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TWO-UP TOURING ON BMW S1000XR | Bike Tests | Latest Tests | Rides | Tested

When the owners of the famous Pole Home on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road said most people who visit turn up with a BMW, we decided to follow suit

Riding a motorcycle along the famous Great Ocean Road in Victoria is nothing new – tens of thousands do it every year.And while not all of them do it riding BMW’s S1000XR sports touring bike, there’s been no shortage of talk about the reigning AMCN Motorcycle of The Year since its release. So, as enjoyable as riding BMW’s S1000XR along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road is, it’s not going to make for the most exciting story to tell. But how many people have ridden the GOR on a BMW S1000XR with their significant other on the back and enjoyed an evening at possibly one of the most iconic landmarks along the famous strip of bitumen? Not the Twelve Apostles, the house-on-a-stick at Fairhaven. A road trip with a flashy destination is about as adventure as Mrs Ed will ever get, and the promise of spending an evening at the iconic landmark enticed her onto the back of the S1000XR.

The only downside of a ride from Melbourne’s CBD to the starting point of the Great Ocean Road is the two plus hours of mind-numbingly boring freeway that joins the two.With our Scarlar intercoms freshly charged, at least we could chat along the way to pass the time. It was this droning 100km/h run along the freeway which was the first test of the S1000XR’s two-up comfort levels. Even though the hard cases hanging from its sides appear to restrict the space of the pillion, once on board Mary didn’t have any issues with room. In true BMW fashion, the Bavarian-based manufacturer has given as much attention to the passenger as it has to the rider, and no spare space has been wasted. The firm and wide pillion seat also offers plenty of support.

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Up front things are as comfortable as you would expect behind the adjustable screen and slim fairing. Zero wind buffeting and reduced noise reveal the bike has been designed for more than just looks. Its sportsbike-bred 999cc four-cylinder engine purred along effortlessly, even loaded with two humans and a full complement of luggage to carry. If anything it has trouble staying below the speed limit. It was while sitting at a steady pace in sixth gear that I felt a vibration through the handlebar and footpegs; while not a major concern it was certainly noticeable.

A couple of enjoyable coffee breaks later we had reached the famous archway across the road which signalled the fun was about to begin. Not only were we blessed with brilliant weather on the first day, the coastal road was surprisingly quiet, allowing me to stretch the legs of the XR. It’s here that the sports pedigree of the German tourer made itself felt. If you are looking for a super comfortable, long haul, two-up tourer the S1000XR is probably not going to make it onto your shopping list. But if you want something that delivers sportsbike performance, whether riding solo or two-up, and can eat up road miles with relative ease, then the it should be considered. Purely for investigative purposes, I announced to Mary over our intercoms that I was going to up the pace – she claims to have protested, however, I’m guessing my volume was turned down. Even carrying a payload of 200kg plus, the impact of the bike’s 118kW and 112Nm was not dampened.

Above 7000rpm is where the real action begins on the XR. Suddenly corners arrive much quicker and thankfully the huge Brembo brakes and handling are more than up to the task.

Our test bike was fitted with the optional Dynamic Electronic Suspension Adjustment which stopped it from wallowing around under the shifting weight of two passengers and luggage by adjusting suspension settings on the fly multiple times per second. The system eliminates the font-end dive and rear-end sag you usually accept as part of two-up riding.

Having blasted out to Apollo Bay for a late afternoon lunch it was time to head back to Fairhaven and check out our digs.

Transitioning from riding to relaxing on a sofa with a cold beer is quick and easy on the XR. The roomy optional hard shell panniers ($1145) and tank bag ($475) – which had more than enough room for all our gear – are easy to detach from the bike and carry into your accommodation like standard luggage.

Following an enjoyable evening watching the sunset, we awoke on day two to the sound of falling rain.

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Deciding to push on rather than wait to see if it cleared, we slipped into our wet weather gear and headed back toward the CBD. Despite the rain barely abating during the long return trip, Mary and I used the bike’s fairing and screen to full effect, remaining relatively warm and dry. It’s this ability of the S1000XR that sets it well apart from its S1000R naked sports sibling. On paper the two may seem a lot alike, however, the touring touches added to the S1000XR ensure you and your pillion arrive at your destination fresh and ready to kick on.

The S1000XR leans heavily toward the sports side of the sports/touring ledger. The riding experience is like a sportsbike with panniers, but it’s ease of riding and comfort are like a tourer with a sportsbike heart.

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