Review: BMW R1200RT - The New Reference for Sport Tourers
File under Product Review BMW
Author: Damien Bertrand
Location: Paris, France
Since this is a translation directly from French, some of the colloquialism may seem a bit strange at time, for which I apologize. It's not easy to translate. Any mistakes below are mine, and mine alone.
This has been by far the most difficult translation, and it shows, my apologies to the author.
Long is the path traveled by the German road reference, animated its the famous flat-twin. Indeed, the first model, R 100 RT, made its first laps in 1978. Since then its multiple developments have attracted long distance bikers and daily commuters. And constantly overhauled, each new installment posed new milestones, both mechanical and visually.
Thus, by limiting its genesis to the appearance of boxer engines (1995), Munich then proposed an oil-cooled 4-valve block, ABS system and the principle of Telever front suspension so specific to the German brand. Seven years later, on the same basis, the R1150RT model is endowed with an improved engine performance, ABS assisted brakes and a 6-speed gearbox. The design is sharper, the lighting redesigned and ignition doubled in 2004.
This is a new version of the iconic Bavarian proposed to us under the sky of Corsica. Incorporating the latest dazzling flat twin already present on the R 1200 GS, the 2014 RT also boosts its own style. She is unrecognizable, lots of sharp angles and truncated surfaces. Fluidity and sportiness seem to be the key word of the newcomer.
In fact, all of its lines are tightened under a general stretching of the front. Now sharp and plunging, the nose fairing seems disproportionately divided by the front optics into two parts. Placed around an imposing main headlight, the headlights show the esthetics of BMW sedans. Via the "Headlight Pro" option, two rings of bluish LEDs make up its eyes. "Daytime Lighting" adds to it, as its name suggests, a light source that is automatically adjustable during the daylight. This beam is easily adjustable in height via a joystick.
The indicators surround the whole, followed by mirrors that can now be folded. Finally, the electrically height adjustable windshield has become even larger. Returning automatically to the chosen position and folding back when the ignition is switched off, its deflection is now complete, at its base, by two fixed lateral extensions.
The side panels with complex surfaces receive extractors and extend more towards the rider. Then it encloses a vast fuel tank of, still, 25 liters. The surface of the container is embellished with several flat surfaces, losing its central silver strip but now seeing its base protected by a broad plastic structure. Seated, the rider and pillion now optimize even further the line, supported by a rear subframe bolted and thus now removable. New bicolor sidecases with a modernized style frames, each containing 32 liters and capable of housing an integral helmet. Their locks can be optionally centralized on the handlebar or keychain.
All this rests on the new perimetrical tubular steel frame surrounding the engine block with a load bearing function. Both are from the GS. The geometry is well suited for road use. Similarly, the twin receives here a crankshaft and alternator in which its inertial masses were increased. The aim is to deliver a smoother running, combined with a longer ratio for the secondary transmission.
Apart from these few points, we find the spirited flat-twin, of which the intake-exhaust system is now placed in a vertical position, an immediately identifiable sign of a profound internal renewal of the flat twin.
Now with partial liquid cooling, the cooler still retains the pattern of some fins on its cylinder. Indeed the airflows account for more than half of the cooling. The air circulation focuses only on hot spots on the "flat" and especially towards the cylinder head. A marketing highlight, this important difference with the older model almost masks many other essential points. Bore and stroke shall have no effect (101x73) but increases the compression ratio (12:1 to 12:5), as does the valve diameter (+1 mm). New camshaft and crankshaft lightened and stiffened, 52 mm injection (formerly 50), simple vertical gas flow ignition and exhaust optimized with a motorized valve for a stated signature sound. These are the real advantages of the new flat twin, delivering 92 kilowatts (125 hp) at 7700 rpm and 12.5 Nm to 6500 rpm (+15 hp and 0.5 units of torque over the old model).
The crankcase now includes the six-speed gearbox and an oil immersed clutch, even with a slipper, instead of the traditional dry clutch. Its diameter changes from 180 to 147 mm, making the whole more compact. Thus, we can now work on these elements without having to open the machine in two! Substantial labor savings ...
