2005-2008 BMW K1200S

Smart Money

By Tim Carrithers, Photography by BMW

Impressionable types outside BMW's cult of personality were not impressed with the first K1200S in 2005. After all, it's only good for 168 mph at the top of sixth gear-a virtual doorstop next to Suzuki's 186-mph Hayabusa. Meanwhile, the BMW's 150 rear-wheel horsepower are quite sufficient to dilate more discerning eyes with 10.3-second quarter-mile runs at 137.5 mph. This just in: Zero to 60 in 3 seconds flat is quick. Period.

The rest of the package is either innovative or weird, depending on your point of view. Led by BMW's take on Norman Hossack's girder fork-a.k.a. Duolever-the most capable K-four can't be mistaken for anything else. Solid, substantial and stable as the proverbial brick scheiehaus at speed, this one is calibrated to inhale vast tracts of twisty pavement at unmentionable speeds. Comfortably sporty ergos accommodate two full-sized adults, and that angular fairing shrugs off oncoming wind and weather.

At 561 pounds full of gas it's on the hefty side, though elegant engine and chassis architecture keep most of that mass low, creating a surprisingly manageable package. The Duolever front end is something of an acquired taste. Steering is heavier than your average oriental bersport, but more linear, on the brakes or off. The Paralever rear does a decent job, and optional electronically adjustable suspension allows on-the-fly adjustments to accommodate prevailing conditions

Outright mechanical failures have been few, but quirks are abundant. Early '05 bikes came with semi-spastic fuel delivery, though current software in the engine's command/control computer should have fixed that by now. According to the virtual brain trust at www.i-BMW.com, the bike was essentially sorted by '07. Shifting is smoother and quieter on later models, and ABS-sans power-assist-is a big improvement over '05/'06. There have been various recalls for things like potential condensation in the dry-sump engine's oil tank-a vented cap cleared that one up-and a fault in the ignition switch's security electronics that kept some bikes from starting was remedied as well. Make sure any relevant recalls have been handled on any K-bike you're considering.

And if the relatively steep original asking price was the only impediment between you and a new one, underachiever status has a bright side. New, non-current models are often found languishing on eBay, and the pre-owned market is rife with likely candidates. If you can live with a few innocuous quirks, the K1200S is an excellent bit of rapid-transit technology for grown-ups who figure 168 mph is fast enough.

Eyeball flattening top-end, humane ergonomics and brick-wall brakes plus ABS.

Clunky shifting, abrupt throttle response, excess driveline lash.

Watch For
Incomplete service records, excess top end noise, obsolete EFI firmware.

Serious thrust and unassailable stability with plenty of room for two.

2005 $12,045
2006 $12,560
2008 $13,795


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