S1000RR Experience... Thoughts and Impressions
New poster to the forum, but I thought that I'd share my thoughts on the experience. For background, I am a veteran trackday junkie, typically running in the slower half of the advanced group. It should also be noted that I have done a few other events somewhat similar to this in the past, to me it's helpful to get a ride on a bike to confirm where you do (or do NOT) want to spend your money.
A friend of mine is also an advanced trackday rider and S1000RR enthusiast; as a matter of fact I believe that he has owned every generation S1000RR. Knowing that I have been eyeballing the Aprilia's, he informed me that I REALLY, REALLY needed to give the S1000RR a shot before pulling the trigger on the Ape and I was very happy to be accepted for the S1000RR Experience.
I will outline my thoughts/experience from the top.
Outside of knowing that BMW was putting on the S1000RR experience, there seemed to be somewhat a shroud of secrecy over what it was, outside the date and that it would be at NJMP. It was not even noted if the event was on Lightening or Thunderbolt actually. Additionally, it seemed that nobody could declare with certainty how many sessions one would get to ride the bike. Would it be "open track", or a follow the leader type of event.
As the event neared and the weather appeared iffy, I pondered if this was going to be worth the time... vacation time, travel time, expenses, etc. It was of real concern to me that I really didn't have a strong idea on what to expect and deep down I was nervous that I would be let down... at the same time, I REALLY wanted to see how the bike compared to the 2019 RSV4 which coincidentally I had ridden on track as well. The evening before the event at 5:15 ET I get an email from BMW, by this point most of us were likely already on the road and would not have noticed the email. Inside it gave an agenda, but still didn't really mention the details of the "ride experience". My point here is that providing more detail, and earlier would have been greatly preferred.
The morning of, I arrive at NJMP about 7:30am. I sign in with the guard and he tells me that we are doing registration AND breakfast at the Pub. While welcomed and a nice touch, I had already eaten as breakfast as this detail was not communicated earlier. I asked the guard, "I assume that we are using Thunderbolt?", to which he responded, "no Lightening". While not critical, this was the first that I'd heard that detail as well.
Entering the Pub for registration, I was a bit surprised that they were not yet ready to start the registrations at 7:45. As they were calling for rain starting around 11am, I thought that every attempt would be made to get things running promptly at 9am as was laid out in the agenda the night before. To do this, registration and the riders meeting would need to be completed by 8:30 to then allow everyone to drive over to the track, get dressed, and be ready to ride by 9am. When registration opened, I was a bit relieved that they asked, "do you have track experience, and if so, what group". I was at a loss that they hadn't asked this during the initial registration, but alas they were collecting it now, and it made me hopeful that we could be appropriately grouped by speed on the track to assist in the enjoyment of all. After registering, I mingled with the other guests and dealers. This was nice, but at some point I also began to wonder "what's next". I finally asked someone with the staff (clearly marked by clothing - good move there) if the riders meeting would be at the pub, or at the track. They said "over at the track" at which point I started to leave. Before heading out I decided to double check with someone else as it didn't really seem like even the staff had a good sense of how things were going down. The second staffer assured me that I should STAY as the rider's meeting would be happening in the Pub.
Off to the track we go
After the riders meeting, we all rendezvous over at the track. After gearing up, we bake while waiting to be given track assignments. I'm uncertain the reason for the delay, but again it just seemed a bit disorganized as if somebody needed to have been declared the leader and responsible for the coordination and success of the event a bit earlier. I didn't have the time of day as my phone was in my car, but I'd suggest that it was nearing 10:15 (guess) when we actually took the track.
I was a bit let down when it was officially announced that it was a "follow the leader" style at the rider's meeting, but surely since we were broken out by skill level, we would ride appropriately. Firing up the beast, I'm ready, I'm excited. Oh sugar, the speed is covered (told it's how CSS does things) and the bike is in RAIN mode. Honestly, the speed itself was not as critical to me as knowing how the bike builds speed and felt on track at certain speeds on certain corners. I have NEVER owned an S1000RR, so it is impossible for me to even speculate what speed different RPM/gear combos equate to, but alas we set off.
The first lap, we are crawling around the track, I chalk this up to cold track, cold tires, cold body... let's warm things up slowly. To me the bike doesn't feel overly responsive or powerful, but go figure, it's in RAIN mode. The second lap, we really are not building on the speed much, and what's this.... a red flag. I pit, sincerely wondering how on earth anyone that identified themselves as an advanced trackday rider could have possibly crashed at that pace. Well, we come to find out that lightening (real thing, not the track) was spotted 8 MILES AWAY. NJMP apparently has a rule whereby things must be shut down for a period of time when lightening is seen inside 10 MILES. This certainly was not the fault of BMW, but it added to my frustration of a day that had already started out so slowly, as I was aware that the day ahead appeared that it could be very hit or miss with rain. We had completely missed our best opportunity at riding in the dry it seemed.
