It has obviously got incredible power at 193bhp, but the way it is delivered is so impressive. The bike has 4 modes: Rain mode which reduces power to 150bhp and electronically flattens the torque curve to give a softer throttle response, then Sport, Race and Slick modes that give you the full monty 193bhp with each mode giving you a faster throttle response. The suspension can be adjusted for preload, compression and rebound damping separately and even ride height of the bike at the rear can be adjusted.
The brakes are utterly incredible with or without ABS, and stopped the bike from high speed with such power and control it really was amazing. However with the Race ABS and DTC (Dynamic Traction Control) options fitted, it took things to a new level. The instructors took us to a strip of smooth concrete about 100 metres long. They switched the ABS and DTC off and gave the bike full power. You can imagine what happened next! The rear tyre just lit up and he was able to change up through the box until he hit 4th gear with the rear wheel just spinning and smoking.
Then with the DTC and ABS activated the same test – what a difference! Even if you have experienced BMW’s ASC (Anti-Skid Control) option this system is so much more sophisticated. It reacts so fast to changes in grip you are able to keep the throttle open and it constantly compensates and adjusts many times per second so that you get maximum drive with no scary moments. It even offers different levels of traction depending what mode the bike is in – for example in "RAIN" mode you get maximum reduction in wheelspin and stops wheelies completely. In "RACE" mode it allows a certain amount of drift and wheelie capability when exiting corners!
One of the instructors was able to show us this in practice by simulating entering a hairpin bend or roundabout, leaning the bike over until his knee was on the ground and then in first gear giving it a big handful. Normally this would result in a huge highside or at the very least the back end would simply spin out and throw the rider off. The DTC simply allowed the rear tyre to grip and as we all stood there open-mouthed he was able to exit the corner in total safety. Imagine having this confidence on the road to exit a wet roundabout with no scary moments!
This level of sophistication has only previously been seen on full on racing machines and whilst I personally am no track riding expert I can see how this transforms into probably the biggest advance in safety for a road rider since the introduction of BMW’s first ABS system over 20 years ago.
When you work with motorcycles everyday it is difficult sometimes to get excited about a new model. All I can say It’s been a long time since a bike has had me whooping and cheering whilst riding it, and if a fat 40-something with little track experience like me can end up pulling third gear power wheelies with total confidence then it’s got to be a bit special.