Bike reviews

Reviewed: BMW M 1000 RR


Open wide and say: “Mmmmmm…” – if you dare. As with BMW’s cars, the ‘M’ version of the German firm’s S 1000 RR is the ultimate, ultra-expensive, track-orientated version of its already incredible superbike.

Built mostly for racers both in superbike short circuit racing and, arguably even more successfully, the Isle of Man TT (just ask Peter Hickman and Davey Todd), the M is basically the S but with carbon everything, additional aero aids, different suspension and brakes and a more tunable engine. As such, as a road bike (for, yes, it is road legal), the M offers little that’s much use the road over the already phenomenal (and arguably also ‘too much’), S 1000 RR – but costs nearly twice as much. But as some kind of ultimate, exclusive, posing racer for the road, not much comes close. In years gone by, the ads may well have described it as ‘The Ultimate Riding Machine’.



Based on the 999cc, 204bhp, S 1000 RR, the M 1000 RR has higher compression, lighter valves, forged pistons, titanium conrods and more, all to aid race tuning. The result is a phenomenal 212bhp at 14,500rpm with torque unchanged at 83lbft at 11,000rpm. On the street it’s an absolute monster, but it’s really been built to dominate track days and provide a base for a race winning superbike. Rev to its higher reaches and it’s a gruff, aggressive weapon capable of nearly 200mph, 140mph of which comes before you’re even out of second, which makes it almost irrelevent as a road bike as you can’t get anywhere near it’s potential within legal limits. That said, lower down the delivery is almost placid, it is tractable and flexible with a slick quickshifter that makes mere travelling effortless.




Handling and steering are beyond what most road riders can compute too. Although the frame is unchanged from the S 1000 RR, suspension, wheels and steering geometry are new. There’s actually more rake and trail plus the wheelbase is slightly longer, all to add stability and reduce the inclination to wheelie. The result is a phenomenally stable yet quick steering wonder. The mechanically adjustable Marzocchi suspension is different from the S 1000 RR’s Sachs semi-active set-up, too, and gives a firmer, more precise ride. While the braking is simply stupendous: blue-anodised Nissin four-piston, radial calipers grab thicker 320mm discs and braking power is simply phenomenal, yet with plenty of finesse.




Comfort, practicality and equipment

The M 1000 RR is essentially a production racer fitted with road legal lights and mirrors, so you might expect it to have the cramped, uncompromising riding position to match. It is but, in reality, it’s better than might be expected. The latest S 1000 RR was already among the roomiest of current superbikes and the same is true, if not actually better, with the M due to its higher ‘TT’ style screen and more adjustable foot pegs, handlebars and so on – there are even heated grips! Overall, though, this is still very much a machine that’s built for speed on track rather than comfort on the road. And as for pillions, forget it! It is worth noting that there is a naked M 1000 R, with a similar spec but with more relaxed ergonomics, and there’s even an M 1000 XR for those wanting a more GT experience,




Practicality for a racer on the road? Quite. Few road-legal bike are as single-minded or uncompromising in their pursuit of speed (and nothing more) than the M 1000 RR – don’t forget, it’s a special track version of an already out-and-out sports machine. It’s been built to win motorcycle races, and as Toprak Razgatlioglu is proving in WorldSBK, and Davey Todd and Peter Hickman have demonstrated at the TT. It has succeeded in its core objective.

As a result, practicality doesn’t even come into it. Yes, you can ride it on the road, commute or even tour on one, but that’s not what it was built for, and it’d be an expensive waste if you did – BMW will happily sell you an R 1300 GS to do all that and more. That all said, however, in reality, nor is the M 1000 RR really any less comfortable than most other superbikes – in fact, thanks to its roomy riding position and things like its heated grips, it’s significantly better than many. But there is still no pillion or luggage ability, a performance ‘envelope’ far beyond sane or legal road limits and it carries a price tag which elevates it beyond the role of mere ‘transport’.




It’s a racer, right? So, there isn’t any equipment… Wrong, they’re just not the usual luxury/touring add-ons you might expect with a conventional street motorcycle. Instead, it’s all about performance. So, along with the eye-grabbing new carbon fibre bodywork including wings and carbon wheels, plus optional £5000 extra ‘M Package’, which includes MotoGP style carbon fibre disc covers, plus billet adjustable levers and footpegs, there are uprated Nissin brakes, a full-colour TFT dash with Bluetooth connectivity, a full array of electronic rider aids including switchable modes, traction control, anti-wheelie and quickshifter/auto-blipper. And there are the heated grips. It is a BMW, after all! Compared to the S 1000 RR, though, there’s no semi-active suspension, which again is a sop to track use – where conventional suspenders are still preferred. Electronic suspension works great on bumpy and more changeable public roads, but is not usually deemed necessary on smooth and more consistent race track surfaces.




What’s it cost and should I buy?

At the end of the day with the M 1000 RR we’re talking about a £30,000+ extreme performance machine with over 200bhp and capable of near-200mph. On top of the high initial purchase price there’s a raft of optional extras including the ‘M Package’ featured here, which adds £5k to the cost.

That said, if you’re after a base superbike to build a competitive racer, especially for the TT, the M 1000 RR’s for you – it won all three big bike races on the island this year. It also makes a mouth-watering track day bike that’s a valid alternative to exotica such as Ducati’s Panigale V4 R and Aprilia’s track-only weapons. If you’re after a road bike, though, the standard S 1000 RR is a far better bet unless, and you can financially justify it, you simply must have the most GP-alike, gob-smacking road-legal superbike currently available.

BMW M 1000 RR specification

Price: From £30,940

Engine: 999cc in-line four, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, liquid cooled

Power: 212bhp (156kW) @ 14,500rpm

Torque: 113Nm (83lb-ft) @ 11,000rpm

Transmission: Six-speed, chain final drive

Frame: Cast aluminium bridge type

Suspension: (F) Fully-adjustable 45mm USD fork, (R) Fully-adjustable mono shock.

Wheels: M carbon, 17”/17”

Tyres: (F) 120/70 x 17, (R) 200/55 x 17

Brakes: (F) 2 x 320mm floating discs, four-piston Nissin radial calipers, Brembo master cylinder (R) 220mm disc, two-piston Nissin caliper. Cornering ABS as standard equipment

Weight: 193kg (kerb)

Wheelbase: 1457mm

Seat height: 832mm

Fuel tank: 16.5 litres

Fuel consumption: 48mpg (tested)

Service intervals: 6000 miles/12 months

Warranty: 36 months unlimited mileage



Words: Phil West 

Photos: BMW

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