BMW S1000XR Adventure (2015 - ) review
A sports tourer with the ergonomics and comfort of an adventure bike, but with the visceral performance of a sports bike
The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 4.0
The BMW S 1000 XR is the performance SUV of the two-wheeled world. This modern adaptation of a sports tourer goes faster, brakes harder and leans further than a bike of this scale has any right to, although secondary vibrations do harm long distance touring ability.
- Blistering performance
- All-day comfort
- As enjoyable on track as it is in town
- Secondary vibrations at sustained high speed
- Only top spec versions get desirable Dynamic ESA
- Body-coloured panniers are optional
Interested in buying a BMW S1000XR?
The S 1000 XR is a new kind of tourer the German manufacturer calls ‘Adventure Sports’. It blends the all-day comfort and practicality of its hugely successful R 1200 GS adventure bike with the dynamism of its S 1000 R naked sports bike. This hybrid mash-up of styles, typified by the increase in trail, beaked nose and sports-derived shark gills works harmoniously to create a motorcycle with great presence.
The riding position is all-day comfortable like a GS adventure bike, with wide bars, a gentle knee bend and noticeably less give in the suspension. It feels taller than both a GS, and compared to another sports-biassed tourer, the Ducati Multistrada, you sit slightly further back. Pillion space is good too, so both riders can stay ache free and mentally alert for many hours, despite the big speeds.
Practicality is highly dependent on the specification of your S 1000 XR. Regarding the standard equipment, the skinny screen is only adjustable when stationary and is inferior to a full-on tourer, while the underseat toolkit is also pretty lean. There are a couple of spanners, a screwdriver and Torx key, plus storage for the owner’s manual and the (optional) alarm.
Spec the body-coloured, 31-litre side panniers, however, and you can store a full size motorcycle helmet in each, or carry a maximum 10kg load per side. An additional 30-litre top box is available, and limited to a 5kg load. Further, if you choose the brilliant semi-active suspension, you’re able to adjust the rear shock’s pre-load at the touch of a button, between riding solo, solo with luggage or two-up.
Performance & braking
Having a 999cc inline four-cylinder unit derived from a sports bike and developing 160bhp at 11,000rpm should set the scene here. Think of the S 1000 XR, therefore, as a comfier S 1000 R, rather than a four-cylinder GS. Power is instant and often encourages involuntary expletives from your mouth, but the low down torque and smoothness is as equally impressive as the balmy top end. Brakes too, are sensational, with plenty of force and feel. The additional Dynamic Package also offers a quickshifter, traction control and ABS Pro, which is basically cornering ABS where the onboard computer checks your lean angle, speed and adjusts the brake pressure accordingly, to prevent you locking the front tyre.
Ride & handling
The XR may be sports bike quick but it still handles like a tourer with confident arcs and slow(ish) steering. It doesn’t attack a series of sweeping corners like a Ducati Multistrada, but will still help you generate big lean angles in confidence.
Multiple riding modes, plus the optional quickshifter help you to ride smoother and maintain speed, especially when carrying a pillion. That said, the trade-off for all that frenetic pace is the short gearing, which is most evident on motorway runs, as the bars and pegs begin to suffer from pretty serious secondary vibrations. There’s no doubt this bike has the pace and space to perform long journeys in the saddle, but only if you don’t mind planning your routes away from the motorway.
The BMW S 1000 XR is priced in between the Kawasaki Z1000SX and Ducati Multistrada, but a large dealer network and strong residual values help justify the pricetag. BMW also estimates 46mpg for the S 1000 XR, but given the enthusiastic way in which you’ll be riding, we’d say 40mpg is more realistic.
Given the proven mechanicals of the S 1000 R, we’re unlikely to expect any problems from this detuned version. The only common complaints thus far have been related to those vibrations at around 5000rpm, which has also caused fairings to rattle.
Warranty & servicing
All bikes receive a two-year warranty and BMW roadside assistance, with options to extend the warranty. After the first check-up at 600 miles, the service intervals then run between a minor inspection at 6000 miles, and a major inspection, including valve clearances, at 24,000 miles.
Base models come with ABS, ASC, road and rain riding modes, though the more desirable XR Sport comes with DTC, ABS-Pro (cornering ABS, Gearshift Assist Pro, plus additional Dynamic and Dyanamic Pro riding modes). You also get cruise control, heated grips, daytime running lights and LED indicators. Range-topping SE gets all the sport gear plus Dynamic ESA (semi-active suspension) plus pannier mounts, centrestand and a navigation mount.
The XR is the type of tourer that you could ride all day, do a track day, then ride home. It is stupidly fast, comfortable and practical.