FAVOURITE BOXER BEEMER: 'BMW's R 1200 R combines the best of both worlds - a light, sporty bike with good long-distance potential,' writes Dries van der Walt. Image: Dries van der Walt
Johannesburg - When BMW decided to launch its S 1000 XR and the R 1200 RS at the same event, the automaker may have done the latter a bit of a disservice.
Where the XR is new, fast and exciting, the RS seems staid and agricultural by comparison – at least until you evaluate it in isolation.
Gallery: 2015 BMW R1200 RS
BMW have been accused of ticking the boxes by rolling out any given engine in all possible frame permutations – if so, the temptation of slotting the liquid-cooled 1200 Boxer motor into a sport-touring frame may have seemed to be too much to resist.
Capable sport tourer
The reality, however, is that BMW’s current Boxer line-up is lacking in this department. The previously nimble and dynamic RT seems to have gained weight in its move closer to the K 1600 tourers, and while both the R 1200 R and R nineT a pleasantly light, they’re both nakeds and as such ill-suited to open-road use.
Enter the faired R 1200 RS, successor (in name at least) to the Hans Muth-designed R 100 RS of the late 1970s. BMW have effectively taken the R 1200 R and clothed it in a fairing to create a credible and capable sport tourer. Although there is nothing about the bike that will make your jaw drop at first sight, there is plenty to like once you start riding it.
The seating position is upright but slightly forward-canted, making it equally easy to ride upright in town and crouched behind the screen when going through the twisties at high speed. The fairing with its manually-adjusted two-position screen give more than adequate protection from the elements, without falling into the trap of insufficient ventilation that was a cause of many complaints against its forebear.
Thanks to revised gear ratios the Boxer mill delivers more low-end punch than the GS and RT. The bike is actually deceptively fast – the almost-unchanging drone from the engine doesn’t offer the same speed cues as a screaming four-potter. And despite the inherent roughness of the Boxer motor, the RS feels surprisingly refined at almost any speed.
I rode it hard and fast during the launch, and I came to the conclusion that handling is more than up to par. It sports all the electronic trick bits that have become a staple of modern Beemers – ABS, traction control, dynamic suspension and the likes – to make sure that the rider remains in control all the time without creating the impression that you are just along for the journey.
BMW offers a myriad of optional equipment, including a top box, panniers, cruise control and the convenient (if gimmicky) "Keyless Ride". The newly-designed luggage takes care of the touring side of this sports tourer by offering travel convenience that blends in seamlessly with the bike’s looks.
By the time I returned the bike to BMW, I felt that it was probably my favourite Boxer Beemer. It combines the best of both worlds by being a light, sporty bike with good long-distance potential. If you feel this might not be the bike for you, I challenge to take it for a spin before making up your mind – you might just have a change of heart.
Specifications - BMW R 1200 RS
Type: Air/liquid-cooled four stroke flat twin engine, double overhead camshaft, one balance shaft
Displacement: 1 170 cm³
Maximum Power: 92kW @ 7 750 rpm
Maximum Torque: 125Nm @ 6 500 rpm
Fuel supply system: Electronic fuel injection
Fuel type: Unleaded 95 Octane RON
Type: Constant mesh 6-speed gearbox with helical gear teeth
Final drive: Shaft
Overall length x width x height (mm): 2 165X 880 X 1300
Curb weight: 231kg
Fuel tank: 18 litres
Front: Dual disc brake, floating brake discs, diameter 320 mm, four-piston radial callipers, ABS
Rear: Single disc brake, diameter 276mm, double-piston floating calliper, ABS
Front: Telescopic Upside-Down fork; stanchion diameter 45 mm
Rear: Cast aluminium single-sided swing arm with BMW Motorrad Paralever; WAD strut (travel-related damping), spring pre-load hydraulically adjustable (continuously variable) at handwheel, rebound damping adjustable at handwheel
Wheels and tyres
Wheel, front: 3,50 x 17"
Wheel, rear: 5,50 x 17"
Tyre, front: 120/70 ZR 17
Tyre, rear: 180/55 ZR 17
Price: R173 550 (base)