Ride Review: BMW S1000XR

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Attending BMW Motorrad’s launch of the 2016 BMW S1000XR, our friends from have been kind enough to share their thoughts and a short review on BMW’s new “Adventure-Sport” motorcycle. – Jensen

BMW Motorrad admits that the S1000XR is a combination of the S1000RR and the R1200GS…a pedigree to be proud of, but also one that creates a lot of expectations.

The German company would like to join the party of all-road focused adventure bikes, which has conquered the market these last couple of years.

BMW calls this the “adventure-sport” segment and hopes to steal some sales from bikes like the Ducati Mutistrada, Suzuki V-strom, Honda Crosstourer and Kawasaki Versys.

In turn, BMW is trying to avoid in-house competition with its own GS, by giving the S1000RR more sportive looks and less rugged, more vulnerable construction.

Finish and Ergonomics

BMW S 1000 XR

Fit and finish of the S1000XR is of a very high standard, with most the piece details looking nice and tight. It’s too bad then that we find unsightly welds on the subframe and exhaust can, which stick out like a sore thumb on an otherwise beautifully built machine.

That exhaust does produce a rather throaty growl though, with some great burbling on the over-run and a wonderful pop each time you hit the quickshifter.

The controls are easy enough, and reading from the dash is a cinch, apart from the tiny mapping indicator and the absence of a Dynamic ESA setting indicator. A lot of other brands could learn something from the easy-to-use and perfectly laid-out controls that BMW produces.


BMW S 1000 XR

We all know BMW thinks big when it comes to optional extras. It is not always an aesthetic success though, as the huge panniers look crude and cheap, and the Akrapovic exhaust amazingly looks worse than the stock exhaust.

Our demo-bikes are fully loaded, which makes a fair review of the stock S1000XR a bit tricky. Our demo bikes all have the HP Shift Assistant Pro quickshifter (+$475), Dynamic ESA suspension (+$905), Riding Mode Pro with DTC and ABS Pro (+$450), cruise control (+$350), Automatic Stability Control (ASC), BMW Motorrad Navigator IV navigation system (complete with its irritating control ring on the bars, and daytime running lights, for $250).

Add this to the $16,350 base price and you end up with a very expensive $18,750 motorcycle.

We believe that some options should be standard. For instance, it is quite annoying that you have to pay extra to load a better throttle map for the engine, something which is basically nothing more than a tap on a keyboard for a BMW dealer.


BMW S 1000 XR

BMW introduces here a brilliant system to change the windscreen height: simply pull out or push back the screen. It’s only two slightly different settings, but it is super easy, and perfect solution to a common problem. No matter which setting you go with though, both will have you hardly feeling any buffeting at all, and there’s more than enough protection.

The seating position is reasonably comfortable, but always feels active, as your knees are bent quite a bit. You’re still relaxed though, and the roomy seat gives plenty opportunities for some different riding styles.

The S1000XR is very stable on the motorway, and even if you decide to venture way above triple mph figures the chassis feels relaxed and up to the job.

The engine picks-up lazily from the bottom of the rev range, but it is very supple and lacking any on-off reaction. Once you reach 5,000 rpm the vibrations disappear and the four-cylinder starts pulling like crazy.

The climb to the 12,000 rpm limit feels very strong, very fast, but all the time smooth and predictable — great job BMW. The optional traction control is a must have on this 160hp motorcycle, especially if you frequent less grippy surfaces and still want to use all the throttle.


BMW S 1000 XR

Shifting the optional quickshifter up and down is too easy — clutchless of course — and works great when you’re on the throttle hard. Every now and then the system refuses to engage the shift, and makes you grab the clutch lever to help it out. Most of the time though, the shifter does work fine, and it rewards you with a nice blip-pop-bang.

I was the only rider experiencing some false neutrals between 2nd and 1st gear on our ride, and a couple of times my bike slipped out of the chosen gear. The other reviewers didn’t notice this at all, so maybe it was down to me being too light on the lever or touching it without knowing.

Once we reached a couple of corners we had to adjust to the vague front-end on the S1000XR. We had already put the ESA in “Dynamic” mode and added a virtual passenger in the menu to tighten up the suspenders even more.

This resulted in some more feedback, but even then the front is not 100% sorted. The rear on the contrary is perfect, feeling solid and confidence inspiring over any type of surface, whether you’re on the gas or squeezing the brakes.

Throwing the S1000XR from side-to-side is helped by the bike’s height — we were never wanting for more ground clearance. The best part of this BMW is when you exit the corner at full throttle on a bad surface, throwing gears at it one by one, and feel how the S1000XR’s electronics smooth out the chassis’ reactions.


BMW S 1000 XR

The idea adds up: the BMW S1000XR is a 100% street bike, a sporting version of a GS-like motorcycle, mated to the bonkers block from the company’s current superbike. You can reach crazy speeds, while being perfectly relaxed and sitting-up straight.

Our basic must-have version of the S1000XR would cost over $17,000 though, but in return you get a lot of bike with a phenomenal potential.

Plenty of less crazy riders could easily opt for one of the cheaper alternatives, as they offer more than enough for most motorcyclists, but then you lose out on the enormous power the BMW S1000XR has to offer.

It mostly comes down to the same: you get what you pay for: a genius motorcycle for a lot of money.

BMW S 1000 XR

BMW S 1000 XR

BMW S 1000 XR



BMW S 1000 XR

Photos: BMW

A special “dankuwel” to our friends at for sharing another review with us. is one of the few sites whose opinion we value when it comes to reviewing motorcycles, and whose writing we trust to adhere to Asphalt & Rubber’s standards of unadulterated fairness and honesty.

We want to give a big thank you as well to Jan DeMan, who translated Iwan’s work from Dutch into English for our readers.