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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

BMW R1200 R - Ride Review

Some dawns make such an impact that you just can't get over it's hangover for days to come, and when the indulgement in question is the BMW R1200 R, then this indulgement is nothing short of seduction. Before riding the BMW R1200 R, I always believed that there are set ways and patterns of doing engineering, but today I can confidently say that there are ways of doing engineering and then there are German ways of doing engineering, and those ways are nothing like we have seen thus far. Everything about the Bavarian Street Fighter, BMW R1200 R, right from the Boxer engine, the Telelver front suspension, the Paralever shaft arm, the switch gear, the seating, everything is bam splam I belong to the other kinds kinda different, and more... and how? Well read on!!


Engine - Four stroke, two cylinder horizontally opposed Boxer air/oil-cooled, DOHC, rocker arm,
Capacity - 1170 cc
Bore x Stroke - 101 x 73 mm
Compression Ratio - 12.0 : 1
Induction - Electronic intake manifold injection BMS-K
Ignition - Electric
Clutch - Single disc dry clutch, hydraulically actuated
Max Power - 110 hp @ 7750 rpms
Max Torque - 120 Nm @ 6000 rpms
Transmission  /  Drive - 6 Speed  /  shaft

I can categorically say this that I've seen this in no other bike that a engine transfers so much energy into the frame just at idling you feel that the motorcycle would just make a leap in neutral gear. The Boxer engine develops so much torque right from down below that you would really need to set your expectations right from the word go!!

On the roll the motorcycle feels nothing short of a revelation, an eye-opener so to speak. It's like, if you are looking for something suave, something that would like to take care of you, something in the lines of the established notions of motorcycling with Japanese engineering genes, then you are in for a code re-write of your neural communications. Moral of the story, the 1170 cc beating Boxer heart of the R1200 R is brute, it's un-apologetic at your face, like it or not!! Forget the days of smooth, plush and ecstatic engine feel. The Boxer engine makes you feel that a lot of hard work is being done down below and it's the right time that the rider starts appreciating and enjoying the hard working engine.

Engage the first cog and blip the throttle and the torque just lunges the bike and rider to motion. No matter how easy I was with the clutch, the engine managed to give me that thrust every time I released the clutch. On the move, you really feel that there's a very direct connect between the throttle and the fuelling. You keep opening the throttle and you feel the engine feedback, the rush, and the thrust, but the moment you cut the throttle off and pull in the clutch lever, it's like you are riding nothing more than a dead stick, gliding upon the tarmac, through the almost stand still traffic, like thin air.

The gear ratios are pretty tall in each gear, and the 4th gear is all I was able to exploit in traffic conditions riding at double digits, pretty comfortably and all in control. The best part was, it was just the 4th cog that's all I needed to blast myself past the mystical 140 kmph mark and that too with such ease that it never felt that I was gunning through so quick.
There's one thing though which I felt with the head orientation of the Boxer engine. With both the heads close to the front wheel and to the tarmac, in Indian conditions, it would be fairly easy for dirt and muck to stick to the engine and in the absence of any kind of protection, the engine heads would take the direct brunt of a fall. So, some protection to the engine heads would have been good.

Ride and Handling

Frame - Tubular steel spaceframe, load-bearing engine
Front Suspension - BMW Telelever, 120mm wheel travel
Rear Suspension - BMW Paralever, 140mm wheel travel
Front Brakes - 2x 320mm discs 4 piston calipers
Rear Brakes - Single 265mm disc 2 piston calipers
Front Tire - 120/70-ZR 17
Rear Tire - 180/55-ZR 17
Seat Height - 800 mm (at standard setting)
Fuel Capacity - 18 Liters
Dry-Weight - 198 kg

The ride and handling of the R1200 R is nothing short of nirvana. As a rider I'm used to get the feedback from the tarmac on my fore arms. But the BMW Telelever front and the BMW Paralever rear suspensions are a completely different ball game all together. True to a long term touring work horse, both these suspensions work in tandem to make sure that your ride is as hassle free, as can be possible in this mortal slice of time space fabric. Instead of transferring the feedback to your fore arm, the suspension balances out the frame and you feel nothing but zilch through the wide handle bar.

