Long-term tests: Africa Twin gains power, BMW XR loses oil

Ride to Bavaria high­lights all that’s good with BMW’S S1000XR

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - ANDY DOWNES Ex­pe­ri­enced road rider who loves a long con­ti­nen­tal trip when time per­mits HEIGHT 5ft 9in WEIGHT 80kg andy.downes@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

It was some­where south of Calais on the re­turn leg of a 2500-mile, four- day trip to BMW Mo­tor­rad Days in Bavaria that it dawned on me that I’d cov­ered nearly 700 miles in one go. I’d only stopped for fuel and yet I was still com­pletely re­laxed.

Of all the bikes I have rid­den only the Du­cati Mul­tistrada 1200 S Tour­ing has come close to the S1000XR’S kind of mileage- de­stroy­ing com­fort lev­els. It’s a gen­uinely rare tal­ent for a bike to be this ac­com­mo­dat­ing in al­most stan­dard trim.

The re­turn leg of the trip wasn’t par­tic­u­larly in­ter­est­ing in terms of the route; it was a mainly mo­tor­way slog that was sim­ply the most ef­fi­cient way of dis­patch­ing the miles as I had to be home for Satur­day evening. De­spite the trip not look­ing at­trac­tive, I en­joyed ev­ery part of it – ex­cept the three-minute hail­storm that left me look­ing for a bridge to shel­ter from gob­stop­per-sized chunks of ice.

I was de­ter­mined to make it to Garmisch this year. I love BMW’S Mo­tor­rad Days event and even though it’s open to any­one on any sort of bike, it al­ways feels more fun when you turn up on one of Bavaria’s finest. The ride down was re­lax­ing and took in some lovely back roads and stun­ning scenery once I got nearer the des­ti­na­tion.

I made one small mod­i­fi­ca­tion to the bike be­fore I set off, fit­ting a set of heavier Evotech han­dle­barend weights, which claim to re­duce vi­bra­tion thanks to weigh­ing 368g for a pair (257g more than the 111g stan­dard items). While I’ve not found the vibes on the XR too trou­ble­some I gave them a try to see if the faint buzzing would calm down, as other own­ers have found it a prob­lem. Fit­ting was a dod­dle, they of­fer more pro­tec­tion in a crash and cost a very rea­son­able £45. The im­prove­ment in the com­fort was no­tice­able too and the faint buzzing has al­most dis­ap­peared.

Mo­tor­rad Days is a free-to- en­ter event cen­tred around an enor­mous beer tent that serves high- qual­ity

Ger­man beer and great Bavar­ian food with a week­end’s en­ter­tain­ment thrown in. It’s ex­cel­lent fun and is only made bet­ter by stun­ning roads that stretch out around the moun­tains and into Aus­tria, Italy and Slove­nia. It’s an amaz­ing place to ride a bike and the XR was com­pletely at home. The com­bi­na­tion of that pow­er­ful, smooth fire­cracker of an en­gine with the up­right rid­ing po­si­tion, wide bars, great brakes and help­ful elec­tron­ics meant I was sad to stop rid­ing when it was time to head back to the ho­tel each day. I con­soled my­self with mas­sive steins of lager!

Over 2500 miles the bike av­er­aged 46mpg, which meant an easy 190 miles to a tank, and the BMW’S hard pan­niers and top­box com­bined with a BMW tankbag to swal­low my clothes, lap­top, cam­era and all my other work stuff. The XR’S ad­justable screen was also ex­cel­lent in its high­est po­si­tion for pro­tect­ing me from wind­blast on the mo­tor­way.

Life-chang­ing dis­cov­ery

Rid­ing across France is great, ex­cept for the toll­booths. It’s a mas­sive faff to stop, re­move gloves, find some money or a credit card, put it into the ma­chine, wait for the pay­ment to go through and then put gloves back on, stash your card and ride off again. Faff, faff, faff.

Or, as I did for the first time this year, you can buy a Sanef elec­tronic toll­booth Bip-and- Go transpon­der. It au­to­mat­i­cally raises the bar­rier, de­tects you are a mo­tor­cy­cle (as long as you use the cor­rect lane) and works seam­lessly. There are also no ‘non-ster­ling’ trans­ac­tion charges on a credit or debit card. It was amaz­ingly sim­ple and deducts the money di­rect from your bank.

‘I was sad to stop rid­ing when it was time to head back to the ho­tel’

Blimey, that Julie An­drews has changed a bit Shame they don’t let you ride through the tun­nel We think Downes has Only 833 miles to go? Best get crack­ing

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