In early May and thanks to my good friends at BMW Motorcycles of Richfield, I was able to attend the 2019 BMW Motorrad Product Launch at the annual dealer meeting at the Performance Center.
With leathers, boots and helmet in my duffle bag we headed to the track and a row of 2020 S1000RR’s. A sight to behold. Although I have a 2017 RR, you can immediately see this bike is different. Indeed, it is a complete redesign with only four part numbers carried over from the prior generation (the rear foot pegs and I think something in the gas filler cap).
By the time we had changed into riding gear, we had heard presentations on difference in chassis geometry, shift-cam technology, power curve and the joy of turning with the carbon fiber wheels. But as I said, there are some things that cannot be explained, they must be experienced.
Lead by Steve Weir, BMW Race Engineer, we head out to our bikes for the day. Steve emphasizes this is NOT a track day, today is to understand the performance attributes of the new RR. I am sure everyone in our group was smiling, thinking, Yeah Right.
There are a number of track configurations at the BMW Performance Center, for this portion we had a 1 mile straight, a lollipop turn, 1 mile straight and another lollipop. The turns were coned so we could not take them a speed.
Once we hit the green cones on the straight, Steve said to ‘pin it’ (insert smile here) and red cones almost a mile down the straight were our break point. Instructions were, first lap: 5th gear; second lap 4th gear and third lap in 3rd gear. The concept was to really understand the acceleration and the power curve of the new RR. My goal was to have fun, be comfortable on the bike and not exceed my skills on this brand new machine.
Lots of torque, amazing acceleration and a breathtaking top end. On my third lap, I hit the rev limiter looked down and I was at 143 mph in 3rd! Then into the pit, a bit more conversation and back for a few more laps. This time on the final lap, I appropriately shifted out of third and as I was about to brake, I glanced down and was at 167 in 5th.
There are somethings that can only be experienced, not explained. The best I can do is to share the comment from my buddy Devin Strange, Sales Manager at Irv Seaver BMW in Orange, California, who when I arrived back into the pit said “Dude, I have never seen you with such a big smile.”
From there we went to a smaller one-mile track with about 10 turns and appreciation for the agility of the new bike. It felt so much smaller and lighter than my 2017 RR and the turns became almost telepathic. The following day was a group ride of about 200 miles on the twisty Blue Ridge roads, also amazing, although the M-Sport seat is not made for a long day.
After the pure joy of the sessions settled in and I had some time to reflect, the sheer amazement of the speed and the blur of the passing scenery hit me. Thinking that I had only two reference points to pay attention to: green cone to hit the gas and red cone to begin braking, it took my breath away to think about the TT course 37.73 mile per lap, 264 turns and six laps on for the big bikes. My attitude and respect for the TT riders moved to a new level.
So now the question is: do you want to have this kind of fun? Duh, of course you do. It really is the most fun in a safe and well coached environment. My goal is always to be able to do it another day.
Of course speed is not the only goal here, it is all about technique, confidence and stability. I always think in terms of safer, smoother, faster.
One of the keys however, this is one of the very few places that you can have a day on the track with the amazing new BMW S1000RR.
I have been to levels 1, 2 and 3. I plan to go back sometime in the spring of 2020. It is great tune for the riding season and improving and creating new skills.
When I speak at BMW Motorrad dealers across the US, anyone who has thought of doing a track school almost immediately brings up California Superbike School and they should, it’s the best.
Check out their website, call them with questions and go. Have fun, go fast, learn new stuff and ride the amazing 2020 BMW S1000RR.
This is a present of great riding you can give yourself to start of 2020!
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