2023 BMW S1000XR

We revisit the BMW S1000XR

We haven’t ridden BMW’s S1000XR for a while now, so when we spied a fairly fresh 2023 demo standing at BMW Motorrad East Rand Mall, we twisted Rodney’s arm a little, well it was more like this, “Can we borrow that for a day?”….“Ja sure!, sommer keep it for an extra day or two.” And so we did.


The S1000XR has been a firm favourite at this office since it hit the market in late 2014 early 2015. You see, not everybody is built for the bum in the air, nose on the ground sportbike, but most people do enjoy superbike performance and handling but wish it was just a tad more comfortable. Bikes like Yamaha’s FZ1000 Fazer in the early 2000’s, Suzuki’s 1200 Bandit a little bit before that and somewhere along the line the Kawasaki Versys 1000 were all built to satisfy the 4 pot screamer market who wanted to be more comfortable covering distance, with sportbike thrill. BMW was a bit late in coming to the party, and with the market baying for a modern sports tourer, they released version one at EICMA in 2014. Globally, the BMW S1000XR became an instant hit, it was something different to their staid Boxer engined offering. 

Somewhere in 2020, 2021 when the world was all upside down, BMW released a somewhat improved and more refined version, making the world seem a bit more rightside up. They got rid of the squinting headlights and beefed up the bodywork, making it an even nicer bike to ride and significantly better looking

Not much has changed over the last two or three years. A 999cc inline-Four engine with a 6-speed gearbox powers the 2023 BMW S 1000 XR. It Puts out around 165hp at 11,000rpm and 112/114 nm (there seems to be a bit of disparity on various sites, but they all seem constant around that range), from a machine that tips the scales at 226kg’s or thereabouts. So, it’s got a proper superbike power to weight ratio with electronic suspension and all the electronic wizardry to help you go faster. They painted some of the bikes with strange, almost base coat colours that’s just so conservative. Someone got hold of the art department. This red and black one is flippen gorgeous and we are convinced that it makes the bike go faster!

What’s it like to ride?

Thirty six degrees celsius at nine o’clock in the morning with not a cloud in the sky we headed off for sort of north eastern furthest reaches of Gauteng. Here the traffic volumes are a lot lower, the roads are in surprisingly good condition and we have a few hills with some nice twisty bits of tar threading through them and a really lekker little holiday village on the banks of quite a large body of water. But more importantly, we have a secret, long forgotten bit of disused old road where we could give the S1000XR a bit of a spanking and see how quick she really is.

So, let’s get that out of the way first. With the available space for accelerating and stopping safely, we rolled on hard in sixth gear from 100kmh and closed taps at the last possible moment and jumped hard on the hooks. We did this in both Dynamic mode and Dynamic Pro mode just to be sure, and we managed 245 kmh and back to zero in a fairly short space in both instances, telling us that if we had an extra 200 metres or so we could have probably hit about 275 km/h with ease. This bike really is fast enough. Faster than our SA roads really allow.

                                                                  Well north of 200…. push play…

There’s not too much difference in the two premium modes other than throttle response and pulling power as far as performance is concerned. However, braking is where the most notable difference came in. In Dynamic, the front wheel remains stable and planted without any noticeable interference from the ABS which is a good thing, however the brake pedal did give quite a noticeable ABS flutter and kept the back end all neat and tidy. The same was true for the front end in Dynamic Pro mode and had we tried we could have possibly pulled a stoppie, but the rear wheel was now very definitely free of the ABS and could easily be locked up at will. The electronic suspension holds hands with all the other “don’t crash” onboard gadgets to keep the whole rig inline without any effort at all.

Speaking of the electronic suspension, traction control, ABS and all that, we pointed our pilot for the day at some long sweeping bends that had a couple of tight corners thrown in just to keep him on his toes. Tilting into the sweeping stuff went off without a hitch, the S1000XR is such a polite motorcycle to ride. A couple of the tighter corners did catch him out here and there and could hear the gearbox being kicked into submission and the tyres squealing in protest as XR was manhandled into the bend, then been whipped into action and screaming through the gears as the apex was cleared and a bit of straight tarmac presented itself. 

The electronics are just so good on these bikes making you look better than what you are. Truth be told, yes the MotoGP and WSBK riders are supremely talented, but would spend a lot more time upside down at current racing speeds were it not for the onboard electronics packages, which, luckily for us filter down to civvy street with time. So laugh them off at your peril, they have saved our butts a few times.

All electronics are activated by the Wonderwheel.
BMW branded brakes by Brembo
BMW S1000 XR
Life in this cockpit is very cool!

One particular bit of electronic wizardry that we really enjoyed is BMW’s  quickshifter. Most units on the market these days are really good in varying degrees being worked hard at the top of the rev range but all seem to fall a bit short at slow speeds and low revs, making them all quite notchy at these speeds. The S1000XR is silky smooth at any speed and any revs both up and down. We did miss the burble and bangs of an auto blipper.

Another note: Some four cylinder screamers have twitchy throttles when you bounce along most South African roads and you have to concentrate on throttle control so you don’t end up inadvertently harshly accelerating or decelerating. Not so with the XR. The throttle is smooth, linear and predictable but never tardy. Those few microseconds gives the rider just that little bit extra to correct the effects of the bumps and lumps on the road.


Our office Orangutan was the pilot for the day and measures just on two metres from the soles of his feet to the very top of his head and he found that the windshield set on it lower setting the wind hit him directly mid visor, but on the higher setting it chucked the wind comfortable over his head. And it’s great that you can adjust the windshield on the fly, however it seems  a bit oddly placed on the right hand side of the screen, necessitating the rider to reach awkwardly across their chest to affect the adjustment.

His only whine for the day was the seat, although great at catching him from falling off the back under hard acceleration was quite slippery under hard braking and he ended up regularly mashing his favourite bodily appendages into the tank each time. A gripper seat cover might be a nice consideration. 

“I’d like a bit more torque low down”, he says. “First gear is quite tall and I inadvertently stalled occasionally on take offs.” The 2024 model will probably address these bits, because that bike has had a fairly comprehensive upgrade.

BMW S1000 XR
The upright riding position makes her great for longer journeys.

What a cool bike to ride. A great two days in the saddle from urban commuting to the aforementioned hooligan fast twisties –  they really have made a premium bike that is comfortable everywhere.

All in all, BMW’s S1000XR is a phenomenally good bit of kit and a fantastic all rounder for touring, track Days, carving up the mountain passes and commuting to work everyday or just a chilled ride out somewhere with your favourite pillion for the day.

We’re not going to bore you with all the specs, you can find those at any number of places on the internet. Get down to your local Motorrad dealer and go ride one for yourself, most of them have demo units.

This one came from Motorrad East Rand.

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