They say: More dynamic and more thrilling than ever.
We say: And easier to ride too.
Earlier this year BMW introduced the RnineT , a classically styled machine that celebrates 90 years of Boxer-powered roadsters. Not long before that BMW launched the S1000R , a freakishly fast naked bike that represents the pinnacle of performance and technology in its class. Now BMW has released the redesigned R1200R, a thoroughly modern and highly versatile motorcycle cloaked in classic roadster style.
Start with the engine. It’s Bavaria’s iconic opposed-twin, but not the old oil head that powers the RnineT. This is the same potent 1,170cc mill used in BMW’s class-leading R1200GS, GS-A, and R1200RT. The frame is the traditional steel-tube trellis affair, but redesigned here to support the new motor, an upside-down fork, and a slimmer, sportier tail section.
2015 BMW R1200R First Ride VIDEO
The bulk of the R1200R’s newfound sophistication comes from various electronic features. There’s a new dash with alternative display styles, ride-by-wire throttle, and buttons for switching among ride modes and turning the ABS and ATC on or off. And on the accessorized bike that I rode at the R1200R’s press launch in Alicante, Spain, there where buttons for adjusting the semi-active suspension and setting the cruise control and heated grips.
With lots of seat time on both the RnineT and S1000R, the first thing that struck me when I hopped on the R1200R was the distance between the saddle and steering stem. A wide, backswept bar ensures that the reach is minimal and a fairly upright seating position is maintained, but you won’t shake the impression that this is a long bike. The 59.7-inch wheelbase is 1.6-inches greater than the RnineT’s, and the front end has 3.1 degrees more rake and an inch more trail than the S1000R.
Thankfully, the R1200R handles far better than its geometry and 509-pound weight (claimed, wet) would suggest. Steering effort isn’t as light as on the S1000R, RnineT, or even the GS, but it’s by no means heavy or sluggish. And I was grateful for the bike’s inherent stability during what was a very wet and cold first ride.
With rain falling on the narrow mountain roads and 10 degrees Celsius (50 Fahrenheit) displayed on the dash, I was focused on riding smoothly. It turns out that is incredibly easy to do on the R1200R. Cue up the Rain ride mode (with gentler throttle response and a lower TC threshold), soften up the suspension by switching the D-ESA to Road, have faith in the excellent Metzeler Sportec Z8 tires, and crank up the heated grips just for good measure, and you can flow down a glistening mountainside road quickly and in total confidence. Even with the ride mode and suspension on the more aggressive Dynamic settings, the Beemer was still impressively tractable and easy to ride. This is one refined and composed machine.
Due to the weather I didn’t get to fully test the roadster’s sporting chops, but it was obvious that it’s capable. We’ll have to wait to get an R1200R Stateside to find out just how capable, and to see how it fares on the freeway. Our short stints on the autopista weren’t enough to make a thorough assessment, but I expect that the bike’s somewhat rearset footpegs and the minor forward lean to the riding position will help counter the windblast.
The R1200R certainly stacks on the mph faster than the other R-bikes thanks to its lighter weight, but I would have preferred to see it use the lighter crank from the first iteration of the wasserboxer for a livelier character. (BMW is now using the slightly heavier crank that debuted on the R1200GS Adventure and R1200RT last year.) The bike is swift, but not thrillingly so, and it doesn’t rev up very quickly. BMW says that a new airbox and exhaust system give this engine even more low-end power, and the motor has enough torque to chug through villages in third gear and pull smoothly from as low as 1,500 rpm.
As a BMW you’d expect the R1200R to be comfortable, and it is. My only gripe is that the stock seat is too low. It limits legroom and makes the handlebar feel high. Good thing BMW offers two taller seat options (as well as an exhaustive assortment of other accessories that will allow you to outfit the R1200R to suit just about any purpose). I installed the 790mm saddle (an inch taller than stock) and loved it. The only other complaint I have is the same one I have for the other R-bikes: The front brake lever moves through a bit of travel before the pads start moving. Once the system is pressurized, however, the dual four-piston Brembos offer tons of power and good feel.
As with the RnineT and S1000R, the R1200R uses an upside-down fork—the wasserboxer’s radiator resides where the Telelever’s wishbone would go, and I suspect that the fat inverted fork adds a sporting aesthetic that BMW finds appealing. There were no base bikes available to ride at the press ride so I never got to sample that bike’s non-adjustable Marzocchi unit, but the D-ESA-equipped Sachs fork on the up-spec bike is excellent. Again, the weather prevented me from really pushing it, but the Road and Dynamic modes are appreciably different, and fork dive and rear squat are kept to a minimum thanks to the system’s automatic damping adjustment.
The new R1200R is another worthy home for BMW’s new Boxer engine, and should prove to be a tremendous all-around motorcycle, much like it’s many predecessors. So what’s a classy, sophisticated, and versatile bike like this going to cost you? Pricing wasn’t available at the press launch, but a BMW official suggested that the standard R1200R will go for less than the RnineT, which costs $14,995. The bike I rode, equipped with the optional Comfort, Touring, and Dynamic packages (that includes D-ESA, heated grips, cruise control, a center stand, chrome exhaust, preparation for GPS, luggage rack, LED running lights, expanded computer functions, and more) may cost upwards of $17,000.
That’s a chunk of change, but for the mature, discerning riders that BMW expects to be attracted to this model, it’s likely a totally acceptable price.
|A new motor, updated styling, and an assortment of excellent electronics increase the R1200R’s versatility and performance.|
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|ENGINE||1170cc, liquid-cooled opposed-twin|
|CLAIMED HORSEPOWER||125.0 @ 7750 rpm|
|CLAIMED TORQUE||92.0 lb-ft @ 6500 rpm|
|FRONT SUSPENSION||Sachs 45mm fork adjustable for compression and rebound damping; 5.5-in. travel (Marzocchi 45mm fork; 5.5-in. travel)|
|REAR SUSPENSION||Marzocchi shock adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping; 5.5-in. travel (Sachs shock adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping; 5.5-in. travel)|
|FRONT BRAKE||Brembo four-piston calipers, 320mm discs with ABS|
|REAR BRAKE||Brembo two-piston caliper, 276mm disc with ABS|
|SEAT HEIGHT||31.1 in.|
|FUEL CAPACITY||4.8 gal.|
|CLAIMED WEIGHT||509.3 lb. wet|