AHEAD OF ITS TIME

BMW’S S1000XR is MCN’S favourite ad­ven­ture sports­bike, but it isn’t a new con­cept,

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Back To The Future - By Michael Neeves MCN SE­NIOR ROAD TESTER

It wasn’t so long ago that the best bikes came in just a few flavours: sports­bike, tourer, ad­ven­ture or com­muter. But now when you walk into your local deal­er­ship there’s a mouth-wa­ter­ing choice of ret­ros, funky naked, ad­ven­ture sports­bikes, fast cruis­ers and ev­ery­thing in be­tween.

But there al­ways has been a wide choice, we’ve just never em­braced it un­til now. We’ve never re­ally bought the bikes that slipped through the cracks of the main­stream – su­perb ma­chines that his­tory now shows were ahead of their time.

Take the now-pop­u­lar ad­ven­ture sports­bike genre: a rel­a­tively new phe­nom­e­non, you would think? The best of this cur­rent breed are sporty, cross-con­ti­nen­tal mile-munch­ers such as the BMW S1000XR, Du­cati Mul­tistrada and new KTM 1290 Super Duke GT. They’re based on su­per­bikes or super-nakeds, so they go like stink and, raised on stilts, they give you a grand­stand view of the world ahead. With their stretched-out rid­ing po­si­tions, low pegs, wide bars, comfy seats and tall screens, you’ll stay fresh and ache-free after the longest ride.

For the past two years MCN’S favourite ad­ven­ture sports­bike has been the BMW S1000XR, but it isn’t a new idea – Benelli beat them to it a decade ago.

In 2006 the Ital­ian firm took their snarling 1130 Tor­nado su­per­bike, re­fined it and twisted it into an ad­ven­ture-shaped sports tourer. They ini­tially called it the Trek, but quickly slipped in 1130 be­tween the Tre and K to avoid clash­ing with the Amer­i­can push­bike brand.

Flush with cash form their new Chi­nese own­ers Benelli were able to pour se­ri­ous re­sources into de­vel­op­ing the Tre 1130 K. They ban­ished the Tor­nando’s poor en­gine run­ning prob­lems, smoothed-out the throt­tle re­sponse, fixed the elec­tron­ics and cre­ated a bike that was eas­ily the best in Benelli’s line-up.

But this comfy, mile-munch­ing su­per­bike never caught on, and noth­ing else like it ex­isted at the time, ex­cept for the less sporty Tri­umph Tiger, the orig­i­nal Mul­tistrada, the Buell Ulysses and Yamaha’s TDM.

MCN even crowned the Tre 1130 K Sports Tourer of the Year in 2007, at a time when sports tour­ers were still sports­bike-shaped, like the VFR800 and FJR1300. But still it didn’t sell.

Fast forward 10 years and BMW’S all-singing S1000XR looks a lot like the Benelli’s spir­i­tual suc­ces­sor. Sat side by side it’s clear they’ve been cut from the same cloth, with sim­i­lar rid­ing po­si­tions, body­work and at­ti­tude.

A BMW dealer will ask you for £15,300 before they’ll let you ride a fully-loaded XR like this out of their show­room, but you can pick up a used Tre 1130 K (or the smaller 899 ver­sion) for as lit­tle as £3000. You can even buy a brand new Tre 1130 K from Benelli deal­ers for £8999.

Top-spec Ital­ian

The fab­u­lous 16,500-mile 2007 Tre 1130 K you see in the pic­tures be­longs to An­gus Smith. He mod­er­ates the www.benel­li­fo­rum.com web­site which has more than 32,000 mem­bers world­wide. It still looks as good to­day as it did when I got the chance to ride one of the first ones at the factory in Pe­saro, Italy (near the Misano cir­cuit) in Oc­to­ber 2006. It’s stan­dard, ex­cept for a set of ad­justable levers, has three-way ad­justable tinted screen, heated grips and all the up­grades and fixes to make

BMW S1000XR £15,300 160bhp, 999cc, in­line four – MCN’S 2015/16 sports ad­ven­ture group test win­ner

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