BMW’s Big Inline-Four Debate for 2020

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Now that we have the arrival of the new BMW S1000RR superbike in 2019, our gaze looks deeper into BMW Motorrad’s lineup for the 2020 model year.

Specifically, our attention is on the company’s inline-four sport bike lineup, which always takes its cues from the Bavarian brand’s superbike offering.

As such, a new S1000RR superbike necessitates a new S1000R streetfighter and S1000XR adventure-sport – at least, this is how it has worked in the past.

If you listened to the rumors coming ahead of this year’s new bike season, then we surely are about to see a new BMW S1000XR debuting at the EICMA show in Milan this November. But, what about an updated BMW S1000R? Not so much, it seems.

We all know how the Germans are an orderly people, and the order of operations at BMW when it concerns the S1000 platform is that the S1000RR superbike set the foundation for the S1000R model, which is then used as a basis for the S1000XR.

It would be hard to imagine BMW Motorrad breaking from this tradition, but tradition is simply all that this is. There is no practical reason that the R model has to come before the XR model, as it is just as easy to make one from the other and vice versa.

The argument for seeing the BMW S1000XR for next year is best laid out by our friends at, who point out that US government filings for BMW’s 2020 lineup show the XR model as missing (presumably the S1000R is shown in these documents, though that isn’t specially mentioned by our Italian colleagues).

It’s not uncommon for motorcycle manufacturers to tip their hand when it comes to future models, by early-releasing the names of machines that are only getting minor updates for the next model year.

That seems to be the case here with BMW Motorrad, and the timing of a new BMW S1000XR for the 2020 model year could be an interesting one, as the German brand is also expected to debut a middleweight two-cylinder adventure-sport model for next year as well.

The 2020 BMW S1000XR will surely be a completely new machine, as the new generation of the S1000RR engine shares nothing with its predecessor, including its frame mounting points.

This means a new chassis to accommodate the ShiftCam enabled 999cc four-cylinder engine, and it seems likely that the adventure-sport model will feature Bosch’s new adaptive cruise control system that uses radar to adjust the cruising speed.

But, what about the BMW S1000R? With the new S1000RR already on dealer floors, it is hard not to imagine a naked version of the bike arriving next, though that seems doubtful. This is especially true considering how competitive the streetfigther market is right now.

With all the new naked sport bikes coming from other European manufacturers, the current generation BMW S1000RR looks positively ancient in comparison. But perhaps, this have given BMW Motorrad pause.

The next model year of motorcycle is going to be a hard-fought one for streetfighter machines, with the Ducati Streetfighter V4 set to debut, and the KTM 1290 Super Duke R getting  sizable upgrade (and the KTM 890 Duke will replace the Austrian’s current middleweight).

Perhaps BMW doesn’t want to invite the comparisons that would surely come by introducing the BMW S1000R alongside such potent prospects.

With the Ducati Multistrada V4 surely not coming next year, the adventure-sport market might be friendlier waters for the Bavarian brand with its S1000XR, which could get a year’s head-start on the rumored four-cylinder Ducati.

It is an interesting game of chess we see playing out. Look for the final maneuverings later this year at the EIMCA show.

Photo: BMW Motorrad