R 1200 R a timeless BMW

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Written by Damien Cook for the August 2006 BeeEm

ImageThe classic BMW roadster is back.

The R 1200 R was launched in front of over 30,000 BMW enthusiasts at BMW Biker Meeting in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

...for the August 2006 BeeEm

The classic BMW roadster is back.

The R 1200 R was launched in front of over 30,000 BMW enthusiasts at BMW Biker Meeting in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. This is the bike that many riders have been waiting for; a classically styled BMW in the tradition of what in times past was your standard motorcycle. Models such as the R 50 and R 60 of the 1950s, and the /5, /6 and /7 series of the 1970s and the top selling R 100 R in the 1990s were the basis of BMW’s success.

In 1994 the R 1100 R was the second of the modern Boxers introduced. It polarised opinions with its design. A very good motorcycle but it failed to attract new riders to BMW, and it was too different for many BMW owners who were looking for a basic Boxer in its modern form.

This all changed in 2001 with the R 1150 R. This was the bike that captured the essence of the past in a modern, classic, naked package with an easy riding position, a pleasing uncluttered design, good power and dynamic performance. Over 60,000 were sold to very happy owners.


The R 1200 GS gave us the latest BMW development of the Boxer motor being lighter, smoother more powerful with advanced electronics for greater fuel efficiency. Enthusiasts of the RT, the Sports-Tourers with the ST and the recently released R 1200 S have enjoyed this development. It was only a matter of time until the R became a reality.

The R 1200 R has the classical look of its predecessor but with a touch of aggression. The single headlight, with free form projectors, sits low under the instruments and visually leads into the 18 L fuel tank. The seat and surrounds flow up to the rear of the bike giving a light and contemporary feel. The air intake snorkel is featured on the right-hand side in a business like manner. The oil cooler is now situated in front of the motor, behind the front wheel. It is protected by a stylish cover, but the front ‘guard does not look like it will give much protection, an after market extender may be in order.

The standard seat is 800 mm but there is the no-cost option of either 700 mm or, for taller riders, 830 mm. These numbers do not tell the full story. On the R 1200 R and on all the current BMW models, BMW have used a step-arch measurement which, when combined with the seat design, gives greater rider comfort and stability when stationary. This great leap in motorcycle design and function can really only be appreciated when seated on the bike.

The engine and transmission are straight from the R 1200 RT; 109 hp/80 kW at 7,500 rpm with 115 Nm of torque at 6,000 rpm. This power plant, with its balance shaft, is smooth and produces great power throughout the range. Around town, on the open road or in the mountains with twists and turns, the Roadster will perform and respond to rider input.

At 223 kg (198 kg dry), Telelever tuned and the steering head angle modified, the R 1200 R has its own distinctive characteristics that give it fantastic mobility and dynamic handling performance without compromising the bike’s ability to tour solo or two-up with gear. The rear tubular spaceframe is also unique to the R. The ESA, Electronic Suspension System, that adjusts both spring and damper rates at both ends of the bike, is an optional extra.

To bring the Roadster to a halt BMW have introduced the fourth generation of ABS breaking technology. This totally new BMW Integral ABS (partial) system has been developed by BMW Motorrad in conjunction with Continental-Teves. The system weighing 2.3 kg is lighter and more efficient than the previous servo assisted system. The size of the front discs is increased to 320 mm, with four-piston calipers, while the 265 mm, rear disc remains the same. The system can be further optioned with ASC, Automatic Stability Control. This safety measure, a first on a road bike, will control wheel spin in certain, slippery situations; enhancing rider safety. 

This is a motorcycle that is designed to be personalised. There is a full list of options that give owners the choice. The most obvious, thanks to the lower exhaust, are the two full sized panniers that come from the R 1200 RT and ST. Carrying capacity can be further enhanced with a 28 L topbox. A choice of two screens, tankbag and, for those who like the finer things to visually distinguish their bike, there will be a range of items milled from solid aluminium: hand levers, handlebar clamp, Telelever covers and even the Paralever bar.

Perhaps in the future, there will be more items available, such as headlights, seats and front ‘guards to further give riders the choice in how their bike will look. In the past, this has been left to the after market suppliers; BMW will now be more active in this area.

Also available is the On Board computer for even more information on the instruments and TPC, tyre pressure control, which lets you know that you need to check tyre pressure before you commence your ride.

Black was once the signature BMW colour and is now available on the R 1200 R and, in a touch of the past, can be optioned with hand-painted, white pinstripes. The other colours are Granite Grey metallic and Crystal Grey metallic that changes colour depending on the viewing angle.

The R 1200 R will further expand the BMW model range and widen the appeal of the brand. It will be a bike for riders who enjoy their riding with a hint of the past but on a motorcycle very much in the 21st century. It will be a very successful motorcycle.

The R 1200 R should be in Australia toward the end of the year or early 2007.


More photos can be found here at the Motorcyclist cafe