Before we were cleared to get back on the track, the rains started. During the rains, many crowded in to hear more about the S1000RR systems from Nate Kern and Steve Weir. For those that owned an S1000RR previously, the comparisons on how/where things were improved on the previous model would have probably been useful, in my case I didn't have that baseline to compare it to anyway. Nonetheless, I intently listened to Nate and Steve and it was nice hearing about all the electronic magic offered by the bike. A couple times if felt a little bit like a sales pitch, but I honestly think it was mostly just due to the passion that these two guys have for this machine... and it was great of BMW to have them there, this was good.
As the rain had now lifted, sadly we didn't immediately get back on track as we were now running up on lunch, whereby NJMP has a mandatory 45-60 minute rest period for the track workers. Again, uncertain that BMW could have done anything here (unsure if they asked), but I really wish that the NJMP staff could have been flexible and taken their break/lunch an hour early such that when/if the rain lifted that we could get back to riding. So, lunch. Here again, a nice touch to provide lunch making it feel like a premium experience.
Back on track... yes, literally
The skies had relented and we toss a leg over the bikes. They are shod with Dunlop Q3's and the track still has some wet spots. Looking to make the most of this opportunity, I try to ham fist the bike on the wet spots to get a feel for the computer systems kicking in. We are in RAIN mode still, that being presumably the most conservative mode I was thinking that this would be an easy task, but at the speed, gear, lack of lean, etc I couldn't get the system to engage. They had told us originally that we would be running 15-20 minute sessions. Coming off, it felt more like 12 or so minutes to me based on previous track time. This could be a reflection of several things, 1) this new bike is supremely relaxing and comfortable (side note to mention that I DID in fact find this bike comfortable for my 6'0" 210lb self), 2) we were riding so far off my typical trackday pace that I didn't get even remotely tired or 3) we really did only ride 12 minutes... who knows. Frankly, if they DID cut us short in order to let other groups get out, not knowing when the rain might start back up, I would actually applaud them for trying to do best by everyone there.
Our leader asked about the pace, was it good? Two of the three people (not to include me) said "yes", even if with some hesitation. I asked if the coach wanted my honest opinion and he declared that he did. I told him that I found it impossible to evaluate the bike at the speeds that we used it. Riding the bike felt effortless, but at the pace we carried, I could have ridden my 20 year old sport touring bike that I hold onto for sentimental value. The pace was not befitting for what is touted as the best sportbike available on the market in 2020. My coach told me "we can not just let you out here to thrash our equipment". While my objective was never to thrash the equipment, I truly did come into the event hoping to ride the bike to say 90% of my capacity, leaving plenty of room for error, but still testing out the bike.
As a point of comparison, I'm a big V4 fan and was invited by Aprilia to join them for a similar event this spring held at New York Safety Track. The riding portion of their event was done individually, on the track, at your own pace (broken into appropriate groups by skill level). The Aprilia day was NOT free, but frankly it was a top notch event and I would rather spend my money and leave with a better sense of the machine that I am considering. In the case of the RSV4, it did just that and a seed was planted. I encourage the manufacturers to put on more of these events as they should help with both sales and marketing. Give the clientele a taste, if your product is good, they will not be able to erase it from their minds or stop talking about it to their friends. The greatness of the RSV4 is burnt into my memory and I wanted to see how the new S1000RR stacked up. I should add that even if BMW required some type of up front security deposit on the bike (I think that CSS normally charges $1500 deposit which you loose if you crash it) I would prefer that experience to daintily circling the track.
Back on the S1000RR, we managed a second session in the afternoon before the rains ended the day. That final session the bikes were in ROAD mode. Again, I will state that anybody that typically rides Advanced/Trackdays was not looking to taste Road mode at a slow clip if they were considering this as a trackbike. Our pace WAS indeed improved on the second session, but I will still call it far off the mark for myself and what I was hoping for.
Would I do it again?
Having experienced this event, I can say without a doubt that I would NOT chose to participate again (even without the rains), IF the same type of format were to be used. Quite simply, while nice of BMW to do, they completely missed the mark for me. The tech session with Nate and Steve was great, but at the end of the day, time is money and this wasn't worth the time (travel time considered) given I do not feel like I can give a proper review/riding impression of the new S1000RR.
My recommendations for improvement for anyone with clout that happens to read this...
1) someone take charge, organize, and communicate early and often with your clients to set clear expectations
2) be cognizant of the predicted weather - while you can not change it, you can maximize the time that you are given and we missed out on an easy hour in the morning
3) let the dogs out.... charge some type of deposit if you must, but let the riders flow at a comfortable for them level. If someone looks dangerous, pull them and talk to them, but let people test the bikes for what they are made for... devouring racetracks.
Last edited by LeanIt; 08-15-2019 at 04:03 PM.