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Old 01-13-2016, 06:00 PM   #1
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2016 BMW S 1000 XR Ride Review

Kevin Wing

2016 BMW S 1000 XR

Despite having the “traditional” adventure bike market covered with its ubiquitous R 1200 GS/Adventure boxer twin variants, BMW has certainly taken notice of what it calls the “adventure sports” segment. This spinoff category consists of bikes that have more sportbike bloodlines than off-roading intent—and the one bike that exemplifies the class better than any other is Ducati’s very successful Multistrada 1200. Instead of spending a lot of time and effort trying to modify the GS in order to tap into this market, Munich HQ decided it could more easily get into the game with its four-cylinder S 1000 platform, resulting in the new S 1000 XR.

Utilizing the same 999cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled inline-four engine as the S 1000 R naked bike introduced last year means the XR’s powerplant is good for a claimed 160 hp and 83 foot-pounds of torque. That’s certainly a far cry from the boxer twin and on par (horsepower-wise, at least) with the Multistrada. The same basic aluminum perimeter frame from the R model has been subtly tweaked to work with the demands of the taller adventure-tour regimen, with a more relaxed steering-head angle (0.9 degree more rake at 25.5 degrees) and longer trail (117mm from 99mm). The taller, longer-travel suspension (1.2 inches more in the front, 0.8 inch in the rear) in addition to the relaxed steering geometry and 2.5-inch-longer swingarm contribute to a much longer (4.3 inches!) wheelbase at 61 inches.

A tapered aluminum motocross-style handlebar and more spacious ergos provide the more typical upright riding position of the ADV genre, with decent wind protection courtesy of a sculpted half-fairing sporting the trademark asymmetrical headlight styling of the S 1000 series and a two-position manually adjustable windscreen. That aforementioned longer-travel suspension (available with the latest-generation BMW Dynamic Electronic Suspension Adjustment semi-active suspension as an option) makes for the usual tall ADV seat height of 33.1 inches—though in addition to an optional 33.7-inch high seat, the XR also has an optional 32.3-inch low seat, as well as a lowered suspension with D-ESA option that drops it even further to 31.1 inches.

Kevin Wing

High-set motocross-style handlebar provides a comfortable riding position whether sitting or standing. Instrument panel is typical S 1000 fare, with an analog tach paired with a well-organized LCD info panel. GPS above dash is a $799 option.

That suspension holds 17-inch cast-aluminum hoops (in 3.5-inch front and 6.0-inch rear widths) shod with Bridgestone’s latest generation T30 sport-touring rubber in 120/70 and 190/55 sizes, a choice that shows the more pavement-oriented intentions of the XR. The XR also retains the braking system of the R model, with dual 320mm discs clamped by Brembo four-piston calipers up front and a single 265mm disc gripped by a two-piston sliding caliper out back.

BMW’s ASC (Automatic Stability Control) utilizing the company’s normal traction control and ABS comes standard on the XR, but as usual, a number of optional packages can substantially expand that electronic rider aid packet. Chief among these is the Ride Modes Pro option that augments the standard Rain and Road modes with Dynamic and Dynamic Pro modes that provide much more direct engine response along with the more advanced Dynamic Traction Control and new ABS Pro (the first BMW to be so equipped) that can sense lean angle and adjust DTC and ABS intervention to suit. The Ride Modes Pro option also includes firmer base settings for the Dynamic ESA in the Dynamic and Dynamic Pro ride modes.

Kevin Wing

The XR’s windscreen is manually adjustable to one of two positions, and the hand guards are standard equipment (along with heated grips, you’ll never have to worry about cold fingers). “Slightly asymmetrical” headlight design continues the S 1000 styling cues.

If you were expecting a more comfortable and roomy S 1000 R with decent wind protection and more versatility with the new XR, well, you’d be right. Ergos are the usual ADV upright, with room to stand on the pegs if necessary; we did, however, notice a bit of excessive vibration around 4,500 rpm at cruising speeds on the highway that got the handlebars and pegs tingling.

Even though it’s hauling nearly 50 more pounds than the R, the XR has the same arm-straightening midrange acceleration as its naked cousin. As far as top-end, we couldn’t tell because our bike only had 6 miles on the odometer when we began the press launch ride in the Muskoka Lakes region of Ontario, Canada, so our XR was factory rev-limited at 9,500 rpm due to not reaching the designated break-in mileage. It also rained for the duration of our ride, which, while allowing us to discern that the DTC does a superb job of keeping the BMW under control on slippery surfaces, also prevented us from allowing the inline-four to really stretch its legs.

Kevin Wing

The same dual 320mm disc and Brembo caliper setup from the R is on the XR—but thankfully minus the abrupt bite and highly progressive response. Fork action from the Dynamic ESA handled all situations well.

Nonetheless, we were able to discern the XR’s throttle response is nice and smooth in any of the riding modes despite having 160 hp on tap, and the powerband is linear and very usable. In addition to our BMW having the Ride Modes Pro option, it also was equipped with the latest Gear Shift Assistant Pro quickshifter that allows both clutchless upshifts and downshifts. As with the newest S 1000 RR that we tested last issue, the GSA Pro worked well for the most part on upshifts; unfortunately, similar to the RR’s unit, downshifts required a lot of lever effort (so much that our foot slipped off the rain-soaked lever several times), with a numb gearshift feel.

Overall handling felt basically the same as the R, despite the longer wheelbase and more relaxed steering geometry, which is likely attributable to the higher and wider handlebar of the XR delivering more leverage. The Dynamic ESA did a superb job of adapting to the riding situations it encountered, providing a smooth ride over nasty pavement while keeping the long-travel suspension from pitching too excessively and getting the chassis tied up in knots when ridden aggressively. And we were glad to see that the XR’s brakes were nowhere near as grabby and abrupt as the R model’s binders, offering much more linear feel and power; we weren’t brave enough to really test the ABS Pro in the corners on wet pavement, but the system worked well at keeping us out of trouble in the situations we did encounter.BMW isn’t looking to eventually supplant the GS with the XR, as it feels they are two different markets. In fact, in a manner similar to the S 1000 RR, BMW looks at the S 1000 XR as an “acquisition” model, one that will attract new customers to the brand (something the RR did very well). Is it good enough to steer a prospective “adventure sports” rider away from the Ducati Multistrada 1200? We’ll find out soon enough.

Kevin Wing

Optional Dynamic ESA suspension provided good chassis control in all the situations we encountered, with adjustability on the fly if desired. Electronic spring-preload adjustment is an added plus.

Kevin Wing

2016 BMW S 1000 XR

Specifications 2016 BMW S 1000 XR MSRP: $16,350 base model; $18,750 as testedEngine Type Liquid-cooled, DOHC, inline-four, 4 valves/cyl.Displacement 999ccBore x stroke 80.0 x 49.7mmCompression ratio 12.0:1Induction BMS-X EFI, 48mm throttle bodies, dual injectors/cyl.Chassis Front Tire 120/70ZR-17 Bridgestone Battlax T30F EVORear Tire 190/55ZR-17 Bridgestone Battlax T30RRake/trail 25.5 degrees/4.6 in. (117mm)Wheelbase 61.0 in. in. (1549mm)Seat height 33.1 in. (841mm)Fuel Capacity 5.2 gal. (20L)Claimed curb weight 502 lb. (228kg)

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