2005 BMW R 1200ST and R 1200RT

story by Sean Alexander, Created Mar. 17, 2005
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The R 1200ST & R 1200RT represent a major shift in BMW's motorcycle philosophy. BMW has been touting the prowess of its new K-Bike for the last six months, while they quietly re-designed their bread-n-butter boxer twins. We tested their new four-cylinder, 160Hp, K 1200S three months ago and came away impressed, but couldn't help noting that the bike is aimed at a narrow cross section of the motorcycle universe. However, these new R series boxer twins are the bikes that traditional BMW buyers and smart motorcycle consumers ought to be paying attention to.

The new BMW R1200 RT and R1200 ST are loosely based on the all-new R1200GS, sharing its basic swingarm, frame and engine design. This is a good thing, because the GS felt about twenty years newer than the old R 1100/1150 series. Thankfully, the GS' "Hey, I'm actually riding a 21st century motorcycle!" feeling carries directly over to the new R1200 ST and RT. I spent a couple of days on them, blasting around Palm Springs, Palomar Mountain and beautiful SoCal farmland. When I was done riding the ST & RT, my impression of BMW boxer twins had changed completely.

2005 BMW R 1200 RT

The BMW R 1200 RT replaces the R 1150 RT as BMW's mid-line touring platform. Though the new RT makes a credible sport tourer, we shouldn't call it one because BMW's official "Sport Tourer" designation is occupied by the new R 1200 ST.

However, the RT is also an accomplished long distance luxury tourer, though the K 1200 LT is BMW's official luxo tourer. So, where exactly does this place the R 1200 RT? The best answer I can come up with is... "everywhere". After all, what can you call a bike whose dynamic performance falls within 5% of the ST and whose long-haul comfort and luggage capacity is comparable to the LT?

The new R 1200 RT's styling is significantly more refined and quite a bit more handsome than the old R 1150 RT's.

I guess we should simply call the new R 1200 RT BMW's "best choice" tourer. We just received an R 1200RT for further testing, and the first thing we did was strap it to our Dynojet. Folks, BMW wasn't lying; our new R 1200 RT just cranked out an honest 102.95Hp @ 7,300rpm and 80.95LbFt @ 6,250rpm at the tire. These are some mighty impressive numbers for an air/oil cooled boxer-twin.

The $17,490 R 1200 RT features a veritable plethora of standard features, including BMW's excellent heated grips, adjustable seat height, electrically adjustable windscreen, partially linked ABS, cruise control, well-integrated color-matched hard luggage, integrated tank-bag rails, 12V power outlet, center stand and 15 other things that I'm just too lazy to list.

In addition to those standard features, you can also get an optional Radio/CD changer, heated seat, trip computer, extra-low seat, alarm, and various combinations of seat and trim colors. Like the ST, the RT's standard toolkit has been reduced from BMW's usually comprehensive kit, to something closer to what you'd expect to find on a Japanese motorcycle.

However, the traditional BMW uber-toolkit is available as an extra-cost option. One highly interesting option available on the new RT and ST models, is BMW's new $750 ESA (Electric Suspension Adjustment) Unfortunately, our test units were not equipped with ESA, so I can't comment on its effectiveness, though on-the-fly adjustment of preload and rebound damping seems like a cool feature indeed. The R 1200 RT is powered by the same basic 1,170cc air/oil cooled boxer-twin found in the new R 1200 GS, but shares the ST's revised tuning, for improved high-rpm power.

"Also like the ST, the RT is equipped with a second oxygen sensor to provide better fuel mapping."

If RT riders were drag racers, the 04 guys would quickly look the other way when the 05 riders showed up.

Compared to the R 1150 RT that we rode last summer in our 2004 Sport Touring Comparo, the new 1200 RT is significantly quicker, feeling like it has quite a bit less flywheel effect coupled with a noticeable boost in power everywhere in the rev range.

If RT riders were drag racers, the 04 guys would quickly look the other way when the 05 riders showed up.

Not only is the bike more powerful than last year's model, it also does away with the 04 model's much despised fully linked brakes.

Though the new RT still sounds like a traditional boxer-twin, its improved chassis and power output transform the riding experience into something more like an Aprilia Futura, than a traditional BMW twin.

Unfortunately, it still gets a little buzzy above 7,000RPM and it retains a funky idle and occasional hiccup when cold. Once warmed up, this engine works wonderfully in the midrange with good thrust and a pleasant sound, as you flaunt the speed limit through endless mountain passes. Furthermore, the harmonic vibrations of a well-balanced twin are conducive to long distance comfort, with a pleasant thrum accompanying the rapidly climbing odometer.

Though the new RT still sounds like a traditional boxer-twin, its improved chassis and power output transform the riding experience into something more like an Aprilia Futura, than a traditional BMW twin.

The riding position and airflow management are supremely executed on the RT, and even though the standard seat is a bit on the soft side, the whole package ranks among the most comfortable bikes in the world for highway travel.

Speaking of airflow management, the RT's new infinitely adjustable windscreen offers almost total coverage without buffeting, and in hot weather it can be set low enough to allow significant airflow around the rider's head and upper torso. The system looks and operates much like the screen on Honda's ST 1300, but the Honda can't match the RT's lack of turbulence or abundance of fresh air. Overall, if you were to offer me any bike on the planet for an extended coast-to-coast tour, I wouldn't hesitate to pick this new R 1200 RT.

"The color matched side cases are another well-designed feature on the RT."

They are a cinch to operate, with outstanding fit between the bike and bag and between the two halves when closing the lid.

The RT's upright riding position and low center of gravity make it a deceptively competent bike in the city.

They integrate into the bike's handsome new bodywork much more cleanly than the old system and appear large enough to swallow a couple sacks of groceries or a week's worth of clothes. Both bags will easily accommodate a large full-face helmet.

My only real complaint with the RT was that even though BMW touts its new mirrors as being "huge" and designed to double as hand guards, I found them exceedingly difficult to aim and even when correctly adjusted, I didn't feel as though they offered a very effective picture of what was going on behind the bike. They do however effectively shield the rider's hands from bugs and rain, so it's not a total loss. Other than the mirrors and steep pricing, I can't find anything else to complain about on the RT. I even think the partially linked ABS brakes are appropriate for this bike.

After riding the RT over many of the same roads that I covered on the R 1200 ST, I must give the nod to the ST when it comes to outright "sportbike" handling. However, the RT is only a fraction behind it, since they both share the same basic chassis and engine.

The RT may carry an extra 50Lbs and push a larger hole through the atmosphere, but its taller/wider handlebars give more leverage, so the average rider will probably go just as fast on the RT, unless they happen to be a pro racer (in which case they'd probably be riding supersport anyway). In normal riding, you really have to pay close attention to notice the speed difference. On the flip side, the RT is significantly more comfortable than the ST, not to mention more practical, thanks to its better airflow management, roomier passenger accommodations and capacious standard luggage. For me, the choice is obvious; buy the RT if you can afford the $17,490 MSRP.

