Long-term tests: Africa Twin gains power, BMW XR loses oil
Ride to Bavaria highlights all that’s good with BMW’S S1000XR
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.
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