Best Sport-Touring Motorcycle of the Year: BMW R1200RT


It’s a hat-trick. Last year’s Sport-Touring winner, and this year’s Reader’s Choice Sport-Touring winner makes it three for three by also winning our 2015 selection for Best Sport-Tourer. We guess you could say it’s a foursome for BMW’s R1200RT if you include it winning our 2014 Sport-Touring Final SmackDown + Video.

The RT’s combination of comfort, protection, tech, storage and performance is unmatched in the Sport-Touring segment. The runner-up Ducati Multistrada DVT is a sportier choice for this segment, but as good as it is, the Duc lacks many of the niceties the BMW boasts. And with no other Sport-Touring entrants to challenge the BMW dominance the RT retains its crown for 2015.

2014 BMW R1200RT Review – First Ride

The RT, starting at $17,650, disguises itself as a touring bike, but once underway, it makes its sporting intentions known. Light on its feet, the RT makes quick transitioning a breeze. Throw in technologies such as Hill Start Control for security when launching from a stop on an incline, or the Shift Assist Pro, which makes riding the RT quickly through a set tight switchbacks seem as though you’re riding an S1000RR, and you’ve one helluva sporty sport-tourer.

Honorable Mention: Ducati Multistrada DVT


That’s DVT as in “Desmodromic Valve Timing.” Variable valve timing isn’t anything new in the world of internal combustion, but it’s rare in motorcycling and slightly unexpected on a Ducati. Turns out, though, that significantly broadening the already excellent 11-degree Testastretta V-Twin’s powerband, while increasing power by 7%, torque by 9% and fuel economy by 8% (according to Ducati) was a pretty genius thing to do.

2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200 and 1200S First Ride Review + Video

Basically, though, the all-new engine just runs better and smoother throughout its newly widened powerband, with an even juicier midrange and cleaner fuelling. On top of that, valve-check interval are up to 18,000 miles, and maintenance frequency has been extended from 7,500 miles to 9,000 miles.

The revisions to the engine allowed Ducati to fit electronic cruise control to the redesigned Multi, which was the final item it needed to really compete with more traditional “sport tourers” like the R1200RT winner – especially when you spring for the Touring Pack and it’s 58-liter capacity hard bags, heated grips and centerstand.

Now, it’s sort of down to what you prefer; the BMW’s an awesome traveling bike, but the Multistrada’s considerably smaller and lighter, 62.4% sportier according to my calculations and about 90% more off-road capable, should it come to that.

Available as an “S” model with electronic suspension, or not, and with Enduro, Sport, Touring and Urban Pack options, the new Multistrada really is a bike for all seasons. Your base model in Red starts at $17,695, and spirals up to $21,294 for a White “S” Touring model. Best of 2015 Categories

  • SteveSweetz

    Where is FJ-09!? Unless it’s going to be elsewhere on the list…

    • Grant Nicholson

      It won’t appear anywhere on the list. best motorcycles aka The big list of most expensive bikes in every class. Like really… the $30K bmw and ducati are the best bikes. No shit. What about for people who aren’t millionaires? What do we buy? Probably the FJ-09!

      • Ser Samsquamsh

        Agree that these lists are predictable and recursive “click bait” but $20K is an awesome motorcycle or a mediocre car. With financing these bikes are a totally reasonable monthly cost for anyone with a job.

        • joe1234x

          As long as you don’t ALSO have a car payment. And it’s still $20k. Finance that for 4 years? Ugh. And then full-coverage insurance for the duration. Double ugh.

          • RickyV

            I’ll keep riding my 2013 Triumph Trophy SE. Smooth as glass and reliable since day one. Runs the Dragon at Deals Gap like a dream.

          • Dirk L

            Ricky V
            I’m with you-ridden my 2014 Trophy 12000 miles in 6 months and without a doubt the best bike I’ve owned in 45 years of riding. Zero problems, 50mpg touring, handles like a big sportbike, with every needed feature of an RT but THOUSANDS less. And oh yeah-it’s European but my dealer is great and cost of ownership far less.

