Since the 1920s, BMW’s Motorrad division has been best-known for their classic “Airhead” bikes named for the pair of horizontally-opposed cylinder heads protruding both sides of the engine, cooled (obviously) by the air rushing past them at speed. While BMW’s current line-up features oil- and water-cooled mills, the boxer format is still very much a key part of the brand’s identity, featuring in the sales-leading R 1250 GS and the fashion-forward R18 cruisers.
Sporty aggressiveness derived from the RR
But when BMW goes to the track, it’s a fire-breathing, 999 cc inline-4 that powers its S 1000 RR race bikes; which seems a rather unlikely choice for a machine in BMW’s Adventure classification, but that’s just what they’ve done with the S 1000 XR.
The result is the answer to a motorcycling question few thought to ask several years ago: what if there was a bike that’s got the heart of a race machine with the comfort and features of a touring bike, and the capability of an ADV… sort of?
Not unlike the way the four-wheeled world has seen an onslaught of high-performance SUVs that boast absurd performance capabilities in a machine as comfortable hauling the family to the slopes in a winter storm as they are hunting sports cars on a road course, the S 1000 XR is the two-wheeled equivalent.
XR is built for The People
The GS bikes are for the Charley Boorman-wannabes, envisioning holidays crossing Mongolia or the Sahara, but for the rest of us who might’ve been raised on repli-racers and naked sports bikes, the XR allows all the performance anyone needs, with enough comfort to go on a multi-day trip in search of the best twisty pavement.
With that in mind, your writer loaded up some light luggage and set off for a quick loop of the Cabot Trail and PEI. To say the bike delivered in its mission is an understatement.
2022 BMW S 1000 XR Performance & Ride Impressions
Smoother engine with more power than before
Riders familiar with the last generation S 1000 XR will remember the tingling extremities that came from such a high-strung powerplant revving out a ton of vibes through the bars and pegs. This new machine, however, gets a new, smoother engine, and BMW has gone to great lengths to better dampen the vibrations through the bars.
There’s a little more power now, too – 165 hp, and around 100 lb-ft of torque – not that the XR was lacking before, but it needs to stay competitive with similar offerings from KTM and Ducati.
On the road: blending athleticism and long-distance performance
On the road, the S 1000 XR is sensational. The power builds so smoothly and linearly, that even if loafing the engine around 3,000 rpms, there’s immediate thrust available with the slightest twist of the wrist. It pulls strongly into the upper revs, while building intensity and a feral roar that’s utterly addictive.
The gear box comes standard with clutch-less shifting, but it’s such a precise transmission, that even working up- and down-shifts the old-fashioned way is still a pleasure. Should riders get a little overzealous, the traction control system is married to ABS that works with lean angles, and a wheelie-control system.
BMW allows riders to select ride modes that vary from tame (Rain), to comfortable (Road), to full-on aggressive (Dynamic-Pro, enabling customization of everything from suspension stiffness to throttle response and engine braking), all displayed on a bright TFT screen.
Impressively capable and playful handling bike
Although slightly lower and more forward than before, the XR’s riding position is reminiscent of other ADV bikes with an upright, neutral riding position, and a pair of wide handlebars. When combined with the electrically-adaptive suspension, it becomes an impressively capable and playful handling bike.
Leaning into corners comes easily, but there’s great composure and grip, giving the rider plenty of confidence to carry speeds one would expect with a sport bike, not an adventure machine.
Best of all, though, you can do this all day long thanks to a comfortable saddle that’s scooped out to allow a lower height, and to keep the rider’s butt in position. Those used to a lot of lateral movement on their seats for heavy cornering will need to get used to this one, but there were no complaints here.
The rider is well protected from wind blast with the adjustable windscreen and a fairing that’s been reworked for better airflow management. Throw in the heated grips, cruise control and optional luggage rack, and it’s a breeze to use the XR for multi-day trips.
BMW has made the already-great S 1000 XR notably better in the few areas it needed improvement. It’s now one of the best all-round machines that can keep riders happy whether strafing corners, collecting highway miles or simply zipping out to get a carton of milk.
If you’re shopping for a proper dual-purpose adventure bike, read our story – Best Dual Sport Motorcycles: 7 Models We’d Love to Get Lost On
To learn more about this bike, visit BMW’s site:
2022 BMW S 1000 XR Price, Options, Specs & Photos
MSRP: $16,945 USD (2023 model) | $19,995 CAD (2022 model)
Options on test bike (in CAD): Touring Package, $615; Headlight Pro, $685; Tire Pressure Control, $330; Anti-Theft Alarm System, $330.
|Engine||999cc In-line 4|
|Horsepower||165 hp (121 kW) at 11,000 rpm|
|Torque||84 lb-ft (114 Nm) at 9,250 rpm|
|Wet Weight||498 lbs (249 kg)|
|Seat Height||33.0″ (840 mm)|
Photos: Jeff Wilson