Page2If this new RT had been available last August, I honestly believe it would have spanked the competition in our 2004 Sport Touring Comparo, since it addresses our two biggest complaints (lack of power, and harsh brake linking) with the old R 1150 RT. If the R 1200 RT's boxer twin could sing a beautiful Italian baritone, it might even knock Aprilia and Ducati completely out of the sport touring business! It's that good. Then again, this sort of excellence is expected in the $17K+ price range, and it's nice to finally see BMW deliver.

** Specs Provided By BMW Motorcycles **
2005 BMW R 1200 RT - MSRP $17,490
BMW R 1200 RT
Engine
Type Air-cooled/oil-cooled Boxer twin-cylinder
Bore x Stroke 101.0 mm X 73.0 mm
Displacement 1170cc
Claimed Horsepower 110 bhp @ 7500 rpm
Claimed Torque 85 lb/ft @ 6000 rpm
Compression Ratio 12.0:1
Valve Gear HC, chain-driven
Valves 2.0 x 36.0 mm intake / 2.0 x 31.0 mm exhaust
Valves/Cylinder Four
Engine Oil Capacity 4.2 Quarts
Engine Management BMW Engine Controller - BMS K
Fuel Requirement HDPE, internal pump and internal filter
Fuel Capacity 7.1 U.S. Gallons including 1 gallon reserve
Charging System 720 Watts @ 14 Volts
Battery 12 Volts 10 Amps/hour low maintenance
Cooling System Air and thermostatically controlled oil cooling
Drivetrain
Primary Drive 1:1.882
Clutch 180 mm dry, single plate with hydraulic actuation
1st Gear Ratio 2.28:1
2nd Gear Ratio 1.58:1
3rd Gear Ratio 1.26:1
4th Gear Ratio 1.03:1
5th Gear Ratio 0.90:1
6th Gear Ratio 0.81:1
Final Drive System Enclosed driveshaft w/ two universal joints
Final Drive Ratio 2.62:1
Frame and Suspension
Frame Three-part, engine/cast aluminum/tubular steel
Front Suspension BMW Telelever
Front Travel 4.7 inches
Rear Suspension BMW Paralever
Rear Travel 5.3 inches
Brakes
Brake System BMW EVO with partial integral ABS
Front Brakes Two, four-piston fized calipers
Front Rotor 12.6 inch dual floating rotors
Rear Brake Single, two-piston fixed caliper
Rear Rotor 10.4 inch single, fixed rotor
Actuation Method Hydraulic, DOT 4 fluid type
Wheels and Tires
Front Wheel 3.50 x 17 cast alloy, five double-spoke
Rear Wheel 5.00 x 17 cast alloy, five double-spoke
Front Tire 120/70 x 17 tubeless
Rear Tire 180/55 x 17 tubeless
Dimensions
Overall Length 87.8 inches
Overall Width 35.6 inches
Wheelbase 58.4 inches
Ground Clearance 6.1 inches
Seat Height 32.2 inches
Steering Angle 63.4 degrees
Front Wheel Trail 4.3 inches
Claimed Weight - Dry 505 lbs. excluding options & accessories
Claimed Weight - Wet 571 lbs. w/o cases
Maximum Load 1091 lbs. GVWR
Standard Colors
Code/Price Description
911 / N/C Piedmont Red Metallic
933 / N/C Granit Grey Metallic
946 / N/C Dark Graphite Metallic
Standard Equipment
519 / N/C Heated Hand Grips
538 / N/C Cruise Control
Available Equipment
164 / N/C-option Seat - Gray
350 / $125.00 Chrome Exhaust Pipe
416 / $750.00 Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA)
510 / $50.00 Oil Level Warning
518 / $270.00 RT - Heated Seat
539 / $215.00 On Board Computer
540 / $1450.00 RT - Radio / CD
565 / N/C-option Engine Spolier Black
566 / N/C-option Engine Spoiler Silver
588 / $35.00 Clear Turn Singal Lenses
603 / $210.00 Anti Theft Alarm
725 / $390.00 Radio Prep. Kit
773 / N/C-option Seat - Black
776 / N/C-option Seat - Low (30.7 inches)
R 1200RT w/ optional tank bag and top box.


2005 R 1200 ST

The new R 1200 ST replaces BMW's R 1150 RS model and is aimed squarely at Honda's Interceptor (VFR), with additional targets being the Ducati ST-4S, Triumph Sprint ST and even Kawasaki's ZZR-1200, according to their chief designer.

As you probably know, those are some lofty targets. To facilitate this newfound ambition, BMW has redesigned the old R 1150 RS so extensively that they claim it is "100% New".

For contrast, BMW says the new R 1200 ST is 12% lighter, has 14% more horsepower and 17% more torque than the R 1150 RS.

The new ST's suspension is a little on the soft side, but still offers good control, as long as the rider is smooth.

This works out to a *claimed* 110Hp & 85LbFt at the crank, coupled with a dry weight of 452Lbs. I may have been a bit skeptical during the presentation, but I was positively astounded to find that it actually felt more like a 50% power and weight improvement once I was on the road. Bravo!

We just received an R 1200RT for further testing, and the first thing we did was strap it to our Dynojet.

It appears that BMW was spot-on in their estimates; our new R 1200 RT just cranked out an honest 102.95Hp @ 7,300rpm and 80.95LbFt @ 6,250rpm at the tire.

Though it's unlikely to win prettiest bike at the ball honors, we think the ST looks best in the Dark Graphite / Piedmont Red combo.

These are some mighty impressive numbers for an air/oil cooled boxer-twin, and since the ST shares the same motor tuning with the RT, these numbers should apply to both models.

That new found power is generated by an 1,170cc air/oil cooled boxer-twin similar to the unit in the new R 1200 GS, but tuned for more high-rpm power and equipped with a second oxygen sensor to provide better fuel mapping. Not surprisingly, the result is quite similar to the GS' motor, but with a bit more willingness to rev and a power delivery optimized for effective thrust in medium to high speed corners.

Page3Chassis wise, BMW borrowed heavily from the new R 1200 GS, with the funky-techno-beautiful hollow hub + swingarm + shaft-drive combo dominating the bike's rear. Even though traditional round-tube semi-trellis subframes support the tailsection and upper steering pivot, they are mostly obscured by the bike's bodywork. Speaking of bodywork, I fear "nose" and "rhinoplasty" jokes will dominate any discussions about the ST's new fairing. I must admit, it is a bit awkward looking. Though it's unlikely to win prettiest bike at the ball honors, I think the ST looks best in the Dark Graphite / Piedmont Red combo, but you can use BMW's interactive R 1200 ST color guide to judge for yourself.

"Side and rear 3/4 views seem to be the most flattering."

Though it's unlikely to win prettiest bike at the ball honors, we think the ST looks best in the Dark Graphite / Piedmont Red combo.

Aesthetics aside, the new R 1200 ST features adjustable clip-ons that move through a 25mm vertical range, allowing the rider to tailor them from a full-race low position to a top-clamp level high position. In addition, the rider's seat adjusts to three different heights and there is an optional extra-low saddle for those short of inseam. Further adjustments can be had by taking an allen wrench to the funky new windscreen, giving a manual adjustment range from (according to BMW) "race to touring". The $14,990 R 1200 ST includes typical BMW standard amenities like a 12V auxiliary power outlet near the rider's seat, a center stand, hazard flashers and a tool kit, plus a new set of cleanly-integrated side case mounts, though the bags themselves are a dealer-installed extra-cost accessory.

