2006 BMW R 1200 CL

Masters the mountains. Rolls on the range.

Packed full of torque (72 lb/ft), the R 1200 CL has the energy to ascend winding mountain roads and an updated 6-speed gearbox to keep the miles rolling by smoothly.

Although based on the R 1200 C, the new CL includes numerous key changes in chassis, drivetrain, equipment and appearance, specifically designed to enhance the R 1200’s abilities as a long-distance mount. While it uses the same torquey, 1170cc 61-hp version of BMW’s highly successful R259 twin, the CL backs it with a six-speed overdrive transmission. A reworked Telelever increases the bike’s rake for more-relaxed high-speed steering, while the fork’s wider spacing provides room for the sculpted double-spoke, 16-inch wheel and 150/80 front tire. Similarly, a reinforced Monolever rear suspension controls a matching 15-inch alloy wheel and 170/80 rear tire. As you’d expect, triple disc brakes featuring BMW’s latest EVO front brake system and fully integrated ABS bring the bike to a halt at day’s end-and set the CL apart from any other luxury cruiser on the market.

Yet despite all the chassis changes, it’s the new CL’s visual statement that represents the bike’s biggest break with its cruiser-mates. With its grip-to-grip sweep, the handlebar-mounted fairing evokes classic touring bikes, while the CL’s distinctive quad-headlamps give the bike a decidedly avant-garde look - in addition to providing standard-setting illumination. A pair of frame-mounted lowers extends the fairing’s wind coverage and provides space for some of the CL’s electrics and the optional stereo. The instrument panel is exceptionally clean, surrounded by a matte gray background that matches the kneepads inset in the fairing extensions. The speedometer and tachometer flank a panel of warning lights, capped by the standard analog clock. Integrated mirror/turnsignal pods extend from the fairing to provide further wind protection. Finally, fully integrated, color-matched saddlebags combine with a standard top box to provide a steamer trunk’s luggage capacity.

The CL’s riding position blends elements of both tourer and cruiser, beginning with a reassuringly low, 29.3-inch seat height. The seat itself comprises two parts, a rider portion with an integral lower-back rest, and a taller passenger perch that includes a standard backrest built into the top box. Heated seats, first seen on the K 1200 LT, are also available for the CL to complement the standard heated grips. A broad, flat handlebar places those grips a comfortable reach away, and the CL’s floorboards allow the rider to shift position easily without compromising control. Standard cruise control helps melt the miles on long highway stints. A convenient heel/toe shifter makes for effortless gearchanges while adding exactly the right classic touch.

The R 1200 CL backs up its cruiser origins with the same superb attention to cosmetics as is shown in the functional details. In addition to the beautifully finished bodywork, the luxury cruiser boasts an assortment of chrome highlights, including valve covers, exhaust system, saddlebag latches and frame panels, with an optional kit to add even more brightwork. Available colors include Pearl Silver Metallic, Capri Blue Metallic and Mojave Brown Metallic, this last with a choice of black or brown saddle (other colors feature black).

The R 1200 CL Engine: Gearing For The Long Haul


BMW’s newest tourer begins with a solid foundation-the 61-hp R 1200 C engine. The original, 1170cc cruiser powerplant blends a broad powerband and instantaneous response with a healthy, 72 lb.-ft. of torque. Like its forebear, the new CL provides its peak torque at 3000 rpm-exactly the kind of power delivery for a touring twin. Motronic MA 2.4 engine management ensures that this Boxer blends this accessible power with long-term reliability and minimal emissions, while at the same time eliminating the choke lever for complete push-button simplicity. Of course, the MoDiTec diagnostic feature makes maintaining the CL every bit as simple as the other members of BMW’s stable.

While tourers and cruisers place similar demands on their engines, a touring bike typically operates through a wider speed range. Consequently, the R 1200 CL mates this familiar engine to a new, six-speed transmission. The first five gear ratios are similar to the original R 1200’s, but the sixth gear provides a significant overdrive, which drops engine speed well under 3000 rpm at 60 mph. This range of gearing means the CL can manage either responsive in-town running or relaxed freeway cruising with equal finesse, and places the luxury cruiser right in the heart of its powerband at touring speeds for simple roll-on passes.

In addition, the new transmission has been thoroughly massaged internally, with re-angled gear teeth that provide additional overlap for quieter running. Shifting is likewise improved via a revised internal shift mechanism that produces smoother, more precise gearchanges. Finally, the new transmission design is lighter (approximately 1 kg.), which helps keep the CL’s weight down to a respectable 679 lbs. (wet). The improved design of this transmission will be adopted by other Boxer-twins throughout the coming year.

