BMW S1000XR – Have Honda taken over?

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    I had the opportunity for a short blast on the BMW S1000XR over the weekend and I must admit I was rather excited at the prospect. An ‘adventure’ bike with the kick of a sports bike…that has got to be great: How can a bike with 160 horses on tap not be good? Well, the XR is good, very good in fact. I got straight on the bike and took off at speed…it is a quick, hugely capable and comfortable machine. I didn’t rev the four cylinder engine past 9,000 rpm and I was battling less than ideal conditions; riding into a low, blinding sun that was trying hard to clear an early morning mist that was hanging eerily over the countryside. Despite this handicap I was still covering ground on the BMW at quite a lick. It felt very planted as we swept along the A4189 between Henley and Warwick.

    Sports bike S1000 meets GS adventure bike to create the XR…the best of both worlds?

    The engine note however is totally anodyne and devoid of any character, this is a bike that whirs rather then roars and is in serious need of an after market exhaust. The power is delivered in a very linear manner, with just a steady rise in urgency rather than a kick as the revs rise. I didn’t fully extend the bike, so maybe that comes in as you get closer to the red line.

    On this gently sweeping and in  places bumpy road the XR covered the ground without drama. The rear suspension seemed a little soft to me, but I didn’t have a chance to play with suspension setting or riding modes in my short stint at the helm, so perhaps that could be dialled out easily.

    I didn’t push the bike hard, so things like the brakes etc didn’t really get a chance to shine, but the bike had a well harmonised feel, with all the control efforts well matched. When you combine all this with a crisp gear change, that powerful but rather characterless four cylinder engine and a general air of efficient, calm capability the BMW has a strangely Honda like feel to me.

    Neat. logical controls and BMW have finally adopted proper indicator switches

    This was only a brief ride, so perhaps more miles in a better conditions would change my view on this BMW. To my surprise I came away rather underwhelmed and of the two BMWs I have ridden recently, it is the water cooled GS1200  that has impressed me more.   

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