The standard toolkit has been reduced from BMW's usually stellar kit, to something closer to what you'd expect to find on a Japanese motorcycle, they did this due to packaging limitations and to save weight. However, the more comprehensive BMW toolkit is still available as an extra-cost option. Speaking of options, my test bike was equipped with BMW's outstanding heated grips ($200) and their not-so-great partially-linked ABS ($995). Enough with the details, it's time to ride.

"To be sure I wasn't mistaken, I repeated the wheelie several more times ..."

After starting my R 1200 ST, it became apparent that it still has that funky rough boxer-twin idle with the occasional hiccup or hesitation when cold. However, it took all of two blocks for me to notice some drastic behavioral changes compared to the old bike. I figured I'd start the day's ride with a little wheelie, but I actually achieved a near-vertical mono-salute for BMW's engineers. It would seem that this bike wheelies with significantly less throttle and clutch than the old RS. I was suitably impressed and evidently, the rider behind me was suitably frightened, since he maintained an exaggerated gap for the rest of the "guided" portion of the ride. No kidding, the new bike's throttle response and light weight have completely transformed the R 1200's character.

To be sure I wasn't mistaken, I repeated the wheelie several more times and I think I heard another journo mumble something about "you can take the journalist away from the squids, but you'll never take the squid out of the journalist." Unfortunately, it didn't take long to find out that the engine gets a little buzzy as it approaches its 8,000RPM redline. What's worse is that it slams into an abrupt rev-limiter as soon as the needle touches red. I wouldn't know this personally (oh no, not me), but I hear that if you happen to be doing a wheelie when this occurs, the front end slams back to earth with enough force to knock the wind out of you. Fortunately, most people don't buy BMWs just to do wheelies.

Overall, this engine works wonderfully in the midrange with good thrust and a pleasant sound, as you scythe from apex to apex.

On the open road, I found the gearing to be ideally suited for sustained high speed cruising, with a pleasant thrum letting the rider know they are astride a twin. Personally, I think that two or six cylinders are the only way to go for sustained highway cruising, since their harmonic vibrations fall into a more pleasant frequency range than that of most fours. As the ride made its way out of Palm Springs and up into the mountains, I passed the guide and set off at my own elevated pace.

Sean was pleasantly surprised by the ST's ability to make tight turns at a slow walking pace.

My next startling revelation came about three turns into the mountains, as the bike happily leaned farther and farther over, until it was doing a passable middleweight supersport imitation. I immediately appreciated the new bike's light steering and excellent mass centralization, as it rolled effortlessly back and forth through the string of esses and hairpins climbing away from the desert floor.

I found the ST's willingness to change direction a bit surprising, and though it has narrower "clip-on" style bars, I think its combination of sportbike tires and shorter suspension will probably allow it to outmaneuver the "handlebar" equipped R 1200 GS when the pavement is smooth. Another boon to handling is the fact that even though the bike is equipped with a center stand and two large oil-cooled magnesium crash protectors jutting out each side of its fairing, ground clearance will probably never be an issue on public roads. Sure, you could remove the center stand and scrape the cylinder heads if you really tried, but what's the point? Stock, the R 1200 ST will lean farther than 99.9% of its intended audience is likely to attempt.

After 25 miles of twisties, the highway straightened-out as it meandered through rolling farmland. This allowed for some extended steady-state cruising and enabled me to concentrate on comfort issues. For long distance riding and commuter use, the R 1200 ST's adjustable clip-ons are still too low, even when adjusted to their highest position. This can cause mild discomfort in traffic and other low-speed situations. The peg placement, seat quality and airflow management are well executed and with a 1" higher rise on the clip-ons this bike could challenge the established Sport Tourers for highway comfort. Overall, I'd say the ST isn't bad, but I think it's not quite as comfortable as a VFR; however, it's significantly better than most cruisers or race replica supersports for long distance work.

I arrived at our mid-morning pit stop about ten minutes before the rest of the group and took the opportunity to ask the event coordinators to shoot a few photos while I took a spin around the empty parking lot and weaved through the cones that BMW had set-up to denote our parking area. I was pleasantly surprised by the ST's ability to make tight turns at a slow walking pace and I found its overall parking lot behavior to be superior to other clip-on equipped bikes.

"After the break, I took off for the tight/twisty side of Palomar Mountain. Palomar is one of those places where sportbike riders tend to congregate and plastic shards tend to fill the roadside ditches."

Thanks to its tight nature, Palomar is ideally suited to dual-purpose bikes on street rubber or stubby streetfighters like the Buell XB series. Of course, you work with what god gives you and in this case, it was a BMW R 1200 ST. Funny enough, once I got to the top, I found myself relaxed and fresh, even though I had just dragged a big BMW along at a pace that would embarrass most pure sportbikes. My appreciation grows... I finished the day with another 150 miles of travel and arrived at my destination with tired wrists, but otherwise ready to do it all over again.

By now, you're probably thinking the ST sounds like the perfect bike for a mature rider who wants reasonable comfort coupled with decent high performance capabilities. However, all bikes have their issues and the new ST is no exception. My biggest complaint is that the optional partially linked ABS brakes seem to have a lower release threshold than is ideal for "sporting" use. I caught them feathering the line pressure on dry pavement, when I wanted total control of the brakes. Safety is great, but the power assisted linked-ABS nanny offers mediocre feel at best and can be dangerous when it intervenes as you are deliberately trying to trail-brake onto a tighter line. I learned this with startling suddenness, when I was caught by surprise by a much tighter than expected decreasing-radius corner.

The R 1200 ST features cleanly integrated mounts for the optional side cases. If you add the optional luggage rack, you can also opt for a top box.

I was probably going a bit fast for the corner to begin with, but as I increased pressure on the front brake to help tighten my line, the ABS kicked in and the resulting release and pulsing of the brakes caused the bike to understeer at the worst possible moment. This caused me to do something that I hate... I crossed the double yellow into the oncoming lane. Luckily for me, there was no oncoming traffic and the only harm done (this time) was the embarrassment of having the bike go somewhere that I didn't deliberately choose. I know that if the ST had "normal" brakes, I would have tightened my line as intended and continued on my merry way without encroaching on the oncoming lane. I think partially-linked ABS is "ok" on larger touring bikes and cruisers, but I find it ill-suited in a sporting application.

However, I also know that if there had been mud, gravel or ice around the next corner, I would gladly trade the response of non-linked non-ABS brakes for the BMW's electronic nannies and to be fair, the EVO ABS does offer good overall braking power. Too bad we can't (yet) have our cake and eat it too.

Aside from its frustrating optional ABS and clip-ons that could use another inch of height, the new BMW R 1200 ST is one stellar machine. Its engine power, chassis composure and weight loss have transformed it into a worthy contender for top sport touring honors. Sure, I may be getting older, but my newfound respect is due more to BMW's outstanding dynamic improvements, than the expanding and softening of my gluteus maximus.

