Hot BMW bikes in SA: New S 1000 XR, R 1200 RS

DRIES VAN DER WALT
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 NEW BMW RS AND XR IN SA: ‘BMW’s new RS and XR will take you to distant horizons with all the speed and comfort you could ask for, writes DRIES VAN DER WALT. Image: DRIES VAN DER WALT ~ Supplied

BMW SA launched its S 1000 XR and R 1200 RS, the last of five new models for 2015, to the local media at an event in KwaZulu Natal.

The route, which took us from Durban to Mooi River via the popular Midlands Meander and back to Durban along the N3, included some of the most spectacular biking roads in the country.

Following its local announcement by Alexander Bakara, general manager of BMW Mototrrad South Africa at the BMW GS Eco in Bloemfontein in 2014, the S 1000 XR adventure sport bike was awaited with a great deal of anticipation.

FAST, SPORTY, COMFORTABLE

The prospect of a combination of the S 1000 RR mill in an adventure-type frame promised to create a fast, sporty and comfortable machine. As expected, the XR is available with a host of electronic rider aids, including dynamic suspension, dynamic traction control, variable power maps, lean-angle aware ABS and a quick shifter.

Whether the launch route was an inspired choice or a lucky coincidence I don't know, but the Midlands roads showed of the capabilities of the XR's suspension like few other would.

Due to the huge number of sugar cane trucks that use these back roads, the surface, especially in curves, left much to be desired. While I usually don't really feel the efforts of dynamic suspensions, I couldn’t help but notice how well the XR kept its poise when I cornered at high speed on atrocious road surfaces. I could feel the bumps underneath me, but the bike just seemed to shrug it off and continued doing business as usual.

BMW’S ‘QUICK SHIFTER’

As I mentioned at the launch of the new S 1000 RR earlier in 2015, the current generation of BMW's Gear Shift Assist Pro (presumably German for the English term "quick shifter") works very well. After embarrassingly forgetting that the bike was thus equipped, I shifted gears in the old-fashioned way until a gentle reminder from 2Wheels TV's Dave Petersen refreshed my memory.

GALLERY: BMW S 1000 XR/ R 12000 RS

I have not been overly fond of quick shifters in the past because of the slight but annoying lag between tapping the gear lever and the actual swopping of the cogs, but the current Gear Shift Assist Pro is instantaneous and smooth (at least on upshifts – I couldn't get it to work as well on downshifts).

RS IN ACTION

After breaking for lunch, we switched to the R 1200 RS for the trip back. I was initially disappointed that time forced us to take the quicker highway route to Durban, but the fast, sweeping curves en route gave me ample opportunity to explore the RS on the kind of road it is intended to spend a great deal of time on.

The RS is very different to the XR, even though both technically classify as sport tourers. Build around the same frame as the R 1200 R, the faired RS arguably makes even better use of the increased top-end punch of the liquid-cooled 1200 boxer motor.

Despite the addition of a fairing, the RS doesn't feel noticeably heavier than its naked sibling. What the fairing does (in my opinion, at least) is to make the bike more versatile – I would not want to do long-distance high-speed riding on a naked bike, and the RS offers ample protection from the elements while still feeling light and nimble.

I enjoyed the responsiveness of both the R 1200 R and the R NineT but I would happily chose the RS over either as an everyday bike.

BIG SHOES TO FILL

When BMW introduced the R 100 RS in the 1970, it was the first motorcycle to be equipped with a factory-fitted, wind-tunnel-tested full fairing. It was a sensation at the time, practically creating the sport touring segment single-handedly.

This means that the R 1200 RS has a big pair of shoes to fit, a difficult task in view of the fact that BMW's current model line-up is considerably more crowded than back in the day. With the R 1200 GS having become BMW's Swiss Army knife I doubt if the RS will find a huge number of buyers, but those who do buy it will likely not be disappointed with their choice.

The RS and the XR couldn’t be more different, and the same goes for their respective target markets.

However, the two bikes have one thing in common – they will take you to distant horizons with all the speed and comfort you could ask for, and offer serious fun and excitement along the way.

SPECIFICATIONS

BMW R 1200 RS

ENGINE
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

TRANSMISSION
Type: Constant mesh six-speed gearbox with helical gear teeth
Final drive: Shaft
 
DIMENSIONS
Overall length x width x height (mm): 2165 X 880 X 1300

Curb weight: 231kg

CAPACITIES
Passengers: 2
Fuel tank: 18 litres

BRAKES
Front: Dual disc brake, floating brake discs, diameter 320 mm, 4-piston radial callipers, ABS
Rear: Single disc brake, diameter 276 mm, double-piston floating calliper, ABS

SUSPENSION
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 & 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)

S 1000 XR

ENGINE
Type: Liquid cooled, four stroke, transverse four cylinder, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
Displacement: 999 cm³
Maximum Power: 118kW @ 11 000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 112Nm @ 9250 rpm
Fuel supply system: Electronic fuel injection
Fuel type: Unleaded 95 Octane RON
 
TRANSMISSION
Type: six-­speed sequential
Final drive: Chain
 
DIMENSIONS
Overall length x width (mm): 2 183 X 940
Curb weight: 228kg
 
CAPACITIES
Passengers: 2
Fuel tank: 20 litres  
 
BRAKES
Front: 2x 320mm discs with 4 piston calipers
Rear: Single 220mm disc with 1 piston calipers
 
SUSPENSION
Front: Upside-down telescopic fork, stanchion diameter 46 mm, adjustable for bump and rebound, optional: Dynamic ESA
Rear: Aluminium double­strut swingarm with central spring strut, adjustable rebound, optional: Dynamic ESA
 
WHEELS & TYRES
Tyre, front: 120/70 ZR17
Tyre, rear: 190/55 ZR17
 
PRICE: R212 045 (Base)