A lovely sunny traffic free day in Cornwall, 10 miles of great twisty road from Helston to Lizard point in prospect and a brand new BMW R1200RT under your bum…what’s not to like ??
I had the opportunity to take the new BMW tourer, last updated in 2014, on an extended test ride yesterday and I was not disappointed. Having ridden several RTs for the Blood Bikes charity (including a 2010 bike with 125K miles on the clock and a 2014 bike with 75K miles) I already know how solid these tourers are. They are after all used each and every day by blood bikers, emergency services and the police in all weathers and they just go on and on.
The New 2018 version has had a subtle re-style and really looks the part. As usual, after riding my 2010 vintage 1200GS, the RT feels like a significantly smaller bike and in particular the seat height is noticeably lower (adjustable on all models) and the bars are much narrower. The clutch has been upgraded and is now much lighter than previously and the throttle is fly-by-wire so the twist grip offers almost no resistance. Fire her up and the familiar throb of a boxer twin, muted by a civilised exhaust appears. The large digital display says ‘’RT…’ and the analogue speedo and rev counter do a rapid full stop to stop revolution. A pull on the front brake lever to release the hand brake function and off we go…. The digital display indicates speed in nice big numbers in addition to the analogue speedo. This display also houses gear indicator, odometer, etc as usual.
Pull away and the only minor niggle of the whole package is apparent, the bike feels a little unstable and front end light at low ( < 30mph) speeds, unless under acceleration. A rather odd feeling. Once the power is on this disappears but when filtering slowly etc the front end is again a little jittery, despite the integrated steering damper. Possibly a tyre pressure issue? Hard to tell as this bike did not have the optional tyre pressure monitors fitted. Hit the open road however and the bike settles in nicely and then devours a series of contiguous bends with great ease.
Very ‘chuckable’ the RT feels even easier tackling left-right-left flickon a fast A road than my GS. Acceleration is very good and smooth in all the gears as expected from the 125hp twin with 125nm of torque delivered at 6,500 revs. As always with the boxer twin, there is bags of torque further down the rev range, open her up at 40 ish and 3,000 in 5th gear and she picks up her skirts and takes off like a good’un.
The riding position is very comfortable indeed (akin to my GS with it’s bar risers fitted) and the electric screen only takes seconds to set up just-so for a superb air bubble effect. Just as well really, as the bike retracts the screen back to fully down every time the ignition is turned off. Gear changes are precise and almost Japanese in their smoothness, except of course the traditional clunk of a BMW when changing down to first. To be fair this is much reduced on the new RT and no longer startles passers -by, who fear your engine has just fallen out.
After 70 miles of mixed twisty roads, some A road cruising and some narrow back lanes the bike feels like an old friend. Rapid, comfortable, predictable and totally confidence inspiring, which of course is exactly what you want from a tourer. While possibly not ideal for riding around in a big city all day, this bike will be the tool of choice for many who spent weeks at a time in the saddle touring Europe and beyond.
All round a great bike which reflects the many years BMW have been perfecting the boxer twin and the bikes which it powers.
Price for the basic model R 1200 RT is £13,880 with heated grips, rain and normal riding modes, automatic stability control.
Upgrade to the SE version gets you ESA, heated seats, cruise control, and GPS device wiring for £14,900.
Finally for £16,070 the R1200 LE gets all of the SE bits plus gearshift assist, central locking (!!), tyre pressure monitor, and a factory alarm.
As always with BMW, the list of possible add-ons makes the mouth water and the wallet cringe. BMW branded navigator V or VI Sat nav (essentially a Garmin unit in a posh Frock), cruise control, tyre pressure monitors, top box, bags for inside the various luggage containers, hi-level brake light, gearshift assist, central locking, electronic suspension adjust ( ESA) , etc, etc.
Go and test one for yourself and prepare to be impressed.