The Long-Term S1000XR Handlebar Fix Is In!

Mods and ends for Cook’s long-term BMW S1000XR, including a cure for handlebar vibes.

The Long-Term S1000XR
On the road this summer in Northern California, the XR proved itself a capable, comfortable distance machine with an appetite for twisty roads. For luggage, the only addition is the SW-Motech/Bags Connection City tankbag. The BMW’s accessory hard panniers are fantastic.©Motorcyclist

WRIST: Marc Cook
MSRP (2016): $19,790 (as tested)
MILES: 6,830
MPG: 37
MODS: Bar-end weights, tankbag, fresh tires

The Long-Term S1000XR
This is a happy group of guys on a 2,300-plus-mile riding vacation up the California coast, across the central valley, to peak with a three-passes strafe of the Sierra Nevada.©Motorcyclist

It was busy summer for the XR long-term bike, so forgive me for just now getting you caught up. However, I want to jump ahead a little and share something I just discovered: a solution for the XR's somewhat notorious handlebar buzz. And it's as simple as a set of bar-end weights. Really.

If you've followed this bike, you know the XR's tingly handgrips have been a subject of discussion since the bike debuted. A few owners on the S1000XR forum claim the bar vibes are a non issue, while others have struggled with it. I have talked to BMW dealers who claim to have lost sales after a quick test ride scared potential buyers away. This is a shame, since the vibration is at worst an inconvenience. It's a travesty to let that aspect of the bike overrule the XR's amazing handling, superior systems (including fantastic ride-by-wire throttle control, ABS, and top-flight traction control), and gut-clenching power. What's more, as my long-termer gained miles, the engine became slightly more smooth.

The Long-Term S1000XR
The HVMP bar ends fit under the BMW’s stock hand guards without a problem.©Motorcyclist

So, back to the solution. I'd noticed that some owners on the S1000XR forum (http://s1000xrforum.com) had purchased heavier bar-end weights from a company called HVMP. I sent owner Steve Cerutti a note and soon after had a set of his XR-specific bar ends in my possession ( hvmp.com; $84). These bar ends are slightly longer—1.5 inches long, half an inch more than stock—and a lot heavier—9 ounces each, 7 ounces heavier than stock. Each one! Ten minutes is all it takes to swap out the bar ends, even with the hand guards already fitted. And 10 minutes is all you need to realize that the harmonic buzzing in the handgrips is nearly gone. Not totally so, but I'd rate these as an 80-percent solution. I will still experiment with different handlebars—and may even narrow the stock bar slightly—but I have a feeling that the bulk of whatever improvements I can come up with has just happened. In a way I'm relieved it was this easy. But I was also looking forward to stumbling upon a really cool fix of my own. Oh well.

The Long-Term S1000XR
That’s the stock bar end at the top and the HVMP examples below. A half an inch longer and more than double the weight, the aftermarket bar ends dramatically reduced the buzz in the XR’s grips.©Motorcyclist

Meanwhile, this summer I chewed through some fine rubber. Soon after the bike was finished filming an On Two Wheels episode (see OTW: S1000XR vs. Multistrada 1200 here) and the Dunlop Qualifier Q3s were toast, I fitted a set of Bridgestone's S20 Evo (see Bridgestone Motorcycle Tires; $153/$238) tires in stock sizes (120/70-17 front, 190/55-17 rear). The Dunlops eventually went 2,530 miles; as is common, the front was fine but the rear was at the wear bars. Remember that this mileage includes a full day on the track at Laguna Seca, plus a lot of road riding and touring. That said, the Q3s' durability is right in line with other high-performance tires I've tried on less-powerful bikes, so maybe it's not just weight or horsepower. It's me. I'm just hard on tires. I can accept that.

The Long-Term S1000XR
Dunlop’s excellent Qualifier Q3 tires lasted nearly about 2,500 miles—this shot was taken just before a particularly energetic run of about 300 miles that took the rear down to the wear bars. Such sticky-good fun!©Motorcyclist

I had actually planned to run another set of Q3s, but my vacation snuck up on me and I had to slap on tires we had on hand. (Sometimes the calendar does that to me.) But running the Bridgestones was certainly no hardship; they’re sticky and reasonably long wearing as these things go. By the end of my September vacation (plus a lot of commuting and a quick up-and-back to Big Sur, California), the S20s were totally done after 2,882 miles. Actually, the front was fine, but the rear was already beyond the wear bars. Comparisons? A little hard to make without a true back-to-back ride, but my sense is that the Bridgestones are a bit stiffer, giving the BMW a firmer ride, and that their profiles slow steering a very small amount. It’s unlikely you’d notice either characteristic unless you went looking. After the Bridgestones were done, I went back on a Q3s, though we’re being told that this winter will be a soggy one in California, so it’s very likely that I’ll return to sport-touring rubber for improved wet grip.

My vacation took me some 2,300 miles up coastal California, up over the top, and then back down through the Sierra Nevada. I ran the stock hard side cases but supplemented with an SW-Motech/Bags Connection City tankbag that I've been using for years (twistedthrottle.com; $230 plus mounting ring). Note that the Twisted Throttle site did not have explicit fitment information for the XR at the time, but after a bit of sleuthing I discovered the proper tank ring is the Type 126, which fits the BMW R1200GS (water cooled) without the Keyless Ride option. Now, of course, Twisted has the XR listed. This is a marvelous little tankbag, 11 to 15 liters, that fits the XR perfectly. Between the stock hard luggage and the City, I had more than enough room of a week's worth of gear, organized exactly the way I wanted it.

I have a number of smaller mods lined up for the XR, but, frankly, I’m just enjoying the riding. I have settled on Dynamic Pro as my ride-mode of choice because of the relaxed limits on ABS and traction control, plus the slightly sharper throttle response that comes with it. I wouldn’t mind being able to set the suspension’s damping schemes separately from the ride modes—as KTM allows you to do—but I’m not going to complain too loudly. For long, dull stints on the highway, I toggle it over to Road (on both the ride mode and the suspension skew, which gives you the option of Road or Dynamic in any of the ride modes) and enjoy the ride.

Fuel economy has settled in at 37 mpg, ironically just like my long-termer for 2013, KTM’s now defunct 990 SM-T. Again, maybe it’s just me, but it is worth noting that the BMW has 40 hp on the Katoom, so perhaps I shouldn’t complain.