2023 BMW S1000RR

Redefining refinement… BMW’s 2023 S1000RR

Whilst the only really noticeable difference to the all new 2023 BMW S1000RR are the wings on the fairing, the 2023 has a host of new, under the skin upgrades that make a significantly more refined bike to ride.

We are told that the chassis is less rigid compared to the previous model which you can definitely feel in the feedback through your bum on the seat as well as in the handling dynamics through the corners. The new 1000RR just feels more pliable and more predictable in the bends and less unsettled on our bumpy roads, more like what one might expect from a street bike as opposed to the outgoing models’ very racey come track feel. The swing arm is also marginally longer and the rake angle has also changed a bit, making the bike slightly longer but more stable at high speed, contributing to this all is the new adjustable pivot on the updated swingarm… Oh yes – we are told that those wings and the more aerodynamic tail piece add anything from 10kg’s to around 30kg’s of downforce to the bike and make it slip through the air a lot better, depending on what speed you are rolling along at. 

Makes a lot of sense.

With all these chassis updates comes new electronics packages with more rider aids focused for track set up. Well, that does make sense seeing as they have given a bit more consideration to the road rider and the track rider would want more of the aggressive race feel. The list of features includes a traction control system with slide control function, four ride modes (Rain, Road, Dynamic, and Race), ABS with brake slide assist, launch control, a new Slick mode, a new Dynamic Brake Control (DBC), hill start control, bidirectional quick-shifter, and a pit lane limiter. Another nice little feature is the inclusion of a usb charging port so you can keep your action camera charged while filming your track exploits. That exhaust burble from the auto blip on the down shift does something to your soul.

The 999cc engine also has a few revisions. Firstly they have managed to squeeze out a couple of extra horsepower from the already impressively powerful motor, moving it up to around 207hp. Yank on the fly by wire throttle, kick on the power shifter and watch the world become all blurry as your senses become ultra heightened and extremely focused as you start warping through time zones. Then roll off the gas, sit up and potter along the country lays enjoying the scenery – the new 1000RR is really good at that as well, with plenty of low down torque from very low down in the rev range to quickly get you back up to speed. This is thanks to the throttle bodies moving up from 43mm to 48mm as well a shift cam technology being incorporated into the powerplant and a compression ratio increase. Other changes are a new airbox with shorter variable-intake funnels borrowed from the M 1000 RR and are optimized for top-end performance when they are reduced in length to increase intake velocity.

Some more new tech that is really quite exciting are the multiple new systems on the braking front. Firstly, coupled into the engine drag torque control or MSR/ electronic engine braking control referred to as the ‘Brake Slide Assist’ which allows the rider to get sideways into a corner. The tech for corner exit acceleration amps this up quite bit, this systems allows for a preset amount of drift angles predetermined by the steering angle sensor as well as the rear wheel slip control unit which allows for some traction loss while the bike is still cranked over before the electronics intervene and pull everything back in line, which really allows for some spectacular sideways movement into a corner both under braking and under acceleration. Some fun from the Beemer peeps is the all new ‘Stoppie’ feature which allows the ABS to permit a little bit of controlled rear wheel lift under really hard braking – a feature a lot of superbikes do not allow for these days.

That is all good and well for the one odd percent of the market that can actually ride at that level but what’s the new bike like to ride for the average Joe Soap superbike enthusiast? 

We got our office Orangutang to gather a couple of mates and grab a new BMW S1000RR from the guys at BMW Motorrad West Rand and hit some of our famous breakfast run routes to find out what the 2023 BMW S1000RR is all about and this is what they had to say:

Séan, (the Orangutan), says:

I rode the previous incarnation back from NAMPO in Bothaville at night and after a serious downpour, so not ideal conditions to say the least… and I flippen loved it. Just a quick recap on my thoughts on that model – It was quite rigid in its feedback with every imperfection on the road making an impression which had me backing off the gas regularly. The powerful delivery was predictably wild yet smooth and consistent. Rider triangle/comfort was acceptable with some pressure on my wrists, shoulders and lower back about 75 to 100 kays into the ride. Slow speed riding was a bit of a chore and eventually I got on the gas and rode away from my dawdling riding mates so that the wind over the top of the windshield would hit me in the chest and lift the pressure off said body parts. And that is a nice transition into the size of the cockpit, a place that seemed to be built for tiny jockeys, trying to tuck my slightly rotund two meter chassis in behind the screen and into the fairing was hampered by the shortness of the cockpit, the bump stop on the seat and the bulge in the tank all jockeying for position with the beer tank mounted to the front of my body, commonly referred to as a beer boep.

We headed out from BMW West Rand just off Ontdekkers road and made our way down through The Cradle and then out towards Hekpoort. Turning off towards Broederstroom along the Satellite Road with a lunch stop at Makiti at the entrance to Sterkfontien caves before turning around and high tailing it back to BMW West Rand with the sun setting. Climbing aboard the RR it felt roomier than the last one.

