BMW S1000XR (2020 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Big, tall, highly capable all-rounder
  • Brilliant engine and handling
  • But F900XR does almost same job, cheaper

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £230
Power: 165 bhp
Seat height: Medium (33.1 in / 840 mm)
Weight: Medium (498 lbs / 226 kg)

Prices

New £14,285
Used £13,000 - £14,000

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
5 out of 5 (5/5)

The BMW S1000XR arrived in 2015, before gaining minor revisions in ’17. It sandwiched a 160bhp S1000RR four-cylinder mill into a competent chassis, mixed with the weather protection and rider comfort you’d expect of a tourer.

For 2020, the recipe remains similar, but the engine has been replaced with the powerhouse found in the latest S1000RR, minus its ShiftCam variable valve timing. There’s also a revised chassis, fresh electronics, less mass and a new look.

This new version isn’t a huge stride on from the previous model, however this is no bad thing, as that was already the bike that defined high-rise all-rounders. Changes to its chassis and engine definitely make it even easier to ride (fast or slow), though it’s probably not worth part-exchanging your earlier model for.

It’s also worth getting a blast on the F900XR before deciding on the S1000XR. The smaller twin-cylinder sibling has nothing like the power, and in terms of outright handling is a notch or three behind the 1000. However, for us normal folk the 900’s remarkable ease of use, confidence-boosting ride and £4500 lower price tag have serious appeal.

This version replaced the 2015-2019 BMW S1000XR.


Watch our expert BMW S1000XR video review here:

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

It’s big and it’s tall, making it a bugger to move about for shorter riders, 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.

Cornering on the BMW S1000XR

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 tackles 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.

Cornering on the BMW S1000XR

The BMW’s comfort takes a knock when you get to motorway speeds though, with 70mph to 80mph in sixth revealing an irritating vibration delivered to both hands and feet.

Unnoticeable on a flexible throttle, it niggles in the back of your brain as you otherwise effortlessly devour the tarmac before you. By comparison, the rival KTM 1290 Super Duke GT is much smoother at this pace, with the lumpy V-twin calming down in top to produce an all-day comfortable chug and a respectable 50.01mpg.

Progressing through the gears, the 163bhp Beemer is much more refined, pushing on without fuss. With a large, two-way adjustable screen removing almost all wind buffeting, it’s only the howl from the exhaust that tells you it’s time to calm down a bit.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
5 out of 5 (5/5)

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.

BMW S1000XR four-cylinder engine

Peak power 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.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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.

Riding the BMW S1000XR in the UK

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Fourteen thousand is a lot of cash, however the 2020 BMW S1000XR is a lot of motorcycle. Its 163bhp 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: How does it compare to the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT?

KTM 1290 Super Duke GT vs BMW S1000XR

The BMW S1000XR and KTM 1290 Super Duke GT are the Kingsmill 50/50 of the biking world. Capable of touring two-up with luggage, as well as sticking it to the power rangers on a back road or trackday, they are some of the most versatile long-distance bikes on the market today.

With its superbike-derived engine, superior refinement and newer switches, the BMW is the one to go for if you are wanting a more well-rounded, practical package with hair-raising oomph.

Plonked alongside rivals like Kawasaki’s Versys 1000 range it feels explosively fast too, but if sporty riding is a priority, you cannot beat the KTM. Although slightly rougher round the edges, it pulls harder than the XR and is more engaging through the bends.

Many buyers want more than just savage power and – despite the KTM offering greater seat comfort – questionable reliability and less refined suspension mean the XR must take the overall crown here. 

Other rivals to consider, also equipped with 17in wheels, include the Ducati Multistrada 1260S and Triumph Tiger 1050 Sport, which has been discontinued for 2021 and the advent of Euro5.

Equipment

5 out of 5 (5/5)

The XR features more knobs and wheels than a gamer’s controller with a trick new TFT dash to boot. Glowing clearly in front of you in all light conditions like the latest Apple tablet, it’s almost too complicated for its own good; boasting multiple layouts, allowing you to swap modes, connect your phone and more. Initially intimidating, a day proved enough time to learn the system.

The rest of 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.

A side view of the BMW S1000XR

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-on BMW S1000XR optional extras

There's also 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.

BMW S1000XR with optional satnav

From August 2020 there's a new Sport pack that comes with a titanium pipe as well as a gorgeous classic three-colour BMW racing paintjob.

There’s a few new options on the accessories list too, including an update to the Tour pack that now includes a USB charging port plus a new luggage rack that can mount either the 30l or 48l top box. There’s also some new billet bits and pieces to show off down your local café.

Specs

Engine size 999cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 16v inline four
Frame type Aluminium perimeter
Fuel capacity 20 litres
Seat height 840mm
Bike weight 226kg
Front suspension 45mm USD fork, semi-active damping
Rear suspension Monoshock, semi-active damping
Front brake 2 x 320mm discs, four-piston radial calipers, cornering ABS
Rear brake 265mm disc, single-piston caliper, cornering ABS
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 180/55 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 42 mpg
Annual road tax £93
Annual service cost £230
New price £14,285
Used price £13,000 - £14,000
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Three years

Top speed & performance

Max power 165 bhp
Max torque 84 ft-lb
Top speed 155 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 184 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

2015: Based on the S1000R supernaked (in turn derived from the S1000RR superbike), the old S1000XR combines the best bits of a sportsbike, adventure bike and tourer in one do-it-all package. 160bhp (claimed), two riding modes, and a host of desirable optional extras.

2017: New handlebars to stop finger-numbing vibration on long rides, plus a five-horse increase to a claimed 165bhp.

2020: New engine and chassis based on the latest S1000RR, with a greater spread of usable power, less weight and better feel. More toys and ride-enhancing widgets as standard, including semi-active suspension, four riding modes, cornering ABS and a TFT dash with connectivity.

Other versions

Prices start just shy of £14,300, however there is a blinged-up £16,225 TE available; featuring a luggage rack, centre stand, sat-nav mount and more (2021 prices).

Owners' reviews for the BMW S1000XR (2020 - on)

1 owner has reviewed their BMW S1000XR (2020 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your BMW S1000XR (2020 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Engine: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Value vs rivals: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Equipment: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £230
4 out of 5 BMW S1000XR TE Review
15 July 2020 by Mark Arnold

Version: TE

Year: 2020

Annual servicing cost: £230

A great bike with only a few minor niggles - it does everything exceptionally well - a better road bike than a GS in my opinion

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Ride quality in Road mode is soft and great for the majority of our roads then I switch to Dynamic if I want to firm it up to hit bends with 40 degree lean angles

Engine 4 out of 5

Superbike power nice and smooth on the whole if not a little lacking below 4k but over 6k it comes alive

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Overall fairly well built but too early to really make a judgement

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Had a free run in service so not due till 6k and then I'd expect a £230 bill roughly

Equipment 5 out of 5

As all BMW bikes the world is your oyster or shall I say wallet - every possible extra can be fitted including TPS Alarm etc

Buying experience: Dealer as it's a new model

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