BMW S1000 THE ANGEL
"Detuned for extra torque and midrange." This phrase has left a sour taste in the mouths of nakedbike lovers for years. Honda, for example, took the famous, barnstorming 919cc 1996 Fireblade engine, and neutered it into the 100-odd horsepower (75 kW) donk that powered the Hornet 900. I owned a Hornet 9 for many years and loved its all-round ability, but the engine could have been so much more fun.My current ride is a Fazer 1000 – road bike ergonomics with a tamed down version of the fearsome R1 engine – again, a brilliant, practical all-rounder chassis, but with an engine that stops well short of its potential.In my view, the BMW S1000RR boasts the greatest sportsbike engine on offer today – just shy of 200 screaming horsepower (149 kW), delivered with astounding flexibility that lets you smoothly accelerate from near idle in any gear. So it's a vast understatement to say I've been looking forward to riding the S1000R, its naked counterpartLooking at the spec sheet, though, there it is: "detuned for extra torque and midrange." The RR's 193-hp (144-kW) engine has been cut back to just 160 (119 kW). Has this magnificent engine, too, been tamed and sanitized, stripped of its fearsome power?The answer is immediately apparent riding away from BMW headquarters. Within a block, my eyes are bulging and my breath ragged. The RR sportsbike was a gentle, forgiving, almost nurturing presence down low, and a screaming psychopath past 9,000 rpm. The R is criminally insane from just above idle all the way up.The R might be down some 33 hp, but the riding experience is markedly more aggressive and direct than the RR on the road. Checking a dyno chart, you can see a fat spread of extra power and torque from tickover, right up to 10,000 rpm – which, in first gear, equates to about 110 km/h (69 mph), the highest speed limit in our neck of the woods. Above about 120 kmh (75 mph) is where the RR starts making use of its additional raging power – provided you stay in first gear. The takeaway here is that the R is more powerful, and more torquey, at any legal road speed, in any gearIn terms of rider assist and comfort features, the R gets everything that comes on the RR, with a few alterations. Race ABS and traction control are standard. Both are adjustable either through riding modes or directly through a menu, and both can be switched off mid-ride with a button on the left switchblock if you're feeling naughty.Both systems are very cleverly implemented to suit various riding styles in each mode. For example, selecting "Dynamic Pro" mode allows a greater degree of rear wheel spin and won't bring the front down when it detects you're lofting it. It also disables ABS for the rear wheel only, allowing riders far better than me to back the thing into corners or hover the rear wheel under maximum deceleration. Road mode, by comparison, lets you mash the S1000R's fearsome throttle and brake levers with all sorts of ham-fisted foolishness, but keeps both wheels on the ground and both tires hooked up.As on the RR, BMW has provided Dynamic Damping Control (DDC), or electronically adjustable suspension, for the R as an option. It's a wonderful thing to be able to choose your suspension setting to fit the road you're on – when you find that ultimate, glass-smooth ribbon of twisty tarmac, you can engage hard suspension to give you razor-sharp handling. When the road gets a little bumpier, you can knock it back to Normal for a less punishing ride, and when it's time to slab it home, Soft suspension turns what is essentially a fairly planky sportsbike into a much more comfy chariot. There's additional modes to balance things out if you add luggage, pillions or both. You certainly notice the difference – DDC is a very practical luxury.