Difficult to believe, but BMW has never seriously contested a motorcycle road-racing World Championship. Its greatest bike racing days were in the 1930s, some years before a motorcycling world series was established. That may now change following BMW’s announcement that it will contest the 2009 World Superbike series with the all-new S1000RR, its first real superbike.
In the past, BMW has focused on the steadier side of the motorcycle market – tourers and street bikes – so the S1000RR is a crucial element in its shift towards the sports market, which now tends to dominate the motorcycling consciousness.
The new machine isn’t radically different, its engine/chassis architecture mimicking the successful Japanese four-cylinder machines, but it may use some kind of Ducati-style desmodromic valve actuation. BMW has signed two top World Superbike riders: Australian Troy Corser (who has won WSB titles with Ducati and Suzuki) and Spanish firebrand Ruben Xaus (above).
BMW’s decision to tackle WSB is a major blow for MotoGP. Two other European marques – Aprilia and KTM – have also turned their backs on the prototype series, which is reckoned to cost 10 times more than the streetbike-based Superbike series.