Moto Review: BMW M1000R


BMW’s M model lineup has been growing, but it is not just for their automobiles. After several decades, BMW finally decided to use the “M” nameplate in their motorcycles for extreme performance-oriented entries. Even before the arrival of M motorcycle models, understanding BMW’s motorcycle lineup had never been an easy task, as they already have many different variations for each type of motorcycle. To summarize it in one sentence: the M1000R is one of the first entries that wants an all-out streetfighter naked bike from BMW.

The Looks & Details

For riders with an untrained eye, it is almost impossible to find the difference between the M1000R and S1000R, as they really look similar even when you park them side by side. The differences become more apparent the more you get closer, as you can see M-related additions easily, such as the winglets, bar-end mirrors, and taller wind deflectors.

The M1000R is 5mm shorter, but it has a 20mm longer wheelbase, it is 27mm wider and 61mm taller, therefore it has a slightly different geometry than the S1000R. With all of those changes, the bike was still able to keep its wet weight the same as the S1000R at just below 200 kilograms, which is very impressive. Despite having different dimensions, BMW decided to keep the seat height very similar to the S1000R at 32.6 inches.

So the visual differences are not significant enough for current S1000R riders to upgrade, but you definitely feel the engineering effort to get better aerodynamics and downforce at higher speeds with the M1000R. If you are coming from another BMW motorcycle, the rest of the bike will feel very similar when it comes to the button layout, overall build quality and feel.

Even though the M1000R is meant to be a track weapon, it can be a nice daily rider, as it offers creature comforts and the latest tech. Just as expected from any modern BMW motorcycle, it comes with a 6.5-inch TFT display with the latest BMW software. It comes with the “M” start-up animation to make the rider feel more special, but what’s more important is that the menus and screens are one of the most intuitive and easy to use once you get used to the layout.

What’s even more impressive is the way you interact with it. Unlike Honda, BMW has minimized the number of physical buttons on the handlebar, with the rotary knob located on the left side of the handlebar. There are still dedicated buttons for the essential features like the riding modes, and it makes it easy to use even if you are coming from an older bike. You can also connect your phone and see more information, including navigation or the list of your favourite songs.

The standard and optional feature list is too long to go through each of them, meaning that the customization is what makes the M1000R special for each owner. The bike also comes with touring features that I didn’t expect to see, such as cruise control, keyless ride, automatic hill start control and heated grips, which makes the M1000R even better daily rider, even though it’s not really meant to be daily ridden. If you are planning to take passengers, you need to choose the passenger package, as the standard M1000R only comes with a plastic cover and without passenger footrests.

From the performance perspective, BMW did not cut any corners when it comes to the features and riding aids. It comes with several different riding modes along with a pit lane limiter, launch control, traction control, quick shifter, wheelie control, slide control, tire pressure control and dynamic damping control. For track use, you can disable everything quite quickly, so there is no software limitation, as long as you can handle the power.

The Drivetrain

Speaking of power, you won’t be disappointed with it, just as expected from a litre bike. The M1000R officially joins the 200 hp club, as BMW claims that it pushes 205 hp at 13,750 rpm and 83.3 lb-ft at 11,000 rpm with a top speed of 174 mph (280 km/h). The M1000R gets the same treatment when it comes to the drivetrain choice as the other sport bikes, the S1000RR and M1000RR.

Compared to the other naked bikes in the brand’s model lineup, there are lots of technical differences. The M1000R gets a higher compression engine and revs almost 2000 rpm higher. The gearing is also significantly shorter, as it gets a 47-tooth rear sprocket instead of 45. The gear ratios are also drastically different, with shorter fourth, fifth and sixth gear. The quick-shifter is up and down, and it is one of the smoothest options available in the market.

The Ride

If you are coming from an inline-4 sport bike, the sound and the character of the engine will feel pretty much the same here. Our tester is equipped with Akrapovic exhaust as a factory option, which is a great match for the character of the bike. So even though the M1000R is a track-focused bike, it is still a street bike, so the road manners are extremely important.

