What Happened to the BMW S 1000 RR Asymmetric Headlamps?

  • Why did the first BMW S 1000 RR feature asymmetrical headlamps?

  • Why does the 2019 S 1000 RR feature symmetrical headlamps?

  • It’s all about function.

The previous BMW S 1000 RR featured an asymmetric headlamp design was no less than controversial when it debuted in 2008. Many had complained about how it looked. There was a buddy of ours who fashioned an eyepatch over the left lamp.

However, more and more riders came to accept it over time and that design became the unmistakable signature of the S 1000 RR.

2018 BMW S 1000 RR test & review – “German Masterpiece”

But it’s now happening all over again with the new bike. Well, we’re all human and humans are resistive to massive changes.

Yet, have you ever wondered why BMW Motorrad always used two different headlamp designs on almost every bike? This was so the GS models, but they did not look as prominent as on the S 1000 RR.

According to the Munich-based manufacturer, the headlamps of the 2008 to 2018 S 1000 RR look the way they did due to engineering rather than stylistic reasons. The left headlamp served as the low beam, but it was not bright enough. So, BMW added a larger lamp on the right to throw more light down the road. The left lamp was kept smaller to reduce 500g of weight.

Edgar Heinrich, BMW Head of Design told MCN, “We wanted to make the best bike we could, which for a race bike is the lightest. Whenever we could find a weight saving we did it, which ended in asymmetric items as the reduction in the high beam reflector saving 150g.”

For the 2019 model however, there was no need for asymmetrical headlights as it features LED lighting. Heinrich added that the design department had always wanted to “get rid” of the lights because “race bikes don’t have lights.”

“We could have made the LED components asymmetric, but it would have been stupid. We don’t do design for the sake of it.”

In other words, it was a case of form follows function.

Wahid's lust for motorcycles was spurred on by his late-Dad's love for his Lambretta on which he courted, married his mother, and took baby Wahid riding on it. He has since worked in the motorcycle and automotive industry for many years, before taking up riding courses and testing many, many motorcycles since becoming a motojournalist. Wahid likes to see things differently. What can you say about a guy who sees a road safety message in AC/DC's "Highway to Hell."

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