With the Boxer engine and all heavy bits down low, the CG of the R1200 R is sow damn low that the motorcycle feels amazingly planted and flickable all at the same time.

Don't be bogged down by seeing the massive figure of 198kg Dry weight for this machine, as the weight is so beautifully distributed that the bike is sharp handler while zipping through the traffic. It would almost make you believe that you are riding your day to day commute motorcycle instead of a 110 hp behemoth. Taking U Turns was so easy on this bike that the pressure on the tilt side was even lesser than the Pulsar 200 I used to ride. Never for once did I felt the weight on the tilt side and the story only gets better as you push harder and harder on tilt.

The chunky Metzeler rubber and the front and rear brakes inspire a lot of confidence and allows you to push the engine harder without worrying about loss of traction. Although I didn't had used brakes much, but there was no sense of unsettlement, but a surge of confidence that was transferred to my sense.

How on earth didn't I mention about the seating all this while!! Silly me!! Well the seating on the R1200 R is the most comfortable I've experienced till date. It's almost as if you're seated on your couch with your arms stretched and legs tucked on the rear sets. I was told that the pillion seat was even better and makes the pillion enjoy the ride at ease. The stylish grab rails also help the cause in addition to the added support for panniers.

Equipment and Quality

Well, it's a BMW and criticizing the Quality would be nothing short of blasphemy. Everything about the motorcycle, from the plastics, the leather, the rubber, is top notch and very intricately and tightly packaged. The instrumentation cluster consists of an analog Tacho and Speedo meters (I so totally love it) and small but very informative console give you more information than you probably need like -
  • Clock
  • Ambient Temperature
  • Coolant Temperature
  • Overall Economy
  • Tire Pressure
  • Instantaneous Economy and so on.
The switch gear is very useful and includes a heated grip switch along with the other regular switch housing. One thing which I didn't like was the placement of the Horn switch, which I actually had to find and reach out for when the need was felt. So, after a couple of tries I decided to go on without it and was happily riding there after.

The reliability factor of the R1200 R can be judged simply by the fact that the valve might be needed to be adjusted at 6,000 km and after that it's good for the next 1 million km and also, there are huge intervals between services. Hassle free motorcycle can't get better than this.

Value for Money

Well it's a BMW and Beemers never come cheap... do they?? So, I can't really comment on the value for money factor, but yes, with the amount of engineering that has been presented on this motorcycle and punch it delivers on the face of the established norms and order, well, the lucky owners won't be contemplating on their ever.


Easily, the BMW R1200 R is not for everybody, but the few lucky souls who have the cash to chase their dreams, this motorcycle makes for an excellent day to day motorcycle, and an even better weekend get away ticket, be you enjoy it alone or get indulged in a threesome, it's seduction at it's best.

I cannot end this review without mentioning my regards, gratitude and thanks to BMW Motorrad, Munich, BMW Motorrad @ Deutsche Motoren and the amazing Krishnendu Kes for providing me this amazing opportunity.

Image courtesy Krishnendu Kes
Image courtesy Krishnendu Kes

Image courtesy Krishnendu Kes
Image courtesy Boby Roy
Image courtesy Boby Roy
Image courtesy Boby Roy

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  1. Very well written Sajal. Always a pleasure reading your articles. Hope to work with you more often!

  2. Thanks Ken Da for your kind words. I'm looking forward to more of such wonderful opportunities :)

  3. These are the days where I haven't even touched a Hero Honda for 10 years let alone lay my hands on such a outlandish marvel! But the writeup does make me wanna get my old sagging butt be carried around in one of these machines..even if its just for a momentary ride! Lucky you!

    1. Hi Vishal,

      As I said.. this is an indulgence... do it.. and you would never repent :)

  4. Man ! Your review really made me feel the power of the bike ! You made me drool in my fast !! :)

    1. Thanks man...really appreciate your feedback :)


Item Reviewed: BMW R1200 R - Ride Review Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Sajal
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