Lighter drivetrain and frame, new suspension and S 1000 RR-inspired elements added to 2021 big naked.

After being previewed back in November, BMW’s latest S 1000 R naked arrived in Australia in late June. The latest version of BMW’s naked sibling to the fully-faired S 1000 RR comes to our shores claiming new levels of performance and capability, as well as enhanced standard equipment levels.

Four variants are available across the S 1000 R lineup for 2021 – base, Sport, Race and M Sport – all of which benefit from a selected number of changes, including some lifted from the S 1000 RR.

Key upgrades over the 2020 model include a lighter drivetrain, frame and swingarm, improved torque and wider engine speed range, along with the addition of engine drag torque control for the first time.

FEATURE - 2021 BMW S 1000 R
As well as a new look, the 2021 BMW S 1000 R adds many new features.

Lighter Heart, Lighter Bones

The S 1000 R engine remains based on that of the S 1000 RR, being a 999cc DOHC 16-valve inline four-cylinder. Compression ratio has been increased from 12.0:1 to 12.5:1, but the major change is the adoption of engine drag torque control (MSR in BMW parlance), which is a first for this model and works with the electronic throttle control to reduce rear wheel slip under deceleration and when downshifting.

FEATURE - 2021 BMW S 1000 R
Drivetrain is a full 5kg lighter than the previous S 1000 R.

The six-speed transmission and anti-hopping clutch carry over from the 2020 S 1000 R, but the top three gears now have wider ratios to reduce noise, engine speed and fuel consumption. A ‘Shift Assist Pro’ clutchless quickshifter is offered on the S 1000 R Sport grade and above as part of the Dynamic Package.

FEATURE - 2021 BMW S 1000 R
Engine drag torque control is a new feature for this model that reduces rear wheel slip under deceleration and when downshifting.

Maximum power was upgraded from 118kW to 121kW at 11,000rpm on the 2020 model S 1000 R, so there’s no change on that front for the 2021 version. There is an increase in maximum torque, though, up from 112Nm to 114Nm at 9,250rpm.

According to BMW, engine speed range has been made “wider and fuller,” with a “markedly linear torque curve, too.” More simply put, the MY21 S 1000 R is easier to ride.

BMW says the drivetrain is lighter by 5kg, part of an overall weight reduction of 6kg (wet) compared to the MY20 model, which includes a lighter exhaust.

FEATURE - 2021 BMW S 1000 R
A lighter exhaust features on all MY21 S 1000 R grades, with the S 1000 R M Sport featuring an Akrapovic system as standard.

Also contributing to the weight drop is a new-for-2021 chassis. Previously, only the subframe was based on the latest S 1000 RR, but it now appears that the entire frame and swingarm is now closely based on the RR.

Applying ‘Flex Frame’ construction technology means the engine takes on more of a load-bearing role than previously, while the frame’s narrower cross section improves rider comfort by reducing the width of the knee contact area and allowing greater freedom of movement in the saddle.

In terms of the swingarm, the adoption of an S 1000 RR unit moves the monoshock further away from the axis and engine, reducing the effects of engine heat on the shock fluid to ensure a more consistent damping response. A further benefit of the new swingarm is said to be improved rear tyre grip and reduced tyre wear.

FEATURE - 2021 BMW S 1000 R
Adopting a frame based on the S 1000 RR has reduced weight and contributes to rider comfort.

The shock itself now features Full Floater Pro movement, but rear suspension travel is down from 120mm to 117mm. Front suspension has been tweaked slightly, now with 45mm (instead of 46mm) USD tele forks, but travel is unchanged at 120mm. Preload, rebound and compression adjustability remains at each end. A steering dampener remains, too.

It’s not yet an S 1000 RR with the fairing removed, but these latest engine and frame changes do move the S 1000 R closer to that hero model in BMW’s sports lineup.

FEATURE - 2021 BMW S 1000 R
Instrumentation has been upgrade to the same 6.5-inch TFT screen as the S 1000 RR.

New Instrumentation, New Lighting, Multiple Riding Modes

Along with the frame componentry of the S 1000 RR, the S 1000 R has also taken on that model’s instrumentation for 2021, replacing the previous combination analogue and LCD display with a fully digital 6.5-inch TFT screen.

The high-definition screen claims to be clearly readable, even in poor light, while the display is customisable, with pre-set options available. For example, the ‘Pure Ride Screen’ provides all necessary information for normal road riding, while the ‘Core Screen’ shows banking angle, deceleration and traction control. On the S 1000 R M Sport, a third display option, based on the Core Screen, adds bar display graphics and a lap timer.

