2023 BMW M 1000 R First Ride Review

BMW hasn’t detuned or remapped the S 1000 RR motor for the M model. (BMW/)

A few short years ago the concept of 200 hp naked bikes for the street seemed as pointless and unlikely as a perforated umbrella. But here we are in late 2022 and suddenly we find ourselves with a small but burgeoning club of fairing-free firebreathers capable of laying a double century of horses to the pavement.

Ducati’s Streetfighter V4 and MV’s Brutale 1000 RR are both in the 200 hp club, with Kawasaki’s supercharged Z H2 SE just a couple of horsepower short. Now BMW Motorrad has joined them with the astounding M 1000 R hyper-naked, a machine so capable, so rapid, and, with a claimed 205 hp on tap, so powerful it would surely have competed in World Superbikes not so long ago.

BMW already has its long-running, 165 hp S 1000 R naked, of course, which in performance terms sits in the subcategory of super-nakeds just below the firebreathers. To create its M, BMW has taken the new ShiftCam engine from the 2023 S 1000 RR superbike and inserted it into the S 1000 R’s naked chassis, meaning it makes the same power and torque, and even shares the same gearbox, as the track-focused RR.

Aerodynamic wings help to suppress wheelies by adding 24.3 pounds of downforce at 137 mph. New brakes, again taken directly from the S 1000 RR superbike, give improved braking. Chassis dimensions remain the same as the Single R but the electronic suspension (DDC Dynamic Damping Control) has been recalibrated to deal with the 40 hp increase in peak power.

Electronic rider aids also get a significant upgrade and recalibration to deal with the improved engine and braking power, and are linked to a six-axis IMU. New for the M 1000 R (and S 1000 RR) is the Brake Slide Assist system, which allows some drift on corner entry before the lean-sensitive ABS kicks in.

Transplanting the higher-revving ShiftCam engine from the latest S 1000 RR into the M 1000 R means the naked M has a peak of 205 hp at 13,750 rpm, up from 165 hp for the standard S 1000 R. Peak torque is 83.3 lb.-ft. at 11,000 rpm, which is a fraction down on the 84 lb.-ft. that the S 1000 R manages at a substantially lower 9,250 rpm, indicating the much racier nature of the new bike’s engine. There’s also an extra tooth on the rear sprocket to reduce the final drive ratio.

The standard 165 hp S 1000 R motor is flexible and as well suited to a commute into the city as it is on a day at the racetrack. I was worried that the M would lose that all-round usefulness, but it hasn’t. To make a 205 hp superbike engine user-friendly on the street is a big ask, but BMW has managed it.

Fueling is smooth, the power delivery is linear, and the quickshifter is light and perfectly matched with each up-or-down change. Even in sixth gear the motor pulls effortlessly below 30 mph. It’s easy to forget you’re sitting on top of an engine designed to win superbike races as it trickles without fuss through traffic or flows in a lazy gear too high through a local set of twisties.

The midrange is superb. Peak torque is a fraction down and higher in the rpm compared to the S 1000 R, but you’d be hard-pressed to tell. The M surges to 8,000 rpm and is thoroughly enjoyable to ride using the middle part of the rev range alone, short-shifting effortlessly via the slick and perfectly set-up quickshifter. In real terms, nothing has been lost in the move to the ShiftCam I4.

But—and let’s face it, you knew this was coming—from that strong but civilized midrange it revs wildly on to redline just short of 14,600 rpm. Switch the riding mode to Race or Race Pro and at 9,000 rpm the M 1000 R morphs into an entirely different beast. It revs so freely that it feels like the engine is frictionless. A wall of frantic air grabs feverishly at your leathers, you bend your torso into some kind of defensive tuck… And the speed just builds relentlessly.

Luckily, BMW allowed us a handful of laps of the Almeria racetrack in southern Spain to experience its full potential and, boy, does it deliver. Top speed is a quoted 174 mph, 16 mph higher than the standard S 1000 R. At the end of the long back straight it was still accelerating, still stable as rock under its aero winglets, and feeling like it would keep driving forever. Or until my head blew off.

BMW claims the winglets produce 24.3 pounds of downforce at 220 kph (137 mph), and they’re mounted on a substructure that transmits that force into the chassis—and on track you feel their presence, incredibly stable.

BMW’s electronic Dynamic Damping Control (DDC) is correlated to the bike’s riding modes—Road, Rain, Dynamic, Race, and

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By: Adam Child
Title: 2023 BMW M 1000 R First Ride Review
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Published Date: Sat, 10 Dec 2022 11:00:01 +0000


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