It's the BMW for people who don't like BMWs. Massive, dense and blatantly mechanical, Motorcyclist's 2005 Motorcycle of the Year resembles an oversized H&K submachine gun because that's essentially what it is. Brutally fast, yet surprisingly sophisticated, it was the strongest production BMW we'd tested back then, putting 141 horsepower to the pavement at 10,250 rpm. That's enough to tag 60 mph 3 seconds after a green light, click off mid-10-second quarter-miles at 130 mph and leave Ducati's Monster S4R sniffing the Beemer's Electrolux-sized muffler. Aside from abrupt off-idle response, the 1157cc heart of the matter is ready and willing from 3500 rpm. But it's thirsty: A gallon of super-unleaded goes in 43 miles if you're good, 27 if you're not.
Comfortably sporty ergonomics make burning through a 5-gallon tank in one sitting relatively painless, though the minimalist wind protection gets old in a hurry. So does the heavy slow-speed steering that turns every tight corner into a wrestling match. That's predictable behavior for 547 lbs. of motorcycle balanced on a 62.2-inch wheelbase, but this one has the chops to embarrass shorter, lighter machinery through the fast bits-solo or two-up. Servo-assisted brakes on early models generate more power than feel. A bit of a buzz gets past the twin balance shafts around 7000 rpm.
Mechanical sore spots are few, and most are easily avoided. Oil around the rubber boot at the Paralever/final-drive pivot means a bad seal on one side or the other. And according to Miles Starnes, Shop Foreman at BMW Motorcycles of Riverside, California, "Either one of those could easily be a $600 job."
Starnes also recommends making sure any bike you're considering is running the latest BMS-K engine management software. "That gets rid of a whole bunch of hiccups on early bikes, like the light-switch throttle feel and hesitation under acceleration," he says. Clutch plates can wear a pattern into early K1200R clutch baskets, causing chatter. Listen for a little groan pulling away from a stop as the clutch engages. Redesigned baskets keep '07 and '08-spec clutches quieter. Beyond that, complete maintenance records put a big check in the plus column for any K1200R on your shopping list. A quick diagnostic checkup will keep you from buying somebody else's problem, with or without noticeable symptoms. "Any good BMW shop can pinpoint 90 percent of the potential issues right there," Starnes says. Find a good one and it's like we said back in September of '05: "Attitude, aptitude and fortitude, dude."
Prodigious muscle, impressive handling and bare-knuckle style.
Heavy, with slow-speed steering to match.
Leaky gearbox/final-drive seals, obsolete engine software, electronic anomalies.
Naked aggression with a 141-horse punch.
2006 | $9690
2008 | $10,450
Moto Guzzi Griso
2006 | $7450
Couture muscle cruiser? Naked demi-sport? Oversexed stand
Triumph Speed Triple
2005 | $5550
Powered by an intoxicatingly resonant 120-horse tripl
Suzuki Bandit 1200 Limited
2005 | $3890
The big Bandit has been proving there's plenty