Somewhat obscured by the panniers, the transmission is now fitted on the left, in a swing-type aluminum swingarm Paralever. Opposite of the wheel, the exhaust muffler is less classic but still treats its sound by adding a valve to the manifold.
The ESA Dynamic (optional) electronic damping now runs combined rear and the front element of Telever continuously. Displacement sensors arranged on each of the two damping components adapt automatically to the sensed road conditions. This feature is logically inherited from the sport S 1000 RR HP4 and the R 1200 GS. The inner tubes support two brake calipers with 4 pistons, squeezing 320 mm discs. The rear receives a set of 2 pistons for a 276 mm (+11 mm) disc. The partially coupled integral ABS monitors, as standard, the two devices. Also provided as standard, ASC traction control preventing any loss of traction of the wheels. With 10 branches, the aluminum rim also incorporates pressure valves mounted on one of the arms.
In The Saddle
Always more inviting, the new R 1200 RT offers a height-adjustable seat. A reversible plate toggles between 805 and 825 mm. Optional from the factory, a high saddle between 830 and 850 mm. The lower saddle option, between 760 and 780 mm ... something to suit all body types. As standard, the two available values are amply sufficient, ensuring a small leg bend. In addition, the triangle handlebar/saddle/foot pegs was reduced by 20mm without reducing the ground clearance.
Soft and broad, stretched by 20 and 10 mm (rider, pillion) the saddles gives grounds for presuming first class comfort. The passenger has two long grab handles on the rear, reaching a respectable sized cargo carrier.
Falling naturally under the hands, the handlebars, dressed in a massive aluminum plate, support imposing stalks clad with various buttons and the essential rotary dial. The latter especially controls the board computer with multiple functions. Particularly large, the dashboard features two large speakers with new tubes improving low frequencies. In its center, the cockpit is full of information. Two analog meters (speedometer and rev counter), very elegant, surround a large digital display, with an adjustable angle of 5 °. Significantly inspired by that of its K 1600 GT cousin, listing the details of its features will be painful. However, the ergonomics is structured as: left side, within the speedometer, engaged gear indicator and one of the three engine mapping modes (Road and Rain - Dynamic optional). These functions require a new twist of the wrist of the "Throttle by wire" type, affecting the settings of the ABS, optional anti-skid ASC and ESA. Engine temperature gauge and fuel appears next. On the right side, the suspension mode of the ESA system chosen as well as one of 11 details selected from the Info menu.
In the center appears, by default, the selected audio program but also the setting of one of the 7 main menus, accessed by pressing the dedicated button at the left control stalk : ESA, News, Trip, Navigation, Heated handlebar grips then Rider seat heating and Settings.
We then move, thanks to the multi-directional dial, in the available subdivisions. Thus the Setup menu, in addition to audio, gives access, while stopped only, to multiple user-defined functions, vehicle, time, date and DTC. The Information entry displays the choice of: average fuel consumption, instantaneous, average speed, tire pressure (optional), stopwatch, trip duration, date, battery voltage and oil level ...
The ESA suspensions menu, in addition to the three levels Hard, Normal and Comfort, adjusts the preload: rider only, rider and luggage or rider and pillion. Furthermore, the option Dynamic manages continuously the damping, responsive to each millisecond of the variations in the asphalt. The system is dependent, like ABS and ASC, to the retained engine mapping. Therefore the Rain profile will soften the RT wedged on Hard, increasing the intrusion of the anti-lock braking and traction control. Finally, the lower part of the screen displays the time, odometer and two trip partials. Other windows are reserved for the most common pictograms and information (ABS, indicators ... etc). If we can quickly find our way within the most obvious information, it is difficult at first to navigate through the intricacies of the software. However, the whole is easy to read, day and night, and on a daily basis and proves pleasant to view.
