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New BMW R1200S is a yellow rhino of a bike

2005-12-12 12:31

The BMW R1200S has plenty of muscle

Which is why the new R1200S looks nothing like the R1 at all.

Its predecessor, the sublime R1100S, looked uncomfortable and lardy.

Compared to the trimmed-down Jap racers, the BMW looked like a fat trucker named Earl.

It has always been a bit of farce. So the doctors and lawyers could keep up with the over-all-wearing mechanics on their Gixers over the weekend.

Well, that's not exactly true. To be fair, the bike deserves a lot of credit. They even race them in a one-make series. Lots of fun! A real rider's machine.

Made to be appreciated when you're on the seat and not admiring it from a stool in the News Café.

So, what has changed for 2006?

Well, it now looks like a Rhino. A yellow one.

So, we are going to have to accept the fact that the S will never be a stunning machine. Once you ride one, on the other hand, things change.

For a machine that was first launched in 1998, the R1100S is superb. So, obviously the new bike shares little with the older model.

BMW claims that they have improved the bike in every respect. It gets a bigger, 1 170cc, flat-twin motor that is the most powerful production Boxer ever.

Power is up to 90kW at 8 250rpm from 74kW. The 112Nm is equally impressive from the 97Nm of the older machine.

This places it somewhere between the K1200S and F800S, which will also join us next year.

New pistons have increased the geometric compression ratio to 12.5:1 - a new record for an air- and oil-cooled power unit.

The dog-shift six-speed gearbox should offer smooth changes. And, thanks to beefier engine, the bike should be easier to ride, requiring fewer gear changes.

The 190 kg R1200 S is the lightest and most agile of all BMW's Boxer machines (not including the HP2). This is 18kg down from its predecessor.

All this in an effort to tempt riders away from the focussed Japanese and Italian machines.

That's what this bike is about. Race on the weekend, but still be able to ride it to work every day. How many Ducati riders can say that?

A two-channel ABS system comes as an option and can be deactivated for the racetrack. The system only weighs 1.5kg.

There is also a choice of an extra-width rear wheel and fully adjustable, racing suspension.

The spring strut is adjustable for stroke and pre-tension.

A gas pressure spring strut at the back has individual adjustment for rebound, stroke as well as spring pre-tension.

You can also adjust the ride height. The rider can modify the steering geometry and fine-tune his machine for racing with relative ease.

The Telelever front suspension comes with 41mm fixed tubes and offers 110 mm wheel travel.

The geometry of the suspension has been modified for agility and handling - to counteract the longer wheelbase.

You can now lean the bike 2% lower in bends, giving it 52degrees of play. Not that bad for a semi-sports machine.

A single-sided Paralever rear suspension unit offers 120mm spring travel.

Both the front and rear has travel-dependent damping that operates as a progressive system: the further the spring strut moves in, the stronger the counteracting damper forces become.

Braking is by dual 320mm discs up front with two four-piston swing callipers.

The rear has a double-piston floating calliper with a single 265mm disc.

This is all very well, but when I told my brother about the new bike he just asked, "So how ugly is this one?"

That kinda took the wind out of my sails. I couldn't answer him.

An asymmetric dual headlight dominates the front and the fairing is much sleeker compared to the 1100S.

The fastening points for the screen are hidden giving the bike a smooth and clean design. This is accentuated by the indicators in the mirrors.

A highlight of the bike has got to be the exhaust outlet that sits under the seat unit.

The two outlets sit vertically in the muffler and have the indicators integrated into the design.

It's not ugly. But, it is unique and unmistakably BMW.

The bikes should be here by mid 2006. Expect to pay about R115 000.


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