The only thing keeping your blood cool is the wind rush!
This is BMW’S sale slogan for that bike – and whoever came up with this- brought it right to the point!!!
It was another dry, beautiful and warm December day here in the Bay Area when I arrived with my scrubby looking CBR 600 at the BMW dealership to test that mean and extremely lean BMW Superbike. What was awaiting me was superb engineering, compact 193 horsepower wrapped into precious low weight metals and shaped into a definite eye candy of a light-weight superbike with a total weight of only 450 lbs (204 KG). Titanium valves and rocker arms help lowering the total engine weight to a measly 59 KG (132 lbs). This bike is practically screaming for a race track. It is a beast!
Here it is. Still in the showroom.
I cannot even mention all the technical gimmicks I was just about to experience but one detail is so mind-boggling that it was like sitting in a space ship. I am talking about the Race ABS – “the” device to play around between Rain, Sport and Race mode. What does that mean??? Well- in laymen terms- it plays with throttle response and power control. Let me be the judge of that one (Yikes).
Here are some of the basics- four cylinders, inline engine, bore and stroke 80 mm x 49.7 mm , 999 cc, maximum output 193 horsepower at 13000 RPM, 6 gear HP gearshift assist – means up shifting without interrupting the shift flow with a bothersome clutch process. All of these details remind me to well that this is a pure bred race bike rather than a street bike. The last thing really fascinating me is the integrated lap time tracker. LAP TIME TRACKER???
I sat on it. It is a low bike. I am only 5’9 inches (175 cm) and to me the bike seemed very low. This was a clear indicator that we are not talking about a cruiser. Organizing myself into riding position I already felt the pressure of my own body weight (6 lbs(3 KG) heavier than the engine weight of this bike) on my wrists, shoulders, neck and lower back. I didn’t expect anything else. It was almost like sitting on a full blown GP bike. Small, compact and precise! I lifted the bike off the side stand with the movement of one finger. The bike fell into position like a fluffy feather tumbling in the air. The overall engineering, geometrics and ergonomics of that bike make every rider feel like it was custom tailored to the individual rider’s height, weight and seating position. It was like this bike was made for me. Period. I sat on it and I felt like home.
The engine roared. The dashboard lid up like a Christmas tree with all kinds of little numbers, letters and flashlights but then stayed set with a digital number board. God forbid the electronics fail…..
I started with the DTS (Dynamic Traction Control) in Rain mode. The smoothest of the settings of the DTS and ABS. The seating position is race like, low, like a tiger on the prowl in the jungle. Smooth, quiet, powerful and I would like to say safe.
The freeway was my first acceleration point. Wow— I hardly touched the shift lever and I was already in sixth gear at 4000 rpm and still had a power band-with like in second gear @6000 rpm on my Honda (????) how did I get so quick into 6th gear?? The whole bike is dancing underneath me with ease and grace. The bike is like an obedient dog. It doesn’t do anything what you don’t want it to do. The control is with the rider. I played around with the shifting. I couldn’t even rev it up higher than 5000 rpm on this short stretch of Freeway but had constant power flow and speed. No unnecessary downshifting and playing around with the throttle…. It was just hovering along like a purring cat totally content and in its element.
Exit to some of the back roads. Ok- I switched the electronics from Rain to Sport. An instant change was noticeable in traction, power control, and throttle response. Wow – who came up with a concept like this? I paid better attention to my shifting and the rpm’s. The engine is smooth, the power is balanced, and the sound is subtle. Some little turns. The bike is low; I shift my body weight and the bike falls into that left turn effortlessly and stuck to the road like a butter knife cutting through soft margarine. The low rpm pull the bike through the turn like on tracks and the feeling was rather as it was pulled by 193 horses instead of propelled by them. There is no doubt in the geometry of the frame, swing arm, suspension system, front fork. Everything plays in perfect harmony like the precise game of the almighty universe.
Once I had some open road in front of me I accelerated a bit harder and the only thing cooling my blood was the wind rush!
On my way home I switched to race mode. Hellloooo—I am a race chick and cannot go slow. This bike practically seduces me to do the inevitable. RACE MODE. Wham- these Germans mean it when talking about RACE MODE. The traction immediately switched to the nature of a beast. The rear wheel wanted to break out, the throttle response was aggressive and lurking for any predators.
The interplay of perfect geometry and power development makes the bike practically fall into the turns by itself and I had to make sure that the 190/55 tire ( 6.00 x 17 inch rim) made the best out of the pavement. I only can imagine how this would play out on the track. Dream on.
Back at the dealership I felt my body screaming as loud as the engine for freedom and wide open race tracks. My wrists were sore and my neck was stiff. The seating position is tough, the suspension is stiff, the aerodynamics are perfect and beautiful but whoever is riding this bike should be in physical shape.
My conclusion of the trip to the “planet of unleashed power” is that this bike is as tame as a pussy cat and as wild as a beast in one package. It is highly intelligent and offers several options in how it can be handled by the rider. It is extremely user friendly for anyone who just wants to enjoy a tame beast on a Sunday afternoon, yet a challenge for every racer chasing a world champion title in the World Superbike Championship.
The German motorcycle magazines are talking about the Japanese bike crisis and with BMW setting the bar for excellence extremely high with this bike I can see the argument. This bike is so full of itself, yet humble, that its performance cannot be challenged so easily.
What a piece of machinery! Triple thumbs up!