BMW S1000XR launched

The superbike-powered all-rounder is becoming a class of its own

TWENTY years ago, 160hp was the sort of figure a GP bike might achieve. A decade ago it was within the grasp of the very best road-going superbikes. And, it seems, in 2015 it’s the number that we’re to expect from all-rounders.

Rarely is progress so easily illustrated. But two new bikes launched this week – Ducati’s latest Multistrada and BMW’s new S1000XR – achieve exactly the same power and fill much the same role.

The S1000XR isn’t a surprise. It’s been the subject of rumours and spy shots for months. But it’s still an impressive beast, with its detuned version of the S1000RR’s four-cylinder engine (in the same spec as in the S1000R roadster) and promises of all-day comfort, big luggage-lugging ability and handling and performance that’s able to keep out-and-out superbikes honest on real-world roads.

It’s more than just a faired S1000R, though. The frame is new, as is the swingarm, with geometry to suit the new bike’s all-rounder intentions. Throw in the optional electronically adjustable suspension and it could be one of the most versatile bikes we’ve ever seen. Only the Multistrada – also with 160bhp for 2015, but with a handy torque advantage from its 1200cc V-twin (100lbft vs 83lbft from the BMW) – is likely to rival the new BMW if you’re after a single bike that can really do a bit of everything.

Since it’s a BMW, there’s no surprise to see its packed with gadgets and safety gizmos, including ABS (cornering ABS is also an option) and multiple engine modes (two as standard, four as an option.) Plus there’s traction control, or optional Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) that also works when the bike’s banked over. And while the 228kg weight doesn’t sound as instantly impressive as some rivals, it’s worth bearing in mind that it includes a full tank of fuel (that’s a decent 20 litres, too). Like for like, the 2015 Ducati Multistrada is actually a slightly heavier machine.

As usual, there’s an endless catalogue of extras, including ‘Touring’ and ‘Dynamic’ packages that add things like sat-nav and heated bits (Touring) or all the higher-spec ABS, power mode and TC electronics (Dynamic). BMW’s clutchless gearshift – Shift Assist Pro – is also available.

Prices and on-sale dates are yet to be announced.