The throttle response is not harsh, the suspension is not punishing in any way, the clutch operation is smooth and predictable, and the shifts are crisp. It is surprisingly easy to ride in a slower fashion, just like the way you would drive when you go to work, or when you are running errands. In Sport mode, the throttle response can be a little bit edgy, but you can simply switch to Rain or Road mode for less aggressive throttle mapping, which is ideal for cold ambient temperatures.

The new M1000R really shines when you ride it in a spirited fashion, but you just need to keep it at the right powerband to move fast. In typical inline-4 fashion, it does not have low-end grunt, but the torque dip happening between 6000 and 8000 rpm is something that can be annoying, especially on corner exit, so you need to remind yourself to keep the RPMs over 8000 to avoid the torque dip. Changing the riding modes unfortunately does not change that

To BMW’s credit, the bike is meant to be ridden hard and the top end must be very powerful, and the M1000R delivers that exceptionally well. Above 8000 rpm, the bike just comes alive and gives everything you could possibly ask for. Without the rider aids, the bike would not be as forgiving as it constantly wants to lift the front wheels at higher speeds.

When you have a bike that has more than 1 horsepower per kilogram, you know that it is going to be extremely fast. However, the more impressive part is the chassis, suspension and braking performance. The chassis gives the rider a lot of feedback, the front end feels exceptionally agile, and the bike wants to lean with confidence. The leverage and counter steering are slightly easier than traditional sport bikes, due to the standard handlebar instead of narrow clip-ons.

Electronically adjustable Marzocchi forks and the rear shock allow you to choose the right suspension tune based on the riding conditions, it gives you the best of both worlds. Even in the firmest setting, the semi-active suspension is not teeth-jarring in any way. Even in the standard road setting, the front dive-in is minimal and very controllable during hard braking.

I found something interesting when I was going through the spec sheet, as I was expecting to see Brembo callipers in the front. The 4-piston Monoblock front calipers and the front brake master cylinder are made by Nissin, but you can’t see it as BMW decided just to put the “M” logo on it. Things got even more interesting when I found that BMW used Brembo brakes in the rear only. Either way, the braking performance is top-notch, the modulation is smooth and predictable, and it slows down the bike really quickly. The billet aluminum levers are included on the bike as a standard feature.

The Verdict

The “M” nameplate means you have big shoes to fill, no matter if it’s four or two wheels. The M1000R is a big middle finger to the European exotic hypernakeds, fueling the horsepower war in the two-wheel world. However, the main reason why the BMW M1000R is here today is the Ducati Streetfighter. The S1000R has always been the middle child of the brand’s sport bike lineup, as it shared the same detuned drivetrain with the touring-oriented S1000XR, it fell behind the competition when it comes to the performance figures.

On the other hand, the S1000R was never meant to be an all-out performance machine, it was never a priority for the brand. BMW has never given the S1000RR’s full-power engine and has kept the S1000R as a sporty & powerful naked bike, far from being hypernaked as it didn’t have a worthy competition. The Streetfighter has changed the status quo and brought something that BMW had to make its move.

At the end of the day, riders are the real winners, as we have more choices. The M1000R is genuinely a track weapon that you can ride every day with minimum compromises. It is more appealing to riders who are looking for a traditional inline 4-cylinder character, a screaming engine that revs over 14,000 RPM, along with top-notch electronics, rider aids and the level of engineering that you feel once you push the bike to its limits.

Engine999cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled inline-four
Max Power205 hp @ 13,500 rpm
Max Torque83 lb-ft @ 11,00 rpm
Front BrakesNissin Monoblock 4-piston calipers with twin 320mm discs
Rear BrakesBrembo 1-piston caliper, 220mm single disc
Weight439 lb – 199 kg
Fuel Capacity4.4 gallons – 16.5 lt.
Seat Height33.1 in – 84 cm
Base Price (starting at)$25,495 (CAD)

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