It’s big and it’s tall, but the way the S1000XR can be tossed around is amazing. At low speed its eagerness to change direction borders on flighty, and high-speed corners need little more than a nod of the head in the general direction of travel you desire. Yes, it handles.
The semi-active suspenders use larger damping pistons and less operating pressure than the previous optional set-up, for a more supple ride. The range of adjustment now goes much further towards 'soft' as well, and in the standard Road setting there’s definitely a more absorbent ride quality.
This increases comfort – but also means that on seriously bumping roads or exploring the potential of the engine the XR can hint at being a bit bouncy and disconnected. The optional Dynamic ESA with its sportier 'dynamic' damping option is recommended for riding with gusto.
The screen’s good (down for sporty engagement, up for visor-clearing mile-munching), the handlebar 'decoupling' system ensures none of the annoying vibes that spoilt the first-generation S1000XR, and though scooped-out with a fixed position the seat is comfy. Apply the brakes and you stop. Bang.
Imagine the lunatic S1000RR engine, retuned so it delivers its fat-fisted punch at realistic road revs. That’s the XR. There’s a deep spread of torque right across the rev range – BMW say 'adventure sports' riders use the range from 3000 to 10,000rpm and so have tuned the XR to suit.
There’s instant thrust, seemingly regardless of revs or gear. It doesn’t use the RR’s variable-valve ShiftCam system but doesn’t need it: there’s up to 10% more corner-exit clout than the sportsbike, yet still enough top-end power to make your eyes swivel.
This 165-horse peak is the same as the earlier S1000XR, which was already a mighty device. This version’s additional flexibility is hard to notice without a back-to-back, but it’s undoubtedly a serious unit. It’s the sort of bike where you saunter around on part throttle and still look like a speed-mad terrorist to other road users.
Should be good. Earlier models (like the S1000RR they were based on) could have iffy gearboxes and a few electronic niggles, but BMW were very aware and have made efforts to sort the job out.
Clumsy and constant quickshifter abuse at low revs and part load might not help transmission longevity, but as long as it’s serviced to schedule the motor should be solid, and the chassis ought to feel as taut after 40,000 miles as when fresh from the showroom.
Fourteen thousand is a lot of cash, however the 2020 BMW S1000XR is a lot of motorcycle. Its 165bhp inline-four engine is derived from the latest S1000RR superbike, as is the chassis with its 'flex frame' and high-quality running gear.
Then there are all the niceties: semi-active suspension (BMW’s Dynamic ESA system), a vast TFT dash with phone connectivity, riding modes, hill-hold control, and separate traction and wheelie control are all standard. So is an effective two-height screen with a neat quick-change lever that’s surely in the running for Best New Whatsit of 2020.
If this seems like decent value (which it probably is), you may be tempted by the official add-ons which include cruise, scalding heated grips, two-way quickshifter, keyless ride and so on. Most come on the TE version for £16,220 (2020 launch price).
BMW S1000XR rivals
The S1000XR's closest rivals are the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT, Kawasaki Versys 1000 and Ducati Multistrada 1260S - all bikes that have been updated within the past few years.
The spec list is a line-up of the current must-have adornments. The previous semi-active suspension is now standard. Four riding modes (Rain, Rode, Dynamic, Dynamic Pro) each adjust the response and how much torque you’re allowed in the lower gears, and make a difference you can feel.
Traction and cornering ABS are very capable, and only noticed when you ride stupidly hard and/or set them off on purpose.
Turn-by-turn navigation can be shown on the dash by downloading an app to your phone, and if you really must, can be used for music, phone calls and other such distractions, too. Self-cancelling indicators are also included, plus endless trip info on the dash.
You've got a trio of paint schemes to choose from - black, red or the HP Racing red, white and blue.
Other highlights from the kit list include an adjustable windscreen, storage below the seat, drop sensor and removeable numberplate carrier.
2020 BMW S1000XR optional extras
Plus, there's a raft of extra-cost options. The Dynamic Package means clutchless gear changes, configurable traction control, cruise control and LED indicators.
The Premium Package has electronic suspension adjustment, heated grips, panier fastenings, GPS preparation, a main centre stand and a luggage grip.
Then there's a selection of sports-focused HP parts. You can change footpegs, hand levers, seat, wheels (to forged items), chain tensioner, and get a number of parts finished in carbon fibre. There's also an Akrapovic sports silencer, and you can order a BMW 5.0" display with motorbike-optimised sat-nav.