Church of MO: First Impression 1998 BMW R1200C

John Burns
by John Burns

And in those days there was a cataclysmic El Nino in SoCal, and it rained for at least forty days and forty nights. MO’s leaky roof shorted out the dyno and caused those early MOites to begin building an ark, upon which they loaded all the animals and floppy discs, two by two. But none of that is an excuse for this truncated First Impression of BMW’s first American-style cruiser, the riding of which takes place somewhere dry. There’s not even a photo of the bike. What giveths?

First Impression: 1998 BMW R1200C

Ich bin eine BMW?

Photos by MO and BMW

For over 70 years BMW has offered motorcyclists all manner of machines. There are the legendary RS series of sport-tourers, the long distance comfort of the LT models and even a dual-sport series in the GS and F650 models. Despite this wide variety of designs there has never been an American-style cruiser – until now.BMW formally introduced their interpretation of the species to the international motorcycling press last week in Tucson, Arizona. The German firm also brought along members of their engineering and design teams to explain the concept behind their new model.

According to BMW head designer David Robb, the man responsible for styling the 1200C, this bike was designed t o portray both a laid back cruiser stance and also showcase BMW’s technical sophistication. It accomplishes a unique cruiser look throu gh styling touches such as the open area around the rear shock and wheel, while the engineering savvy of its Telelever front end is unmistakable. As Robb so aptly pointed out, “It is the BMW of cruisers.”

BMW gave the R1200C a leather seat and handgrips. The passenger seat folds up to be used as a backrest.

Few would expect BMW to compromise ride quality for styling purposes, and they certainly haven’t done so with the 1200C. Comfort is excellent, even though our ride took place in 100 degree temperatures. A clever addition to both style and comfort is the passenger seat, which folds up to be used as a driver backrest that has a range of three different angles, and can be adjusted while you’re riding. More Action Photos Ground clearance is far greater than the current crop of boulevard cruisers, allowing respectable lean angles when the road turns twisty. Power is uninspiring however, as peak horsepower has been traded for low-end torque to fit the bike’s cruising role. Smaller exhaust and intake valves, as well as an altered intake tract combine with an increased bore and stroke to provide a flat, torquey power spread.

While some will find the 1200C’s styling awkward and unusual, there is no questioning the fact that if you like this Beemer’s looks you’ll love the way it works. 1200C owners will also have the distinction of owning BMW’s first-ever cruiser, a bike that may just have significant influences on both the company’s — and even the market’s — direction.


Manufacturer: BMWModel: 1998 R1200CPrice: ,990, ,290 with ABSEngine: Air/oil-cooled opposed twinBore x stroke: 101 by 73 mmDisplacement: 1170 ccCarburetion: Motronic MA 2.4Transmission: 5-speedWheelbase: 1650 mmSeat height: 740 mmFuel capacity: 4.3 gallons (17 liters)Claimed wet weight: 563 lbs (256 kg)

John Burns
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  • Dan Dan on Feb 06, 2018

    I recall being embarrassed for the occasional rider I saw on one of these.

  • MARC MARC on Feb 07, 2018

    Test rode the bike back in the day, ride lasted about 2 minutes, out of the BMW parking lot and back in 😂 Have owned a few boxers, which I loved, but this cruiser, not