2015 BMW R1200R review | From £10,250 | 125bhp@7750rpm | 92lb-ft@ 6500rpm | 1170cc, air/liquid-cooled boxer twin
Tested by: Bruce Wilson Photos by: BMW
Tracing a clear lineage back to BMW’s first motorcycle – the 1923 R32 – this new Roadster combines performance, comfort and real touring potential with the Bavarian company’s iconic Boxer-twin motor.
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Overlooked by some, it’s still proven a popular machine, with more than 50,000 R1200Rs sold since 2006, when it made ‘just’ 109bhp.
Tell me about the engine
Virtually identical to the power-house in the new R1200GS, it’s not been retuned for this 7kg-lighter bike. Like the GS, the liquid-cooling has given a 16% power boost, with torque substantially up too.
Returning a claimed 58mpg at 55mph, the double overhead camshaft flat twin, and 18 litre tank could get you as far as 217 miles. At 62mph, BMW says the R will return 44mpg – a potential range of 174 miles.
What’s the chassis like?
The tubular frame was developed specifically for the Roadster, and swaps BMW’s trade-mark Telelever front-end for unadjustable 45mm upside-down forks. The rear is supported by a monoshock – adjustable for rebound damping, and hydraulically for preload – mounted onto a Paralever EVO shaft drive. The final drive has different gearing to the GS, with a specific offset at the engine to make room for the 180-profile rear tyre.
The R1200R is no lightweight, but the bike carries powerful twin 320mm discs up front, gripped by dual four-pot calipers. A twin-pot caliper bites a 276mm rear disk, with – as is the case on all current BMWs – ABS standard.
We were riding the ‘Exclusive’ model, which includes Dynamic Traction Control (DTC, also available on the ‘Sport’ model and a technological step up from the standard Automatic Stability Control, working specifically with each rider mode), and Dynamic Electronic Suspension Adjustment (D-ESA). The traction control is unobtrusive, but can be switched off at the bars.
Should I buy one?
Motorcyclists either love or hate the Boxer lump (we’re firmly in the former camp), and as it’s such an eye-catching part of this otherwise slim bike, only you can decide if it’s right for you.
To dismiss it would be a shame though, as making the R1200R as accessible as possible was a key goal in the bike’s build. There are four rider seat-height options available, ranging from the lowest at 760mm to the tallest at 840mm. The pillion’s seat also allows for two options, with an ex-works comfort saddle available.
Keyless ignition is another useful feature (albeit an extra-cost option); providing you’re standing within two meters of the BMW, you can not only arm the bike’s ignition without the need of a key, but also actuate the steering lock and release the fuel filler cap.
If huge miles are your biggest requirement, you may want to look at the larger-tanked K series of tourers, but if you don’t mind stopping a little more frequently at petrol stations, the relatively light-weight, powerful and stylish roadster is well worth a look.
So what’s it like to ride?
Wide bars are a natural choice for the R, but the narrow-profiled tank and small, comfortable saddle are a pleasant surprise when you first mount up. The impressive 125bhp is delivered in a linear, predicable way, and regardless of how low or high you are in the rev range, there’s always plenty of oomph.
The optional Gear Shift Assistance Pro system makes the clutch lever practically redundant; with the Beemer set in ‘Road’ – the standard bike comes with Rain and Road modes, with a further option of a Pro-mode package to customise your bike’s output – the shifter makes gear changes a doddle. Keeping the throttle pinned back you can hook up the next gear with little variation to the bike’s rapid acceleration. But the best thing about the system is the down change… Providing you’re completely off the gas, you just need to press the selector down through the box, allowing the electronics to self-blip and balance the bike’s engine and clutch speeds accordingly. The only criticism I had was that when cornering and changing down, the rear wheel had a tendency to lock a little, unsettling the bike.
The traction control is very effective – one over-enthusiastic handful over some slippery road paint would have, I’m sure, ended in tears were it not for the electronics calming things down for me.
Setting off for the 100mile test route, I had the bike’s D-ESA set to Road – the softer and more comfortable of two standard options. When the corners got more demanding, I stiffened the bike by simply switching to the Dynamic option. The R1200R immediately felt sharper, more focussed and faster in tight corners. The wide bars undoubtedly help, along with – thanks to that Boxer – a really low centre of gravity.
The day’s ride had been a real pleasure and I stepped off the R1200R feeling as fresh as I was when I hopped on it four hours earlier. Considering the bike has no fairings, it’s not bad at coping with the elements, and only at motorway speeds and above did I feel the strain of buffeting – the best you can expect on any naked. The relaxed bar and peg positions, combined with the comfortable seat meant I felt as though I could have ridden all day. Which is what this bike’s all about. It’s not overly focused; it’s able to adapt to whatever you ask – weaving through town or blasting through bends. Equip it with BMW’s luggage options and windscreen, and I’m sure it would make a credible tourer too. I may have made the mistake of overlooking this bike in the past, but that won’t happen again.
Engine: 1170cc, air/liquid-cooled boxer twin
Power: 125bhp (92kW)@7750rpm
Torque: 92lb-ft (125Nm)@ 6500rpm
Kerb weight: 231kg
Seat height: 790mm
Tank size: 18 litres
The BMW R1200R model options
The UK market is set to get three different versions of the R1200R. The individual packages include…
R1200R – £10,250 OTR
- Exclusively in Cordoba blue
- ABS as standard
- Automatic Stability Control (ASC)
- Road & Rain riding modes
R1200R Sport – £11,060 OTR
- Exclusively in White with red frame & logo
- Engine spoiler & instrument screen
- Dynamic Traction Control (DTC)
- Riding Modes Pro
- Gear Shift Assist Pro
- Daytime Riding Light
- LED indicators
- Stainless steel tank cover
R1200R Exclusive – £11,910 OTR
- Exclusively in Thunder Grey metallic
- Gold forks
- Stainless steel tank cover
- Gold-anodised brake callipers
- Dynamic Electronic Suspension Adjustment (D-ESA)
- Cruise Control
- Centre Stand
- Luggage rack
- Pannier fastenings
- Onboard Computer
- Preparation for GPS