Is BMW's S 1000 XR the ultimate all-rounder? Pommie puts it to the test on the road and even on the rough stuff... Review: Tony 'Pommie' Wilding, Photography: Kris Hodgson

The BMW S 1000 XR has been around for three years now at the forefront of the sports adventure section, so what’s new for 2018? Well, you get an extra 5hp, which takes the bike to a whopping 165hp and the bike is now Euro4 compliant, which I’m sure we are all happy about…

BMW's S 1000 XR has been around for a while, but 2018 further refines the package

BMW’s S 1000 XR has been around for a while, but 2018 further refines the package

The handlebars are rubber mounted to reduce vibration, and the load capacity has been increased by 10kg, taking the maximum to 444kg. Every time I was approached by a BMW enthusiast, the first question they asked was, “Has the vibration in the ‘bars been sorted”?

Due to me not riding the previous model, I had no idea what they were talking about and as I’d been riding the XR for around 400 kilometres and not noticed any significant vibration, then the answer was obviously yes. [The previous model was severe in terms of vibrations – Ed].

 

Suzuki GSX-R1000R

 

There’s no denying that as far as performance goes, BMW have really got their act together, ever since they brought out the amazing S 1000 RR way back in 2009, they have been right at the pointy end of power and technology, with the 2018 S 1000 XR being no exception.

The S 1000 XR leaves little to be desired as far as power and technology.

The S 1000 XR leaves little to be desired as far as power and technology.

Sitting astride the bike it feels pretty tall, but my test bike had been fitted with the 855mm HP sport seat. This optional accessory costs $866, and feels particularly tall due to how wide the seat is, which pushes your legs out causing a longer reach to the ground, while the standard seat is only 840mm.

You can also opt for lower suspension as a factory option, which takes the height down to 790mm to suit the vertically challenged, if you so desire.

The HP Comfort Seat brings seat height up to 855mm and offers a wider stance.

The HP Comfort Seat brings seat height up to 855mm and offers a wider stance.

The ergonomics on the S 1000 XR are absolutely perfect for me, the seat, ‘bar and peg positions are just right for my six-foot frame, situating my body forward ever so slightly, but without putting weight on my wrists and shoulders. This makes long distance riding so much easier.

If you’ve never ridden a bike with all this technology then it will be a bit daunting on your first ride out, I mean just look at the amount of buttons on the handlebars. That being said, it is really simple to operate, on the right side you have a mode button which enables you to select between four modes, Rain, Road, Dynamic and Dynamic Pro, with each mode altering the engine characteristics, but more of that later.

Also, my test bike was fitted with the Touring Package; this includes Dynamic ESA ((Dynamic Electronic Suspension Adjustment)), preparation for GPS device, luggage grid and case holder left and right, which costs $1,450.

The electronic suspension is operated from the left ‘bar and has two basic modes, Road and Dynamic, although additional adjustment can be made within each mode so you can really customise it to suit your riding style and road conditions or whether you have a pillion or luggage.

This S 1000 XR was tricked up by BMW with a host of HP accessories and factory options.

This S 1000 XR was tricked up by BMW with a host of HP accessories and factory options.

Other handlebar buttons include Trip, Info, ABS, Indicators, Horn, Lights, Cruise Control, and Pass, along with a toggle switch to operate the optional GPS all on the left bar. You even get a 12v socket in case you want to run a device while on the move. The dash itself is very simple, which is amazing considering all functions this bike has, and one thing I do love is the analogue rev-counter with shift light, enhancing the sporty feel.

Starting the bike, you can tell instantly that this is a full-on performance bike, the 999cc in-line four, which has been lifted straight from BMW’s 200hp flagship S 1000 RR. In the S 1000 XR it’s re-tuned for more low and midrange grunt, has a purposeful murmur on tick-over and a quick twist of the throttle is all that’s needed to reassure me that I’m in for some serious fun.

The S 1000 XR features the famous BMW 999cc in-line four-cylinder, tuned for low to mid-range grunt.

The S 1000 XR features the famous BMW 999cc in-line four-cylinder, tuned for low to mid-range grunt, and growls into life when you hit that starter.

My test bike has been fitted with just about all the options, which includes the Dynamic Package, including Dynamic traction control, Gear Shift Assist Pro, Riding Modes Pro, ABS Pro, Cruise Control and White LED Indicators all for $1,575. Selecting first gear there is a distinctive clunk as I engage first, the clutch is pretty heavy and a fair reach is required to pull it in, unfortunately the clutch reach can’t be adjusted unlike the brake lever so I’d be buying the optional and adjustable HP set.

 

Aussie Streetfighters ASF

 

Setting off in road mode, the bike feels super smooth and responsive, I’ve ridden a few S 1000 RR’s and they take a bit to wind up to the meaty part of the rev-range then take off like a rocket, the XR on the other hand has plenty of torque down lower in the rev range.

The S 1000 XR feels smooth and responsive on the road.

The S 1000 XR feels smooth and responsive on the road.

I’m not trying to say it’s like a twin-cylinder, but the XR certainly has good usable power from tick-over, gaining in strength and getting mental at around 6000rpm, then unleashing all 165hp at 11,000rpm.

