Bryn Davies goes all weak at the knees as he takes delivery of BMW’s new and improved S 1000 XR adventure sports bike
I’ve been heavily involved with editing ABR magazine since issue 25. That’s six years and 33 issues ago. Over that time, I’ve had the great pleasure of riding in some of the world’s most exciting destinations on just about every adventure bike on the market. Most of these experiences have been memorable, but there are some rides that have cemented themselves in my mind’s hall of fame.
One memory that has done that is from a ride to the Alps in 2015.
It was a roasting hot summer and I found myself sat astride the then all-new BMW S 1000 XR. With its bright red livery, aggressive angles and sporty nature, a fire was stoked inside me. I spent two weeks blasting over Alpine passes, discovering the sheer pleasure of riding an adventure sports bike.
It was then I first rode Combe Laval, the dramatic balcony road in the Vercors which famously adorned the front cover of ABR issue 30. In fact, on that cover the rider you can see is me, and I’m on the S 1000 XR.
That year was the first and last time I rode BMW’s ferocious tourer. But in the few thousand miles I covered on it, I had fallen in love. Not even the original XR’s vibrating handlebars (which vibrated so much that the handguard came unscrewed) were enough to put me off the bike.
Whenever I look back at my time on that machine, I smile and remember that it’s one of the most fun bikes I’ve ever ridden. But recently I’ve been wondering if I’ve simply been reminiscing.
With BMW announcing the launch of a new and improved S 1000 XR at the end of 2019, I could hardly contain my excitement when I found out that I was going to be getting one as my long-term loan bike for the year. Of course, a certain global pandemic got in the way of me getting my hands on it for the early part of 2020, but the day before this issue of this magazine went to print, I finally clutched the keys to a new 2020 model BMW S 1000 XR.
Seeing as, at the time of writing this, I’ve only had chance to ride about 30 miles on it, I can only give my very first thoughts on the bike, but they are very good thoughts indeed. For a 6’2 rider, the S 1000 XR feels as though it’s been made to fit. The seating position, while slightly sporty and leant forward, is natural and comfortable. I can get both feet on the ground and paddling the 226kg machine is easy enough (the new S 1000 XR is 10kg lighter than its predecessor).
The newly-developed in-line four-cylinder engine is smoother than Barry White, and when you open the taps to accelerate past a car, the howl from the exhaust is intoxicating. This is a bike that’s been built for performance with the added benefit of a more comfortable stance, and I can see already that I’m going to have a lot of fun.
There’s only one red flag, the saddle is like a wooden board with minimal padding which I’m eyeing with some trepidation. Usually, a bike’s seat requires ‘breaking in’ before you reach optimum comfort, but I reckon my behind will be the one to break first here. Time will tell and I can’t wait to update you on my time with the bike in the next issue of the mag.
Specs at a Glance
162bhp @ 11,000rpm
Front; Upside-down telescopic fork, diameter 45 mm, electronic self-adjusting rebound/ compression damping, 150mm of travel. Rear; Single shock, electronic preload adjuster, electronic self-adjusting rebound/compression damping, 150mm of travel
Front; 2 x 320mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo monoblock. Rear; 265mm 2-piston, 2-Brembo floating caliper. Bosch cornering ABS on both front and rear