The world is full of surprises. Exhibit number one is BMW’s Superbike racing program, announced last year to a motorcycle world often let down by rumors of the Roundel getting involved in some form of global roadracing competition. Such rumors usually involved some futuristic technology like supercharging, electro-magnetic valve trains or hovercraft and peter out after a year or so.
But not this time.
BMW’s SBK team is the real deal, with two world-class riders (Reuben Xaus and Troy Corser), a conventional (yet competitive) inline-four, twin-spar-frame design and a well-funded program with dedicated facilitates. The plan is to make a strong showing in the 2009 season, learn the ropes and then come back and win in 2010. And with the prototype machines making a strong showing at testing in Valencia, Spain (including top-ten laptimes) at the end of January, it looks like things are on track.
The final piece of the puzzle is to build a small number of production bikes to homologate the S1000RR for SBK, which is a production-bike based series. New bikes are rolling off the assembly line in Berlin as you read this. Street bikes, with headlamps, mirrors, signals and a four-mode ABS/traction-control system. Traction control is apparently similar to the racebike’s. Weight is a claimed 407 pounds dry, and expect around 160-180 rear-wheel hp from the compact 999cc motor. Small, light Formula One-derived cam followers allow high rpm and high power output.
“Meh,” I can hear you saying out there, “So what? It’s a BMW and will cost something like $30,000.” Well, here’s one more mind-blower about the S1000RR. BMW told me at the Cologne INTERMOT motorcycle show that the bike would be priced within $1000 of the Japanese competition. Can they do it?
Apparently so: The bike is available for pre-order in Europe right now for early-summer delivery. We don’t know USA pricing yet, but in Germany the bike will retail for 15,150 Euros. That’s about $19,700, but that price includes the 19% German sales tax. By comparison, the 2009 Yamaha YZF R-1 sells for 14,895 Euros in that same market.
Still, I won’t believe it’s really here until I read Ben Roethlisberger crashed one.