Live to Ride and Ride to live Free.

BMW R1200R.

BMW, whether one’s musing about bikes or cars, has always had a reputation for quality. An example is BMW’s
R1200R, “a “naked” (meaning without bodywork) cruiser with flair. It’s both quick and economical, surprising
traits in a market segment known for flash, not dash. A week-long road test showed this $12,620 bike may be a
partial answer to $4 per gallon gas.
Overview and Performance The four valve per cylinder, 109 HP R1200R employs a horizontally opposed air-cooled engine producing maximum
horsepower at 7,500 RPM’s and 85 foot-pounds of torque at 6,000. It’s built for mid-range power and highway

travel rather than high RPM sprints. Quarter-mile performance, measured by a Beltronics Vector FX2
Accelerometer, was noted at 12.1 seconds@114 MPH. Zero to 60 took just under four seconds. Fuel economy on
high test was recorded at 32 city and 39 highway. The fuel tank holds 4.6 gallons plus a gallon Reserve.

On the Road Riding this twin cylinder, 1,170CC fuel-injected vehicle isn’t the same as maneuvering a much heavier Harley
or Japanese cruiser. The seating position is upright: when you slam into a pothole or roll across frost heave
your teeth won’t rattle. You DO feel it despite 4.7 inches of front suspension travel and 5.5 inches of rear
“Para lever” compression/decompression. Forget the plush ride of a Honda Gold Wing or Harley’s “judder.” Atop
the R1200R you’ll think you’re in a European luxury car. Though the standard suspension does a fine job for
$800 BMW offers Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA). Its settings accommodate singles, “two-ups” and
numerous other riding profiles. Though the R1200R isn’t made for corner-cutting or switchbacks tightening the
ESA transforms it. You pay a price in harshness and at extreme lean angles can never forget the humongous
cylinders protruding from the scooter’s sides. Even with w-i-d-e crash bars they’ll almost certainly be first
to scrape the ground. It isn’t a racer!

Comfort The seat is one of the R1200R’s weak spots. Though ergonomic (not too wide and narrower at the front) it
desperately needs padding. At 31.5 inches it’s high. Swinging your leg over, even when the bike’s on its
kickstand, can be a chore. Balancing at traffic lights, particularly if you’re less than 5’7,” isn’t easy.
As always with Bimmers you have options. A “low” 30.3 inch seat can be ordered at no charge, as can a 32.7
inch perch. Neither, though, can match the 26-27 inch seat heights of rivals. Though even munchkins can learn
to put up with height and lack of padding one shouldn’t need to do it.
The R1200R employs a small windshield that serves as a fairing. Unlike many bikes the air stream is directed
around rather than onto one’s body. This enhances long distance comfort, something many cruisers ignore.
Consider, too, its 58.9 inch wheelbase and overall 84.4 inch length. Though Harley’s 1200 isn’t much longer at
85.8 inches it’s generally true shorter wheelbases and overall lengths contribute to handling. Longer numbers
are cruise-oriented. More important is weight, which at 492 pounds is 70 less than its Harley rival.
The Shaft Drive and Tires
Out back is BMW’s famous shaft drive. Though heavier than chains over the bike’s life it’ll require much less
maintenance. You’ll never lube or boil it! Turning to tires, you’ll find 120/70 17” rubber up front and 180/55
17” units in back. They’re not as sticky as they could be, being meant instead for wear.
The Bottom Line Though not perfect the almost vibration-free R1200R’s resale and two-year warranty are pluses. Test drive one
before buying a rival.


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