I think BMW have the balance just right with this bike, if you want to go cruising around Australia, then with the optional panniers and top box it is easy to do. I also liked the cruise control, which works flawlessly and is easy to operate, it allowed me to rest my right hand and was good to engage in road works and school zones to save on fines.

BMW have managed an ideal balance between the competing areas of competence with the S 1000 XR.

BMW have managed an ideal balance between the competing areas of competence with the S 1000 XR.

However, if you’re like me and like to have a bit of fun, then all that’s needed is to select Dynamic Mode on both mode engine map and suspension, transforming the bike into a corner carving weapon. Hit some crap roads and within seconds you can soften everything back up and absolve those back breaking bumps.

For me the biggest smiles come from selecting Dynamic Pro mode and accelerating through the gears using the super smooth quickshifter. The engine, exhaust and induction noise just work in harmony and that popping and snarling from the exhaust sounds amazing.

BMW's S 1000 XR will be on of the machines available for a test ride, alongside the S 1000 R and S 1000 RR

Despite a 228kg wet weight the S 1000 XR is a weapon through the twisties.

On a twisty road the handling is pretty spot on and for a big bike you can really push it into and around a corner. BMW says the bike is 228kg fully fuelled, which is pretty good, the only time I really noticed the weight was pushing the bike in and out of the shed.

On the road the XR is well planted and sure footed, which is something even more noticeable through corners. You’d think being tall that it would feel unnerving flicking it through a twisty road at speed, but this couldn’t be further from the truth, in fact it rolls over onto the sides of the tyres in a predicable way and offers real confidence when on its side.

The Dynamic ESA on the rear shock works with the Bridgestone Battlax Sport Touring T30F rubber.

The Dynamic ESA on the rear shock works with the Bridgestone Battlax Sport Touring T30F rubber.

Feeding in the power coming out of a corner, the tyres just feel glued to the road and the XR requires little effort to pick it up, before leaning over again for the next corner. Hitting a crap section mid-corner does little to unsettle the BMW, which is a testament to how good the chassis and electric suspension works and how planted the XR really is.

Working in harmony with the suspension are the incredible Brembo brakes, they are so powerful, but have great feel and work in perfect unison with the intelligent ABS that intervenes more or less depending on what riding mode you’re in.

Powerful Brembo four-piston calipers on 320mm rotors provide exceptional braking power, with Race ABS.

Powerful Brembo four-piston calipers on 320mm rotors provide exceptional braking power, with Race ABS.

The XR comes with a two-way adjustable screen, while the test machine was fitted with the optional dark tint – don’t get this if you like doing wheelies as you can’t see where you’re going when on the back wheel.

 

Ventura-EVO-60

 

My main problem with the screen is it created a fair amount of wind noise (not buffeting) in my normally quiet Shoei helmet, however if I stood on the ‘pegs the noise was gone and also disappeared when I ducked down, but it does keep a bit of the cool wind off your chest.

With cast aluminium wheels the S 1000 XR isn't a full off-roader, but proved a capable dual sport.

With cast aluminium wheels the S 1000 XR isn’t a full off-roader, but proved a capable dual sport.

2018 BMW S 1000 XR – Off Road

The S 1000 XR sits in the sports adventure category, but I wouldn’t be taking it off road on serious trails, not with those lightweight alloy wheels. Some smoother gravel stuff would be fine, but hitting big holes or ruts would not be good.

Having said that, when I did ride a few light trials, the XR handled surprisingly well for a bike with 17inch rims, while the traction control did a fine job of taming the rear wheel. The ABS is a life saver and in ‘Rain’ mode it seemed well suited to the loose stuff, due to the smoother throttle response.

Electronics combined with Rain mode help offer a controllable and confidence inspiring experience on unsealed surfaces.

Electronics combined with Rain mode help offer a controllable and confidence inspiring experience on unsealed surfaces.

My bike had the optional engine protection crash bars fitted, which cost around $700, but would be well worth the extra cost as they looked strong and high quality so should be well capable of taking a hard impact.

This contrasts with the flimsy plastic hand guards that come with the bike, which do however keep the wind off your hands. The only other draw back should you be inclined to head off road is the radiator and oil cooler, which are really exposed so I’d be getting a protective cover for them.

Even laden with full luggage the S 1000 XR proved a weapon on the track, adding another area of expertise.

Even laden with full luggage the S 1000 XR proved a weapon on the track, adding another area of expertise.

2018 BMW S 1000 XR – On The Proving Ground

It is a strange thing to test a bike on the proving ground with full panniers and tank bag, and goes against everything I’ve ever been taught about dropping as much weight as possible from the bike to improve handling. What blew me away however, is how phenomenal the XR handles with all the extra weight.

A true test to this is through a tight S-bend section, where I was hard on the brakes into the right hander, then picking the bike up, flicking left, then right, then left and then right, all within 100 meters or so and the bike just seems to know what to do and does it with minimal effort from the rider.

The S 1000 XR is well capable of embarrasing some sportsbike riders at a track day.