          • Foresooth

            Dirk and Ricky That will probably be my choice – Have owned a Sprint ST and currently a GT, both bulletproof. GT has done 50,000kms, two headlight globes, services and tyres being my only cost. Other riders of recent Triumphs seem to have similar positive experiences. My long distance kms will increase significantly when I semi retire at the end of the year, so reliability and cost of ownership are very important to me. I have ridden the Trophy twice and loved it. Would love to also consider the R and K, but as above, reliability and cost of ownership feedback from owners I have spoken to is not very positive. Some have a great run, although they whinge about service costs and parts, others definitely don’t. Only some early Trophy owners have had niggling problems with the Bluetooth and a couple of other issues, but these seem largely solved now. Otherwise, tops.
            BMW GS owners recently seem to be reporting problems too. A touring bike has to be great to ride, but it also needs to be good to live with for many years and kms.

          • John Woods

            No, you finance it for 6 years (or BMWs 3asyRide for 48 months). Then you can do a car and bike payment.

          • joe1234x

            No, YOU finance it for 6 years. I don’t finance bikes for more than a year. They’re a luxury and I buy them when I’ve got the money.

    • Alexander Pityuk

      You would find it somewhere in “best value” category probably. As for these 2 bikes – it’s all about how good they are in vacuum, you know. They are just better and thus more expensive.

    • Alexander Pityuk

      You would find it somewhere in “best value” category probably. As for these 2 bikes – it’s all about how good they are in vacuum, you know. They are just better and thus more expensive.


    For me it was between the Multistrada and the RT. In the end could not resist the shaft drive and all the options available on the RT. It is a great bike.

    • 12er

      You finally pulled the trigger?

      • JMDGT

        In April. I still want a Multi. I may sell off my roadster and get one.

        • 12er

          Perfect stable, both ends covered, sport touring, and touring sport. Just a coin flip in the garage on how you want to haul ass.

  • John B.

    I have a sport tourer and log most of my annual mileage on long distance trips. Shaft drive, large volume luggage, heated grips/seat, ABS, traction control, adjustable suspension, electric windshield, wind protection, cruise control, a comfy seat, and a powerful motor come in handy on long rides. The Beemer fits the bill and then some. I can’t argue with your choice in this category.


    I rode a 2003 bmw r1150r rockster. felt like someone was beating my hands with hammer. low pulse vibration killed it for me.

  • Alexander Pityuk

    God i love the RT! I don’t even know why it is so appealing to me. And i can’t reasonably justify having one when i do zero touring on my bikes. It is pretty light, but that’s deceiving – the sheer width of it is ridiculous. You can never use it in town even adding quite a lot of highway miles to get there.
    I guess it comes to the boxer. I want one, but don’t like nakeds. RT is right on the opposite side. RS could be my dream, but why clip-ons and why those drunken headlamps? Ffs, BMW, you are killing me.

  • WPZ

    BMW: Best Mutilation of Wallet.

    • DeadArmadillo

      Good one.

  • James Epley

    So what category does the Triumph Trophy fit into?

  • talonz51

    No ninja 1000? Fail.

  • Luigi Stugatz

    To bad BMW has the next to worst (Can-Am first) reliability on Consumer Report customer survey. 🙁 40 percent of all owners had problems with their bikes.

    Their hardware and electronics are just plain crap. Bike with high retail prices and mediocre hardware is how the Germans get 4 weeks vacation from day 1 on the job.

    It may be the best in performance but last it’s in reliability.

    • Gary

      I dunno. I’ve ridden my K1200LT nearly 50k miles … never a hint of a problem. Runs as strong today as the day I bought it.

      • Luigi Stugatz

        Your are one of the lucky 60% ers who didn’t have problems!

        • Glenn59

          Hi Luigi, Yes it is true that BMW and Harley for that matter, did not do well on Consumer Reports. But both brands enjoy stellar owner loyalty totally eclipsing any of the Japanese. If we both had time I could debate with you the problems with Consumer Reports, (Which are numerous), but suffice to say that there are bigger factors in a motorcycle purchase than just reliability.

          • Luigi Stugatz

            Hi Glenn59, It’s also true owner loyalty has nothing to do with product quality and that is an issue all by itself. Harley had customer loyalty when back when when they where truly POS. Loyalty and quality are apples and oranges and do nothing to rebut CR’s publication.

