Went for a test ride on a BMW S1000RR yesterday. This is something of a new experience for me, as I’m used to just sticking with what I have and not really trying new stuff. So why try new stuff now? Well, I’m at that point where I’m ready for a new (to me) bike, having had my trusty (and long suffering) Daytona 675 for over two years now, and I’m wondering if it’s time for me to step up and get a 1000cc bike. On the one hand I quite like being on a smaller bike, as it means I have to focus a bit more on technique rather than just relying on raw speed, on the other hand, having never actually tried a 1000 except for the odd ride on friends’ bikes I really don’t know how I’d fit with one. Maybe I’d just be much better? Maybe I’d be no better? Yesterday’s experiment was part of trying to find that out.
I arrived a bit early, as I always do, but they were ready for me. A very young (or is it just me that’s very old?) gentleman got me sorted and on my way pretty quickly, and away I went on the S1000RR. I managed to get out of London a bit from their Battersea showroom by heading southwest on the A3, and then turned off, perhaps too early, at the first sign of countryside. Leatherhead, Dorking, Guildford, towards Horsham and then homewards was the basic route, with more getting caught in 30 mph limits and 40 mph limits than I’d like. The weather was dry, but overcast to begin with, and improved as the day went on – a test ride starting at midday would have been perfect. Some of the roads were a bit greasy, and some of the roads I was on were clearly too small for the bike, but good to test it in a few different conditions.
So what were my impressions? Great sound, lots of power, like a big mechanical muscle just waiting to punch through concrete walls below me. Felt lighter than I imagined, and flickable whereas I was expecting to have to haul it from side to side. The brakes initially felt great, but then I found I didn’t really notice them again – do you really get used to that so quickly?. Cracking the throttle on motorways or A-roads felt awesome and terrifying at the same time, and I could hear Mr. Crafar’s words in my head about getting all my weight over the bars as I felt the headstock shake beneath me a few times. Of course, I was miles from the limit of the bike, but overall I’d say I felt comfortable with it, and even on greasy roads, “at the speeds I’m doing” it was fine in “racing” mode on the traction control – I never felt it slide around.
Is it for me? Well, I could certainly see myself on it. I think I’d be able to gel with it pretty well, and would really look forward to getting to know it better. But I think overall I need to try a few more bikes and find out if that’s also the case with others too. The cost is pretty steep, and as I find myself thinking of bikes more as track focused, with a side portion of road riding the fact that it’s just north of fourteen grand new makes me worried that the inevitable binning on a trackday would bruise my wallet even more than my ego. I’ve asked the dealer to let me know on prices, and will look into the price of track fairings, and/or cheaper non-oem fairings for if I’m riding to UK trackdays, and we’ll see what happens.