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Thread: 2020 S1000XR Initial Impressions

  1. #1
    Forum Moderator Oli's Avatar
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    2020 S1000XR Initial Impressions

    After my test ride on the Gen 4 RR today at Cannon BMW, I took out the new 2020 S1000XR. Here are my initial impressions.


    TLDR
    Good bike, but definitely not good enough to tempt me away from a sport bike as an only bike. It is better then the previous XR in terms of refinement (and looks in my opinion), but I’m not convinced the suspension is better and I don’t think the engine is as strong as I would have expected.


    Ergos
    Seat makes coccyx uncomfortable and raised rim digs into arse over time. Plenty of leg room, bolt upright riding position with slightly narrower bars then previously, is closer to what you’d expect on a naked bike.

    Initial impressions
    Suspension is very, very soft. Reminds me of an R1200GS. Switching to dynamic firms it up a bit, but still it’s soft.
    Startup is identical to the Gen 4 RR, with a fast idle when cold and an initial blip to ~ 2k when warm, before settling into the slow idle.
    Clutch bite point seems conventional, pulling away is easy. Whereas on the GS it took me a long time to get accustomed to it, the XR’s have always conferred immediate confidence in my opinion, coming from an S1000RR.

    Gearbox / Gearshift Assist Pro
    Very slick. It’s definitely a BMW box, but the engagement of each gear is crisp and the operation of GearShift Assist Pro is excellent up and down the box above 4 k rpm. Really pleased with this.

    Noise Vibration & Harshness
    At low and mid engine speeds the engine/exhaust noise is very quiet. At high engine speeds the S1000 character starts to come out. This is either a good thing, or a not so good thing depending on your perspective. If I was buying one, a full system (+baffle) would be a necessity purchase.
    The bike buzzes through the reearsets and bars at the typical ~ 4 k rpm. The handlebars are fully decoupled on the new XR, which does reduce the vibration felt, but does not eliminate it completely, contrary to what several online reviews state. Personally, this is not an issue and it’s significantly smoother than an R1200GS in my opinion.

    Engine Performance
    This is where I was less impressed. The specs state the same power figures as the previous XR, but whereas previously I felt the midrange and sense of urgency were strong points, this time I felt the midrange power a little lacking. When you get into the top end, it pulls strong and cleanly, but in my opinion lower down it’s just not as effervescent as I’d have expected, or wanted. I haven’t ridden an R1250GS, but I suspect this is where the big boxer engine could sway an on-the-fence customer.
    It would be interesting to compare the previous generation XR, to the new one on a dyno, to see how they differ at the back wheel. It may well be that the new bike just doesn’t “feel” as fast, due to how quiet it is though the rev range.

    Handling
    Another area I wasn’t blown away by. Going from A to B etc. it handles well, it’s very easy to ride, it is very flattering to ride, you have fantastic visibility afforded to you from the bolt upright riding position and tall adventure bike stance. The visibility alone makes planning overtakes so easy as you can literally see over the top of normal cars. Feels like cheating lol. I’ve always felt that unless your well versed in sport bikes, you’d ride something like this better and make more progress in the real world, then on a sport bike.
    However … If you are accustomed to a sport bikes, then the upright riding position, longer travel suspension and overall higher centre of gravity just doesn’t give ‘me’ confidence out of the gate in the corners. I also never feel completely convinced with how much ground clearance adventure bikes have, as I personally can’t stand it when pegs touch down and have had this on a few occasions on both the previous XR and on an R1200GS. Furthermore, the suspension on this new bike feels very ‘dynamic’. I don’t know if it’s because the damping is softer, or whether it’s a totally different algorithm managing it all, but it doesn’t always feel as though its made its mind up on how much support to give you. With the limited time available on test rides, I can’t say for certain whether this is simply me not being used to the bike, moreover this format of bike. But it definitely feels different to the previous generation XR, and not necessarily in a positive way.

    Brakes
    The brakes are excellent, can’t fault the Hayes front brakes and the rear is very powerful on the XR’s. Top marks.

    To conclude, the S1000XR is a good bike, but it is not a sport bike. This bike makes a lot of sense if you want to carry a pillion and when you treat it like an adventure bike, and not like a sport bike, it’s a very enjoyable experience. It offers the refined character of sports 1000cc engine, in a more user friendly and forgiving package.
    But, for going out for a sporting ride on your day(s) off, for the yearly trip and general solo riding, I personally would stick with the S1000RR.

    Ride safe and have fun

    Oli

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  3. #2
    Forum Moderator Marc A's Avatar
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    Re: 2020 S1000XR Initial Impressions

    Wow someone’s been a busy chap today!
    great write up... I was torn between the two Xr and rr myself.... and your ‘essay’ pretty much sums up my opinion ... minus the test ride.

    thanks for sharing your experience with us.
    2020 Gen 4 M Sport

    New member to the forum??....look at joining our Premier members for only £12.50 for 1 year or £20 for 2 years....discounts across lots of suppliers and main dealers.

    What you save on ONE main dealer purchase spend of £250 on parts will pay for nearly 4 years membership.


