2005 BMW K 1200 S "Second Time Around"

The '05 K1200S: Version 1.1?

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A Second Opinion: Gabe Goes the Distance on MO's 2005 BMW K1200S

After Dirty enjoyed his gourmet meal'ed, bed and breakfast'ed, superbly guided tour on the best roads in the world all-on-BMW's-dime press intro fantasy weekend on the K1200S, he abandoned the bug-spattered machine in my San Francisco garage, tossed the keys to me and said, "here, take this back to LA next week." and then hopped into the limo to SFO. So that's how you treat the new guy, eh? I dreaded the boring, eight hour drone.

So the following Monday, I hooked up my satellite radio receiver, strapped on my duffle bag, and hit the road. For about 12 minutes. Over 65 mph, the clutch seemed to be spinning faster than the motor. A trip to Don Lemelin's dyno at Scuderia West in San Francisco revealed a severely deteriorating clutch.

A week later, after much trial and tribulation, I was aboard a silver but otherwise identical K1200S, satellite radio in ears, on the 101 back to LA. My prior experience had not impressed me much, so the Beemer needed to really shine to impress me.

About 250 miles later, I was severely impressed. The 2005 BMW K1200S is really different than any BMW I've ever ridden. It's really everything a BMW motorcycle should be: an impeccably handling, obscenely fast, impossibly comfortable mile eater.

I selected a route to LA from San Francisco I would not have taken in a car or lesser motorcycle. From 101 south, I took CA 25 south through Hollister and then through almost 80 miles of lush, rolling hills and long straights pointing across broad valleys filled with grass, trees and cows.

After listening to an hour of NPR, I turned left onto CA 198 towards Coalinga and enjoyed a nice roller coaster ride through the Diablo mountain range. In Coalinga, I turned right onto CA 33 and rode along a mostly straight and boring road that was nonetheless nicely paved and even more nicely free of CHP and 18-wheelers. I could say I averaged ninety-something the whole length of it, but that would be admitting guilt to an incredibly heinous, dangerous and anti-societal act.

After an hour of that, I joined the fun on I-5 for an hour, almost being run down by a 95 mph tailgater in a Chrysler minivan and fighting the wind. After that, it was a short dinner break and another 90 minutes of the Grapevine mountain pass and the descent to the MO cave in Torrance, less than eight hours after I left San Francisco. I had listened to so much NPR I was ready to jab Terry Gross with a thumbtack.

Why did I detail my trip so thoroughly? Because the K12 just inhales that kind of ride, and made it the most fun transit from SF to LA I've had since I was a teenager. It is an excellent distance mount, without feeling like a tourer.

The first thing that makes it good is the seating position. The bars are fairly low, but you are still just barely leaning forward. The pegs are placed well enough that I never scraped them but also felt no need to stretch my legs out until six hours into the trip. The rider's weight is so nicely distributed that you hardly notice the fact that you are truly in a sportbike position for the turns.

Transparent, neutral handling adds to the effortless feel of this sporty K bike. The front end is very good for an alternative design. It felt much more planted than previous Telelevers, but didn't dive under braking or hop under sharp bumps, even mid-corner under braking. This is a good thing on twisty, bumpy, and usually too fast roads.

Too fast? This brings us to the motor, which is impressive not for being the fastest, which it isn't, or the smoothest, or the most compact. It's impressive because it works well at real-world speeds, lets you leave it in any gear, at almost any speed without lugging or getting snatchy, and has a very non-Teutonic zaniness at high RPMs. I don't know why the clutch sticks out so far on the left, though. That can be annoying, especially for taller riders.

As Americans, we truly understand that it's better to have more than you can possibly use than to want for anything, so the extra 80 horsepower offered by a machine like this is just nice to have. If you read our Classic Touring Comparo, you will recall I thought that "a $16,000 motorcycle should have more power than you can use in any situation". BMW, thanks for listening! Freakin' mission accomplished! Even up a steep hill, in sixth gear, at 80mph, passing in the dead of night up that Grapevine hill was sickeningly easy. That motor is just a gem on the Interstate or on twisty two-lane roads.

But it's not totally perfect. The odd front end feels a bit ponderous at low speeds, like the front tire is low on air. The brakes take a bit of getting used to: you can feel the servo mechanism boosting the brakes. I didn't notice the fuel injection glitches, but I wasn't trying to keep up with Sean, either. And the seat stopped being comfortable after four or five hours, although what seat doesn't?

BMW has a mission of building smooth, fast and comfortable escape pods for their well-heeled owners. That's why they have such a great reputation and why they command so much respect from motorcyclists and non-motorcyclists alike. The K1200S is definitely a classic BMW in this regard. And although there are competitors that can perform a similar mission at a much lower price, the K1200S is still a great motorcycle, not just a great BMW. -Gabe


** Specs Provided By BMW Motorcycles **
2005 BMW K 1200 S - MSRP $15,750
Our Test bike had the following options: ABS $995, ESA $750, and Heated Handgrips $200.

Engine Type

4-cyl - 4 stroke inline 4


1157 cc

Claimed Horsepower

167 bhp @ 10,250 rpm

Claimed Torque

96 lb-ft @ 8,250 rpm




Dohc, 4 valve

Cooling system


Secondary drive



Aluminum frame

Front suspension

Double longitudinal link (Duolever)

Front travel

4.5 inches

Rear suspension


Rear travel

5.3 inches

Brake system

Partial integral ABS

Front brakes

4-piston 4-cyl fixed caliper

Front discs

2 x 12.6 inches

Rear brakes

2-cyl fist caliper

Rear disc

10.4 inches


Hydraulic, DOT 4 fluid type

Front wheel

3.50 x 17 cast alloy, five, double-spoke

Rear wheel

5.50 x 17 cast alloy, five, double-spoke

Front tire

Metzeler Sportec-M1 120/70 ZR 17
Bridgestone BT 014F 120/70 ZR 17

Rear tire

Metzler Sportec-M1 190/50 ZR 17
Bridgestone BT 014R 190/50 ZR 17

Overall length

7.26 feet

Overall width

33.8 inches


61.8 inches

Ground clearance

4.65 inches

Seat height

32.3 inches/31.1 inches

Steering angle

60.6 degrees

Front wheel trail

4.9 inches

Claimed Weight - Dry (w/ dry battery)

499 lbs.

Load Capacity

448 lbs.

Maximum load

992 lbs. GVWR

Fuel tank capacity

5.0 gallons

Theoretical range before refueling (75 mph)

218 miles


Granite gray metallic
Indigo blue metallic
Indigo blue metallic / alpine white
Sun yellow / white aluminum metallic / dark graphit metallic

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