            Debate me? WTF would I want to debate the integrity of CR? I posted their customers survey and I get told I have a “problem” and you want me to debate should we have the time? BUT… if I had to put my cards on the table I would believe CR far and above any individuals unsupported, personal opinion of the quality of a companies motorcycle.

            You can believe CR or not, I really don’t care one way or the other. Nor do I care what your “bigger factors” are in purchasing a motorcycle,

            This type or responses is so typical of attacking the messenger when they have nothing else to defend their position.

            This is my last post on this issue. Have a nice day.

          • Glenn59

            Luigi, I am disagreeing with you not attacking you! I am very happy to engage with others who have differing views. I also that a BMW will be less reliable than a Japanese bike but would argue that is mostly because they are a highly sophisticated product with state of the art electronics that lead the market. (And also unfortunately because the company is sometimes a little slow in updating problem components). Against this minus you must balance the companies products total brilliance on the road. BMW win a swag of awards almost every year from publications around the world. That is not a result a low quality product would produce.

    • Alexander Pityuk

      Those statistics are often inaccurate, and almost always don’t tell everything. The “problem” is registered when owner comes to the service center. But that could be just very minor thing. Taking into account that BMW bikes have more complicated electronics than the competition, that doesn’t come in surprise. But i’ve also seen tonns of videos and heard real stories many times about GS’s legendary toughness. So the hardware is not “plain crap” for sure. Electronics deliver some problems, but that is just how the things are these days.

      • Luigi Stugatz

        These “statistics” are from surveys by BMW owners. I don’t see Consumer Report publishing inaccurate data.

        What good is more “complicated electronics” if they break down? That’s not a justifiable reason.

        Hardware/electronics breakdown? I had 2 BMW cars (328/540). They where the worst cars I’ve ever owned. All 4 door magnetic door locks failed on the 328 and 1 on the 540, cruise control switch failed, drivers windows motor failed, radio volume control failed, moon roof mechanism failed, rear suspension failed, A/C failed. I knew the service manager on a first name basis. Yes their hardware is just plain junk.

        • Gary

          Hi Luigi … I think your main problem is relying on “Consumer Reports” for your reliable data. I once purchased a Dodge Ram pickup truck, partly on their rating … which was extremely favorable. Long story short, it was one of the worst purchases of my life. Never-ending money pit. And I am far from the only one who has had loads of problem with Dodge trucks.

          Bottom line: I have no confidence in CR … nor loads of other sources of so-called reliable info. I tend to base my purchase decisions based on personal experience, friends’ experience, and the attitude of my local dealer. I’ve had great luck with this approach.

          • Luigi Stugatz

            Relying on CR data is not a problem. But from where I sit you blaming CR because you had a problem on a truck they gave a favorable rating is absolutely twisted logic a normal person could not construe. Gary… I think you have a problem far beyond CR data. Confidence is not the only thing you don’t have.

          • Gary

            Jeez, Luigi, did someone pee in your pasta? No need to get personal. We’re just expressing opinions here. You are certainly entitled to your opinion. And so am I. My opinion of YOU I will keep to myself.

          • Luigi Stugatz

            “Hi Luigi … I think your main problem is relying on “Consumer Reports” for your reliable data.”

            My “main problem”? Is as personal as you can get, a “problem” goes beyond an opinion. It’s a personal criticism.

            Good luck with your purchase decision.

          • Craig Freger

            There are numerous problems with Consumer Report’s survey methodology. Among them, small sample size and the opt-in nature of the surveys make for wildly inaccurate data. Buyers with poor product experience are much more likely to respond to such surveys than satisfied or ambivalent owners. Owners of the most expensive products in their category are also much more likely to complain about reliability and to take issue with relatively trivial disappointments — a factor that weighs heavily against both BMW and Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Finally, anyone who gets their motorcycling advice from Consumer Reports is the lamest of lame. (“Nice bike; I hear it got a good rating from Consumer Reports,” said no one, ever!) If you think that buying a motorcycle is akin to buying a washing machine, well… there’s your problem.

        • lee rhodes

          Not sure the relationship between a 3 and 5 series…and the BMW bikes.

