While reviewing the BMW R NineT I realised that mating BMW’s 1200cc boxer engine with a light body creates a really fun bike.
The concept, however, was hardly new; the R 1200 R, around since 2007, has always been a nimble and sprightly machine.
Dropping the more powerful, liquid-cooled, engine into the 2015 model has upped the fun factor considerably.
When I received the review bike the first thing I noticed were the gold inverted telescopic shocks a la the S 1000 RR instead of the previous model’s Telelever front suspension. Whatever BMW’s motivation was to go this route, it undoubtedly helped to make the bike lighter.
Keen to find out how the 1200 R behaves on the road, I could hardly wait to get going. The seat height is adjustable through 60cm, which means the bike can accommodate a variety of rider lengths.
In typical BMW tradition, the seat is comfortable from the first moment and the area around the front footpegs is free of obstructions with ample space for my size 10 boots. The pillion is equally comfortable, with two sturdy grab handles.
The riding position is as neutral as one would expect from this class of bike and the handlebar is narrow enough to avoid making it feel twitchy at speed. Buttons at each end were within easy reach, with the exception of the grip-warmer which was just out of reach of my thumb.
‘AS SMOOTH AS BUTTER’
The clutch is pleasantly light - a joy to use during slow riding in Johannesburg’s commuting traffic. I’ve experienced my fair share of clunky BMW gearboxes but the 1200 R’s box is as smooth as butter.
The bang-and-jerk shift from neutral into first was noticeably absent and I had neither false neutrals or missed shifts during the review.
What impressed me most was the sustained performance of the engine – while I’ve experienced it on the new GS and RT it is so much more apparent on the lighter R. The bike accelerated easily in top gear from low as 50km/h and, unlike the older boxer motors, this one doesn’t run out of breath at high revs.
If the performance impressed me, the fuel consumption bowled me over – during the review period the bike returned an average consumption of 4.9 litres/100km or 20.5km/l, a figure I would rather have expected from a mid-size bike.
In should be noted that the fuel consumption was achieved in test-riding conditions, during which economical riding is the last thing on my mind – either the 1200 R’s computer is wildly optimistic or this is the most economical bike in its category.
Like other recent models, the R 1200 R is equipped with dynamic electronic suspension adjustment (D-ESA). I would have liked to report on how it feels but I can’t because if it works so perfectly you never really feel it.
For the uninitiated, here's how it basically works: D-ESA uses a number of sensors to determine the road condition and the bike’s attitude (lean and pitch) and adjusts the suspension accordingly.
It happens almost instantaneously, which makes it hard to detect other than noticing that the bike feels solid and planted under virtually all normal riding conditions.
While I never hesitate to point out negative aspects of a review bike, I found it hard to do so with the R 1200 R. I could say that I would prefer a bike with a fairing or at least a bigger screen, but that’s my own preference - you may or may not agree.
The fact is that there simply are no glaring flaws on the 2015 BMW R 1200 R.
Price: R176 350
BIG-BORE BEEMER: The 2015 BMW R 1200 R has impeccable road manners, shifts 'like butter' and is incredibly frugal, writes DRIES VAN DER WALT. Image: DRIES VAN DER WALT
Model: R 1200 R
Type: Air/liquid-cooled four stroke flat twin engine, double overhead camshaft, one balance shaft
Maximum Power: 92 kW @ 7 750 rpm
Maximum Torque: 125 Nm @ 6 500 rpm
Fuel supply system: Electronic fuel injection
Fuel type: Unleaded 95 Octane RON
Fuel consumption: 4.9 litres/100km (actual)
Type: Constant mesh six-speed gearbox with helical gear teeth
Final drive: Shaft
Overall length x width x height (mm): 2.1m X 880mm X 1.3m
Kerb weight: 231kg
Fuel tank: 18 litres
Front: Dual disc brake, floating brake discs, diameter 320mm, four-piston radial callipers, ABS
Rear: Single disc brake, diameter 276 mm, double-piston floating calliper, ABS
Front: Telescopic Upside-Down fork; stanchion diameter 45 mm
Rear: Cast aluminium single-sided swing arm with BMW Motorrad Paralever; WAD strut (travel-related damping), spring pre-load hydraulically adjustable (continuously variable) at handwheel, rebound damping adjustable at handwheel
RIMS & TYRES
Rim, front: 3.50 x 17"
Rim, rear: 5.50 x 17"
Tyre, front: 120/70 ZR 17
Tyre, rear: 180/55 ZR 17