Review: BMW S 1000 XR

With the arrival of the 2020 BMW S 1000 XR, we say goodbye to the first generation XR. That bike received very nice reviews and Jean even named it his favorite test bike in 2015. But when I got to ride it last year, I wasn’t really convinced. OK, the engine was awesome and the suspension very good, but the bike felt aged due to its outdated dash, it vibrated a lot and a stubborn quickshifter spoiled all the fun. Curious to see if they fixed this for the 2020-version. I was very eagerly looking forward to this test.

BMW puts the S 1000 XR in their Adventure family. Strange, because the ’S’ in its name clearly points out the sporty DNA. The extensive standard equipment shows that touring is definitely within the possibilities. So in which category does this powerhouse really belong? Adventure, Sport or Touring?

Equipment

First let’s start with the dull part of this review: all the bells and whistles you can find on this top of the line machine. Dynamic ESA, lightweight cast wheels, adjustable windscreen, small storage compartment, LED-lighting, TFT-display, Connectivity, integrated pannier attachment points, Pro riding modes, ABS Pro, hill start control, traction control, engine brake settings: it all comes as standard.

Our test bike was further equipped with some of the well-known – and actually indispensable – BMW option packages that make that this S 1000 XR basically has anything you could want on a motorcycle. Quickshifter, automatic height setting, cruise-control, keyless ride, heated grips, center stand, GPS-holder, USB-port … The list continues for a while and – another BMW habit – adds up to the price until you’re well over budget.

Sport?

The solid pricetag luckily offers a lot of motorcycle in return. The XR is rightfully Continue reading

Review: BMW S 1000 RR

When I arrive home after picking up a test bike, and my 10-year-old son enthusiastically shouts “Wow dad, that’s one of those World Superbikes!”, then I know I brought home a special bike. Or you know my son and I watch too many races.

Let’s wind back a couple of hours. At the Belgian BMW headquarters, the all-new
S 1000 RR is waiting for me. It’s a stunner, in its Motorsport color scheme, which is only available with the optional M pack. It comes with very cool and superlight M carbon wheels and has a lighter M battery. An embroidered M graces the seat, just to show this is the sportiest RR one can buy. The letter M is mythical amongst car lovers, and from now on it’s also the way BMW brands their sportiest Motorräder.

It’s impossible to describe all the electronic aids on the new RR, there are simply too many. The most important are the riding modes: Rain, Road, Dynamic and Race. Choose either one, and all the other electronics are automatically optimally set.

With the optional Ride Mode Pro, specifically added for track racing, come the extra modes Race Pro 1, Race Pro 2 and Race Pro 3. In these modes every single parameter can be set manually. This can be done by scrolling through the intuitive menu on the 6,5 inch TFT display using the well-known BMW multi-controller. I still think this dash is the Continue reading

Review: Suzuki GSX-R1000R

If you want to rule the land of superbikes, you won’t crown yourself king with just horsepower galore and a good chassis. Without electronics you won’t get there, so it was high time Suzuki reinvented its flagship bike. Last year the completely updated GSX-R1000 and GSX-R1000R appeared on the battlefield. I took the latter out for a week.

The Suzuki GSX-R1000 is “the basic model”. Its 999,8 cc four-cylinder engine has an output of 202 hp and 118 Nm at 10,800 rpm. Variable valve timing? Check. Ride-by-wire with three riding modes? Check. ABS and cornering traction control? Check. To list but a few points of its entire checklist.

The checklist of the GSX-R1000R is slightly longer, including cornering ABS, launch control, quickshifter, LED strips above the air intakes and Showa Balance Free front and rear suspensions. Which lifts the price rather displeasing: $15,099 for the GSX-R1000, $17,199 to add that extra R. If you drop ABS on the R-less Gixxer, the price tag is lowered to $14,699 (US prices).

So is that extra R worth the extra cost? Time for a ride to find out. And then you’ll notice immediately that here’s another manufacturer who nowadays thinks it’s not done to scare riders away. Suzuki’s racer is ultra-controllable and will never surprise you with a bad temper.

The ride-by-wire has three settings, and Suzuki has done it again: instead of naming them Race, Road and Rain for example, they’re called A, B and C. Although in this case OK, Not OK and Even Less OK would’ve been better. Let me explain. The A setting has the most linear power delivery. In B and C the power curve shifts to the right a lot (B) and a lot more (C), postponing the fun. Which is pointless because the A setting can be used under every condition, making the B and C settings completely useless. As an aside, the ride-by-wire does not affect ABS nor traction control.

That traction control!

Fortunately the traction control is better. A lot better. It has 10 levels (called 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, with 1 intervening minimally and 10 maximally). Levels 1 to 4 are intended for the racetrack and allow some rear wheel spin. 5 to 8 are for the road. From a certain angle of inclination, they will make the throttle response and power delivery react more gently on the throttle impulse. Numbers 9 and 10 are the rain levels. The horsepower is never influenced by the traction control and – should you be tired of your life – there’s also a level 0: traction control off.

I started my week’s test with level 5 traction control and Continue reading

Review: Yamaha MT-10

It’s always a matter of putting things into perspective. In my previous review I wrote the Triumph Tiger 800 XCa demanded more input to enter a corner than my own BMW F 800 GS. And then you get a Yamaha MT-10 for a week’s test after which you hop back on your GS and can’t help but notice how much effort cornering takes on your Beemer. And how terribly slow it is!

Okay, comparing a 800 GS with a MT-10 isn’t fair but there’s one BMW model that has a lot in common with the Yamaha: the BMW S 1000 R. Both are based on a 200 hp inline-four racer that lost its fairing and exchanged a fair bit of horsepower for more mid-range torque.

Still, the MT-10 isn’t just a naked R1. The frame, swingarm and suspension may be identical but on the other hand there’s a tweaked engine, a chassis that’s modified for more comfort and the aggressive headlight section, which I happen to like. Especially in Night Fluo finish the MT-10 is very expressive. The other colors (blue or black) are just plain boring.

Master of Torque

MT stands for Master of Torque and good heavens, there is no lack of torque indeed. The MT-10 is a wild beast with a very exciting power source. It accelerates like crazy: from 5000 rpm you better make sure you hold those handlebars tight. At 9000 rpm this torquey master reaches its maximum of 111 Nm.

Riding peacefully is no problem either. The 160 horses were very easy to handle during the rush hour in the centre of Brussels. Of course the Master prefers to be somewhere else, where it can dive into corners and exit them like a bat out of hell.

The frame likes that dynamic riding style. It remains stable and firm, with predictable and light steering behaviour. Correcting your riding line in a corner is easy to do. The suspension in standard setting is sporty without being stingy and is fully adjustable, front and rear.

The soundtrack is just Continue reading