          I’m on my 3rd 3 series (2001, 2007, 2013). I put 130,000 miles plus on each of these cars. In the time I’ve had these cars…have had one issue…a rear transmission seal leaking. $900 repair.

          The 5, 6, 7 series have lots of issues…and are very different from the 3 series. Read Consumer Reports reliability of these cars.

    • Dan

      I’ve owned an 05′ K1200S and I can personally say that it was the most expensive bike I have ever owned. Here are SOME of the things that either failed or didn’t function properly to begin with:

      Fuel Light Indicator – broken, reads half when completely empty.

      Idle Air Control Valve – gets clogged, jammed, needs replaced/updated

      Timing Chain Tensioner – reservoir was too small which created excessive “chain slap” on start up to the point where I thought it was going to jump right off the cam sprockets.

      Shifter Mechanism – Just plain sloppy and would SLAM into first from Neutral. Hands down the loudest and sloppiest trans i’ve ever owned. Also, it had a bad habit of getting “hung up” at a red lights and getting back down to first was a chore.

      Servo Brakes – Worst brakes I have ever experienced and a NIGHTMARE to bleed correctly.

      Clutch MC – leaking..oh and if you want to rebuild it…TOO BAD, they don’t sell just the seals…they only sell the entire MC for 600$

      Oh yah, and if you want to change your spark plugs, you have to strip half the bike down, drop the radiator, change the plugs, and then vacuum fill the coolant system/bleed or else you run the risk of damaging your valves.

      These are just SOME of the things that happened to me personally…and if I had to go through my stealership for all this I would have sold the bike a LONG before I did. Now, my bike was an 05′ which is the first model year…but still…BMW didn’t take responsibility for a SINGLE ONE of those issues. All of them were fixed on MY DIME. And then when it came down to getting a new bike, no one wanted to take mine in as a trade despite its pristine condition and service records…because they know what they would be getting themselves into….Buyer Beware…

      • lee rhodes

        I have a 2006 K1200S.

        One issue I had was the replacement of the cam chain tensioner…which was optional. (The cam chain rattled briefly on start up…until adequate oil pressure in the tensioner took hold….about 5 to 10 seconds). No one experienced the chain skipping a cog.

        Second was the gas tank sending unit (tells you how much gas is in the tank). That is a known issue…and was replaced for free…with a 10 year warranty of the fix.

        I love the brakes. The tranny and overall bike performance has been terrific. And yes … after 10 years…I still have the bike…now a high mileage bike.

      • lee rhodes

        Sounds like you need a new dealer.

      • lee rhodes

        I had the 2006 K1200S with nearly 70,000 miles. Changed out the cam chain tensioner (BMW paid for it). Changed the cam chain and guides at 50,000 miles. Bike never used a bit of oil. Dead reliable.

        Now, The 2005’s were the first year of the K1200S…and there were problems with some of those bikes. The Rule: Never buy the first year of any bike brand..

        Loved the Servo Brakes…closest thing to power brakes on a bike. Valve adjustments at 35,000 miles.

        Dead reliable….and faster than a scalded cat.

    • TonyCarlos

      And yet 68% of BMW owners surveyed by Consumer Reports said they would buy another one. That ranking was the forth highest brand, lead by only Victory, Harley and Honda.

    • lee rhodes

      You need to read the report.

      The BMW bikes with issues were those that were fully decked out…the touring group. Second…the average repair was less than $200.

      • Luigi Stugatz

        Next to last… is next to last… not almost next to but next to last.

        • lee rhodes

          You should always read the fine print when looking at such surveys.
          If you don’t load your big touring bike up with all the electronic bells and whistles…you will be just fine.

      • Luigi Stugatz

        So I assume you recommending the cheaper BMW if we want better quality. Did any of the other bikes get worse as they got decked out?

        • lee rhodes

          Nope…suggesting that you stay away from some of the big touring bikes (the RT is very good….the leading police bike in the world)…and don’t load it up with the extensive list of electronic goodies that are offered. If you read the report….the large touring bikes loaded with electronics, which you may not find available on other bikes,…are the leading issues.

