BMW’s litre bike took the class by storm when it was introduced in 2009, effectively reinvigorating sportsbikes and moving the game on substantially.
The bike was updated in 2012, and this is the bike we’re testing here. It’s well specced – Race ABS, Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) and Gear Shift Assist comes as standard, and this one even has heated grips. Heated grips on a sportsbike? Yes, don’t knock them until you’ve tried them– toasty hands make a huge difference to your comfort and concentration levels this time of year.
The original bike was launched in a range of colours, including a very pale yellow and a lurid ‘piss’ green, but BMW reigned back the colour palette and this bike looks stunning in its red, white and black paint. Other subtle changes that show this is the ‘updated’ bike include minor changes to the asymmetrical side panels, the two winglets on the top part of the panels and the side aperture grills on the centre airbox cover.
This is a bike that looks rapid, even stood still, and it has a menacing, purposeful edge to its styling. Yes, it’s a rocketship on the move, but it’s also a comfortable bike you could ride every day.
The sophisticated electronics and rider aids mean it has never been easier to ride a 193bhp sportsbike. The engine is silky smooth, but accelerates rapidly, brutally even, with the twist of the throttle. And the dynamic traction control (DTC) works faultlessly, seamlessly adjusting engine torque to the current level of grip for optimum traction out of every corner.
This bike feels fresher than the first generation bike, and this is because BMW’s engineers tweaked its powerplant to provide a punchier power buildup and a more sensitive response. This, when combined with changes to the handling have created a bike that is even more precise and agile than its predecessor. A lot of this is down to the new suspension – the upside down fork and the spring strut feature a new internal structure, which provide an even wider range of damping forces from comfort to performance. This, when combined with changes to the suspension’s geometry – steering head angle, offset, position of the swingarm pivot, fork projection, and spring strut length – allow this RR to steer accurately, predictably holding a line through corners, time after time.
But the changes don’t stop there, and on the move your eyes will be drawn to the updated clocks, which are intuitive and easy to read. There’s now a “Best lap in progress” function, and if required, “Speedwarning” can inform the rider when he exceeds a particular speed.
Living with this bike for a week has proved just what a capable all-rounder it is. The fairing is effective at keeping the elements at bay, and it’s all-day comfortable. This BMW has that Honda feeling about it – everything fits and falls to hand easily and it just feels right.
It will happily sit on the motorway all day, grinding out the miles, and you know full well that the electronics will be working overtime to keep you safe. Yet, get to your destination, leave the motorway and hit the good stuff and it will suddenly come alive, urging you to attack the bends with ever greater confidence. It’s so easy to tip in, and it’s so precise, that it feels like the bike is part of you, and that it’s being guided by your thoughts alone. It’s awe-inspiring.
And the build quality seems flawless. This has been ridden hard in some shitty conditions – rain, snow, mud strewn roads – and has covered 1200 miles in our short time together, but after a thorough going over with the jetwash it’s come up as good as new.
In fact the only downside to any potential buyer is that it seems to be holding its price well. Try one for yourself and you’ll quickly discover why. This may be the greatest all-rounder ever. Fact.