2016 BMW S 1000 XR Review – Dynamic Package
When riding a German motorcycle with the performance, precision, and exhilaration as provided by the BMW S 1000 XR with the Dynamic Package, it is difficult to not hum Beethoven’s adaptation of Friedrich Schiller’s 1785 poem Ode To Joy to yourself and think of the inspirational lines:
“Gladly, just as His suns hurtle
through the glorious universe,
So you, brothers, should run your course
Joyfully, like a conquering hero”
As I ran various courses through the mountains flanking the Los Angeles metropolitan area, the S 1000 XR does, indeed, make one feel like a conquering hero hurtling through a glorious universe of trees and tarmac.
Along with the superbike S 1000 RR and upright sport S 1000 R, the XR is part of a stunning trilogy of high performance inline-fours that never fail to stir the soul as they inspire the rider to higher levels of achievement. Part of a new class that is sure to be dubbed Adventure Sport, the XR allowed me to raise my game as a rider by putting the 160 horsepower motor into a more relaxed chassis that gives me the confidence to ride with more authority.
With the R’s inverted forks raked out one degree more than the RR, the BMW S 1000 XR stretches out yet another degree, giving it a friendly 25.5 degrees of rake. Additionally, the XR’s wheelbase is more than four inches longer than the nearly identical R and RR.
Because the XR has about an inch more suspension travel than the R, the XR’s seat sits about an inch higher, which allows for a better view of your surroundings. The combination of geometry alterations results in a motorcycle that has plenty of stability and forgiveness, and for those of us who ride shy of the ragged edge, that is what we crave when it is time to twist the throttle just a little bit harder than we think we can.
A large part of that ability to fearlessly get hard on the gas comes from the Dynamic Package, which includes Dynamic Traction Control, Pro ABS, and a quickshifter. It is something I strongly recommend to anyone buying the XR who is interested in performance and get- ting the most out of the XR platform.
The Dynamic Package doesn’t give you even one more horsepower; instead, it allows you to exploit the 160 horses (at 11,000 rpm) and 83 ft/lbs of torque (at 9250 rpm) — both the same as the R — to your heart’s content by accessing the Dynamic and Dynamic Pro riding modes. If you prefer, you can justify the Dynamic Package as a safety package, thanks to the enhanced traction control and ABS electronics.
With a dramatically oversquare motor that happily revs to its 12,500 rpm redline, and an adjustable warning strobe when you get near, the 999cc motor loves to rev. Below 6000 rpm, the BMW S 1000 XR is nice and docile, which is just what you want on a bike that has a bit of adventure and touring blood in it. However, when you cross over the 6000 rpm threshold, it is time to hold on, as there is a huge torque boost. This allows the bike to aggressively
pull into the 5000-rpm wide over-100 horsepower range.
The Gear Shift Assist Pro has an important function when it comes to keeping the XR on the boil. You simply hold the throttle as open as you dare, and then shift up when you feel comfortable. Beware, however, as once you get at ease with impossibly smooth clutchless full-throttle upshifts at the horsepower peak, you may have to check into rehab to return to a more sedate mindset.
Further enticing full-throttle attacks is the Dynamic Traction Control that you access via the Dynamic mode, which is switched at the handlebar. We’re all used to traction control doing its job, but BMW’s DTC goes one step beyond by sensing when you are heeled over in a turn, giving the computer the appropriate level of control over wheelspin.
DTC gave me unprecedented confidence coming out of corners, as I was able to get on the throttle much earlier, without being concerned about the back end stepping out and ingloriously depositing me over the high side. Each turn added confidence and expanded my riding envelope.
It doesn’t stop there, of course. As the bike stands up, the threat of wheelie is removed by the DTC, and it does so very gently. The XR is hurtling down the road with both tires fully in traction with the pavement, and that is a pure shot of adrenaline, mixed with the calm of knowing that the bike won’t be doing anything untoward. Being assured that everything is fully in control makes it easy to focus on the ride and improving your riding.
