BMW S1000RR: Did the Germans Win the Japanese War?

When it comes to fast and famous sportbikes, the Japanese big four are often the first liter bike manufacturers that come to mind. But in 2011 everything changed. The Supertest World Association awarded ‘Bike of the Year’ to the German BMW S1000RR after its first year of production––on Japanese soil––and European motorcycle fans were validated, to say the least.

From its unveiling in 2009 to its 2010 release in Japan’s moto market to winning this prestigious award in 2011. It’s no secret that the RR did a little victory dance. But is it really that great?

What does S1000RR stand for?

According to this post on Tuvie.com, the S1000RR of this sportbike’s name means something very significant. The “S” in this ridiculously powered German bike’s name stands for “sportbike.” 1000 indicates the engine size. The “RR” is the fun part. It means “race replica.” Many motorcycle enthusiasts already knew this, but there might be some that didn’t, and that’s ok. Now you know.

Revzilla explains that 1000cc bikes’, also known as liter bikes’ engines fit an entire liter of displacement within a sportbike frame. These massive motorcycle engines are honestly ludicrous on city streets. Or highways. Or anywhere but a racetrack. But hey––what’s life without the occasional thrill, right?

The all-new BMW S1000RR

Really. This segment of motorcycles is not for beginners. There are even a number of lifelong riders that prefer something a little more practical. But if practical isn’t what you’re into, this German sportbike might be up your alley.

a red BMW leaning deep into a chicane
The all-new third-gen BMW S1000RR | BMW Motorcycles

Since the debut in 2009, the BMW S1000RR has dominated the liter bike segment. Now there is a third generation in production that released in 2019. Though we can’t sanely advise you to push the RR to its limits, here is what it is capable of if you did.

The 1-liter displacement––or 1000cc––engine generates up to 205 horsepower. Up to a possible 83 pound-feet of torque at 11,000 rpm. And still 74 pound-feet of torque between 5,500 and 14,500 rpm, according to BMW Motorcycles. The new generation saw major upgrades. BMW claims that the third-gen S1000RR is light and better than ever.

“Ten years after the first generation of the RR first mesmerized the world of motorcycles, we’re now entering the next level of performance.”

BMW Motorcycles

Which is the better liter bike?

Is the German sportbike better than the liter bikes that Japanese engineering offers? Thats hard to say. The Honda CBR1000RR, Suzuki GSX R1000, Yamaha R1M, and Kawasaki ZX10RR all bring strong and furiously fast competition to the table.

Mark Miller with Motorcycle.com tested them all out on a Sicilian racetrack last summer. He raves about the BMW RR even going so far as to call himself a “fan-boy.” His review of the S1000RR doesn’t really have any negative points.

“…private BMW teams took apart a stock S1000RR motor with an aim to improve its compression and cylinder-head flow, but came away astonished that there were virtually no additional mods they could do to improve the stock hard parts for superbike use.”

Mark Miller | Motorcycle.com
two 1-liter BMW sportbikes opening up the throttle on a desert racetrack.
The all-new BMW S1000RR | BMW Motorcycles

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It isn’t the fastest, but it’s the most eloquent. For winding races with tight chicanes and smooth, sleek tracks this sophisticated design of this German motorcycle is the perfect ride. Either way, there’s no doubt that some––even Japan’s own in 2011–– think that the Germans won the war (or friendly competition, whatever you want to call it) between the liter bikes of the Japanese big four manufacturers.