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What do you get if you mix the heart of a superbike with the body and brains of a modern-day tourer? This!

It has always baffled me why Australians didn’t fall in love with BMW’s S 1000 XR. Jam packed with equal parts performance and practicality, on paper there’s very few motorcycles better equipped for a fast lap of our National Highway 1.

Introduced in 2015, its flawless execution swiftly earned it AMCN’s coveted Motorcycle of the Year gong, but over the next 12 months, the-then $22,190 (plus on-road costs) failed to leave any kind of mark on Aussie buyers.

In the 12 months of 2016 – the year new bike sales in Australia enjoyed its most successful result in seven years – BMW sold just 158 examples of what was a new benchmark in roadbike technology. Compare that to Honda’s achievement of 740 sales of its equally new Africa Twin in the same period, and it’s pretty hard to fathom. And in the three years since, only 385 more have found new homes in Aussie garages.

In the same four-year period in the UK however, almost 3200 new S 1000 XRs were sold. And it was a similar story of success in many other markets including Germany and the US. In fact it’s one of a number of two-wheeled reasons why BMW posted its ninth successive sales growth year in 2019, and this latest 2020 version is, according to BMW Motorrad’s head honcho Dr Markus Schramm, one of the reasons he’s “very convinced we will see a 10th.”

Of course he’s going to say that. He was talking to a group of motorcycle journalists from all over the globe, assembled in Spain for the world launch of what is the first major update of the model since it was introduced.

“It’s no update at all, actually,” interrupted the new bike’s product development manager Max Renko when I was  discussing the bike over dinner. “It’s a completely new bike. The only thing that was carried over are the mirrors, the handguards, and some internal parts of the multi-controller wheel.”

For me, the most cunning thing about all of the improvements is the way they add up to create a modern tech-savvy superbike that you can ride all day, and all week, long. You can mope along breathing in the scenery or you can get your Tom Sykes on and blur the scenery as you propel yourself from apex to apex in a controlled and comfortable way.

Pricing hadn’t been announced as AMCN went to print, and BMW Australia – which tends to tailor the standard and optional feature lists specifically to our unique Australian and New Zealand audience – hadn’t revealed exactly what specification the bike will lob with when it lands in Aussie showrooms in the middle of the year.

Though I am intrigued as to where BMW will place it in the market compared to its new and oh-so able F 900 XR, I’m probably more interested to see if this heavily revised version is enough to finally capture the hearts of Aussie buyers.

Cos it deserves to.  

Words Kel Buckley  Photography Daniel Kraus