I definitely had more room to move and could tuck in nicely. Obviously this machine is super fast and handles as one would expect from a premium superbike, what I didn’t expect was how much more polite the new bike is compared to the outgoing model. That bike’s character was more Samuel L. Jackson where the new one is Daniel Craig’s 007. It is professionally polite but will kick your ass if you disrespect it. Being such a polite and easy to ride superbike I was quite happy to clamp on the hooks and change direction like a housefly, dive into corners and try get my knee down… there are some sexy twisty’s on Ontdekkers road and even in traffic I was quite happy to give them a go. I feel that, for me, that is all due to the changes to the chassis, swing arm and rake angle. Getting out on the open road, winding up the revs and tucking in behind that new double bubble screen is really as natural as breathing. The relaxing of the chassis or the extra flex comes into play as S1000RR soaks up all the bumps without knocking your teeth out, which in turn only encourages you to wind on the gas more. Suddenly clamping on the hooks, whenever some twazzle driver gets predictably unpredictable and you need to take evasive action, quickly scrubs off the speed without getting lairy or requiring your butt to bite down hard on the seat. 

We didn’t do huge mileage for the day, but one thing was very apparent, this is a superbike I would quite happily do a little breakfast run down to Clarens and back on an early Sunday morning or even bungee-cord a tail pack to the pillion seat and go touring in search of the best riding roads in South Africa or ride to work and back everyday. We were running a bit late and had to negotiate rush hour traffic getting back to the dealership and the seating position gave me a great view over the cars, (I am 2m’s tall afterall), the bike is narrow, the bars and the mirrors are no wider than your shoulder and elbows so it is easy to lane split. And to make things even better the 2023 S1000RR is so smooth and responsive low down in the rev range, so you can dawdle along with traffic at ease.

What don’t I like about the 2023 version…. Ummmm, I can’t think of anything that stood out as ‘bad’, this bike is so much more refined than any of the previous versions I have ridden. Admittedly I am no track riding Rockstar and possibly do not push the bike to its absolute limits, but generally you can feel if a suspension, chassis and engine combo is going to get you squirly and make you feel that unsafe that you back off or if it gives you the confidence to ride harder, faster and longer in every situation or whether it is going to debilitatingly uncomfortable over long distances or just unpleasant to live with day to day. Well, I can categorically state that the 2023 BMW S1000RR bikes is one of the most confidence inspiring, easy to ride, comfortable and likable superbikes I have swung my leg over in a long time, get to BMW West Rand to ride their demo if you don’t believe me.

Garth says:

So, this is the first time I have ridden a motorcycle of this nature, I come from an adventure bike and naked bike background. I am so happy that I was invited along on this ride because although terrifying, this is quite possibly one of the most exciting bikes I have ever ridden. I can’t believe the power…. The sheer power this bike has, somebody told that this motorcycle is not even as quick as a GP bike, but you could have fooled me. Just because of the insane, obscene power this is not a bike I would rate from 0 kmh to 100kmh, but rather from 100kmh to 200kmh…. How fast does it get from 100 to 200kmh, it is ridiculously fast, I actually asked if it was supercharged.

I really expected to feel unsafe and unstable on this bike, but it really wasn’t the case. I felt the faster I went the more the bike hugged the road, it was almost like I was being pushed down onto the road. It wasn’t like on an adventure bike, when you throttle up the front wheel becomes light on the Adventure bike which is what you need for off roading and rock hopping. With this motorcycle the front wheel became tighter, it almost felt like it got glued to the road, similar to a scalextric track with a magnet.I must say though, I was hopeless at turning this motorcycle around at slow speeds or maneuvering around car parks etc. It’s a very unusual seating position for me and I was on my tippy toes. What I can say though, is when I jumped on the 1000RR I became part of the motorcycle, I’m in there, hugging the tank and tucked in tightly. 

However, once I was up and going, cornering was just unbelievable. The guys mentioned that I should just tuck myself in and just aim through the corner and for the most part the bike will take care of the rest…. and it literally just does that, it feels like there is a berm on every single corner and you just take it. For the most part this bike will make you look good with a limited skill set, obviously if you do something silly things are going to get out of control.

The wind factor also…. It’s actually very pleasant, with the high screen, the wind just went straight over my head, almost like the bike is enticing you to go faster. In fact, I had very little wind on any of my body, I was really expecting to have my 75kg frame flapping off the handlebars like a flag, but that wasn’t the case. I am really starting to see the appeal of these types of bikes…. Heading out on breakfast runs, carving up mountain passes or hitting the track with your mates on the weekends. Maybe one day I might consider a superbike after riding this beauty.

