Controversial BMW S1000RR design explained in sketches

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The thinking behind the 2010 BMW S1000RR‘s asymmetrical lights? A mix of BMW branding, a nod to endurance racing and a desire to provide maximum illumination. These sketches were created during the design process of the bike by BMW’s designers. They help explain what, to many, is either an overly conservative or unnecessarily ugly first attempt at a superbike.
Front fairing and headlights:
Beginning with the 1999 R1100S, asymmetrical headlights have been a
hallmark of BMW’s brand identity. Here, they’re meant to reference the
minimal look of an endurance racer on the right, with a single, round
projector, while the right is pure function, providing a massive lamp.
The fairing itself is quite large in relation to the rest of the
motorcycle, again inspired by endurance racing, it should be practical
both on the road and track providing plenty of comfort and
aerodynamics. Slats in the screen channel air towards the rider’s
helmet to reduce turbulence.

The central air intake is an extreme expression of the split fairing
idea, also present in the central creases of the HP2 Sport and BMW
. K1300 inspiration can also be seen in the jagged front fender.


BMW’s attempt to provide an alternative silhouette to the sportsbike
archetype is much better achieved on the HP2 Sport than it is here, but
the same ideas are at work. The design team are trying to create a
continuous horizontal flow from the fairing’s beak all the way through
the tail, subtracting the traditional “snow plow gesture” that defines
the aggressive look of bikes like the 2004 Yamaha R1. Unfortunately,
that look is mostly functional, providing room for the radiator on
water-cooled engines. The HP2 Sport, powered by an air-cooled
boxer-twin is able to do without that radiator and the lower fairing,
but the S1000RR is not, instead trying to trick the eye by using
colored panels where they want you to look and black panels where they
don’t. V-shaped cutouts in the fairing accentuate the forward momentum
of the design, highlighting the roundels at the peaks.

Side fairings:

The left side is pure function, providing an extraction route for hot
air from the radiator. The gills on the right are much more
interesting, emphasizing the supposed F1 technology used in the engine.
The BMW Sauber F1.08 famously incorporates gill-like engine covers, but
unfortunately the current F1.09 does not. The asymmetry further
emphasizes that of the headlights.

Interestingly, BMW’s own sketches point out the 2008 and 2009 Honda
as “an exception to the group look.” To our minds, it’s the
best-designed motorcycle currently on sale and far more successful at
defining a unique presence in a conformist segment than the S1000RR.

The black panels and negative space on the sides of the S1000RR are
meant to defy the vertically heavy, bolted-on tail look of conventional
superbikes by creating a horizontal link between the tank and tail
unit. Again, the CBR achieves this much better than the BMW.


  • Yukio

    The S1000RR doesn’t appear to be styled with the rider in mind. The attempt to create a longer line from front to back is obviously only going to be a primary theme while riderless. All in all it looks like they were more detail obsessed, and missed the big picture.

    On the other hand, the CBR1000RR’s vertical design makes the relatively wide inline-four look almost as svelte as a Ducati.

  • Odysseas

    Nice… but most of these sketches, especially the asymmetry one, look like they were sketched after the bike was made, and not before (like cheating in your design class sketchbook).

  • dimitri

    check out cleverwolf racing in japan.

    They do the real endurance fairings. And it looks the part.

  • aoelus

    LESS IS MORE, might have been usefully displayed in the designers studio. But having been tasked to style, he will damn well style. The result would not look out of place on the Planet Mongo. But no worse that the Japanese offerings. Leafing thru Kevin Cameron’s history of the GP motobike, to see fairings presumably in their most form follows function mode, shows the Ducati D16 GP07 to be the most style conscious in sculpting and graphics, but they all adhere to the same basic style cues, the diagonal from tail to rad, parallel to rake of screen and tank graphic. The D16 uses a super graphic for Marlboro on a monochromatic scheme which does the least damage to the unity of the bike design while fulfilling its role of traveling billboard. Neat sketches anyway.

  • uberbox

    just curious, but can anyone give me examples of bike designs that they really like and why? very interesting stuff….cool sketches.

    • aoelus

      The Honda 2010 V-4 post before last below, is what I consider an ideal design with its encapsulation of the mufflers and a minimum of machinery on view, it is a very sleek package. I would expect the V-4 configuration to result in a much narrower body, all to the good. The transverse inline 4 is just too wide to really produce a well proportioned design.

      • carboncanyon

        The transverse inline 4 is just too wide to really produce a well proportioned design.

        I’m definitely not in the minority when I say that the 2004-06 R1 is one of the most beautiful bikes ever built. Same with the MV Agusta F4. Both feature a transverse inline-four.

  • urban rider

    Did they have an intern from design school designing this bike?

  • chili sv

    Sketch 2 looks like it was inspired by a scorpion.

  • Design Ronin

    I have to say, as an ex designer in the moto area and industrial designer, I have a VERY hard time believing that these are actual sketches from the design studio. They remind me of highschool intern work.

    If indeed they are, it could explain a lot….

  • g.romay

    “BRAKING the MOLD!” hmmm…. i would say its quite the opposite