Integral part of the "Pro" option, the new Hill Start Control function is a world first. This feature allows the rider to start uphill easily, especially when the motorcycle is fully loaded. This allows a separate activation of the rear brake circuit, establishing a pressure therein so as to retain the hillside immobilized motorcycle. A high and extended pressure on the lever activates the system. Then just disengage without touching the brake. As effective as rarely needed.
More conventionally, we note the levers benefiting from an adjustment in distance. You will not forget your smartphone (not too big, the space is small), iPod or USB stick that you can plug into the lockable right storage space. The left will be your glove compartment, alongside a 12 V. Additional audio system controls are located on the upper left side. Finally, a centerstand team equips the roadster bike by default.
Adjustment of parts and quality fairings, finishes, paint ... the R 1200 RT seems almost flawless. Some welding of the frame and the joining of tubes around the steering column might merit more attention. Similarly without cache, the latter remains slightly visible once seated. In contrast, the new plates supporting the passenger footrests fit perfectly with the high-end roadster, lightening its lower flanks.
In The City
The R 1200 RT comes alive in a surprising cracking of its exhaust. It is an unusual sound, contributing to a whole new character for the Bavarian road vessel. The first gear clunks and Municher soars elegantly, immediately demonstrating an outstanding balance. Its 274 Kg (up 14 Kg) ready to roll (excluding fuel) does assume any. Soft and agile, the German is ridden by the tips of your gloves. Precise, the electronics throttle control contributes to a perfect serenity on board, assisted by a very gentle transmission, devoid of the slightest jerking. A stone in the garden of its K 1600 GT cousin.
Integrated into the fairing, the mirrors are now placed high enough that you do not need to leave your eyes from the road. Additionally, the rear angle has been greatly improved. Easily adjustable, the image is however subjected to vibrations.
Velvety, the twin however remains the most stubborn in low-revs than its predecessors. Blame it on a longer secondary ratio. Therefore difficult to fall below 2 000 rpm in 6th, around 60 kph. We will make quick judgement given its dynamic new arrangements. By twisting the right throttle, starts are particularly lively, embellished with a powerful metal snoring. It is therefore not uncommon to feel the front wheel lifting off the ground. The call of the open throttle is felt to finally evolve the new RT to more suitable places to its highway genes.
Roaring, the R1200RT quickly approaches the legal speeds of the motorways, establishing its engine speed at 4300 rpm. That is 300 less than the GS. This small difference of the secondary transmission lets the GS escape during the last three gears; 90, 110 and 130 kph. Nothing to be shamed about, far from it.
Cruise control engaged, windshield in high position, heated grips and seat on, then your favorite music will accompany you on your journey. Especially since the sound quality is much improved. As well as the aerodynamic protection. Less turbulence come shake the shoulders and the suction created by the windshield is lower than before. No pressure on my helmet. As fairings go, this one effectively deflects the airflow over the rest of the body.
With the excellent directional stability comes the absence of any vibrations of the new Bavarian engine block, whatever the speed. And those vibrations of the asphalt, you do not feel any more on the fast lanes. The quality of the seats is no stranger.
We could continue riding for hours in the tariffed ribbons (Ed: toll roads). But that would deprive ourselves for the ease of riding of our mythical GT.
Bluffing. As usual, the BMW amazes with its natural and ease of use. We do not know what to prefer: the chassis with a millimeter precision? its sports flat twin ? Unless it's its comfort, or braking? In short, the whole proves again the mastery of the firm with the propeller, particular in the chassis.
The R1200RT literally helps its rider, seemingly letting it be ridden by look only. And if by chance a trajectory proves to be hazardous, the RT will bow gracefully to a late repentance. The guidance of the Telever does not have its equal to rescue an optimistic crew.
Certainly, these qualities we already knew. The new installment further optimizes the German GT, giving it even more dynamism. Without turning to sports, the pace can significantly accelerate onboard. Both standard or optional "dynamic" mapping do not transfigure the character of the flat twin, always available to the slightest touch. Making its revs without inertia, it reveals itself as the needle is climbing the rev counter. Powerful after 3500 rpm, it gets angry after 5000 rpm, increased his ardor beyond. Therefore, to address the virile shell, opt for a "Hard" suspension setting ", retaining all its RT precision. Only the front will end up by marking time, when pushed to its limits. Similarly, the weight is felt during unreasonable braking. Remarks which are all compliments.
