Expert Reviews

2022 BMW S 1000 XR Review

Originally published on Canada Moto Guide: 2022 BMW S 1000 XR Review

Having the right tool for the job can make all the difference.

A quarter-inch socket isn’t going to work if you need your missing 10-mm. A can of spray cheese is no replacement for whipped cream. And those flip-flops are a poor choice for ice fishing.

But there are some tools that can be right for a lot of jobs. A multitool or Swiss army knife can solve an endless number of challenges. The 2022 BMW S 1000 XR is a motorcycle multitool to the extreme, and it was absolutely the right tool for a rapid tour around the Canadian Maritimes.

The last time I saw the Cabot Trail that circles the northern tip of Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island was from the back seat of my parents’ 1987 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser, and as a surly teenager I wasn’t as appreciative of the geography as I am today. My riding partner had never been to Prince Edward Island, so a loop of that province was part of our mission, too. But we only had one week for our vacation, which meant a quick pace and no dilly-dallying.

Still, within the first minute of our ride, my companion’s voice came through the intercom. “Umm, do we really need to go so fast?” In the process, they were calling me out on my exuberance, and bringing to my attention that I might’ve been unwittingly travelling just a touch over the speed limit.

In my defence, it’s incredibly easy to accomplish both with this BMW. The 999-cc inline four-cylinder engine shares more than a few mechanical bits (and personality) with the fire-breathing, race-bread S 1000 RR superbike; and even after it’s been detuned to 165 hp, it’s a wickedly fast machine.

Having logged a lot of miles on a previous-generation XR during a wild ride through Pennsylvania, I was expecting this BMW to be very quick, but I wasn’t anticipating how much smoother it would be. The old bike made my toes and fingers numb, and shook the mirrors at highway speeds, but this one wound up with the smoothness of a turbine by comparison. BMW has taken a lot of care improving the vibration damping through the bars and pegs, and it’s appreciated.

My other excuse for not noticing my pace is that the redesigned fairing on the XR improves airflow around the rider, so the sensation of speed is noticeably diminished. At times, we encountered considerable head- and cross-winds, buffeting my partner relentlessly on her unfaired Z900 at highway speeds – a sensation to which I was largely immune on the Beemer. When the rain pelted us on PEI, I flipped the lever to elevate the windscreen higher, offering even more protection.

Sadly, our truncated timeline forced more highway riding than either one of us would’ve preferred. As it turns out, this is one of the tasks that the S 1000 XR manages really well, not only because of its wind protection, but also its exceptional stability at speed. Plus, the luxury of cruise control offered a welcome reprieve to a weary throttle wrist, and on chilly mornings, the heated grips were nice, too.

Even if its insect-like face suggests sport bike intentions, BMW classifies the S 1000 XR with its other adventure bikes, and its riding position offers straight-up seating similar to the gnarlier GS bikes. While slightly more forward than the last generation, it’s still a very neutral posture that keeps the rider’s weight off their wrists, and the elevated height compared to the naked S 1000 R means a less cramped leg position, too. The new seat developed for this generation S 1000 XR is a dramatic departure, being very comfortable, but aggressively scooped to hold a rider’s butt in place, yet allowing a narrow width at the tank to help short-legged riders put their feet down.