EICMA 09 - Generation DOHC

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R1200thumbNew look 1200 boxers on show in Milan

EICMA in Milan was not its usual self; thanks to the current economic climate, the major Japanese manufacturers opted to release their new models at the Tokyo motor show. Still, there were more than enough for moto journalists and the general public to look at in the vast halls of the exhibition. This situation gave the Europeans a free run at the show and the publicity that follows, it also worked for the Japanese as the two shows were weeks apart so everyone got their fair share of column inches.

The BMW Motorrad jungle drums have been very close to the mark. The BMW Motorrad stand introduced a new generation Boxer motor that features a double overhead cam (DOHC) configuration but it remains a 1200 (1170); not a 1250 or even a 1300 that some pundits had suggested might be the case.


It is evolution in the bodywork of the new R 1200 RT, R 1200 GS and R 1200 GS Adventure but at the heart of these motorcycles it has been more of a revolution. A double overhead cam Boxer motor has been used previously, but the distinction here is that both the RS500 256 and its pre war Kompressor predecessor were works racing machines and the HP2 Sport, launched in 2007, is a very limited production, high performance model. This latest development of BMW Motorrad’s signature motor is now very much part of mainstream production.

The innovative technical feature of the new 81 kW/110 hp motor is the use of chain driven double overhead cams with valves actuated by a very light drag lever.  The four valves set in a radial pattern, produce a compact and efficient new head design that is actually narrower that the previous Boxer motor. Each camshaft controls an intake and an outlet valve with the clearance controlled with shims as in the K 1300 engines. This motor uses two spark plugs per cylinder, unlike the HP2 Sport motor that uses only one. The cylinder head covers have been re shaped for a cleaner more dynamic look.

The stainless two-into-one exhaust system is fitted with an active exhaust flap that is placed in front of the silencer and is electronically controlled by a servomotor with cable actuation. This gives a nice fat torque curve and enhances the already rider friendly Boxer characteristics and also gives an enhanced exhaust note when on the throttle.

The power out put is unchanged in the R 1200 RT but maximum power is now at 7,500 rpm, up 500 rpm and the redline is also up 500 rpm to 8,5000 rpm. It is the distribution of power and increased torque that the DOHC will set this latest Boxer apart. At low and medium engine speeds, where most riding is done, the power delivery will be smoother and now with 120 Nm of torque (previously 115Nm) at 6,000 rpm. The GS and GS Adventure models now share a motor with the same power, which for them is a 5% increase. For the HP2 Sport it was all about delivering maximum power from the Boxer, this new engine is all about efficiency and ridability with no doubt an eye to future environmental laws that will get tighter and tighter.

The R 1200 GS and GS Adventure remain largely similar in looks to the previous model. There are of course up dates to the internal control systems in line with the DOHC motor. The switchgear has been up dated to the new style that was introduced on the K 1300 models in 2008.

Since 1980 the GS has been the personification of BMW Motorrad. The motorcycles with that distinctive Enduro style, equally at home crossing continents as riding to a café in the hills, have consistently been the top selling BMW motorcycle. The new Boxer motor will further enhance the reputation of the most popular BMW motorcycle ever made.


The R 1200 RT is the flagship Tourer and unlike the GS, it has had a cosmetic as well as a technological make over. The dynamic face of the RT has been enhanced with a more dominant headlight and blinker pods. This gives a lighter looking frontal area and one that offers increased protection from the elements. The floating panels have a new lip that adds to the protection without adding extra bulk. In fact, the fairing is lighter than on the previous RT. Adding to this, the electronically adjustable screen has been re designed for improved protection and less noise.

The instrument panel is new as is the Multi-Controller on the left-hand switch block.  It is thumb activated and acts in a similar way to a computer mouse. It lets the rider control the motorcycles systems and along with the new switchgear, makes the controls less cumbersome than in the past. The audio system is totally new with interface for MP3 player, iPod or USB as well as having a CD player.

As befitting the big tourer, ABS is standard, but ESA, along with all the other safety and cosmetic accessories are options. Since 1979 when the R 100 RT was launched the RT has been one of the world’s most popular tourers and the latest R 1200 RT should keep that tradition well and truly alive.

BMW Motorrad continues to develop the marque into new areas and as we can see from Milan, without neglecting what is BMW Motorrad’s ‘home ground’.