2020 BMW S 1000 XR Carbon Sport (bike review)

LET’S call a spade a spade. This year is best summed up as being shite. But there is a shimmering ray of light. A piece of brilliance that, ladies and gentlemen, we will call the 2020 BMW S 1000 XR Carbon Sport.

It is almost unfair that BMW pigeon hole this bike with a title of being a sports adventure bike because it so much more than that.

It handles, stops well, accelerates well, is comfortable and with its fancy carbon fibre bits is pretty easy on the eye as well. In fact it does all these things better than well, lets use the word brilliantly.

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Sharing its motor DNA with the S 1000 RR but with tweaks to optimise its touring ability the S 1000 XR boasts great performance, pumping 165HP or 121kW depending on your preferred measurement.

The XR has enough get up and boogey to keep all riders more than interested, and still with enough power on tap to be able to twist the throttle fully on and have the power jump up and hit you in the face.

2020 BMW S 1000 XR Carbon Sport
2020 BMW S 1000 XR Carbon Sport

Producing that 165HP is a 4-cylinder 4 -stroke in-line engine with 4 valves per cylinder and two overhead camshafts. With 114Nm of torque the XR 1000’s power delivery is smooth and precise and delivers power as good as any sportsbike or naked on the market.

A six-speed synchromesh gearbox is utilised via an up and down quickshifter known as BMW Shift Assist Pro, which aids significantly in getting all the power to the tarmac.

The performance of this bike is exceptional and represents the next level up from the F 900 XR. BMW Motorrad tech is in abundance as well, with a full colour 6.5-inch TFT display.

There are the four selectable riding modes Rain, Road, Dynamic and Dynamic Pro, with each enabling different suspension and rebound settings electronically, and with each having its own individual ride characteristics.

2020 BMW S 1000 XR Carbon Sport
2020 BMW S 1000 XR Carbon Sport

For us, we found ourselves changing between Road and Dynamic most of the time. For those of you who know the Central Coast reasonably well, we utilised the Dynamic setting along Putty road and it was sensational.

The noticeably firmer suspension settings had us pushing hard through the tight and twisty stuff and in the open sections allowed great road feel and confidence as the Putty opened up into some longer faster sweeping bends.

As we crossed at Wiseman’s Ferry we engaged Road to allow the suspension to soak up the bumps along the road to Spencer. We found with the slightly less aggressive suspension settings it allowed more travel in the front and was more suited to the conditions.

With its upright seating position and adjustable screen, we were able to eat up the kilometres in our near 450km loop. The XR was effortless through most of the bends between Kulnura and Wollombi and it was simply a pleasure to ride.

By the end of the day there was no significant soreness from being uncomfortable or cramped either.

2020 BMW S 1000 XR Carbon Sport
2020 BMW S 1000 XR Carbon Sport

Built utilising an aluminium composite bridge frame with a partially self-supporting engine and weighing in at 226kg with a fuel tank of fuel, the XR is reasonably light and doesn’t feel on the heavy side at all, especially for such a tall bike.

Perhaps the only area we can fault the S 1000 XR is the fact that it’s not going to be overly friendly towards vertically challenged riders with a seat height of 840mm.

Although there is a lowering option that reduces seat height to 790mm, shorter riders are going to struggle to put their feet on the pavement when stopping or maneuvering the bike around.

Handling and stopping is superb. In part that’s due to a host of dynamic technological features that the XR boasts including Dynamic Traction Control, MSR – Dynamic Engine Brake Control, Hill Start Control Pro and Dynamic-ESA Pro.

It may also have something to do with the suspension setups which allow 150mm of travel on both front and rear. On the front are upside-down telescopic forks with 45mm diameter, electronic self-adjusting rebound/compression damping (Dynamic ESA).

At the rear is located an aluminium double-sided swing-arm, central spring strut, electronic preload adjuster, electronic self-adjusting rebound/compression damping (Dynamic ESA) .

2020 BMW S 1000 XR Carbon Sport
2020 BMW S 1000 XR Carbon Sport

Stopping power is provided on the front of the XR by twin disc brakes with 320mm floating discs and radial four-piston fixed callipers, while on the rear there’s a single disc brake with 265mm disc and twin-piston floating callipers, with both featuring BMW Race ABS.

Standard features, apart from all the tech and riding enhancement technology, are also first class and everything you would expect of a premium BMW motorcycle. There are heated grips, cruise control, an additional power socket and keyless access.

If we were to knit pick, we might point out the fact there are no hard panniers that come standard. But you do get an adaptive headlight and daytime riding light, and M Carbon rear mudguard as part of the Carbon Sport package.

An M Carbon front mudguard and M Carbon fairing side panels are also included, and we must say matched against the red paintwork, they look schmick.

With a ride away price in NSW of $34,990 for the 2020 S 1000 XR Carbon Sport, it’s a hefty investment, and yet it is still a lot of motorbike for the money. With a 3-year warranty standard this bike could easily find a home in our Exhaust Notes Australia garage.

If we were to award a bike of the year for 2020, this would be the one.

Our 2020 BMW S 1000 XR Carbon Sport was provided by BMW Motorrad Australia. To find out more, contact your local BMW Motorrad dealer.

2020 BMW S 1000 XR Carbon Sport
2020 BMW S 1000 XR Carbon Sport


Riding experience
Style and comfort
Braking and handling
Technology and connectivity
Overall bike performance
Value for money


Pros - an almost faultless bike; capable of being a sports bike, tourer or adventure bike.
Cons - luggage options not standard; may not be practical for vertically challenged riders.
Andrew Jenkin
Andrew Jenkin
Andrew Jenkin is the ride editor at Exhaust Notes Australia, founding editor of Two Wheel Addicts, a contributor at Bike Review and panel judge for Harley Davidson's Breakout Boss competition. Andrew has a love for anything on two wheels whether that be sports, naked or adventure bikes, with a guilty pleasure for cruisers.


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<strong>Pros -</strong> an almost faultless bike; capable of being a sports bike, tourer or adventure bike.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong> luggage options not standard; may not be practical for vertically challenged riders.2020 BMW S 1000 XR Carbon Sport (bike review)