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Tested: BMW's S1000 XR like three bikes in one

Bikes

Johannesburg - BMW is well known for creating mechanised versions of the duck-billed platypus. Like that biological concoction of different animals, Beemer finds ways to blend seemingly contradictory concepts into a single machine, the most obvious example being the GS which essentially invented the dual-purpose adventure bike segment.

The German company’s latest cross-breeder is the S1000 XR, a sports bike, tourer and adventure bike rolled into one. Combining the mighty engine of BMW’s S1000 RR superbike with an upright riding position and some off-roading ability, it’s essentially a GS spliced with a superbike, and dubbed an adventure sport.

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The love child of a GS and RR turns out to be a practical machine that's great fun to ride. It's priced at R226 990.

An off-road superbike? Clearly somebody at BMW Motorrad was smoking some choice stuff, we thought, but once you ride it the S1000 XR makes all sorts of enjoyable sense.

Let’s come right out and say that this bike’s not intended to tackle the Dakar Rally, not with its small 17 inch front and rear alloy wheels - but it does have enough ground clearance and suspension travel to do some mild dirt riding. The journey doesn’t have to end where the tar road gives way to gravel.

It has an upright riding position and wide handlebars that, apart from giving more confidence on dirt, makes it a comfortable mile-muncher in long-distance touring.

A 20 litre tank ensures a healthy range between pit stops, and its travel-readiness is topped off by pannier mountings and a luggage carrier.

Explosive performance

At the heart of this Beemer’s appeal is the explosive performance of its superbike-derived engine. It’s a detuned version of the S1000 RR’s 150kW four-cylinder but still packs a very healthy 118kW, while maximum torque stays the same at 112Nm.

Top speed is modestly quoted as “more than 200km/h” but it’s the ease with which this bike accelerates to high velocities, and its hearty midrange torque, that produces the major grin factor.

Yank it open and any thoughts of its so-called identity crisis are lost in a rush of superbike-like acceleration.

This tourer chases the horizon with tar-wrinkling intensity and an enthralling howl that makes you twist the throttle as much for decibels as for speed.

There’s some engine vibration at certain revs which didn’t cause any discomfort during my 100km-plus rides - I thought it added character to the bike and helped prevent it from feeling too slick and clinical - but it might become an issue over longer distances.

The distance-friendliness is otherwise ensured by a wide, comfortable seat and high handlebars that don’t stress the wrists, while the wind is kept at bay fairly effectively by a two-position, manually-adjustable screen. Hand guards and heated hand grips help make this a more comfortable cold-weather bike too.

The XR is a big motorcycle without feeling particularly intimidating, and a height adjustable seat ensures that you don’t have to be a basketball player to straddle it comfortably.

For a large bike the XR nips and tucks through turns pretty impressively, its bulk well masked by a quick-turning nature and generally confidence-inspiring handling. For those occasional over-confident moments, a clever ABS Pro system prevents the wheels from locking up even when the brakes are applied sharply during cornering.

The S1000XR sells for the non-bargain price of R226 990 but this includes a full suite of electronic rider aids, my favourite being a quickshifter that allows for clutch-free gearchanges with the throttle pinned open. Once you’ve changed gears like this, old-fashioned shifts by comparison seem so clunky and like-our-grandfathers-rode.

Also standard is cruise control, electronically controlled suspension, stability and traction control, and Riding Modes for road, rain or dynamic riding.

VERDICT

Why choose between buying an offroad bike, a tourer or a superbike when you can have all three rolled into one?

This love child of a GS and an RR may not make much sense on paper but it’s a blast to ride.

The acceleration and the howl give a superbike-like rush, but it’s comfortable to ride long after you’d be painfully curled up in a foetal position following a stint on a superbike. - Star Motoring

FACTS

BMW S1000 XR

Engine: 999cc liquid-cooled four.

Bore x stroke: 80 x 49.7.

Compression ratio: 12:1.

Valvegear: DOHC with four overhead valves per cylinder.

Power: 118kW at 11 000rpm.

Torque: 112Nm at 9250rpm.

Induction: Digital electronic fuel-injection with four 48mm throttle bodies.

Ignition: Digital electronic.

Starting: Electric.

Clutch: Cable-operated multiplate wet clutch.

Transmission: Six-speed constant-mesh gearbox with final drive by chain.

Front Suspension: 46mm Sachs inverted cartridge forks adjustable for compression and rebound damping.

Rear Suspension: Sachs monoshock adjustable for preload and rebound damping.

Front brakes: Dual 320mm floating discs with Brembo four-piston radial-mount monobloc callipers and ABS.

Rear brake: 265mm petal disc with dual-piston floating calliper and ABS.

Front tyre: 120/70 - 17 tubeless.

Rear tyre: 190/50 - 17 tubeless.

Wheelbase: 1548mm.

Seat height: 840mm.

Kerb weight: 228kg.

Fuel tank: 20 litres.

Price: R226 900.

Follow Denis Droppa on Twitter @DenisDroppa

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