I’m bowled over by a certain, ahem, naked attraction…
I am left wondering if the SE is the one that slipped under the radar. If so, there is no justice in this world.
True, there are variants galore, and possibly thereby lies the rub. So much choice. It’s the same engine as found in the R1250, RS, RT, and, of course, the hugely popular GS/GSA. However, having spent several weeks on the SE, I seriously enjoyed its capabilities.
For starters, there is nothing bashful about this bike. Fire it up, and you get that traditional boxer twitch, which, if you haven’t sat astride a BMW before, can be a tad unnerving. Yet a simple twist of the throttle and the SE opens up a whole new world of effortless riding. With bags of torque there’s superb power delivery, so I will head straight to the superlatives… it’s quick enough for any eventuality; it’s practical; its handling is without compromise; it’s certainly lively; the engine is sublime; and lest I forget, it’s just great fun to ride, whether you are on a café run or all-day ride.
Yes, if you fancy putting in a day of rubber to bitumen, and click over the miles, this is the bike to do it on. And yes, it’s a naked, but don’t let that sway you otherwise. Not once did I have an issue with wind blast. You know you’re on a bike, for sure, but that’s the whole point, isn’t it? To feel the breeze without it conflicting with your enjoyment? It’s roomy, calm and easy to manage, with as much poise and grace as is possible to muster. Yep, the whole ride is transformative.
I am no nit-picker, because every element of every bike is subjective, but there is one slight negative. Only one, you ask? Yes, honestly. And that’s the quickshifter. Particularly between second and third. It’s clunky. I was hoping, and expecting, silky smoothness, somewhat akin to the Suzuki GSX-S1000GT I had on test recently. That, too, was stable and unflappable, a true all-rounder, so the BMW’s shifter was a disappointment, which is a shame, because that was the only thing I could think of, and I did think long and hard, because it is easy enough to wax lyrical, but sometimes difficult to find fault, and this wasn’t just for the sake of it.
I mentioned the word ‘all-rounder’. Throw some saddlebags on, a tank bag, or small tail bag, whatever takes your fancy, and the SE will be more than happy to go mile-munching with you. Yes, I know that some lovers of BMW would inevitably look to the GS/GSA or 1000XR for that. But the SE with its heated grips, heated seat and cruise control is a seriously good road bike. No doubt you’ve read all the stats on this machine so I’m not going to repeat what you already know, but believe me when I say this bike is literally everything you could ask for from a bike, and I was as happy with it on our last day together as I was from day one when it rolled off the delivery truck.
We rode on motorways and backroads and country lanes in sunshine and torrential rain, through cold snaps and blisteringly hot afternoons, and the SE was as happy as Larry (who is Larry anyway!).
The only stupid thing I did one morning was to sit on the bike and press the start button (keyless ignition you see), only to be met by silence. It took me a moment to realise that I had left the key in a bag in the garage, and it was far too remote to engage with the bike. Doh.
I know I said I wouldn’t mention specs, but I can’t leave you without a nod to the exceptional drive system BMW ShiftCam, an innovative piece of technology that offers optimum performance in every engine speed range. You want unadulterated riding pleasure? Look no further.
SPECIFICATION (Did you really think I could get away without mentioning them!)
- Price: £14,590
- Engine: Air-liquid-cooled 4 stroke flat twin, double overhead camshaft, one balance shaft and variable engine timing system. BMW Shiftcam
- Displacement: 1254cc
- Maximum Power Output: 100kW @7,750rpm
- Maximum Torque: 143Nm @ 6,250rpm
- Tyres: (F) 120/70 ZR17 (R) 180/55 ZR 17
- Brakes: (F) Dual discbrake, floating brake discs, diameter 320mm, 4-pisiton radial calipers (R) Single disc brake, diameter 276mm, double-pisiton floating caliper
- Seat Height: 820mm (OE low seat, 760mm), (OE sport seat, 840mm)
- Kerb Weight: 239kg
- Contact: bmw-motorrad.co.uk