The BMW RT (Reise-Tourer or travel tourer) has had a long history, starting from the first R 100 RT in 1978 to this latest 2018 R 1200 RT. So, yes, it’s the RT’s 40th anniversary this year. By the way, the R 100 RT was the touring variant of the first fully-faired production motorcycle, the R 100 RS, which singlehandedly launched the sport-touring segment.
Please click on the link below to know more.
The current lineage of the R 1200 RT, however, began in 2014 with the introduction of the wasser-head (liquid-cooled) Boxer; and instead of just stuffing the new engine into an old bike, BMW redesigned the RT wholesale (side-by-side with the new R 1200 GS). New seats, seating position, fairing, instrumentation, and frame were fitted or updated.
It was also at this time when BMW added options such as Dynamic ESA (Electronic Suspension Adjustment), Shift Assist Pro (for both up- and downshifts), central locking system for the luggage and storage compartments, low and high seats cruise control, and keyless ignition (from 2015).
There were further updates to the R 1200 RT in 2017, albeit minor. BMW fitted a judder damper to the transmission’s output shaft, along with a revised selector drum actuator, transmission shafts and transmission shaft bearings (the R 1200 GS received these updates, too).
Other standard features include ABS Pro, heated grips and seats, ASC (Automatic Stability Control), Riding Modes (Road/Rain), Stepless Adjustable Power Windshield, On-board Computer Pro, height adjustable rider’s seat, LED signal lamps, LED taillamp, besides others.
Styling wise, there’s no mistaking the R 1200 RT for any other motorcycle. The large front section carries the large headlamp cluster which consists of the central low-beam flanked by a pair of massive high-beam projectors; who are themselves ringed by BMW’s signature LED halo-rings.
The rest of the body panels are sharp and consist of “panels” to deflect around the occupants. BMW routes the hot air from the split radiators through cleverly designed holes on each side away from the rider. Other smaller bodywork panels hide the rear parts of the engine and rear shock.
The handlebars are fixed in just the right position as you reach out for them. This is where the fun starts.
The 1170cc flat-twin fired up with that signature Boxer vroom and settled down to a drone with just a touch of vibration to let you know it’s alive. Give a blip and the Boxer vrooms, accompanied by a slight twitch to the right.
Pressing the INFO button scrolls through all the menus to setup the bike, including ESA preload (rider, rider with luggage, two-up), ESA damping settings (Soft, Normal, Hard), travel information (tyre pressure, fuel consumption, fuel range, etc.), audio, and many more. The rider uses the Multi Controller wheel to pick and confirm the sub-items.
The button next to it is for adjusting the windshield’s height. The windshield will lower itself automatically to its lowest position when you kill the engine and raises itself automatically to your last setting when the bike starts to roll. Lovely. The windshield provided a wonderfully turbulence-free zone around the torso and I could hear the stereo clearly at high speeds (depending on helmet).
For a peace of mind, I pressed the remote storage locking switch to lock the panniers and the storage compartments in front of the handlebars, regardless if I had left the panniers’ unlocked. An audible mechanical whirr and a symbol of a key on suitcase lit up in the instrument panel as confirmation. This is brilliant as in case you forgot to lock the storage.
First gear still engaged with the familiar clack. Slip out the light clutch lever and you’re under way on a stream of smooth, smooth torque. The bike pushed forward quickly but very, very smoothly and the new shifter mechanisms worked as the gearshift was light, smooth and noiseless. Coupled with the aerodynamics, you wouldn’t notice the acceleration until you glance down to find yourself riding at 130 km/h or beyond.
I was apprehensive at first when I approached cars on either side at the traffic lights, but I soon learned that there’s ample space to fit the wide front end through; and once the “head” got clear, the rest of the bike followed through. Plus, the RT has such an imposing presence that almost any vehicle gave space. Otherwise, I’d follow the vehicle for a short distance and use the engine’s torque to pass when the opportunity presented itself.
What’s the hurry, anyway?
I’ve got a great sound system to listen to and plenty of settings to entertain myself with. Additionally, everyone stared at me in admiration (read: awe), especially when the design looks this good and painted in this new Mars Red Metallic and Slate Metallic Matte scheme. They scanned the bike from the front to the rear, up and down and craned their necks to peek at the impressive instrument cluster.
Again, when it’s time to get going, the R 1200 RT got going without delay. Vrooom, and you’ve pulled clear even in top gear. We’ve rode the bike to its top speed which was beyond ahem, 200 km/h while sitting straight up! No turbulence, not headshake, no weaving. Amazing.
It was the handling which helped with urban riding. This is where the DNA of the R 1200 GS and R 1200 R shone through. The bike was light on its feet without feeling nervous, so you could confidently flick it around as you shoot into spaces in traffic, relying on the engine’s torque for a quick boost and the superb brakes to slow you down. The front brakes are linked to the rear’s ad the bike entire bike squats down when you clamp down hard on them, eliminating crazy wiggles and wobbles.
