2015 BMW R1200R review

Date 18.6.2015

Presented by
  • Motorcycle Trader

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2015 BMW R1200R

Out with the old and in with the new. As the only model apart from the R nineT still using the air/oil cooled boxer engine, the R1200R was starting to show its age.

Stepping into the future with a host of major changes, the 2015 R1200R is up to the pointy end with other models in the growing BMW range.

Gone is the air/oil-cooled powerplant, replaced by the liquid-cooled, 1170cc boxer which is a stressed member of the chassis. Not only has the air/oil-cooled engine been given the flick but so has BMW’s trademark Telelever front end.

The new R1200R also includes the electronic wizardry of BMW’s other top-of-the-range models. ABS braking, multiple pre-set riding modes, traction control and electronic suspension adjustment are all included. On top of that is Gear Shift Assistant Pro (GSAP) for clutchless up and downshifts.

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REVISED STYLING

The old, funky styling has gone to suit the new package, giving the R1200R a classy look. Considering the performance, it could easily be turned into an ‘S’ version. In the meantime, the RS model is $22,950.

The R1200R has optional ‘keyless ride’, an electronic key that you can leave in your pocket. This activates the ignition and allows the fuel cap to be opened without a key. It’s something that Harley-Davidson has been using for some time and BMW Motorrad says it will be introduced on more of its models.

I have enough trouble finding the key when it’s in the ignition, let alone in the many pockets of my jacket! The bike will still run without the key so if you start the bike and leave the proximity key on the garage bench, it will run fine until you stop and then you won’t be able to start it again until you’ve gone home to get the key.

Riding the R1200R is a pleasure. It’s comfortable and well-mannered. The standard seat height was ideal for me at 790mm. It allowed my 167cm to get plenty of boot rubber on the road, which is what I like on a big bike, especially with a pillion.

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If this doesn’t suit, there are four optional seat heights and even a Comfort version of the separate pillion perch.

The days of walking into a dealer and saying: “I’ll take that one” are quickly disappearing. Fortunately, Australian versions get stability control, traction control and Ride Mode Pro as standard.

ON THE ROAD

Heading out of town, the R1200R quickly put its hand up as an ideal day-to-day commuter. The seating position is upright, with a good view of the surroundings and it’s surprisingly nimble at low speeds, especially considering its size.

The liquid-cooled boxer has a slightly different note, possibly because the exhausts exit the bottom of the heads instead of the front. But there is no mistaking you are riding a boxer. A blip of the throttle while stationary will still make the bike rock with the torque reaction.

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Out of town and into the hills, I was curious to see how the conventional 45mm upside-down fork performed at speed. There were no complaints as the telescopic front end was a match for the Evo Paralever rear. I have got used to BMW’s shaft drive with the Paralever over the years but never really warmed to the Telelever front end.

Weight saving and styling are the reasons BMW has given for the decision to use a conventional fork. I would think styling would be its main motivation, as the classic roadster look is popular again and that’s the market niche at which this model is aimed.

You would be hard pressed to find an unfaired upright bike that offers such sound handling over such a broad range of conditions. Thanks to the electronic stability control (ESC), you can alter the suspension response while on the fly. This complements what is already a well-balanced chassis. As with most BMWs, the bike feels a little long in the wheelbase but the positive is excellent directional and high-speed stability.

There is no comparison between the performance of the old air/oil-cooled R model, with 75kW (100hp), and the latest 93kW (125hp) liquid-cooled boxer. It will happily rev, but short shifting is what it loves and why wouldn’t you do that, given the available torque?

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With a slick-shifting, six-speed ’box and Gear Shift Assistant Pro, there’s no clutch required once moving. I found myself shifting down gears just to hear the computerised perfection of the ‘auto blip’ matching engine revs to wheel speed. I am sure the novelty will wear off but, at the end of the day, I still found myself thinking ‘cool’ on each shift.

Although this engine is said to be the same as that fitted to the GS, it’s actually a little better. Airbox and intake improvements have given improved, bottom-end torque. Even after all these years, the boxer engine is still evolving and, as long as we keep buying them, this is sure to continue.

Braking performance is superbike-like with radial-mount Brembo calipers and 320mm floating front discs. Combine that with the most refined motorcycle ABS system available and you’d be kidding yourself if you thought you needed more.

UPPING THE PACE

Linked braking is standard, so a grab of the front lever will also apply a dash of rear. This helps stabilise the bike, especially on uneven or slippery roads.

The hydraulic clutch is feather light, as is the throttle. Both offer nice feel through your fingers.

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Being the racer I am, when selecting a mode for some twisties I went straight for Dynamic. This delivers rapid throttle response but, after playing with the options, I eventually decided that Road was less abrupt in initial throttle response. This also provides more compliant suspension. If you want to up the pace or dice with your sportsbike-mounted buddies, then flick it to Dynamic and up the ante. A new dash is set above the compact LED headlight, which is self-activated at dusk. The dash also will alter its brightness to suit the light conditions – nice touch.

What you’re looking at is an analogue speedo on the left and digital display on the right. You can choose from three options for the digital side.

The information gives you the usual time/fuel level but also has a tripmeter, average fuel comsumption, air temperature, tyre pressure, ride time, distance to next service, voltage and plenty more.

It basically does everything other than predict the future.

The new R1200R is a well-designed roadster with more than just a modern touch. Once optioned, it’s dripping with features that will keep you both informed and safe during your ride.


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