This ease allows us to appreciate the optional "Shifter Pro", allowing not only to upshift without using the clutch but also ... to downshift. This last point, however, is more difficult to implement, according to phases of the riding. The gear selector seemed relatively hard to operate and especially downshifting. This avoids probable random speed passages but other bikes without this option allow nearly as much. Unlikely on a roadster, this equipment is found to be appreciable, it indicates when to change gear to consume the least possible fuel.
Remains then to concentrate on its riding, helped also by excellent tires. Two suppliers shod our bikes: Metzeler Z8 Interact and Michelin Pilot Road 4. Slightly more agile on dry ground, the Z8 inspired a little less confidence than the PR4 on the wet. The Antiskid ASC reinforces the impression of the perceived security, not triggering on rare occasions and with discretion.
Increasingly powerful, the chassis of the R 1200 RT approaches perfection. Rigid, neutral, with a high damping range, it remains the major asset of the Bavarian roadster. Whatever the weight taken, steering remains easy and intuitive as soon as the machine rolls. The BMW Telever brings additionally, comfort and the efficiency of a dive-less braking.
Powerful, the decelerations hardly hamper the precision of the front axle. Modular, the attack of the calipers brings the desired power whenever you want. The combined front and rear calipers action provides a real plus on a daily basis. The latter proves fully effective and effectively participates in slowing down the RT. It enables you to refine its trajectory into the curves or modulate the brakes before taking the angle.
Even on this point, the RT gets better and better . More space, better ergonomics, "ideal" position of the crew, more comfortable saddle ... only an empty tank will stop you. The passenger benefits, like the rider, from the same attention. Propped against an optional 49 liter top case receiving two helmets, your passenger may even fall asleep. Finally, luggage is effortless installed and removed.
Although much more efficient, the twin of the company with the propeller (ed: BMW) seems as sober as the old version. We found an average of 5 to 7 liters per 100km, allowing nearly 450 kilometers range at a conventional pace. If you awaken the Valkyrie, only an additional 0.5 liters are swallowed. A decidedly sober German ...
Once again, the RT breaks extensively with its parentage to better mark the beginning of a new reign. Visually and dynamically, the newness sets new standards. Less discrete, with the visual line as well as the sound, the 2014 Municher roadster associates to its unrivaled homogeneity, a new engine strength and a sporty design. In line with the K 1600, the latter can destabilize the hardcore lovers of the model. Dynamically, they will all agree: the RT is slumming mechanically. Bristling with electronic assistance everywhere, the R 1200 RT also improved in terms of safety and comfort. However, the display of embedded functions governing them that may seem tedious, are numerous.
However, the quality of the whole destabilizes the competition. Available starting at € 18,200 combined with ABS and traction control as standard, the R 1200 RT is € 700 more expensive than the former model but devoid of ASC. All packs included, the new bike is € 20,590 only € 30 more than the previous model!
At Triumph, the modern and well motorized Trophy SE claims € 18,870 and is (has) a possible alternative to the Bavarian flat-twin champion. With its new features, the German ensures a comfortable margin. Now the Albion may to find the Germanic more treacherous. Kawasaki, proposes the 1400 GTR ABS, homogeneous and equipped with significant driving aids for around € 17,499. Finally, the Yamaha FJR 1300 AS, robotized box, electronic suspension and C-ABS demands € 19,499. But the Japanese suffers from the weight of years in terms of the chassis.
As standard, the BMW R 1200 RT is perfectly placed in its prices. Fully accomplished, it is, again and again, the reference segment or even the obvious choice. An evidence for the rider, a headache for challengers.
|Strong Points||Weak Points|
|-Interim ratio rather long|
-electronic ergonomics heavy
Click here to read the original review of the BMW R1200RT (in French)
Via: Le Repaire des Motards