A soft tap on the handlebar was enough to change the bike’s direction, despite the “touring” 26.4o rake, 116 mm trail, 1485 mm wheelbase and 276 kg wet weight. It almost made no sense how well the R 1200 RT handled given its spec sheet figures. In fact, it was very much like riding a scooter. Make that a much better handling and braking, and stable scooter. I’ve never felt tired even after riding through the morning and evening rush hour traffic along Jalan Tun Razak.
No wonder many law-enforcement agencies around the world use the BMW R 1200 RT!
But there’s no mistaking the RT’s natural habitat. Out on Karak Highway, apart from the feedback in your hands and bum, you might as well think you’re riding in a BMW 7-Series. Sure, the Dynamic ESA returned hard kicks when hitting sharp bumps, but it performed well nonetheless. It gives you more time to admire the countryside as you ride relaxed – even at high speeds.
It wasn’t just about going straight either, for the RT could turn and burn, too. Of course, not as fast as a sportbike, but I could surely hang with most sport-tourers. The only way you could get it totally wrong is to bottle it up and panic. Have confidence in the front-end and you’d be rewarded with peg-scratching cornering everytime.
The R 1200 RT also performed remarkably well up Genting Highlands. The test bike was fitted with Michelin Pilot Road 4 GT sport-touring tyres and they gripped even over wet roads and loose dirt. A late-night ride up demonstrated the high-beam headlamps’ power in cutting a swath of light through the fog.
What’s a touring bike if it can’t carry luggage, right? Worry not. Those panniers could accommodate a full-faced helmet or a 15-inch Macbook Pro in a backpack each, while still leaving lots of room for everything else. Install BMW’s 49-litre top case and you could ride anywhere.
Lastly, a 25-litre tank could go as far as 500 km if you ride smoothly. Combined consumption through city congestion and spirited highway blasting lowered it into the lower 400’s. Still a good feat for a big motorcycle.
In conclusion, the BMW R 1200 RT is the luxury touring model which slots in between the sportier S 1000 XR sport-tourer and the K 1600 series full-dress tourers. I wouldn’t call it a compromise between the two extremes; rather, the RT has its own distinctive character as a long-distance runner which endears itself to you very quickly with its great comfort, performance, great looks, typical BMW quality and fuel economy.
Priced from RM 118,798.77 (with 0% GST), it is exactly cheap for a person such as me and am convinced beyond reasonable doubt that I would like to own one in a heartbeat if some kind soul decided to donate some money my way.
|2-cylinder, 4-stroke, DOHC, air/liquid-cooled, flat-Twin
|BORE x STROKE
|101.0 mm x 73.0 mm
|125 hp (92 kW) @ 7750 RPM
|125 Nm (92 lb-ft) @ 6500 RPM
|Constant mesh, 6 gears with helical cut gears
|Electronic fuel injection with ride-by-wire throttle
|Multiple-plate wet clutch, hydraulically operated
|Front two-section frame, bolted on rear frame, load bearing engine
|BMW Telelever ø 37 mm forks, central spring strut
|Monoshock with WAD strut, spring preload hydraulically adjustable (continuously variable), rebound damping adjustable, BMW Paralever
|SUSPENSION TRAVEL FRONT/REAR
|120mm / 136 mm
|2x radially-mounted 4-piston caliper, ø 320 mm floating discs
|2-piston caliper, ø 276 mm brake disc
|BMW Motorrad Integral ABS
|120/70 ZR-17; 180/55 ZR-17
|STEERING HEAD ANGLE
|825 mm (high setting), 805 mm (low setting)
|FUEL TANK CAPACITY
|WEIGHT (READY TO RIDE)
BMW’s venerable boxer engine has come a long, long way and there’s no end in sight for it. the German giant may produce the superb S 1000 RR inline-Four superbike, but what is BMW Motorrad if not for the flat-Twin or Boxer, as it’s affectionately known.
It is likewise the scenario for the Boxer-engine GS, since the first R80GS.
But the competition has been aggressive in the large-capacity adventure segment. KTM, Ducati and now Triumph are carving out large pieces of the pie and BMW has been updating the R 1200 GS with each generation.
And now we have received news via https://riders.drivemag.com that BMW may be working on a 1250cc Boxer.
You see, the current wasser-Boxer produces 125 bhp of power and 125 Nm of torque but the competition has gone 160 bhp and 140 Nm thereabouts. While BMW owners will tell you that 125 bhp is enough, that is not going to cut it on the spec sheets.
It is also rumoured that the “new” Boxer will include variable valve timing. Along with other changes, it should be good for 140 to 150 bhp.
All this talk started when photos of a new R 1250 RT undergoing road trails surfaced in MCN. Looking at the photo below, you could see that it’s a new bodywork, but what is more telling is the appearance of a new engine.
However, as BMW owners know, if there is a new RT, there is a large likelihood that a GS is also in store. Plus, since the GS is the flagship BMW Motorrad, it will be launched first than the RT.
2019 is just a few months away. Who is waiting with baited breath?