MCN Fleet: ‘Have I just made a costly mistake?’

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My first ride on the BMW S1000XR was a little nerve-racking because I’d chosen the bike based on the promise of what it would be like, rather than experience.I’d not ridden an XR before, so was a little bit concerned how’d I’d get on with the bike over the coming months, especially as it ended up costing over £17k, with all the extras added, Thankfully it only took a few miles to find out I liked it, a lot.

I wasn’t expecting the bike to be so well-equipped either. This is the range-topping Sport SE model and it’s also got an extra load of kit in the form of an Akrapovic silencer, topbox and backrest, along with hard panniers and a tankbag. The Garmin Navigator V satnav adds another £549. You can buy a standard S1000XR for £12,400 on the road but this version is £17,289. A current BMW incentive takes £440 off this price to level out at £16,849.

The timing of the bike’s arrival was perfect as it coincided with 10 days off work. Once some DIY had been sorted I was able to get out for a couple of rides and notched up a decent 400 miles over the first weekend; 200 of which were done in one long ride.

My first ride was to the B660, an undulating, snaking, dipping and weaving stretch of Northamptonshire/Cambridgeshire road. It’s a lovely part of the world and the road suits the XR perfectly. Being on holiday meant I had time to play with, so I turned around and rode it all the way back to where I started before creating a loop home.

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Five things I’ve learned so far about the S1000XR

1. It’s big. Walking up to the XR for the first time left me wondering why it appeared to be so flippin’ massive. After removing the hard panniers, topbox and tankbag it shrank to a more expected size. 

2. It’s fast. My brain had to quickly adjust after riding my own Yamaha MT-07 and the difference between the MT’s 74bhp and the 160bhp XR was astonishing.

3. It’s well-suited to UK roads. After deciding to visit my late grandmother’s old house in Bridgnorth in Shropshire, I did a lovely 200 miles round-about route that kept me off the main roads. The bike dealt with faster A-roads with ease, shrugged off some patches of heavy traffic by being manoeuvrable and thanks to a decent adjustable screen, heated grips and handguards it kept me comfortable despite cold weather. The Dynamic Electronically Adjustable Suspension (D-ESA) and quickshifter make easy work of riding although the quickshifter is taking some getting used to.

4. It’s tall. Something that has so very nearly caught me out a couple of times when pulling up to a standstill. It’s not the seat height at 840mm that’s the trouble – I think it’s the width of the seat that makes things interesting.

5. It’s a little vibey. It’s easy to find people on forums saying their bikes are terrible, but it appears to be an inconsistent phenomenon. My experience so far shows there are some high-frequency vibrations I can feel through the bars and pegs but it’s not too bad. 

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Andy Downes

By Andy Downes

Former MCN Senior Reporter