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    Oli

  5. #3
    Standard Member MoranC1's Avatar
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    Re: 2020 S1000XR Initial Impressions

    I had the 2019 XR for a while whilst my engine was replaced. And it deffinatly gave me a think, maybe when the time comes to change I might go XR. It would be fine for touring as the roads over here are ropey at best mostly for high powered sports bikes. But I know if I change I'd really miss the acceleration and better fun on track.

  6. #4
    2 YEAR PREMIER MEMBER phil's Avatar
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    Re: 2020 S1000XR Initial Impressions

    Fast forward 10 months Oli !

    Has your opinion changed from your initial findings?

  7. #5
    Forum Moderator Oli's Avatar
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    Re: 2020 S1000XR Initial Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by phil View Post
    Fast forward 10 months Oli !

    Has your opinion changed from your initial findings?
    Haha, when I saw this notification I’d thought for a minute you’d gone and test ridden one!
    Will have to gather thoughts and post a little update in due course

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    1 YEAR PREMIER MEMBER bmwbadboy's Avatar
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    Re: 2020 S1000XR Initial Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by Oli View Post
    After my test ride on the Gen 4 RR today at Cannon BMW, I took out the new 2020 S1000XR. Here are my initial impressions.


    TLDR
    Good bike, but definitely not good enough to tempt me away from a sport bike as an only bike. It is better then the previous XR in terms of refinement (and looks in my opinion), but I’m not convinced the suspension is better and I don’t think the engine is as strong as I would have expected.

    Why dont you buy Pikes Peak and be done with it ?

  9. #7
    Forum Moderator Oli's Avatar
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    2020 S1000XR Initial Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by phil View Post
    Fast forward 10 months Oli !

    Has your opinion changed from your initial findings?
    Good question

    Yes and no. It’s tricky to really give a conclusive opinion, as Covid has obviously massively limited the amount of riding these past 10 months. And it’s also fair to say that I’m not feeling as competent as I did pre-Covid

    However, that being said ...
    On the positive, it’s a very comfortable riding position. With the higher seat there’s plenty of leg room, even with the M-Rearsets set to a higher than stock position.
    Handling is quite good, very flickable with the bar leverage and forged 17” wheels.
    The 30L TopBox is still endlessly novel, genuinely have a smug sense of satisfaction every time I take stuff out or put stuff in it lol.
    It’s also novel having the genuine ability to carry a pillion, even though that’s an entirely theoretical perk at this moment in time
    The engine sounds sweet when thrashing it, even with the totally stock exhaust.
    Suspension. Contrary to the test ride, I reckon there must have been a software update for this bike very early on, as ever since I received the bike, there is a massive difference between the ‘Road’ and ‘Dynamic’ settings. Road gives a genuinely luxurious ride quality, albeit a wallowy one, and Dynamic gives a much more controlled, albeit sometimes a tad harsh ride.
    Vision. Being sat higher up gives tremendous vision over and around cars etc. However, this does mean that when cornering, you’re wider than a ‘normal’ bike, so it’s both a pro and a con.

    On the negative, it’s ‘very’ top heavy. Every time you take it off the side stand, or come to a stop etc, you are reminded of this fact.
    My particular bike vibrates more through the bars and seat than the demo I rode, even with EvoTech heavier bar ends, which is a bit of a concern for long motorway touring etc. When riding on backroads it’s not overly bothersome though.
    The engine is lacking in low and midrange grunt compared to the Gen 3 era bikes. This coupled with an overly soft throttle calibration does give quite a gutless feeling when pulling away and when trying to accelerate at lower engine speeds.

    Overall, it is certainly quite good. I have had moments were I’ve thought I’ve made a colossal mistake, but then I’ve also had plenty of moments where I’ve been in biking ecstasy lol.
    I do think an RR and a GSA are technically better bikes, in that I think they achieve their intended purposes better than an XR does.
    XR’s do certain things really well, on account of being an Adventure height bike, but then that also means they fundamentally cannot be as sweet handling as a supersports or naked derived bike like the SDGT or S1000R etc.

    I think it’ll be interesting to see what BMW do long term with the XR, because BMW don’t really do a proper sport tourer anymore. The K-bikes were discontinued and the R1250RS isn’t exactly a replacement.
    Ducati kicked off the Adventure Sport category, but have now stated they are more interested in targeting GS customers with the V4 Multi, so the XR now essentially competes in a class of 1.
    If I was Dr BMW Motorrad, I’d want to replace the XR with an S1000GT, as a direct competitor to the KTM GT

    Quote Originally Posted by bmwbadboy View Post
    Why dont you buy Pikes Peak and be done with it ?
    V-Twins aren’t particularly my cup of tea, though that being said I’ve not ridden a Ducati, so can’t really comment.
    If I was in the market for a V-Twin though, I’d be much more inclined to try a KTM SuperDuke GT over a MultiStrada, as think that platform makes more sense for a Sport Tourer
    Last edited by Oli; 3rd April 2021 at 06:15 PM.

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