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BMW R1200 RT

2005-11-23 14:21

Girls, clubs, and the telly can all wait so I can ride across the Karoo to Knysna. 600km. One day. One bike. One hell of a tour party.

The successor to the R1150RT has a bigger engine, more power, and much more comfort.

It seems to be miles ahead of the old machine. Not revolutionary, but brilliant.

On looks alone this thing should handle like a beached whale. It looks big, top-heavy and about as comfortable as Bush at a press conference. It isn't.

At the foot of Franschoek Pass I feel at home immediately.

The bike is nimble and easy to ride. In the flowing corners it is solid, stable, and predictable. Who says you can't have comfort and cornering?

The next part of the trip takes the N2 at Caledon towards Swellendam and eventually breaks left over Tradouw Pass.

This is the first long stretch that I spend on the bike. The seat is perfect. Divided into two sections it has a manual height adjustment for the rider - either 820mm or 840mm.

I did 200km/h all day and had no neck pain, back ache, or any leg cramps.

The 1 200cc motor produces a claimed 81kW and 115Nm, has a top speed of about 235km/h and needs less than 4 seconds to reach 100km/h.

From idle the torque curve streaks its way to a peak of about 6 000rpm. Then it reaches a plateau - even at this level the torque is impressive.

It is a case of picking a gear and sticking with it. You can rev the motor if you want, but what's the point?

I reach Barrydale, and the start of the legendary route 62, by mid-day.

I settle in a shady corner of the Country Pumpkin, brave the "chilli witblitz", attempt a Valpre and settle on a beer.

With most of the journey already behind me I can just settle down, relax, and fly.

Route 62 is bike country - a snaking piece a black tar that takes you through a countryside that is proof that God himself rides a bike.

The final part of the journey took me over Outeniqua pass near George. This is where the bike's new transmission comes in. Gone is the long-ratio 5-speed of the old bike. The 1200RT features a 6-speed 'box that makes for extra-short gear travel - making the ride a bit more dynamic if you want.

Thankfully, the changes are also smooth compared to the clunky 'box of the old bike.

Charging along a twisting road is where this bike will amaze you. Sure it tours well, but that is what it was made for.

The fact that it can probably keep up with a R1 through a mountain pass is a different story.

It has a rigid chassis and superb suspension, which makes it glide over bumps.

It can be flicked from left to right with an ease that belies its weight. And, if you want, sparks will fly?

By the time I reach Knysna it's late. I eat at a roadside café, and check into a waterfront hotel.

Tip the concierge. "Thanks, mate."

"You've come a long way, sir?" That's for sure.

Lights on. Notepad out.

The 1200RT convinced me that a touring motorcycle could also be dynamic, agile, and fun to ride.

My first note: "A bike for which no journey is too long and no destination too far." Lights out.

Fact Sheet:

  • Engine: 1 170cc, air/oil cooled, four-stroke flat twin. Six-speed, constant-mesh 'box with shaft drive.
  • Power: 81kW at 7 500rpm.
  • Torque: 115Nm at 6 000rpm.
  • Top speed: 235km/h (estimated).
  • 0 to 100km/h: 3.6 seconds.
  • Brakes: Front: Dual 320mm discs with Brembo four-pot brake callipers and braided hoses. Rear: Single 265mm disc with Brembo twin-piston floating calliper at rear. Electric power assistance and ABS.
  • Suspension: Front: 35mm Telelever telescopic forks with remote shock, adjustable preload. Rear: Paralever and monoshock with preload infinitely adjustable by remote hydraulic handwheel.
  • Standard equipment: Side panniers, electric screen, heated grips, ABS
  • Safety equipment: ABS.
  • Price: R125 000 (added R5 500 for optional electronic suspension adjustment).

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