Long Term 2016 BMW S1000XR: Radiator Protection

Two simple ways to avoid replacing an expensive radiator!

bmw s1000xr, long-term, adv, adventure touring
After a week on the road and two days in the rain, the outside of the XR seems shiny enough. But, if you look closely you’ll see a dirty diaper of a radiator and oil cooler.©Motorcyclist

WRIST: Marc Cook
MSRP (2016): $19,760 (as tested)
MILES: 10,440
MPG: 37
MODS: Radiator and oil-cooler guards

long-term s1000xr
As you can see, road spray from the shorty front fender ends up on the natural-finish radiator and oil cooler. Here, the early arriving oil-cooler cover has already been installed.©Motorcyclist

Here's something to think about. Put a hole in the S1000XR's massive and widely exposed radiator and you're in for a repair job or a new radiator, the latter at a cool $800. Should the front tire find a rock big enough to damage the oil cooler just below it, plan on a $500 bill. All before labor and such. It's painfully obvious that BMW intends the engine to kick off a lot of heat, which is why the radiator is huge—it just about fills the entire mouth, from chin fairing to steering stem. But it's also clear that you're on your own to keep those expense parts safe.

Not only safe, but attractive. For whatever reason, the XR’s radiator—like the S1000R’s—is natural-finish aluminum, while the oil cooler is painted black. After a day riding in the rain, the too-short front fender left an ugly, slimy trail of road muck down the center of both coolers. Cleaning them to a halfway acceptable level took me a couple of hours with a soft-bristle brush and bucket full of orange-based degreaser. I never did get the radiator completely sanitary, so I just started averting my gaze.

In steps R&G, distributed by Twisted Throttle. First available was the black oil cooler guard (see S1000R guard HERE; $73) because it was the same as the S1000R's and R&G hadn't yet tooled up for an XR-specific radiator guard. That came later (see S1000XR guard HERE; $110).

long-term bmw s1000xr
Now the Beemer’s costly radiator is much better protected, and will stay cleaner for longer as well.©Motorcyclist

Installation is easy. For the oil cooler, I removed the lower chin fairing, which is secured by a couple of screws each side and a few of those infuriating plastic push-pin devices. (I have lots of experience with the Japanese equivalents of these, but the ones BMW uses are really stiff and difficult to work with. Maybe it’s just me…) Both R&G units attach to the front of their respective coolers with strips of foam tape holding them proud and zip ties for security. About 10 minutes for the oil cooler and a little longer for the radiator piece. I was pleasantly surprised to see that R&G has designed the rad guard to go over the plastic radiator surround, so you don’t have to peel any bodywork off to do the install. The hardest part is getting your hand between the back of the radiator and the exhaust headers to secure the tie-wraps.

In the weeks since installing both guards, they’ve stayed in place and have at least reduced the amount of muck deposited on the two radiators. I suspect that if we do have a wet winter I’ll want to remove both R&G pieces periodically to remove the gunk, but for now I’m happy that the radiator doesn’t always look grungy. And it’s safe, too.

Finally, if there’s a side-effect of blocking some radiator airflow, I can’t see it. The XR will heat up a bit in traffic but I don’t too often hear the fan running. Spend $180 to (potentially) save $1,300? You bet.