Shado says:

We already thought that 2022 was bang on-the-money. However as it so turns out, we could have been wrong…

Immediately, there are subtle differences on the S1000RR that are noticeable on the machine. The exhaust configuration is different. The suspension configuration is different. The electronics fall in line with the rest of the premium ‘top steppers’ and there are WINGS! Some of the changes to the unit are noticeable only once the bike is mounted and rolling under its own steam. Admittedly, I did make my necessary ‘default’ corrections and / or adjustments to the engine electronics to allow for full power, minimal traction control and dynamic suspension control after the sales-folk had left the apron… I do this to bring the machine more in line with what most folks are used to; that being cable throttles, no ABS or TC and full engine braking with a manually dialed-in suspension. (Noted that the dynamic suspension setting on the RR is a bit of a cheat setting, it does give the best of our asphalt worlds according to conditions, speed and rider zeal.) 

Inasmuch as it took about ten minutes to find the closest fuel stop to fill the machine up, that was enough to realise that from the line, and about 5000rpm,that’s is the last one sees of civility in any way shape or form, from the rider, of course. Fuelled up and headed out to some quieter, more open roads, plenty of pull-off, Wide Open Throttle (hereafter referred to as WOT) was the order of the day. Almost instantly, I was shown by the ghost of BM past that the machine wants to be at least above 5000 rpm for the engine to display full characteristics of power delivery and the ease of management thereof. I could easily say that it’s probably one of the most user-friendly power ranges out there for an in-line 4-banger.  An already great package was just sharpened up by a little tuning and apparently some drive ratio differences. Keep the machine on the boil and you’re going too fast for any speed limit in the country in first gear in no time at all. Shifting through the gears while making use of the new and improved quick-shifter is a cinch and requires little to no effort. Light changes motions are as effective as the eager ones and the engine management is as precise as a Tutima Glashütte timepiece. Oodles of torque is available from low rpm and once the crankshaft is on song, the power delivery is more progressive than linear, but easily manageable  by way of the wrist, or if it pleases you, the TC mapping and power mapping, all selectable by the infotainment TFT movie screen.

The S1000RR chassis has had some afterthought tweaks to improve on the 2022 model. Things visible to the eye are the rear suspension with variable linkage lengths and electronic damping adjustment.  Up Front, the forks also enjoy electronic damping adjustment with manual preload control on the right fork leg. Setting up suspension is a science in its own right, but as a lighter weight rider, I would probably not need to change anything from the out-of –the-box options to improve an already fantastically balanced and planted chassis. Only one item with regard to the steering that could have been thought of as an option (which I don’t actually know if it is available) is the deployment of an electronic steering damper unit. The manual unit lies precariously underneath the triple clamp on the yoke, making adjustment a ‘stop-and-take-your-gloves-off’ exercise. 

On the road, the motorcycle has fantastic manners. Turn after turn, it beckons a little more speed and a little more lean angle. The suspension sucks up most of the imperfections in our roads and personally, I’d take some time to find a tyre pressure setting that would complement the suspension and tyre life, especially if there are long roads in the mix. My 2c tells me that the prescribed pressures are for European road surface conditions and temperatures, where something slightly softer here will see the tyre warm up a little more and make use of a bigger contact patch with stickier rubber once at operating temperature.

The Dunlop SportSmart TT rubber that it comes with from the factory performs well for an all-rounder and is the more ‘sporty’ tyre for the zealous types. The tyres work well with the ABS system and not once did I feel any lack of confidence in the setup. The aero on the fairings I can’t comment on as yet, but the sales-folk mentioned that it can provide up to 30kg of downforce at speed which would without a doubt be of benefit to the folks playing at those speeds on a regular basis. 

The standard brakes are also on a next level. They are extremely responsive and for an in-house brand, it probably exceeds the Brembo setups that are being deployed on other liter-bikes and predecessors. The Master cylinder is a Brembo unit and compliments the calipers, and I couldn’t see any need for any improvement on this because as they said in the olden days; it will stop on a tikkie!

The 2023 S100RR is a fantastic all-rounder! It will commute with ease and enjoy a long road leg-stretch, a track day or a sport tour. For a superbike it sits comfortably and accommodates the larger meat-chassis just as well as the smaller types. For the bonier types, maybe just take some foam for your bum, it does get a bit hard after a while, but it’s nothing a little epinephrine won’t take your mind off… 

I’d personally like to take one of these machines out for a few days to get fully acquainted with it and offer some better insight, Jacques, hint-hint. 😉 Huge thanks to BMW West rand, Jacque and his band of merry folk for making the machine available and again, to the Ridefast Family, always a great day out!

In conclusion:

We really like the new 2023 BMW S1000RR, whether we are tall, gangly, moderately overweight, unfit fifty something breakfast runners, Light weight, super fit first timers to the superbike scene or experienced hobby racers come track day instructors, it is the liter class bike that seems to fit everyone.

Thank You to Jacques and the Team for the use of their demo for this review. Get to BMW Motorrad West at their temporary home 38 Ontdekkers Rd, Helderkruin, Roodepoort or give them a call on 011 761 3500 alternately go to their website:


Alternatively contact your local Motorrad dealership closest to you.

Words: Garth Tatlor, Shado Alston, Séan Hendley
Pics: Stefan vd Riet, René Swart

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