8 July 2001

Update of 08/07/2001 Two very short new reviews this week the BMW K1200RS and the R1150RT, both bikes sampled at the Round Australia BMW roadshow thing. The event was great and more manufactures should do it ! I had the opportunity of riding them for an hour each in various speed and traffic conditions any 2 BMW motorcycles. The dealer was Port Darwin Motors who have a new set of salespeople and where good hosts.

I don’t think the following will offend BMW owners because I’m telling it as honestly as possible, but remember this is from the point of view of a rider who is looking very seriously for a new bike. I realise that BMW riders are also very passionate about their bikes and would probably not consider something like the Hayabusa, even my survey proves that ! Nevertheless with only 1 hour on the bike you can usually tell if its right.

The BMW K1200RS summary. Being of very average body proportions (5.8ft) it was a tricky bike to move around with my feet. Yes I could touch the ground with both feet. It’s the foot pegs which are positioned forward which is the problem. Fine if your 6ft however. The other criticism which is safety related is the indicator arrangement. 3 buttons ! The cancel switch is the main problem. It’s positioned in such a way that makes it VERY difficult to press, due to having to use the throttle at the same time. Maybe if the cancel switch was on the left instead of the right might help as it is a pain. Note that the F series has the industry standard. Power wise the BMW is not in the Hayabusa league no matter how you would like it to be. To be brutally honest the R1150RT is actually closer in power feel than the RS. The RS gearbox is a tad slow and vague, easy to hit a false neutral…this could be run-in thing though. With that said the K1200RS is not really for me although I’d quite happily own one if you know what I mean.

Now the good bits ! The seating is more comfy than the Busa, however the windshield needs to be adjusted to suit you. You see quality manufacture around you, which is good as you’ve paid a lot of money for it ! The brakes on the RS are outstanding ! I was expecting very sudden braking not proportionate to lever effort, but this was not the case. They stopped the bike brilliantly I like the setup alot. There was very little suspension dive. Made the Hayabusa and CBR feel very weak for braking force vs effort required at the lever. The bike is very well damped, I liked the ride a lot.  Handling of the RS has a vague feel but you can feel the tyres sticking though which is good, my 2 year Busa still handles better at normal speeds no question and has much better road feel. The RS is also very smooth engine wise. Feels smoother than the Busa for sure ! You can tour and carry stuff on this bike which is a bonus. This bike looks great, nice color schemes and body work. Ridden in isolation the bike is really very nice.

The R1150RT. This is the stereotypical BMW. I actually preferred this to the RS. For what it is the bad bits can be tolerated. So what are they ? Engine noise…this bike sounds like a single engine plane. It is very loud. Vibes or lumps are ever present except when constant cruise. Just avoid the surge zone as the RT does surge in certain revs. Couldn’t use 6th as it was surge zone territory at 100kph. The gear whine is very obvious when slowing down. The brake setup on the RT are too good and hence a really concern. You cannot do a tidy coast to a stop situation. Its an all or nothing approach. Yes the bite and they bite really hard ! The turn indicators are again a problem but was not as bad as the RS. The gear box is I dare say better than the RS. Unfortunately the bike I was riding was afflicted with a backfire problem ! Also the clutch doesn’t give any warning of when its about to engage leading to stalls. I couldn’t touch the ground with both feet making it tricky to move around.  The seat may have been on the highest setting ? The radio arrangement was also annoying. You have to open the compartment to turn it on before you ride. Why can’t it have the On/Off button with the rest of the switches ?

The good : It’s really comfortable ! The adjustable screen really works ! Although at certain settings it obscures the view of the front. Sure it bounces a bit but it really handles. Better around town handling than the RS once you get used to the riding position. The mirror setup although set almost under the handle bars work much better than the RS too ! The power is great, it has that Busa like feel of feeling being slow but actually steaming along ! Very deceptive and unexpected. You felt like you where pushing hard due to the engine noise but are only in the middle of the rev range. It has a gear indicator ! Keep it around 5000rpm for the best performance. It sounds like a propeller plane. It cruises amazingly at 100-110kph in 5th. You could go all day long with the bike.

Summary – I think BMW have succeeded on creating the perfect example of a sports tourer in the K1200RS but I feel character has been lost as it doesn’t do anything bad or memorable apart from the brakes. I hesitate to say its feels almost Japanese but less precise. You could live with this bike for years. However when compared to the R1150RT which has some obvious flaws which would not be acceptable on a Japanese bike in 2001 I know I’d be happier on this bike. Why ? I dare say character. The single engine plane type noise, the comfort, the soft but very good suspension setup, the surprising power delivery. This is a lovable bike – its a weird thing. The way it made me feel as I was riding was the deciding factor. (I can see why many bike mags like this bike) Yes I would have made an offer on a new RT but its way too early to decide.