BMW R1200C Montauk

Beefcake, Bavarian style

This whole BMW cruiser thing is finally starting to make sense. The Germans seem to have realized that cruisers require a certain degree of bad-ass attitude, and their latest R1200, the Montauk, looks to add street swagger without giving up the finer things BMW's known for.

It's no surprise BMW takes the cruiser market seriously. More than half of all new bikes sold in the United States are cruisers, and the U.S. market represents almost three-quarters of worldwide cruiser sales. The Bavarians' own R1200C has been a runaway smash since its debut seven years ago, and its new Montauk aims to continue the trend.

"Masculine and powerful" is how BMW sees this bike, which fills in the airiness of the original R1200C design with a more solid silhouette. Using mostly bits scavenged from last year's R1200CL, the Montauk loses that bike's unwieldy, bar-mounted fairing and hard luggage. The familiar 1170cc Boxer powerplant remains unchanged, churning out 61 claimed horsepower and 72 foot-pounds of torque, though the five-speed gearbox now sports helical-cut gears for less vibes and quieter engagement. The Montauk also wears the CL's Telelever setup, accommodating a 16-inch wheel and 150/80 tire up front. A single-sided Monolever swingarm holds a 15-inch rear wheel, though the rubber's a beefier, 170/80 series. BMW's EVO/Integral ABS brakes come standard, and are now coupled with stainless brake lines. Suspension travel on the rear strut is 3.9 inches, and you can easily dial in the basic spring rate via a handwheel.

Blame it on the name, but our test ride was fated to end in the idyllic hamlet of Montauk, New York, on the tip of Long Island. Luckily, the Montauk's low, sculpted seat and flat, wide bar combine to prop sub-six-footers into the comfort zone, and midmount footpegs are positioned for plenty of roominess on the road. You'd think the fat tire would make steering sluggish at walking speeds, but the Montauk's nimbleness is a pleasant surprise. Whacking the throttle won't net you an instant reaction, though the grunt feels light-years better than on the heavier CL. Once you figure out the finicky throttle, acceleration smooths out in the upper registers.

Like the CL, the Montauk's not designed to win races or stoplight drags; it's most comfortable at stop-and-smell-the-roses speeds. With that in mind, cornering clearance is still a bit limited, especially on the left side. To its credit, the Telelever keeps the front tire fairly well planted in twisties, though the wide rear tire didn't quite feel as connected to the asphalt. You can adjust preload with a nifty handwheel, but the chassis could stand for a touch more rebound damping. The EVO/ABS brakes, combined with the new stainless steel lines, deliver near-instant stops. The Montauk's abbreviated windscreen hovering above the dual vertically stacked headlights offers snappy visuals, though riders will be less than thrilled with its limited protection. Still, there's the aftermarket to help fix things.

If the Montauk seems more ruffian than statesman, well then, mission accomplished. BMW's quest to attract riders searching for alternatives to the V-twin herd continues with this latest R1200C, and its combination of beefy and refined is sure to make a mark in the cruiser crowd.

_Future 'Zook?_

The Tokyo Motor show marked the debut of the G-Strider, a concept bike Suzuki feels marks the future of street-based motorcyling. And based upon the look and technologies of the thing, we're not sure Suzuki's wrong. Powered by a 916cc parallel-twin that works in conjunction with an electronically controlled, Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), the G-Strider bristles with cutting-edge tech, much of which has prior to this never made its home on a two-wheeled machine.

Among said new-tech trickery showcased on the G-Strider is an electronics package that includes such features as GPS and integrated wireless video-phone communication abilities, a rear-view camera, Xenon High-Intensity Discharge headlamp, LED turn signals and taillights, center-hub steering, and a multisensor operated self-diagnosis function. A la the i-Drive platform on the new 7-series BMW, the G-Strider has a tank-mounted trackball and program keys--allegedly operable by gloved hands--to control its many devices and functions.

Braking is handled via radial-mount front calipers and ABS. The beautifully innovative frame and swingarm are crafted by way of compound-laser welding. The futuristic styling speaks for itself, but its beauty is more than skin deep: The riding position is based upon the posture a humanoid assumes in a weightless environment. Additionally, the handlebar, footrests, seat, passenger backrest and windscreen are all electrically adjustable to allow further fine-tuning to individual shapes and sizes. A 140/60R17 front tire and 220/40R18 rear work with all of this technology to provide serious amounts of traction and safety. Motorcycling's future? Dunno, but it sure looks interesting.

--Peter Stark

Take last year's R1200CL, exorcise the wad of styling gone wrong otherwise known as that bike's bar-mounted fairing, and replace it with a flat, wide bar, low windscreen and stacked headlights and you've got yourself a Montauk. OK, there's more to it than just the obviously improved visage: Beefier rubber teams with standard ABS to make this big boy a surprisingly nimble cruiser. Looks good, too.
The future, according to Suzuki, is a place of angular machines chock full of techno-trickery.