A Bluetooth smartphone interface is standard, allowing app-based turn-by-turn navigation to be displayed on the TFT screen, while the functions of the screen itself can all be set via the switchgear.

FEATURE - 2021 BMW S 1000 R
Redesigned headlight is new, part of a full LED lighting package, with adaptive headlight technology available on selected model grades.

The other upgrade for 2021 is a full LED lighting package, with the optimised LED headlight now a single unit instead of the 2020 model’s dual style. The tail light and front indicators have also been redesigned, while the rear turn indicators are taken directly from the S 1000 RR.

With the ‘Headlight Pro’ that’s standard on the S 1000 R Sport and above, this new headlight is enhanced by an adaptive turning function.

Riding modes have been expanded, with the previously optional Dynamic mode joining the existing Rain and Road modes as standard across the MY21 S 1000 R range. There is still, however, a Dynamic Pro mode as part of the Riding Modes Pro (optional on the base model, standard on other grades), which allows a broad range of adjustability on things like ABS Pro intervention, Dynamic Traction Control intervention, throttle response and engine output, while adding Dynamic Brake Control, Power Wheelie and Engine Brake functions and the new-for-2021 MSR engine drag torque control.

Other rider assistance and safety tech is mostly carryover from the 2020 model, including ABS Pro, Race ABS and Hill Start Control.

FEATURE - 2021 BMW S 1000 R
Racing Red is one of two colour choices on the S 1000 R, S 1000 R Sport and S 1000 R Race. (S 1000 R in Racing Red pictured).

Convenience and Colours

Standard convenience features across the MY21 S 1000 R Range include a drop sensor, USB charge socket, adjustable handlebar and adjustable hand levers. The rear licence plate holder is easily detachable for track use, while the Passenger Kit turns the S 1000 R from a solo to a two-up ride.

On the style front, there are new radiator shrouds to go along with the redesigned headlight. The chin spoiler has been dropped and other bodyside plastics pared back to expose the subframe. The tail unit is more compact and appears to have more of a ‘kick’ than the 2020 model, enhancing the aggressive, hunched-forward look for 2021.

FEATURE - 2021 BMW S 1000 R
Styling tweaks have been made from nose to tail, with the all-new headlight and radiator shrouds being the major changes (S 1000 R Sport in Hockenheim Silver pictured).

The makeover, along with the frame changes, have raised the seat height from 813mm to 830mm, but an optional seat package can drop this down to 810mm. There’s a litre less fuel capacity, too, now at 16.5 litres.

Available colours for 2021 are limited to Racing Red and Hockenheim Silver for the base, Sport and Race grades, with the Light White/M Motorsport combination exclusive to the S 1000 R M Sport.

Starting at $20,650, variation in pricing across the grades reflect the extra kit added to the pricier versions. These include the aforementioned adaptive headlight, as well as keyless operation, heated grips, cruise control, quickshifter, tyre pressure monitoring and Riding Modes Pro for the Sport, while the Race adds an M endurance chain, M lightweight battery and M forged alloy wheels.

FEATURE - 2021 BMW S 1000 R
M Sport is the premium S 1000 R grade for 2021, adding features that include a GPS laptimer and carbon fibre wheels.

The top-of-the-tree M Sport gets the M Package, which includes the M endurance chain, M lightweight battery, M Sport seat, M GPS laptrigger and M carbon fibre wheels.

Options across the range include an anti-theft alarm, with a lightweight muffler, Carbon Package and M Billet Package available on selected grades.

Rollout of the 2021 S 1000 R started in June, so should be in most BMW Motorrad dealerships by the time you read this.

FEATURE - 2021 BMW S 1000 R

See your BMW dealer for further details.

2021 BMW S 1000 R pricing*

S 1000 R – $20,650

S 1000 R Sport – $24,390

(adds adaptive headlight, DRL, tyre pressure monitoring, Comfort Package and Dynamic Package)

S 1000 R Race – $26,890

(adds M endurance chain, M lightweight battery and M forged wheels)

S 1000 R M Sport – $31,990

(adds M endurance chain, M lightweight battery, M Sport seat, M GPS laptrigger and M carbon fibre wheels)

*RRP, excludes ORCs


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Alex Rae

Alex Rae brings almost two decades’ experience, previously working at publications including Wheels, WhichCar, Drive/Fairfax,, AMC, Just Cars, and more.

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