What makes the XR stand out for me, compared to the R and RR, is the seating stance and the ergonomics. I’m not a fan at all of superbikes on the street, as the riding position is one that is the best suited for the predictability of the track, not the unknown of the street. The R is a great alternative, but with the wide handlebars and very neutral seating position of the XR, I always felt completely in control at all times.
With the added suspension travel and the extra leverage of the bars, I never felt the BMW S 1000 XR would overpower me in a bumpy or unpredictable corner, even though it weighs 42 pounds more than the R when both bikes have the same amount of fuel (the XR carries 2.6 more quarts). This says so much about the value of ergonomics that suit your style and comfort zone.
Many of us who grew up riding dirt bikes dreamed of putting street tires on their bikes and riding on the city roads. Supermoto bikes brought that dream to the showroom floor, but many of us now understand our wish didn’t quite get it right for most riding. The adventure bike is the true realization of that vision, and the XR is a fantasy motorcycle come to life, with seemingly unlimited power and a supportive gravitas that is not present with a featherweight single.
There are still a few more features on the XR that make it such a great machine for executing cornering. The Dynamic ESA (Electronic Suspension Adjustment) option installed on our test bike was flawless.
We have complained about active suspension on the track, where the path is predictable. However, on the road, where bumps and traction aren’t always what you expect, the Dynamic ESA is there to make everything better, and it does. Whatever adjustments the Dynamic ESA makes are invisible to the rider, except for the fact that everything feels more secure. Like the Dynamic Package, put Dynamic ESA down as a must-have option. When cruising around town, keep it in Road (which also pads down throttle response, though not power), and click on up to Dynamic when it is time to make time.
On high-speed entrances and exits from corners, the steering damper is another enhancement that improves the ride. It stops any sort of squirming under braking, and keeps the bike locked in when accelerating. It all comes together — a longer wheelbase, more rake, wide bars, and a steering damper to keep the XR in line, even with 160 horsepower on tap and less than ideal circumstances.
With all this talk of speed, it is worth mentioning the incredible braking system on the BMW S 1000 XR. A gentle initial bite quickly gives way to some seriously effective binders. With radially mounted fixed calipers seizing the floating 320mm discs, you get both feel and absolute power. Helping matters is the Gear Shift Assist Pro’s instant clutchless downshifts.
Allowing me to explore the outer limits of the braking without as much concern as I might, is the ABS Pro. Originating on the HP4 (a short-lived hot- rod version of the RR), ABS Pro means optimum wheel speed control is had even when the bike is in a corner, as well as controlling rear wheel lift entering corners. I didn’t test the former extensively on the street, as you can imagine, though I did sense some reduction of rear wheel lift when entering a corner a bit faster than expected.
Overall, I felt as secure with the XR’s brakes—the back is also impressively strong and controllable—as I have with any street bike.
I feel compelled to mention that there’s also a Dynamic Pro riding mode that allows for wheelies, stoppies, and backing into corners, and laying a big black strip on the way out. I don’t feel the need for those activities on the street, so I stuck with the Dynamic mode when riding hard.
We didn’t have bags yet, so we didn’t test the XR as a touring bike. However, we can report an annoying buzz at 65 mph in 6th gear. It settles down by about 80 mph, so you either deal with the buzz or keep an eye out for the fuzz. The windshield is adjustable — we were able to do it on the fly with one hand, though we don’t recommend that. In the up position (there are only two), there’s some odd backpressure, though how it will effect you depends on your height and riding stance. We keep it in the down position all the time after sampling both.
People are always asking me what my favorite motorcycle is. Well, that will still be dependent upon what I am doing, but the 2016 BMW S1000XR is a bike that will absolutely come up in that discussion. For me, it is a flawless bike that makes me a better rider and puts a smile on my face as I run my course with the Gods of Speed.
- Helmet: Arai Signet-Q Basilisk
- Jacket: Spidi R/T
- Gloves: Racer Summer Fit
- Pants: Spidi Teker
- Boots SIDI Roarr
Action photography by Kelly Callan
Story from Ultimate MotorCycling magazine.