** Specs Provided By BMW Motorcycles **
2005 BMW R 1200 ST - MSRP $14,990
BMW R 1200 ST
Engine
Type Air-cooled/oil-cooled Boxer twin-cylinder
Bore x Stroke 101.0 mm X 73.0 mm
Displacement 1170cc
Claimed Horsepower 110 bhp @ 7500 rpm
Claimed Torque 85 lb/ft @ 6000 rpm
Compression Ratio 12.0:1
Valve Gear HC, chain-driven
Valves 2.0 x 36.0 mm intake / 2.0 x 31.0 mm exhaust
Valves/Cylinder Four
Engine Oil Capacity 4.2 Quarts
Engine Management BMW Engine Controller - BMS K
Fuel Requirement HDPE, internal pump and internal filter
Fuel Capacity 5.5 U.S. Gallons including 1 gallon reserve
Charging System 720 Watts @ 14 Volts
Battery 12 Volts 10 Amps/hour low maintenance
Cooling System Air and thermostatically controlled oil cooling
BMW R 1200 ST
Drivetrain
Primary Drive 1:1.882
Clutch 180 mm dry, single plate with hydraulic actuation
1st Gear Ratio 2.28:1
2nd Gear Ratio 1.58:1
3rd Gear Ratio 1.26:1
4th Gear Ratio 1.03:1
5th Gear Ratio 0.90:1
6th Gear Ratio 0.81:1
Final Drive System Enclosed driveshaft w/ two universal joints
Final Drive Ratio 2.62:1
Frame and Suspension
Frame Three-part, engine/cast aluminum/tubular steel
Front Suspension BMW Telelever
Front Travel 4.3 inches
Rear Suspension BMW Paralever
Rear Travel 5.5 inches
Brakes
Brake System BMW EVO
Front Brakes Two, four-piston fized calipers
Front Rotor 12.6 inch dual floating rotors
Rear Brake Single, two-piston fixed caliper
Rear Rotor 10.4 inch single, fixed rotor
Actuation Method Hydraulic, DOT 4 fluid type
Wheels and Tires
Front Wheel 3.50 x 17 cast alloy, five double-spoke
Rear Wheel 5.00 x 17 cast alloy, five double-spoke
Front Tire 120/70 x 17 tubeless
Rear Tire 180/55 x 17 tubeless
Dimensions
Overall Length 85.2 inches
Overall Width 35.0 inches
Wheelbase 59.1 inches
Ground Clearance N/A
Seat Height 31.9 inches
Steering Angle 63.0 degrees
Front Wheel Trail 4.4 inches
Claimed Weight - Dry 452 lbs. excluding options & accessories
Claimed Weight - Wet 505 lbs. excluding options & accessories
Maximum Load 1014 lbs. GVWR
Standard Colors
Code/Price Description
990 / N/C Granite Grey/Light Magnesium
991 / N/C Piedmont Red/Light Magnesium
992 / N/C Sydney Blue/Light Magnesium
993 / N/C Granite Grey/Dark Graphite
994 / N/C Piedmont Red/Dark Graphite
995 / N/C Sydney Blue/Dark Graphite
R 1200 ST w/ optional Tank Bag, Top Box and Side Cases.
Standard Equipment
636/ N/C Center Stand
Available Equipment
350 / $125.00 Chrome Exhaust Pipe
416 / $750.00 Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA)
519 / $200.00 Heated Hand Grips
603 / $210.00 Anti Theft Alarm
645 / $995.00 ABS - Partial Intergral
665 / $125.00 Luggage Grid
776 / N/C-option Seat - Low (30.7 inches)

2005 BMW R 1200 GS

By Sean Alexander, 05/14/04
Photos by Alfonse Palaima, Sean Alexander and Lee Parks

BMW motorcycles have a loyal following and legions of admirers. However, aside from last year's Rockster, I haven't found a BMW boxer-twin that I truly like. That's what I would have told you a month ago, if you'd asked me what I thought about Beemers with cylinders jutting out of their sides. That was then... Ask me today, and I'm more likely to reply with something like "Man, that new R 1200 GS is a neat bike."

Thank you BMW, we've been trying to get Sean to take a bath for months!

Though I have said less than kind things about them in the past, BMW was gracious enough to invite me to the intro for their new R 1200 GS "Adventure Tourer" and I'm glad they did. Aside from a few niggling development issues, this new GS is ready to compete with the latest adventure touring bikes from Triumph, Aprilia and Suzuki.

More than just an ugly new face and decal project, the new R 1200 GS is significantly lighter, faster and less quirky than the R 1150 GS it replaces.

It steers lightly, shreds twisties, does great wheelies, cruises comfortably, buzzes lightly and generally acts like a modern 85Hp motorcycle should.

Oh baby! My shaft is funky and wide.

Much of the credit for this newfound functionality goes to a thorough redesign of the entire power train, chassis and engine. BMW claims that the R 1200 GS makes 100Hp at the crank. MO dynoed our test unit and it put an honest 85Hp to the ground, so this number is completely believable.

Page4Slightly less believable is BMW's claim that the new GS weighs 496Lbs dry and is "Lighter than every full-fledged competitor out there." I wonder what bikes BMW classifies as "Full Fledged" competitors? Harley Electra Glides perhaps? Surely, a Suzuki V-Strom is lighter. Ok, I'll be nice. Fact is, the 1200 does feel considerably lighter than the 1150 GS and its asphalt canyon and off-road performance is much improved.

It is now good enough that I would need to do a back-to-back comparison test, to determine the best all-around bike between an R 1200GS, V-Strom, Tiger, and 950 Adventure. Hmmm.... Perhaps a grand MO comparo / adventure tour is in order!

"I'm immediately impressed with how much stiffer and more responsive the 1200 GS feels."

"My initial impression of the new R 1200 GS, is that like the other bikes in its class, the BMW sits high and those short of inseam will be somewhat intimidated by it's stance."

However, I am a tall person and found the extra room afforded by its rangy layout to be quite comfortable. The GS' standard seat is independently adjustable front and rear, so not only can you change the seat's height, but also it's angle. At its lowest setting, the bike is livable for shorter riders, but if you are under 5'7" or so, I'd recommend sitting on one first, before ordering or purchasing. Another item that quickly caught my attention was the new instrument cluster, which incorporates an analog speedo and tachometer with a large multi-function display that is easy to read in direct sunlight.

The only flaw I found during my time on the GS is that the digital fuel gage often failed to reset itself after a fill up. This meant that on more than one occasion, the trip computer displayed "Range 0 Miles" for most of a tank of gas. The technicians on hand assured me that it was a pre-production software glitch that would be fixed, before the bikes hit a showroom. The rest of the controls and layout are typical BMW, with their intuitive turn signals and 50Kw microwave oven heated handgrips that are suitable for roasting squirrels, while you play the harmonica by the campfire. Neat details abound on this bike, like the integral mounts for a new style of BMW expandable metal side cases and that hollow rear axle that you can shoot photos through. The bike hardly qualifies as "Beautiful" but it is easy to call "Neat", "Funky", and "Cool".

Antique Roadshow, I mean,
FACEOFF!

Because we can, we dyno tested a local 90K mile 1988 R 100 GS with our 2005 GS - just in case you were considering the upgrade!







