Okay, having announced my purchase of one of these a couple of months ago I though it was time I did a bit of a review. Itís perfect. The end. Okay so maybe thatís stretching it a little but every time I ride I cannot believe how pleased I am with it, by how far it has exceeded my expectations, and how well I have gelled with it. I have actually found myself finding excuses to go out and ride. Which has not happened in a while

Iíll start by saying that when I was choosing my new bike I did not set out to buy a hyperbike Ė I actually like sportsbikes but over the last few years they have got so small they are just not a realistic proposition any more for what I actually do, which is mostly commuting, a bit of touring and the odd fun blast. But I still wanted a bike that handles really well (i.e. the companyís latest best efforts in suspension design) but that had a decent fairing and screen and was comfy all day. I discounted the VFR on the grounds that it seems like the poor relation in Hondaís R+D dept. Yes itís got clever valves but what have they done with the rest of the bike in the last 10 years? And the Sprint ST really just did nothing for me. That left really not a lot actually, but I test rode the Fazer 1000, ZZR1400 and the BM. Bikes that are the shape and size I like just donít seem to come with ďmiddleweightĒ engines any more, which is a shame, I would have been happy with 100-120hp

Anyway, onto the review

Engine/gearbox:- The whole experience of the bike is dominated by the engine. Of course it is monstrously powerful, but also pulls cleanly and smoothly from tickover in high gears. Itís largely smooth with a little patch of vibes at about 7k but Iíve got used to that and what it actually serves to do is act like an extra revcounter to warn me the big power is coming soon, without having to look down. Itís not quite as smooth or grunty as the ZZR but it pretty damn close and itís a massive improvement over the K12S lump that came before. The same can be said of the gearbox, which is very precise and I have not yet missed a shift and although it was a little stiff when new has now broken in nicely.

Handling:- Yes itís a big bike. No it canít be chucked around like a GSX-R. But that said it handles WAY better than anything this size has any right to. Steering is light and neutral up to about 50mph and then starts to weight up. ESA really is THE must have option for the bike. From comfy sofa on the motorway to firm and taut on the backroads at the touch of a button, it really IS that effective. Ultimately, I think a good rider could maybe get a little more out of the ZZR as the ďsportĒ setting could do with being just a tad more damped, but the differences only show up when riding at 9/10ths or more. However, for that other 90% of riding the Kwak is ruined by being over-hard and trying far too hard to be a sportsbike, which it clearly isnít, while on the BM you just get on with it. The biggest revelation is just how easy it is to ride low speed. Clean fuelling and good manners make it a real doddle.

Ergonomics:- for 5í10Ē me, they are perfect. Absolutely spot on. On the relaxed side of sporty, but with high-ish pegs, however the very narrow tank makes for comfortable hips and easy 2 flat-feet down. Screen and fairing are effective for chest and hands. If you wanna tour a lot a taller/double bubble screen might be in order. 180 miles out of the 19l tank is good, little computer jobbie is saying 49.5mpg average at the mo, which Iím very pleased with. The new style BMW switchgear is very good, and the high beam switch in particular is great. The flasher and high beam are now combined in a car-style pull to flash, push away to switch arrangement. No more fucking around unwrapping your thumb from the LH bar to swap over.

Brakes:- good. Powerful, good feel (no ABS on mine), more than adequate. Donít seem to have the same initial bite as either the ZZR or the Fazer, but that feeling might be down to the front suspension and I certainly have no complaints.

The nitpicks:- Okay, there are some. Mainly you can see where BMW have been at it with the ďvalue engineersĒ. E.g. My old R1100S had a full tool and puncture repair kit under the seat, the K now has 1 screwdriver. The handbook and service book are now in the same document. The black finish on the subframe jars slightly against the graphite finish of the frame. And so on. And it bugs me that the trip and odo are on the same display and you have to push the button to swap between them, and it has an odd-size rear tyre for which you can currently only get sports tyres, no-one makes a sport touring road tyre in 190/55, however that said I contacted Michelin and they will soon be doing the PR2 in that size. But these really are minor things and I can live with them all.

In short, itís brilliant. If you are BMW-phobic, or have just never considered one before or never ridden one go and ride one, this IS the bike that will change your mind about BMWís. I even think it is relatively good value Ė What I paid was less than the list on a 2009 R1 and itís a whole lot more bike (though some might disagree) and you wouldnít get close to affording a RSV4 or 1198 for that, so even the old ďtheyíre expensiveĒ argument cannot be levelled at them any more.

Why are you still here? Piss off and go get a test-ride.