          I’m on my 4th BMW in the last 21 years. Never, never had a breakdown or major repair issue. Had one very minor issue 15 years ago…under warranty.

    • chslwl1

      I had concerns with BMW reliability; had never owned one. Began riding trail bikes at age in my mid 50’s. Owned many bikes…recently parted with my GL1800 and Concours 1400 for the BMW K1600GT. +20K miles in 7 months, including +12K on a 10 week cross country this past summer. Not a single glitch. At this point, without a doubt, the best bike I have ever rode (and I’ve rode well over 50 for at least a few hours each). You are right, reliability is huge…and my verdict could change. But from my experience; and many other K1600 owners, no bike touches the overall performance of this one.

      • Luigi Stugatz

        I’m sure you and other owners lover the BMWs with no problems. But it takes lots of people like in the CR questionnaire to establish a better level of accuracy.

  • joe1234x

    3 letters: FJR.

    • TonyCarlos

      Three words: needs another gear.

      • joe1234x

        Not even a little. Perfect rpm at highway speeds, and no problem bridging the gaps between the 5 gears. Dumb comments like this are what result in mfg’ers putting 6 gears on a bike that does not need them at all.

  • DeadArmadillo

    As an ex RT owner who was tires of an unreadable display, high prices for service, wussy sound, etc. etc. I couldn’t disagree more. And the Ducati? Don’t make me laugh.

    • Kevin Duke

      Perhaps you haven’t ridden the wasser-Boxer version?

      • DeadArmadillo

        Kevin, for a long time you’ve been drinking the European KOOL AID. Especially BMW’S. While they’re an OK bike, they are just that. Alright. You need to go buy one and deal with it as the rest of us proles have to.

        • Kevin Duke

          I’ll take that as a no.

          • DeadArmadillo

            Actually, yes.

          • DeadArmadillo

            Did take it as no, you don’t own one. You really should buy one so you can live with it and of course ” your authorized BMW dealer”

  • Foresooth

    I acknowledge that the tests of this bike rate it very highly indeed, usually noting the high cost that you pay for the privilege. But I also note that this bike failed very publicly and demonstrably and early owners were without their bikes for a considerable time. This is not some more nebulous Consumer Survey result, or a limited recall for a minor fault, but a total global failure with potentially very dangerous and major failure. On a bike with a seriously premium price and notoriously high cost of ownership.

    Surely such a major and clear cut failure should rule the bike out of contention for an award that supposedly rewards motorcycling excellence, no matter how good its performance in some areas of onroad performance is? That recent R and K models also seem to be beset by a number of expensive and unpredictable failures that are not likely to be experienced by riders of Japanese competitors (none of which I own) should only arose further concerns.

    I would love to own one of these or a K1600GT as I will soon be in the market for a new sports tourer. However, the risk of high cost failures, as evidenced among riders here in Australia, is too high for me to accept or afford. Brand loyalty does not relate to reliability or quality. I have spoken to many BMW, Harley and Ducati riders who freely acknowledge their bikes are expensive to maintain and unreliable or lack durability compared to others, but are fiercely devoted to the marque.
    An award for a bike on a site like this can’t realistically take into account future inservice reliability (or otherwise) potential, but it should reflect known and demonstrated evidence of failure.

  • chslwl1

    Rode the multistrada on a test; rode a 2012 FJR for a few days, rode all the BMW 1200’s for at least 5 hours. Owned many bikes over the past 40 years. Sold my 2003 GL1800 Goldwing last year; and sold my 2012 Concours back in March. Bought the BMW K1600GT a day after the Concours sold…never looked back. Hands down, the best overall bike I have ever ridden. Already piled +20K miles; most of it on a 10 week cross country this past summer. An absolute joy to own. At 6’4″, not quite as comfy as the GL1800…not quite as fast as a supersport. But all the categories bikes are scored on…handling, power/torque, speed, ergo, braking, riding with passenger, and more….it is the cream of the crop. If you can afford the extra $5K over the Yamaha…buy it.

  • Carmelo Santini

    So… was the R1200RS not out when all this was going on with the RT? Not sure when it came out. Doesn’t that exemplify sport touring more than this does? I’d be curious on a head to head between the two.