Picking up weird vibrations from the new kid in town

BMW’s first adventure sports bike is a hi-tech marvel with the lone blip of a mid-range buzz in the handlebars.

THERE are those at BMW who believe the S 1000 XR is the best motorcycle the company has built. Given they take it as read that any BMW knocks all competition into a cocked hat, that means it should be the best bike in the world. Well, I am pleased to report that there’s a buzz in the handlebars at about 5000rpm, so the company has not achieved perfection. But it is not far off.

It’s hard to find fault with anything else. The S 1000 XR blends the best of the Bavarians’ top-selling adventure bike, the R 1200 GS, with the features that have hoisted the S 1000 RR into pole position among the world’s sports bikes to create an “adventure sports” model with every conceivable bell and whistle.

BMW has put the 196bhp engine from the S 1000 RR (albeit detuned to 158bhp) into a heftier chassis reminiscent of the R 1200 GS to create what is arguably a better bike than either. It rides like a dream, accelerates like a nightmare and looks almost as if it could fly.

Ample ground clearance means the seat is relatively high, but it’s adjustable and pegs are set for a relaxed, upright riding position. The bars are wide and the ergonomics cleverly designed for a human being with only one thumb on each hand. The two-position windscreen is easily adjusted, with the lower setting proving more comfortable for me (at 6ft). The mirrors are perfectly set to clash with those of White Van Man in traffic, but if you switch to the optional Dynamic riding mode and blip the throttle, he can’t claim he didn’t know you were there.

The standard model comes with two riding modes (Rain and Road) and automatic stability control, while the Dynamic package features a couple more settings (Dynamic and Dynamic Pro) together with a bottomless pit of goodies including a very slick up-and-down quickshifter, cornering antilock braking and cruise control.

Even in Road mode, acceleration is quite startling, and with the quickshifter you can whack open the throttle until the bike is well north of 160mph (where it is safe and legal to do so). The 0-60mph time is plausibly quoted as 3.1 seconds. Torque climbs exponentially to peak at 9250rpm but the straight four is beefy enough to haul happily from as low as 2000rpm.

Despite the provision for luggage and the enduro characteristics, the bike is game on the track (the data includes a lap timer). The chassis is also a match for the engine’s ferocity, the steering is precise in all circumstances and the brakes are more than powerful enough.

This is not a bike for the technophobe; the digital overload will blow their brains out. Cycle through the pages and you’ll find one with 16 separate parameters, from fuel economy and time to trip data.

Only that mid-range buzz in the bars betrays the fact that the S 1000 XR was made by humans for humans, and not by robots for robots.

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