BMW R1200R Review
What Is It?
The 2015 BMW R1200R is a naked style bike and which was first launched in 2006. It's closely related to the retro styled R nineT.
Engine: 1,170 cc Boxer, 125 bhp
Economy: 45 mpg, 180 miles
Seat Height: 790 mm
Wet Weight: 231 kg
|✓||More power than the R9T with less cost, extremely flexible engine|
|×||Heavy steering at slow speeds, dash, satnav is good but overly expensive|
I have owned a 2015 BMW R1200R Exclusive for over four months now and have put over 2,000 miles on the bike in that time. This review needs to be taken in the context of having come across from an R1200GS Adventure and wanting more of a biking experience with the wind in my face and the liveliness that is somewhat dulled down on the big brute of a GS.
In that context the R1200R is exactly on par with what I expected and wanted. The bike has all the technology of the R1200 range including the extras such as SatNav integration, ABS, ESA, DTC (that’s brakes, suspension and traction for the non-geeky) but in a good-looking, supremely handling roadster that just begs to be ridden.
The engine is lifted straight out of the rest of the R1200 liquid-cooled range and doesn't disappoint. The gearing feels very different to the GSA which has an enduro first gear so you can easily hit 60mph in first on this bike. It has more power to weight than a Bugatti Veyron and with the quick shifter fitted (and I would recommend it wholeheartedly) an open throttle will leave you hanging on to the bars as it propels you forward at a surprising rate. The torque and rideability of this bike is awesome and can leave a huge smile on your face and a small pickle in your pants! The other beauty of this engine is the sheer flexibility of it, you will regularly find yourself being exceptionally lazy with the gears as it will pull in most of them at any speed.
The bike uses the forks from the S1000RR super bike and feels extremely lively as most of the weight of the boxer engine is carried very low. It is not a sports bike but it comes pretty close on English roads and with all the electronic support feels extremely planted and tips in beautifully. The 'against' mentions heavy steering at slow speeds, that's all relative, coming from an Adventure bike it is about as heavy as difficult to turn as a pushbike and you can get both feet flat on the floor easily (and it comes with three different seat heights from the factory at no cost). With the ESA as part of the spec the ride can be tuned very effectively for different riding scenarios (two-up, luggage etc) and the DTC (Dynamic Traction Control) takes it even further with the engine mappings giving you plenty of options to dial up the fun and still leave the bike feeling controllable. The difference these two options make is not to be underestimated in general riding as they soak up the bumps and uneven grip. The bike is not good over 80mph unless you are a bit of an athlete as the upright riding position tries to pull you off the back of the bike and you would tire of this after an hour or so. Interestingly one of the reasons for switching to this bike was becoming bored of motorway miles to get to anywhere so I decided that all trips would not feature motorways and this has generated much more fun from my day to day riding.
The bike has a huge range of tech options you can throw at it and having come from a GS I threw most of them at it. The riding stuff is great with ESA, ABS and DTC as previously mentioned. The dashboard can be configured three different ways (I just wish they had made the analogue dial for revs and not speed) from track mode which focuses on the red line through to standard mode which offers a huge amount of info on the dash. The buttons on the handlebars also get adapted to very quickly to get you whizzing through the controls. The SatNav integrates very well using the shuttle wheel on the left handlebar and is quite discrete on the bike (although does sit a little too close to you and needs a glance down to see). Other 'essentials' are the heated grips which are very good, the quick shifter which is an amazing piece of tech (it blips the throttle beautifully on the downshift) and finally cruise control which I surprisingly use all the time.
The bike is very cheap when compared to other BMWs in the range but still expensive compared to other brands but this is, after all, a BMW and you do get what you pay for. The finish on the bike is excellent and the quality of the materials is good. Insurance is slightly more expensive for me than the GS Adventure was but still a reasonable £230 a year fully comprehensive (but I do have a Road Angel tracker fitted which brings down the cost). Servicing is in line with all the other R1200 bikes in the range so you could pay anything from £150 to £400 for a service dependent on mileage.
For me the R1200R is a vastly overlooked bike as it really puts the 1200cc liquid cooled engine to great use, can tour with ease as it can be fitted up with official luggage, but also looks cool scratching to the local cafe for a sandwich. The bike is great fun to ride, easy to maintain, handles beautifully, can growl like a beast when angry and inspires me to get back out for another hour. Maybe I'm getting old but my 2014 R1200GS Adventure got cleaned once in two years of ownership - the new R1200R has been cleaned every time I've ridden it - for me it has put the joy back into biking and northern Spain beckons in the summer without a single motorway in sight…
- Andy C, 2016