Superbike on Stilts
I’m no fan of sports bikes. Yeah, they’re gorgeous crotch rocket pieces of art but they just don’t fire up my mojo. In fact, whenever my friends look in awe when they see these fully-faired bikes, I just nod in agreement so that I won’t get alienated from them. I guess I’m more inclined towards the upright riding position and the all-weather, all-road, big payload capabilities of adventure bikes. It’s a good thing that motorcycle designers found a way to fuse sport bike prowess with adventure riding and the Bayerische Motoren Werke, more popularly known all over the world as BMW, joined the “Adventure Sport” craze with the introduction of the S1000 XR.
This 999cc, 6-speed with Gear Shift Assist Pro Bavarian power plant came from the S1000 lineage, particularly the S1000R due to its robust bottom to mid-range power output – perfect for that adventuresque riding on all road surfaces. Tops with 160 ponies at 11,000 rpm, this is basically a superbike on stilts. The Gear Shift Assist Pro, by the way, is a system that I came to love on this bike. Seamless quick up and down shifts is just so 2016 for me, no need to pull the clutch. How I wish more and more bikes are manufactured with this option as standard. Torque is 83 lb-ft at 9250 rpm. To highlight its considerable low end, we were cruising one time at only 30 kph at 6th gear and not once did the engine shudder.
There were a lot of things that I didn’t understand the first time I hopped on the BMW S1000XR, mainly its top of the food chain electronics, but once we (yes, my wife was actually riding with me while I was testing the bike) started rolling, everything on this bike started to present itself. The first order of business was the “Rain” mode, which is the S1000XR’s gentle persona, non-aggressive throttle response and sedated power delivery. Also, the bike’s ASC (Automatic Stability Control) and ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) is maximized for quick intervention on wet surfaces. Although there was no rain during testing, we actually did some off-road on beaten gravel and I have to say the bike did a pretty good job keeping the traction at the maximum. The expressways proved to be a good testing ground for the “Road” mode, where the 160-ponies gallop to full potential and the bike’s electronic aids are calibrated for dry road surface. The test bike we used also had the “Dynamic” mode unlocked, where it, like the Road mode, allowed the full 160 horses plus a quicker throttle response. The more advanced DTC (Dynamic Traction Control) also comes active at this point and would allow slight rear wheel spin and restrained wheelies. Oh, by the way, there’s also a provision for GPS on the dash so you won’t need to fabricate or buy your own.
STYLING AND HANDLING
BMW never fails to amaze me when it comes to styling. From radical asymmetrical headlights to “adventure bike beak” – which most if not all adventure bikes exhibit and the XR included, is just awesome. Longer swing arm stretches the XR’s wheelbase to 1549 mm, a full 109 mm longer than its S1000R sibling does. The front suspension is 46mm inverted fork, with 150mm of travel. A single shock absorber for the rear takes care of the bumps, with 140mm of travel. Both front and rear shock absorbers are controlled by BMW’s Dynamic ESA (Electronic Suspension Adjustment) which is basically a system that modifies suspension play based on sensor inputs from acceleration, deceleration and lean angle real time and on the go.
FUEL ECONOMY RANGE AND STOPPING POWER
The 20-liter tank has more than enough range for a 200-kilometer trip. Our trip to Cabanatuan from Bacoor still left us with two bars on the gauge. If not ridden aggressively (which I doubt if you ride this bike) the fuel range can be stretched to almost 300 kilometers. Its dual 320mm front rotors with radial-mounted four piston calipers and single 265 mm rear rotor with two piston calipers provides outstanding stopping power and is complemented by the bike’s ABS which I felt as not the same ABS from the other bikes I’ve tested that pulses at the lever or pedal, rather it’s like a “smarter” version of the ABS, making multiple adjustments to the brakes without the noticeable pulse. As Bart Madson of Motorcycle USA puts it, “the bike doesn’t stand up when applying the front brake. Instead the ABS system makes minute modulations to the front brake calipers so that the bike holds its lean angle.” Its wide handlebars also command good control over rough terrain as evidenced by our little “close encounter” during a steep climb with uneven road surface with some of the boys of UHAW Adventure Team that rides mostly BMW GS 1200 Adventure bikes.
The BMW S1000XR is one of my picks this year. Its upright riding posture makes it a great bike for long distance riding, more so for endurance challenges. In fact, a BMW S1000 XR topped this year’s Ironman Challenge. The pillion was given a thumbs-up by my wife so that means she was comfortable at the backseat. The top-notched aluminum frame can compete with the BMW GS 1200 in terms of payload for long days on the road. At 228 kilograms kerb weight vs. the Multistrada’s 234 is impressive given that an inline-four is lighter than a twin-cylinder bike. Lastly, the S1000 XR’s zenith electronic aids give us a glimpse of the future of motorcycles. The BMW S1000 XR is still a sportbike that can outrun most of the bikes available in the market today and with higher ground clearance, it’s also a beast off the beaten tracks. Not a fan of sportbikes? I think I am now – those with stilts, of course.
ENGINE: Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, inline 4 cylinder, double overhead cam
DISPLACEMENT: 999 cc
MAX. POWER: 160 bhp @ 11,000 rpm
MAX. TORQUE: 83 lb-ft @ 9250 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed with Gear Shift Assist Pro
SEAT HEIGHT: 820 mm
FUEL CAPACITY: 20 liters including 4 liters reserve
WET WEIGHT: 228 kg
TOP SPEED: over 220 kph
PRICE: PhP 1,275,000