When the Press Ride starts, I'm immediately impressed with how much stiffer and more responsive the 1200 GS feels. Riding from the hotel to the highway, it's fun to toss around and I do a couple of wheelies, lest some of the other journalists confuse me with a professional. After we get to the highway, we spend a heck of a lot of time droning along in a straight line. This is tedious but serves to underline how comfortable the bike is, as well as highlighting its enhanced horsepower when we merge with traffic, or pass truckers. On this long drone, the new boxer-twin proves to be a bit smoother than the old 1130cc engine. More importantly, there is no evidence of the "surging" that has plagued oil head boxers in the past.

About the time I start wondering if this ride is going to be an Iron Butt event, we turn-off the freeway and head up into the mountains for some canyon strafing. Actually strafing is far from what we're doing, seeing as how the group pace wouldn't put any pressure on an 85 year old grandma in an 55 year old Buick on bald tires. At this relaxed pace, I am able to notice the beautiful scenery and concentrate on the weather, my navel, the dirty email that my fiancé sent me from home, and most importantly, our upcoming lunch stop. Funny enough, after 100+ miles in the saddle, I'm still completely relaxed and content to hold my place in the group. I smile in my helmet at the realization that this "funky" new BMW does a fairly decent impression of a soulless Japanese appliance.

Fortunately it is only an act, like all good entertainers, the R 1200 GS can play many roles. I find this out later in the day, when I escape from the group's clutches and get a chance to blast through a twisty and deserted back road, alone. The engine note won't cut it on the MotoGP grid, but the GS is highly entertaining nonetheless. Its canyon performance is similar to a V-Strom, which is to say that it's fun and easy to ride fast. The servo-assisted partially-linked ABS brakes are powerful and up
to the sporting task.

Always the rugged individualist, Sean wears his enduro jacket on the street and his street jacket in the dirt.

While the smooth torque delivery makes it somewhat safer to get on the gas, when I'm still leaned way-over. The new GS' lower un-sprung weight and stiffer frame are of particular note in this environment, and the bike responds crisply to input through its wide handlebars. I'm having so much fun, that I regret having to slow down when I catch-up to the group. Once everybody is accounted for, we take a long highway ride back to the hotel and the R 1200 GS thrums along happily through mile after endless mile of Nevada desert. When we arrive back at the hotel, I find that I am still fresh and ready for more. It's a good thing I'm still fresh, because BMW has chosen to take us to Las Vegas' new Hoffbrau House, for singing, drinking and all the wiener schnitzel we can eat.

Sean spent most of the day sideways, because the Big GS is soo much fun to slide on smooth dirt.

I like good beer and sausage as much as the next guy, but on your next trip to Lost Wages, do yourself a favor and skip the Hoffbrau House. Better yet, go to Munich and visit the original. Press Intro day 2 dawns hot and dry, which is a bad thing, when I realize that Day 2 will be spent almost entirely in the desert's dirt, at the Jimmy & Heather Lewis off-road riding school. Another freeway ride takes us out to the school which is located adjacent to Buffalo Bill's Wild West Casino, Amusement Park, Latte Bar, Arcade, Buffet, Outlet Mall, Gas Station, Ice Cream Parlor, Beauty Parlor, Funeral Parlor, Massage Parlor, did I mention Casino and Hotel, in sunny (oh so sunny) Stateline Nevada. This is Jimmy's first taste of the new R 1200 GS (after racing older GS racebikes in the Paris-Dakar Rally) and he seems impressed by its lightness and stability.

"Once in the dirt, the GS proves to be stable (no surprise there) but surprisingly agile and capable of any 2-D maneuver you wish to try."

To bad about its face, at least the scenery is pretty.

The day's school begins with a brief orientation, followed by a "chalk-talk", before we head out onto a nearby dry lakebed for off-road drills. Just like in high school, I have great fun straying from the syllabus, doing wheelies, power slides, hackies, and all sorts of tom-foolery that the old GS didn't take to nearly so kindly.

After the drills and a quick lunch, we divide into three groups (Advanced, Intermediate and "Take the Highway Home") and set off cross-country, for a 50-mile dirt ride back to our hotel. Being the super-macho-moto-stud that I am (that's a joke people, please keep the hate mail to yourselves), I bravely chose the "Advanced" group and set off hot on Jimmy's tail. Our route includes a very technical and entertaining rock wash, several miles of fast power line roads, a mountain pass with a mild ascent and fairly steep descent, a bit of open desert and of course an obligatory state highway leg. At this point, I think it is only appropriate to thank Jimmy Lewis, for keeping the pace sane and not allowing us to form any 500Lb cart-wheeling balls of death.

Though I didn't crash, the ride wasn't entirely without incident. Another journalist managed to drop his GS onto its left-cylinder's head. Unfortunately, his bike tipped-over onto a softball-sized rock, which cracked the head. The bike still ran fine with the cracked head, but on the ride back to the hotel, it gave his left boot a nice coating of oil. Tip-overs DO happen on the trail, so if you are considering a 1200GS for off-road use, please invest in a set of head-guards. After an otherwise exhilarating ride, we returned to the hotel hot, dirty and grinning from ear-to-ear.

"As you can see from the photos, I've been lucky enough to ride the big GS in all types of environments, from cold mountain streams to flat desert sand and rock to long highway drones and tight canyon blasts."

Lest I give you the impression that this is a true dual-purpose bike, it is important to note that this thing still weighs over 500Lbs and is equipped with tires that are designed for pavement use and well-groomed fire roads. Overall, the GS is perfectly capable in the dirt, as long as one keeps the bike's weight, tires and suspension in mind. When ridden sanely, the GS will go almost anywhere you wish to explore. Though it is lighter and more capable than the old GS, if you try to ride the 1200 like an XR-650, you will soon, find the suspension bottoming harshly, while you blow your knees apart, trying to save it from frequent front-end washouts.

Much of my test riding was like the stuff you see in BMW brochures, but rarely get to see or do in real life. I'm happy to report that through it all, the bike never let me down and seemed as though you could ride it like this every day of a long happy life together. Though it makes a much better sport-tourer than MX bike, if you want to comfortably cover long distances while carrying a passenger and all your stuff and still be able to explore trails, the BMW R 1200 GS is quite possibly as good as it gets.

2005 BMW R 1200 GS
2005 GS Dyno 2005 GS
SPECS PROVIDED BY BMW - unless otherwise stated
Engine
·Type Air-cooled/oil-cooled flat twin four-stroke
·Displacement 1170 cc
·MO Measured Horseposer 85.70 @ 7600 RPM
·MO Measured Torque 70.70 ft-lbs @ 5600 RPM
·Bore/Stroke 101.0 mm x 73.0 mm
·Compression Ratio 11.0:1
·Valve Gear DOHC
·Valves 2 x 36 mm intake / 2 x 31 mm exhaust
·Valves / cylinder Four
·Engine oil capacity 4.0 quarts
·Management BMS-K
·Fuel requirements Premium unleaded
·Fuel capacity 5.2 U.S. gallons
·Charging system 600 Watts @ 12 Volts
·Battery 12 Volts 14 Amps/hour
·Cooling system Air and thermostatically controlled oil cooling
 
