2010 BMW R1200RT | First Ride

The long run

The 2010 R1200RT is new, but the BMW touring experience is timeless. I'm cruising at a steady 85 mph on the Spanish motorway, seated on a plush saddle and sheltered by an adjustable windscreen as the flat-twin motor thrums steadily below. A glance at the digital instrument panel reveals a range of more than 200 miles. Bring 'em on!

The Bayerische Motoren Werke has introduced so many different models lately-from middleweight parallel-twins to mad naked fours to the insanely fast S1000RR superbike-that it almost seems strange to be riding a new, old-school boxer: a fully faired tourer with saddlebags and shaft drive.

It's the engine that provides the main news. The air/oil-cooled 1170cc twin is a derivation of the HP2 Sport's mill, and is identical to that of the 2010 R1200GS adventure-tourer (MC, May). That means it has double overhead cams and produces a claimed 110 bhp at 7750 rpm. Maximum output is unchanged, but there's more torque through most of the rev range.

The new bike is subtly different, but still very much an RT. New headlights and a reshaped nose give a sharper look. The cockpit is as sophisticated as they come, especially on the fully accessorized example on which I spent the most time. The dash has two analog dials as well as a digital display, and the bars are laden with buttons and switches. On the right are controls for the heated hand grips and seat, but the left side is far more complicated. As well as a conventional single button (at last!) for the self-cancelling turn signals, there are buttons for windscreen height, ABS, traction control, cruise control and electronic suspension adjustment (ESA), as well as a rotating wheel to control the sound system, which also has a separate array of buttons on the fairing.

It was all a bit confusing at first, but the bike itself is relatively simple. Inevitably the broad fairing makes the RT feel a bit bulky, but with a fully gassed weight of close to 550 pounds, the bike felt manageable when I first climbed aboard. Adjustable between 32.3 and 33.1 inches, the standard seat is low enough to allow most riders to get both feet down (and there's an optional lower seat that's just 29.5 inches high). The new motor fired up with a distinctive boxer throb, but sounds less throaty than the new GS, despite also gaining an electronically controlled flap in its exhaust.

Output is nothing special by big-tourer standards, but it's backed up by a broad spread of torque that gives effortless acceleration. The boxer-twin happily pulled from 3000 rpm out of bends, and always seemed to be in the right gear.

Such is the midrange performance that I rarely approached the 8500-rpm rev limit, which is 500 rpm higher than the old mill. With such crisp response from the fuel-injection system and plenty of punch at 5 or 6 grand, it was easier and more satisfying to change up early and enjoy the bike's long-legged character.

Comfort is as important as performance on a tourer, and predictably the BMW scores high. The riding position is unchanged, but now incorporates rubber-mounted bars to cut down on vibration and an adjustable shift lever. Both saddlebags are spacious and easy to access, and the 6.6-gallon fuel tank is designed to accept a tank bag. Passengers will find a broad seat with plenty of leg room, plus a switch to control their half of the optional heated seat. The fairing provides excellent protection, and the adjustable windscreen is among the best I've sat behind.

This bike has an updated ESA II version of BMW's electronic suspension system, which allows spring preload and damping to be adjusted with the press of a button. When we reached a twisty road, it was great to be able to firm up the handling by toggling from Comfort to Sport mode, without even slowing down. With the tap of a button, the big Beemer became a much firmer, more responsive machine that happily carved through bends. The RT is taut, light and maneuverable enough to be fun, and the excellent Metzeler Roadtec tires, ample cornering clearance and powerful, ABS-assisted brakes encourage spirited riding.

Perhaps this gray BMW sometimes lacks a little excitement, but by the time we reached Malaga the RT had done enough to suggest that it's a very worthwhile improvement over its predecessor, and a bike that makes that timeless BMW touring experience better than ever.

Tech Spec

Turning its back on 30 years of tradition, BMW has outfitted the latest RT with DOHC cylinder heads and a plethora of electronics.

Luxurious long-haulers like the Ducati Multistrada 1200, Honda VFR1200F, Kawasaki Concours14 and Yamaha FJR1300.

Price $17,000
Engine type a/o-c opposed twin
Valve train DOHC, 8v
Displacement 1170cc
Bore x stroke 101.0 x 73.0mm
Compression 12.0:1
Fuel system EFI
Clutch Dry, single-plate
Transmission 6-speed
Claimed horsepower 110 bhp @ 7750 rpm
Claimed torque 88 lb.-ft. @ 6000 rpm
Frame Tubular-steel trellis
Front suspension Telelever incorporating a Showa shock with adjustable rebound damping, optional ESA
Rear suspension Paralever incorporating a Showa shock with adjustable spring preload, optional ESA
Front brake Dual BMW four-piston calipers, 320mm discs, optional ABS
Rear brake BMW two-piston caliper, 265mm disc, optional ABS
Front tire 120/70ZR-17 Metzeler Roadtec
Rear tire 180/55ZR-17 Metzeler Roadtec
Rake/trail 26.2°/4.3 in.
Seat height 32.3/33.1 in.
Wheelbase 58.4 in.
Fuel capacity 6.6 gal.
Claimed dry weight 504 lbs.
Colors Polar Metallic, Ostra Gray, Thunder Gray, Thunder Gray/Silver/Titanium/Granite
Available Now
Warranty 3 yrs., 36,000 mi.

BMW of North America
P.O. Box 1227
Westwood, NJ 07575

Verdict 4.5 stars out of 5
An excellent evolution of a long-standing long-range champion.

2010 BMW R1200RT
The RT's radial eight-valve boxer-twin produces the same 110 bhp as the previous model, but there's a significant jump in torque from 2500 rpm to the 7750-rpm peak.
The RT's ESA II allows adjustment of damping, preload and even spring rate. Each preload position offers three on-the-fly damping options: Comfort, Normal and Sport.