A hard-charging motorcycle for those expert riders who demand more.
In two decades of travelling to racetracks around the world, I’ve been to Spain’s Almeria Circuit only twice, including this latest trip to test the 2023 BMW S1000RR. It’s a shame, really, because the 4.2-km-long racetrack is smooth and grippy, has long, flowing, fast turns, as well as a 970-metre-long back straight.
As I reached the end of said back straight, just before hitting the brakes hard for the sharp right-hand turn, a quick glance at the speedometer revealed I was travelling 282 km/h, while still accelerating in fifth of six gears. But that’s what you’re capable of doing — on a racetrack, of course — when you have more than 200 horsepower on tap, especially when that horsepower is manageable. And manageable it is, because BMW has revised its flagship sport bike for 2023, making what was already a potent supersport machine even better.
Launched in 2009, the S1000RR entered its third generation in 2019 with a complete makeover. It got an all-new 999 cc inline-four that bumped output from a claimed 197 to its present 205 hp. It also got BMW’s ShiftCam technology — first seen in the R1250 boxer engine — which alters valve timing and lift to broaden the spread of torque, which peaks at 83 lb-ft of torque at 11,000 rpm.
The bike also lost a lot of weight, dropping 11 kg, and tipping the scales at a svelte 197 kg with its 16.5-litre fuel tank full. Furthermore it got a new, narrower frame with revised steering geometry, as well as a new flex strategy that increased the engine’s rigidity within the chassis. This new flex strategy also saw its inverted fork drop in diameter from 46 to 45 mm.
The New Stuff for 2023
While the updates to the 2023 model are not as extensive, they are nonetheless significant. The engine has been revised with a new cylinder head, which now has the same intake-port design as on the higher-spec — and much pricier — M1000RR ($43,260 for the M versus $20,395 for the S), though to cut costs, the ports are cast into the head rather than machined as on the M. A new airbox utilizes shorter, variable-length intake funnels, also borrowed from the M, and the final drive ratio has been shortened by adding a tooth to the rear sprocket, from 46 to 45.
Cradling the engine is a revised frame that has more flex engineered into its beams, which actually improves handling over the previous model. The steering geometry has been altered for more stability: triple-clamp offset has been reduced by 2.5 mm, trail has been increased to 99 mm (up 5 mm), steering angle has been raked out by half a degree to 23.6 degrees, wheelbase is 18-mm-longer at 1,457 mm, and the frame incorporates…