Drive Train
·Primary drive 1:1.823
·Clutch 180-mm single dry plate
·Gear ratios 1st: 2.27:1
2nd: 1.58:1
3rd: 1.26:1
4th: 1.03:1
5th: 0.90:1
6th: 0.81:1
·Final drive system Enclosed driveshaft with two universal joints
·Final drive ratio 2.82:1
 
Frame / Chassis / Suspension / Brakes
·Frame Tubular spaceframe, engine load-bearing
·Front Suspension BMW Telelever
·Front Travel 7.5 inches
·Rear Suspension BMW Telelever
·Rear Travel 7.9 inches
·Brake System BMW EVO partial-integral ABS
·Front Brakes Two, four-piston fixed calipers
·Rear Brakes Single, two-piston floating caliper
·Front rotor 12.0 inch dual floating rotors
·Rear rotor 10.4 inch single, fixed rotor
·Actuation Hydraulic, DOT 4 fluid type
·Front wheel 2.50 x 19 cast alloy, five double-spoke
·Rear wheel 4.00 x 17 cast alloy, five double-spoke
·Front Tire 110/80 x 19 tubeless
·Rear Tire 150/70 x 17 tubeless
 
Dimensions
·Seat Height 33.0 inches - 34 inches
·Wheelbase 59.8 inches
·Overall length 87.0 inches
·Overall width 36.0 inches w/ mirrors
·Steering angle 63 degrees
·Claimed Weight (Dry) 439 lbs. excluding options and accerrories.
·Claimed Weight (Wet) 496 lbs. excluding options and accerrories.
·Maximum load 937 lbs. GVWR
 
Other
·Please note, the standard equipment listed below is included in the base MSRP at no additional cost. BMW EVO partial Integral ABS (switchable)
Saddlebag mounts
Hand protection
Hazard warning flashers
Single key locks
Closed loop 3-way catalytic converter
Stainless steel exhaust system
Magnesium cylinder head covers
Hydraulic rear spring preload adjuster
Front spring preload mechanically adjustable (9 settings)
Cast wheel double spoke design
Prob stand with starter inhibit
Stainless steel brake and clutch lines
Rear suspension strut with travel-dependent damping (WAD)
Diagnostic interface
Electronic immobilizer
Low-beam headlamp height adjustment
Info flat screen
Power socket
Tool kit
Luggage rack
Adjustable handbrake and clutch levers
Side stand with starter interlock
Integral ignition switch and steering lock
Two-section adjustable dual rider seat
Adjustable windshield
· Please consult your local BMW Motorrad USA retailer for specific pricing information regarding the following available equipment. Cross-spoke wheels
Heated handgrips
Anti-theft alarm
· Please consult your local BMW Motorrad USA retailer for specific pricing information regarding the following available accessories. Saddlebags
Topcase
Inner bags
Tank bag
Engine guards
Cylinder head protection covers
Low rider's seat
Anti-theft alarm
Accessory power socket
BMW Navigator
Dust cover
Luggage rack
MSRP: $15,100

2005 BMW K 1200 S

The rear half of the K1200S is light, airy and very technical looking, while the design language of the seat / rear light is almost organic.

Story By Yossef Schvetz - 09/11/04

Tech Intro

BMW might be regarded as a relatively conservative company but every ten to twenty years, they embark on mold breaking revolutions, while making Max Fritz -The inventor of the BMW "Boxer" engine back in 1923-, turn in his grave.

In 1983, the K series shocked the Boxer brigade with its inline-four "flying brick" mill. Ten years ago, the F650 became the first ever non-shaft drive BMW motorcycle. Sure enough, it's 2004 and BMW is at it again.

The K1200S can be regarded as the most revolutionary BMW since the first Boxer shook the world at the 1923 Paris motorcycle show.

Just in case you haven't noticed, it's got an across the frame in-line four engine fixed to a radical architecture frame that's mated to a truly alternative front end. Before you accuse BMW of plagiarism (it's hard not to spot the R1 like engine layout), remember that BMW does know how to do their own thing, especially when it comes to four-stroke engine design.

The 1,156cc mill is crammed with F-1 technology and other innovations. They way BMW sees it, the K1200S is a Supersport tool and big horsepower was a top priority.

"If you need further proof of how far BMW engineers were willing to go with the racy design parameters and advanced technology, you only need to look at the 21° included angle between valves."

According to Markus Braunsperg, the project's leader, no "flat" engine configuration could have supplied the target power, because of the limited downdraft angle possible. The forward cant of an across the frame four supplies the required intake airflow performance, while providing a very low center of gravity, a sacred cow at BMW since day one.

To achieve the desired low CG, the engine is canted at 55° from vertical, something that also allows the twin spar frame tubes to hover above the engine. A twin spar frame in a BMW? Yes, and as per current Honda CBR approach, those rather thin spars rely on the engine to finish and stiffen the "cage".

At the front of those frame spars, there's a new front suspension system. It's based on an early 80's invention patented by Norman Hossack. Being a Formula 1 technician at the time, this bright Briton had the swell idea of turning the twin A-arm suspension of a single seat racecar around by 90 degrees, with these arms holding what looks like an upright rear swingarm.

Two automotive type bearings allow the front fork to move up-and down, as well as to twist for steering. The unique geometry of the "Duolever" suspension allows the frame to be much lower (lowering the CG) and reduce the stress that is fed into the spars.

Two automotive type bearings allow the front fork to move up-and down, as well as to twist for steering

The handlebars are mounted on a separate axis, with steering inputs fed into the fork via a scissors type linkage. Being separated, the handlebar's rotational axis can be made much steeper than the fork's rake.

In theory, this should supply a sort of "power steering" effect. A single WP shock handles bump absorption duties and the front and rear shocks are completely electronically controlled.

The ESA system allows switching between three basic set-ups, preload and damping settings can be changed too. The rear suspension/swingarm is pretty much a mirror image of the new hollow spindle unit found on the R1200GS.

The unique geometry of the "Duolever" front suspension allows the frame spars to be much lower.

The new engine configuration might look familiar but have a closer look at the engine details and you'll see that BMW started with a blank page.

The dry sump and special mixed chain&gear cam drive allowed the engineers to create an extremely narrow bottom end. When coupled with the dry sump, this lets the engine sit quite low without ground clearance problems. The dry sump also reduces internal power losses.

By using short rockers to activate the valves, cylinder head dimensions have been reduced and indeed, it looks more like a 600, rather than 1200cc head.

"BMW wasn't afraid to tread new ground while defining their view of a "Supersport" tool for the new millennium."

79 mm bore is possible only by using a smart, detonation-sensing engine management system. Then there's that 1.33:1 bore/stroke ratio. And to think that the K series was actually undersquare....

If you need further proof of how far BMW engineers were willing to go with the racy design parameters and advanced technology, you only need to look at the 21° included angle between valves. The 13:1 compression ratio in a big, 79 mm bore is possible only by using a smart, detonation-sensing engine management system. Then there's that 1.33:1 bore/stroke ratio. And to think that the K series was actually undersquare.... At the end of the day, it isn't hard to see where five years(!) of development went. BMW wasn't afraid to tread new ground while defining their view of a "Supersport" tool for the new millennium. You can only imagine how much work must have gone into developing the back shed developed Hossack front end into a mass produced solution. Same for that dry sump engine. Yes, BMW might have that staid and sedate image but when they do decide to re-invent themselves, they do so wholeheartedly. May I take my hat off?Page5

Road Test

Writing a road test of this new Beemer is one hell of a chore. I have so many good things to say about it, where shall I start?

