Long-Term BMW S1000XR: Corrupted By Power

Willkommen! That’s “Update 1” in BMW speak.

BMW S1000XR©Motorcyclist

WRIST: Marc Cook
MSRP (2016): $19,790 (as tested)
MILES: 6,716
MPG: 38
MODS: Wheel mods by Jackwagon

It says something about the new BMW S1000XR that after a cross-country trip of nearly 4,000 miles I'd be willing to sign up for several more months aboard the red beast. Part of that "something" is probably just horsepower corruption, since the XR's gutty four makes incredible power along with an enticing soundtrack. This is a revelation for me, a stalwart fan of twins and triples.

Life for the XR has been busy since I brought it back from the east coast (see "The Road As Therapy" in the October 2015, MC). At around 4,300 miles, young guns Ari and Zack seized it and slapped on a set of Dunlop's excellent Sportmax Q3 supersport tires ($433 MSRP/set; dunlopmotorcycle.com) in preparation for a video segment with Ducati's Multistrada 1200 S. The stock Bridgestone T30 Evos were still in good shape, but the lads wanted something stickier for the track. At Laguna Seca, with everything turned up to 11 (read: Dynamic Pro mode), the XR kicked some closed-course ass. Ari and Zack were surprised by the BMW's competence and speed. "We weren't passed by anyone," Zack later told me, "and there were some pretty fast bikes there."

My XR came with BMW’s accessory seat, which is still thin but fairly comfortable until about the 500th mile. Alas it’s not heated.©Motorcyclist

As part of the video shoot, the lads took the XR off road, slamming down rocky trails, jumping it, sliding it like a pair of just-post-pubescent Jay Springsteens. Result? An excellent comparison video ( click here to see "On Two Wheels: BMW S1000XR vs. DUCATI MULTISTRADA 1200 – Tested To the Limit!" ), plus sundry rock chips and nicks, and a front rim with a number of serious dings. Not serious enough to make me park the bike but enough to feel as an imbalance at speed. BMW insists, and now I have to concur, that the XR is only styled like an Adventure bike; it's really, truly, no joke meant to stay on the pavement. A new front rim is coming and, thankfully, BMW's largesse will keep me from deducting the nearly $1,100 hoop from the young jackwagons' paychecks.

Wrapped around those hoops, Dunlop’s Q3s did a magnificent job at the track and were equally terrific back on the road. But the combination of the all-day track event and other bashing about had the rear just past the wear bars at 2,500 miles. It’s probably unreasonable to expect much more life from such a sticky, compliant tire, one that made the BMW steer even more telepathically than stock and not just tolerate but seem to encourage deep trail braking to every apex.

I overshot the 6,000-mile service by a little bit, nagged by the service reminder on the dash. It takes over the little achtung! warning light shining at you until you relent. I could probably live with that, but the low-fuel warning also uses that light, so you ride around thinking you’re always low on gas or, worse, just assume everything’s fine because that light’s been on for awhile now. Long Beach BMW took the XR in at 8 a.m. and had it ready by 5 p.m., and charged $99.05 in parts and $171.60 in labor to change the oil, both oil and air filters, and commit a general inspection. The next inspection, at 12,000 miles, is more of the same, but the 18,000-mile maintenance calls for a valve-clearance check as well as replacement of the spark plugs and fork oil.

At the rate the XR is already gaining miles, that big service might be more than an abstraction. We’ll just have to see…