2014 BMW R1200RT | Spied

The Teutonic Touring Twin Gets Water Cooled, Too

By Aaron Frank, Photography by D.Caen/motomag.com, Illustration by Jean-Marie Guerin

It was a foregone conclusion that BMW’s all-new, “precision liquid-cooled” boxer engine that debuted in this year’s R1200GS would soon spread like a puddle of spilled ethylene glycol to cover the rest of BMW’s flat-twin lineup. Recent spy shots captured in the south of France reveal that BMW’s R1200RT touring bike will be the next model to receive the water-boxer upgrade. A trio of heavily disguised test mules undergoing final validation testing reveals that the next RT incorporates the same mechanical upgrades as the GS model, plus styling and comfort features that appear inspired by the K1600GT—including an even larger fairing and the optional “adaptive” Xenon headlight array that “sees into corners.”

The boxer engine in the new RT will likely be nearly identical to the 1170cc version in the GS, using air cooling bolstered with limited liquid cooling (said to provide 35 percent of total cooling capacity) to target known hot spots. Improved engine temperature management allowed engineers to rotate the cylinder heads on this new motor forward 90 degrees, relocating the intakes above the cylinder heads rather than behind, to increase leg room. Performance should be analogous to the GS, which produces a claimed 125 horsepower and 91 lb.-ft. torque, with some slight variation likely due to the different exhaust arrangement.

The new RT will benefit from the same drivetrain updates as the latest GS, too, including the new, integrated six-speed gearbox and a wet, multi-plate slipper clutch replacing the old Oilhead’s automotive-style, single-plate dry clutch. Also visible is the new EVO Paralever rear suspension with its beefed-up shaft final drive relocated from the right to the left side of the bike.

Even disguised in zebra-print decals to obscure fine details, we can see a clear familial resemblance to the K1600 in that massive front fairing, starting with the triple headlight array. Large air ducts beneath those headlights presumably guide cool air over small, side-mounted radiators required by the new cooling system, just like the GS. Not visible in the images, but almost certainly incorporated into this redesign, should be BMW’s latest E-gas ride-by-wire throttle control, enabling switchable ride modes and electronic cruise control. Also expect BMW’s Automatic Stability Control (ASC, or traction control), as well as its new Dynamic ESA (Electronic Suspension Adjustment) that lets riders easily reconfigure the ride characteristics for different conditions and loads, as well as actively and automatically adjusts damping on the fly. Antilock brakes will be standard, monitoring what look now to be radial-mounted brake calipers.

Excepting a minor revision for the 2010 model year that saw a slight increase in torque output and only subtle styling and cockpit revisions, the RT has been changed little since its introduction in 2005—making this next update long overdue. Just like BMW did with its revamped GS, this new RT looks up to date but undeniably familiar—just what the German maker needs to do in order to attract new buyers without alienating the RT-faithful. The new RT will offer sport-touring buyers Boxer character without sacrificing power or comfort.

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