While doing our due diligence at the drag strip a few weeks ago, we realized a unique opportunity to test two generations of BMW R1200 engines against each other. The R1200R and RnineT share bore and stroke measurements (and therefore displacement) but the new waterboxer powerplant in the R1200R was a massive step forward. It first debuted in the totally redesigned 2013 R1200GS and has since trickled down to the R1200RT sport-tourer as well as the R1200R and RS.
The new engine is smoother, revs quicker, and is lighter and more compact. A wet, multi-plate clutch is mounted in the front of the engine, replacing the dry, single-plate unit that BMW had used since before Columbus sailed to the New World. The transmission is also completely redesigned and, even without the up and down quickshifter that is becoming ubiquitous on newer models, is much easier to use.
During casual test rides together we were surprised that the RnineT, which uses the relatively clunky previous generation mill, didn't feel much slower than the fresh new R1200R. The nineT is a lot lighter (more than 40 pounds) and is geared a little shorter, so perhaps it's no surprise that it did better than expected at the air strip. Sometimes older isn't as bad as it seems, and sometimes it is. As usual, testing always completes the story.
(Editor's Note: 1/4-mile times and speeds displayed represent the best time recorded by the same rider over multiple runs.)