semi-active suspension allows the BMW to be impressively comfortable, at least by sports bike standards.
Since the last round of super-sports launches the S1000RR has some serious opposition. Aprilia’s RSV4 boasts V4 charisma, Ducati’s 1299 Panigale thunders with V-twin soul, Kawasaki’s ZX-10R offers World Superbike credibility and Yamaha’s YZF-R1 packs MotoGP-derived technology. All are fine bikes, but BMW’s refined-yet-raw four is arguably the pick of the bunch both for a hot lap of Brands Hatch and a blast the length of France. Given that it remains competitively priced – at £13,850 for the standard model and £14,910 for the Sport, which includes DDC semi-active suspension, auto-blipper, heated grips, LED indicators and pillion seat cover – that’s quite some accomplishment.
BMW Motorrad will feature at the Festival of Speed as part of the celebrations of BMW's centenary.
Price tag of our bike: £17,040 (Sport with additional £495 Race Package, £385 Motorsport paint option and £1250 forged wheels)
Photography by Arnold Debus