From its truly alternative front suspension that works so well? Or, perhaps I should start with that wonderful engine that keeps proper German manners, while trusting atomically hard at 8,000RPM? On the other hand, maybe from the fine ergos that left me fresh after a 300-mile day of sport riding? How about from the laser like tracking at 130mph on autobahn sweepers? A hard task indeed. The most revolutionary BMW since 1923 isn't perfect, but flies in the ointment were rather minor, pre-production issues.

Visually speaking, the K1200S is an extremely long and low platform

My early impressions were not so good though. When we were shown Bavaria's newborn in the flesh, I wasn't blown away by our first close encounter. The classy launch event was held on the top floor of a tall glass tower in downtown Munich. Several naked K1200S' stood there to be examined, all of their secrets exposed. Yeah, it's crammed full of innovative tech. However, the visual-technical impact didn't even come close to the shock I felt upon laying my eyes on the cut-away R1 at the Milan show. The new Beemer has none of the wild and racy component compression of the R1, a bike which shouted performance and left me groggy, all at the same time. Have a look at the side view of the naked K1200S bellow, and you'll see.

The K1200S is, visually speaking, an extremely long and low platform, almost lazy looking. Considering its sporty pretensions, the proportions look wrong, even though it was never meant to be a CBR-RR / GSXR / R1/ ZX-10R beating race rep. The K1200S front end/headlight area is awkwardly wide and the whole fairing is a sort of sealed affair.

"The whole rear drive/swingarm conveys a muscular-technical feel."

The K1200S is, visually speaking, an extremely long and low platform, almost lazy looking. Considering its sporty pretensions, the proportions look wrong, even though it was never meant to be a CBR-RR / GSXR / R1/ ZX-10R beating race rep. The K1200S front end/headlight area is awkwardly wide and the whole fairing is a sort of sealed affair.

The rear half of the bike though is light and airy, very technical looking while the design language of the seat / rear light is almost organic. The resulting syntax is plain strange, 'kinda too long in the middle. During dinner, I sat next to David Robb, BMW's American chief of the motorcycle design department and pestered him about the S' looks, but even his educated explanations about the design direction did not manage to change my opinion.

All the interesting tech bits are hidden from the eye, while there is something familiar about the end result. Did I hear someone say Super Blackbird? That said, BMW's designers deserve a pat on the back for some amazing details. The whole rear drive/swingarm conveys a muscular-technical feel. The way the rear footpeg supports cross path with the sub-frame tubes is mighty interesting, while the right side of the rear wheel is right up there in MV Agusta's design league. Mr. Robb claims that the design direction chosen was defined as "athletic high-tech" just in case you need a grip on it all.

I was hoping to get a better impression on the day after, in a more normal environment like BMW's parking lot, without the dramatic lighting effects, but no. In its Grey/Yellow color scheme the design somehow works, but the White/Blue scheme looks 1980's daft.

"To put me in the right mood, a deep purr emanates from the silencer, sexy and raw as the voice of a seasoned German porno star."

Yes, BMW have that thing about producing strange looking devices sometimes, just look at the tail of the latest 7-series cars, or the S-Carver 650. According to Mr. Robb, it's a deliberate choice to differentiate them from the rest of the pack. Healthy sales mean that they certainly aren't wrong. Cutting corners quality wise on some details doesn't help the K1200S' case either. A Beemer's rear brake fluid reservoir fastened to the right footrest by two pop rivets? The black paint on the frame lacks luster and looks cheap, rather than high-tech. General screw and bolt plating looks dull. I wonder how other MO-ridians will rate this design.

My mental love-hate switch starts hinting that a major shift is in the air upon pressing the start button

My mental love-hate switch starts hinting that a major shift is in the air upon pressing the start button.

To put me in the right mood, a deep purr emanates from the silencer, sexy and raw as the voice of a seasoned German porno star. Nothing to do with the traditionally muted sound of the BMW's we all know.

A slight blip of throttle and the revs jump in a jiffy, hinting at big healthy German horsies hiding down there. This is somewhat confusing, is this really a Beemer? Blame sixty years of conditioning by mildly tuned Bavarian engines....

A buttery snick slides first gear in, yep, no big engine-speed flywheel on this one, a few loops in the parking lot and if I had been blindfolded, I'd swear there was a normal telescopic suspension at work. Behavior is linear and surefooted; none of the Telelever's strange slow speed manners are present. After a few more miles, I can definitely assert that the K1200S requires zero adaptation time for its original front end. It's extremely user friendly and my mental switch quickly flips to "love". Looks like I am going to have a very fine day on this K. The design-induced skepticism loosens its grip and I can start enjoying function rather than form. Time to learn the German
translation for "Supersport".

"With such high levels of intimacy and trust from the word go, I twist the throttle hard as soon as my front wheel rolls over a few yards of German Autobahn."

On long 80-90 mph sweepers, the K1200S loves crouching at high lean angles, safe and steady while you slowly roll on the throttle towards the exit.

The K-S leaps forward with attention grabbing force but without drama. Not even a hint of a wheelie or rear tire spin, just forward thrust. It's pure and powerful acceleration, very different from that of the last crop of liter SS tools in its linearity. The K1200S is quite muscular everywhere. With 70% of max torque available at 3,000 rpm, it feels more like being flung from a powerful slingshot, rather than being kicked in the butt all at once. Nothing boring or mild, mind you. Keep the throttle pinned and the pull gets dead serious as the engine hits 8,000RPM, ZX12R/Busa' serious. Now, I'm catching cars that are crawling along at 90 mph way too fast. I chop the throttle some and upon rolling it back open, the way the engine shoots the bike from 90 back to 140 mph in 6th gear is mighty impressive. There is some real grunt at work down there.

It is also happy to trail-brake into turns in a high gear, lay down on a last second handlebar input and accelerate-out from 4,000 rpm

While playing these silly throttle games, another thing becomes clear. Till now, I did not have to fight any windblast, tame any front-end nervousness or fold myself over to fit behind the bubble. Slightly canted into the wind, the wide fairing supplies plenty of protection, the tallish handlebars (positioned in "above the triple clamp", compared to a normal front end) diminish wrist strain and all-in-all, it's high-speed nirvana. heavy traffic on the Autobahn though means that I have to stop my top speed runs around 170mph indicated, with a few hundred rpm's left before the 11K(ish) redline.

Our route book says we should pull off the highway, so we head to some secondary roads that roll over the soft hills east of Munich. On these medium-fast bends, without much field of view (bends continuing over the crest of a hill), the K behaves quite nicely indeed. It is happy to trail-brake into turns in a high gear, lay down on a last second handlebar input and accelerate-out happily from 4,000 rpm.

"It's not CBR 1000RR quick in responding to these late steering inputs, but is still lightning-quick, when you consider its long 62" wheelbase."

