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 K1300S. 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.
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 CBR1000RR 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.