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John is the owner and operator of MotoVentura Tours

A six month fling with the energetic BMW S1000XR

A six month fling with the energetic BMW S1000XR

The S1000XR was recommended to me by a friend who loved his XR to the point he was going to marry it! My friend, a very respectable advanced rider was smitten and lavished it with compliments constantly so after a test ride at my local BMW Motorrad I took the plunge.

I PX’d my faithful 2015 R1200RT-LC and was off down the road laughing my ass off every time I rolled off the throttle at the accompanying ‘POP POP GURGLE POP’ from the Akropovic End Can. That combined with the quick-shifter meant that it had me at ‘hello’.

Despite the added panniers and top box I still think it looked brilliant from every angle, mean and business like! I felt we would get on well.

I went for the multi-coloured version of white, grey and vinyl blacks with mostly red decals. It wouldn’t have been my first choice of colour and had to endure many ‘red ones are faster’ comments but the price was right on my 2nd hand 2017 XR and the previous owner had loaded it with extras, as seems to be the norm with many BMW bikes.

Straight away I was comfortable and the ergonomics worked well for my 5’9 (almost) frame. My added issue is short stocky legs which go with my stocky build. My inside leg measurement isn’t the greatest but getting a leg over the standard XR wasn’t a great issue. I had to think a little before jumping on and off but no major problems here though I wasn’t going to be talent-scouted for Swan Lake. My knees also don’t cope well with anything resembling a sports bike position so I found the XR was perfect here too, not quite as squished up. A good compromise.

The handlebars being good and wide meant a positive feeling of control and also enabled me to sit more upright and get a good elevated view.

The standard BMW controls are of a high standard and once you get used to the control wheel around the left handlebar grip, I know the BMW-faithful will have the correct name for it. Controls and information are easy to use, eventually. Switching between riding modes changes things a little but most noticeably when you engage ‘Dynamic’ and the noise from the pipe becomes Viagra for the ears!

So, how does it ride? It is quick, very quick! It’s the same 999cc lump from BMWs sports bike the S1000RR but with a few less horses squeezed out, 165 horses in total but being down a fraction in power doesn’t hinder its progress as your riding position, upright with a great view make up for the 35-ish less horses. As for that quick shifter - it was my first experience of having one (I now have one on my GSA but it isn’t quite the same!). Pin the throttle and click up through the box and listen to the soundtrack but be sure to hang on. The quick shift works best if you trust it to do its job! Pin it and don’t let off! Downshifting is equally as bonkers, try it and see. A clutch lever is so ‘last year’ Darling!

The only downside i found with the shifter is that sometimes you can find a neutral by ‘accident’ which isn’t good! More commitment on the gear change then John!

Practically, I got around 47 mpg on a trip from UK to Dubrovnik and back. That included some high alpine roads, the Dolomites and some stunning Adriatic coastline. I didn’t hang back but I didn’t spend all my time ragging it either so I’d like to think 45-49 mpg is a good guide.

As I suggested earlier, the previous owner had placed a few extras on the XR which made it sweeeeet and the SP seat was a god-send, however the rad cover was not! The in-line 4 BMWs are known to run a little hot but riding into Baden-Baden at the top of the Black Forest saw 124 degrees on the temp gauge and a big red warning triangle flashing at me. Queue the screwdriver and the alloy cover went straight into the German recycling bin leaving a thick layer of mud outlining a perfect ‘rad cover’ imprint on the radiator, choking the fins completely. Just removing the cover did little to sort the problem so in Imst, Austria after abandoning twisties for Autobahn (cool and constant air flow!) the hotel lent me the use of they power-washer and a cheap toothbrush from the market combined with some careful blasting and scrubbing and the rad was looking like new. The temperature issue immediately solved I never saw it rise above 105, even in heavy traffic, for the rest of the trip and normal service was resumed.

The panniers were small but standard fit, having been spoilt by my RT I was acclimatised to having lots of space to pack, that and the rad, and the urge to ride like Valentino Fogarty everywhere meant we were not destined to be together, so we parted on amicable terms.

My love affair with the XR - or as I like to call it, the ASBO lasting only 6 months, but boy, what a ride, what a 6 months! Excellent bike, but for long trips it wasn’t me me (I pack too many hair products!) and for 2-up riding, same issue.

Single rider with a touch of hooligan (or with a pillion who is used to sports bike already), who has a love of dirty weekends away…

…Go for it!

(Photograph: J Wilton)

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Monday, 20 January 2020

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