AHEAD OF ITS TIME
BMW’S S1000XR is MCN’S favourite adventure sportsbike, but it isn’t a new concept,
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.
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