The S 1000 XR is well capable of embarrasing some sportsbike riders at a track day.

It really is that good and I’d have no hesitation what so ever to get the XR onto the track for a day to embarrass a few sportsbikes. Everything just works in harmony in this environment and ground clearance was never an issue.

 

Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE

 

Flick the engine and suspension into Dynamic Pro mode and the bike transforms into a weapon, the quickshifter begs to be punished more and more, but it’s the traction control that can really be tested properly in this relatively safe environment.

The traction control in particular comes into its own on the track for the S 1000 XR.

The traction control in particular comes into its own on the track for the S 1000 XR.

In Dynamic Pro mode, when you give the XR the berries coming out of a corner, you can really feel the traction control working its wizardry and I have no doubt that I would of been in serious trouble if I’d of switched it off. I must also say it was a bit of an ego boost to see the black lines I’d left from the previous lap…

There's is really not much to dislike about the BMW S 1000 XR.

There’s is really not much to dislike about the BMW S 1000 XR.

2018 BMW S 1000 XR – Conclusion

After spending a fair amount of time with the XR, I’ve come to the conclusion that I really like it, in fact I came to that decision after a couple of kilometres. There is really not much to dislike about the XR, the clutch is on the heavy side, but with the up and down quickshifter you hardly use it, and while I’m not a fan of the screen – or any screen for that matter – that may be just me.

Would I own one? Hell yes, in a heartbeat, it really is the great all rounder. I was getting around 300 kilometres out of the 20L tank, but that was giving it a good thrashing so you could easily tour, go to the track via the twisty roads and you could even do the old gravel road, if you’re really keen.

 

UMI Benelli Leoncino

 

It has to be that 999cc four-cylinder 165hp engine that really makes the bike shine, the performance is breathtaking and even with the standard pipe it sounds amazing. Plus if you don’t go crazy with the options list, it really is great value… However, the extras on our press bike takes the price to a staggering $42,202 + ORC…

2018 BMW S 1000 XR

2018 BMW S 1000 XR

2018 BMW S 1000 XR Specifications (optioned)

www.bmwmotorrad.com.au

Price: From $23,315 +ORC (as tested $42,202 + ORC due to $18,887 in accessories).
Warranty: Two years/unlimited kilometre
Colours: Ocean Blue Metallic Matt, HP Motorsport Light White/Racing Blue Metallic, Racing Red
Claimed power: 121kW [165hp]@11,000rpm
Claimed torque: 114Nm[84ft-lbs]@9,250rpm
Wet weight: 228kg
Fuel capacity: 20 litres

Engine: Water-cooled in-line four-cylinder four-stroke, four valves per cylinder, DOHC, 999cc, 80 x 49.7mm bore x stroke, 12.0:1 compression, ASC, TC
Gearbox: Constant-mesh 6-speed gearbox, straight-toothed, quickshifter
Clutch: Multiplate clutch in oil bath, anti-hopping clutch, mechanically controlled
Final drive: Chain

Chassis: Aluminium composite bridge frame, self-supporting engine, aluminium two-sided swingarm
Wheelbase: 1548mm
Steering head angle: 64.5 degrees
Wheel Castor: 117mm

Suspension: Dynamic ESA, 46mm USD telescopic fork, compression and rebound stage adjustable, rebound adjustable shock

Brakes: BMW Motorrad Race ABS,  Dual 320mm front rotors, Brembo radial mount four-piston calipers, single 265mm rear rotor, twin-piston caliper

Wheels & Tyres: Die cast aluminium wheels, 120/70-17, 190/55-17, 3.50 x 17in, 6.00 x 17in, Bridgestone Battlax Sport Touring T30F

Instruments: LED Display unit with analogue rev-counter.

BMW options & High Performance (HP) Parts fitted

  • Daytime riding light: $450
  • Touring Package – $1,450
    • Dynamic ESA
    • Preparation for GPS Device
    • Luggage grid and case holders
  • Dynamic Package – $1,575
    • Dynamic Traction Control
    • Gear shift assist Pro
    • Riding modes Pro
    • ABS Pro
    • Cruise Control
    • White LED Indicators
  • HP Front Footrest Set – $1,328
  • HP Pillion Footpeg Set – $310
  • HP Milled Clutch & Brake Lever – $600
  • HP Carbon cockpit fairings – $1,620
  • HP Carbon cover for fuel filler cap – $755
  • HP Carbon wheel cover, front – $760
  • HP Carbon wheel cover, rear – $715
  • HP Carbon pinion cover – $648
  • HP Carbon cover for number-plate carrier – $715
  • HP Sport seat, high, 855 mm – $866
  • HP chain tensioner – $252
  • Touring Panniers Red  incl all mounts and locks – $1,367
  • Liner for panniers left and right – $464
  • Topcase, small, 30L with all mounts and locks – $1,073
  • Liner for topcase – $150
  • Tank bag – $475
  • Windscreen, tinted – $514
  • Navigator VI (for motorcycle with Touring Package) – $1,290
  • Crash bars incl. mounting – $702
  • Wheel-axle end stopper – $320
  • Engine guards – $488

2018 BMW S 1000 XR Gallery

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