I am not carving at 45° of lean just yet, but the linear way the bike responds allows me to cover these flowing sections quite efficiently. In the mean time, the Duolever thing has won me over with its delightful balance between stability, accuracy and bump absorption. Furthermore, it is extremely fun to watch the exposed scissor-link work overtime over the tiniest of ripples. The progressive suspension in the back is a good match, though the questionable fit between drive shaft and super-sporty riding remains an open issue.

Just before stopping for lunch, I make a mental note of the high comfort level from the soft saddle. There are sport bikes on which you really need to take a break every hour or two and even then, your buttocks are not happy to meet the saddle again. Not here, after each flag stop, the K welcomed me refreshingly with its business class spaciousness. Another point in this age of genital frying under-tail exhaust systems is that engine heat management felt well sorted. The night before, Herr Robb told me about the hot air exits sitting very low in the fairing and indeed, I did not suffer from any heat-induced agony on this rather hot day.

After lunch, it's pose-for-the-cameras time. I've done a fair bit of corner carving for lens men before and it usually takes me a couple minutes to warm up to knee dragging angles.

However, with this Beemer, I am dragging my pucks all through the left-right-left section, after my second pass. I know it's not a very scientific criteria, but it shows the speed with which you blend with the K1200S. The Metzler Sportecs felt very linear in their response and confidence inspiring at high lean angles, while the Duolever continued its star showing with good feedback and neutral manners. I haven't mentioned the brakes yet, have I? There's a good reason for that, because I just hate the latest servo assisted BMW ABS. No feel, see? Yet there comes a moment, when I should be eating my hat (or helmet) and adding a thank you.

Our photo session soon draws a crowd of locals and some cars have created a small bottleneck exactly where we're shooting.

Thing is, I don't discover that fact until a fraction of a second before throwing the bike into the first kink. Shite! Turns out, I have two possibilities: 1.) Run into the tail of a Renault Megane, or 2.) ride straight into the cows just in front of me. They do look somewhat softer, but after taking this crucial decision in their favor, I realize that there is some barbed wire separating us. This is a no-brainer. Just mash the brakes and cheers; see you in the emergency room.

"Seconds later, I'm standing with my front wheel inches form the fence, rubber-side-up, after traveling the last few yards on loose gravel."

So, I still have a hard time admitting that a black box is better than I am at braking, but it's on these once-a-year occasions when you bow your head in shame and confess that ABS is not such a bad idea, reduced lever feel and all. (The lever feel is more a function of the servo-assist, than the actual ABS. -Sean)

Until now, the K has been supplying the goods rather nicely, but the itinerary chosen by BMW has gotten on my nerves. We hadn't had any proper stints long enough to really push the thing's limits. I persuade a fellow journo to forget about the road book and off we head into some proper Alpine roads. Another short Autobahn stint and finally we find a fast, furious and long road flowing next to a small river. As we get into the groove, I push the electronic suspension button (ESA) to "sport" mode and things get much firmer and sharper indeed. However, I must say that riding up to now on the "comfort" setting, didn't prevent me from gassing it rather hard and I ended up riding in "Normal" for the rest of the day.

"As it happened in front of the cameras, with the K1200S, the more you push it, the more it likes it."

On long 80-90 mph sweepers, it loves crouching at high lean angles, safe and steady while you slowly roll on the throttle towards the exit. The engine responds lively in the mid range, there's a feeling of utter control and the Duolever isn't fazed by late braking antics. It dives a bit, giving "telescopic" like feedback, yet overall bike stance is maintained without any nasty weight transfers. My guess is that the low CG is the reason for the relaxed reaction to braking inputs. Yes, it also slows the bike down in fast esses, but the excellent longitudinal stability gives you peace of mind when you really start pushing. One problem did surface when trying hard and it was a slow to shift gearbox. The problem was some clunking accompanying downshifts. Pity, because other than that, gear lever operation was rather slick.

It's time to head back and I can revel in 70 miles of pure Autobahn adrenaline until I get to Munich's airport. The highway that leads from the Alps to Munich has some proper fast sweepers and throwing the K1200S into them at 120+ is pure joy. While passing cars crawling along in the middle lane through fast right-handers, I don't hesitate to place the K on the outside lane while the Armco flies close. The front end really gives you the feeling that you could thread the K into a needle's eye at these speeds.

As the landscape flattens, there are no more sweepers and in the boredom of droning-along, you notice that at certain throttle openings and gears, a rather noticeable vibration is transmitted through the footpegs and seat. This is strange, because the K has a balance shaft and it's intended as a long range BMW. This spoiled the hypersonic cruising experience for me. Another gremlin surfaced, as the traffic starts to clog: Rather erratic low-rpm, low-speed throttle response. At very low, steady crawling speeds, the engine seems to "hunt". It makes you wonder if BMW can really get away with not using a double butterfly system like the big four products use in their intakes. Upon returning the bikes, BMW technicians debriefed us and confessed to be working on the vibration problems (seemingly shaft drive related) and mentioned that the fuel injection maps aren't final.

Watch out Japan!

Talking about low speed issues, one big question remains open after a day in the K1200S' company. Do to a lack of time; we did not have the chance to try the thing on the really twisty mountain passes that are typical of the Alps. Will this excellent package still be as exiting, in slow hairpins and through wild direction changes? We'll have to wait for a more thorough road test in a variety of environments, in order to cast a verdict on this issue.

Even after a day with the K, I wasn't able to fall in love with its looks. So what? The K1200S' blend of supersport and touring capabilities fits my current riding profile so well that I wouldn't hesitate to live with it for a few years. This new concept of "Elegant Hypersport" is not casual. I can foresee typical BMW owners that love ultra-comfy tools but also crave some mad performance making queues in dealerships. On the other hand, I can foresee supersport riders that are a bit fed up with the extreme discomfort of recent bikes being happy to move over to something slightly less focused without giving up on excitement. This is of course an extremely European blend, tailor made for no limits Autobahns, Autostradas and for the fast and flowing roads in Provance or Spain.

However, that hasn't deterred many Americans from buying Super Blackbirds and ZX-12Rs, has it?

The K1200S brings a philosophical shift to BMW. ÊMunich's very special take on sport bikes, reveals their desire not to entrench themselves in esoteric niches and to compete head on with the Japanese. If my eyes don't deceive me, this mill can also be equipped with chain drive. Considering how well the K1200S version works, the K1200RR should be a real belter..... Watch out Japan.

** SPECS PROVIDED BY BMW **

Engine Type

4-cyl - 4 stroke inline 4

Displacement

1157 cc

Claimed Horsepower

167 bhp @ 10,250 rpm

Claimed Torque

96 lb-ft @ 8,250 rpm

Gears

6

Valves

Dohc, 4 valve

Cooling system

Water

Secondary drive

Shaft

Frame

Aluminum frame

Front suspension

Double longitudinal link (Duolever)

Front travel

4.5 inches

Rear suspension

EVO-Paralever

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

Actuation

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

Wheelbase

61.9 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

Weight - Dry

515 lbs.

Load Capacity

448 lbs.

Maximum load

992 lbs. GVWR

Fuel tank capacity

5.0 gallons

Theoretical range

before refueling (75 mph)

218 miles

Colors

Granite gray metallic

Indigo blue metallic

Indigo blue metallic / alpine white

Sun yellow / white aluminum metallic / dark graphit metallic

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