The CL Chassis: Wheeled Luggage Never Worked This Well

Every bit as unique as the CL’s Boxer-twin drivetrain is the bike’s chassis, leading off-literally and figuratively-with BMW’s standard-setting Telelever front suspension. The CL’s setup is identical in concept and function to the
R 1200 C’s fork, but shares virtually no parts with the previous cruiser’s. The tourer’s wider, 16-inch front wheel called for wider-set fork tubes, so the top triple clamp, fork bridge, fork tubes and axle have all been revised, and the axle has switched to a full-floating design. The aluminum Telelever itself has been further reworked to provide a slightly more raked appearance, which also creates a more relaxed steering response for improved straight-line stability. The front shock has been re-angled and its spring and damping rates changed to accommodate the new bike’s suspension geometry, but is otherwise similar to the original R 1200 C’s damper.

Similarly, the R 1200 CL’s Monolever rear suspension differs in detail, rather than concept, from previous BMW cruisers. Increased reinforcing provides additional strength at the shock mount, while a revised final-drive housing provides mounts for the new rear brake. But the primary rear suspension change is a switch to a shock with travel-related damping, similar to that introduced on the R 1150 GS Adventure. This new shock not only provides for a smoother, more controlled ride but also produces an additional 20mm travel compared to the other cruisers, bringing the rear suspension travel to 4.72 inches.

The Telelever and Monolever bolt to a standard R 1200 C front frame that differs only in detail from the original. The rear subframe, however, is completely new, designed to accommodate the extensive luggage system and passenger seating on the R 1200 CL. In addition to the permanently affixed saddlebags, the larger seats, floor boards, top box and new side stand all require new mounting points.

All this new hardware rolls on completely restyled double-spoke wheels (16 x 3.5 front/15 x 4.0 rear) that carry wider, higher-profile (80-series) touring tires for an extremely smooth ride. Bolted to these wheels are larger disc brakes (12.0-inch front, 11.2-inch rear), with the latest edition of BMW’s standard-setting EVO brakes. A pair of four-piston calipers stop the front wheel, paired with a two-piston unit-adapted from the K 1200 LT-at the rear. In keeping with the bike’s touring orientation, the new CL includes BMW’s latest, fully integrated ABS, which actuates both front and rear brakes through either the front hand lever or the rear brake pedal.

The CL Bodywork: Dressed To The Nines

Although all these mechanical changes ensure that the new R 1200 CL works like no other luxury cruiser, it’s the bike’s styling and bodywork that really set it apart. Beginning with the bike’s handlebar-mounted fairing, the CL looks like nothing else on the road, but it’s the functional attributes that prove its worth. The broad sweep of the fairing emphasizes its aerodynamic shape, which provides maximum wind protection with a minimum of buffeting. Four headlamps, with their horizontal/vertical orientation, give the CL its unique face and also create the best illumination outside of a baseball stadium (the high-beams are borrowed from the GS).

The M-shaped windshield, with its dipped center section, produces exceptional wind protection yet still allows the rider to look over the clear-plastic shield when rain or road dirt obscure the view. Similarly, clear extensions at the fairing’s lower edges improve wind protection even further but still allow an unobstructed view forward for maneuvering in extremely close quarters. The turnsignal pods provide further wind coverage, and at the same time the integral mirrors give a clear view to the rear.

Complementing the fairing, both visually and functionally, the frame-mounted lowers divert the wind blast around the rider to provide further weather protection. Openings vent warm air from the frame-mounted twin oil-coolers and direct the heat away from the rider. As noted earlier, the lowers also house the electronics for the bike’s optional alarm system and cruise control. A pair of 12-volt accessory outlets are standard.

Like the K 1200 LT, the new R 1200 CL includes a capacious luggage system as standard, all of it color-matched and designed to accommodate rider and passenger for the long haul. The permanently attached saddlebags include clamshell lids that allow for easy loading and unloading. Chrome bumper strips protect the saddlebags from minor tipover damage. The top box provides additional secure luggage space, or it can be simply unbolted to uncover an attractive aluminum luggage rack. An optional backrest can be bolted on in place of the top box. Of course, saddlebags and top box are lockable and keyed to the ignition switch.

Options & Accessories: More Personal Than A Monogram

Given BMW’s traditional emphasis on touring options and the cruiser owner’s typical demands for customization, it’s only logical to expect a range of accessories and options for the company’s first luxury cruiser. The CL fulfills those expectations with a myriad of options and accessories, beginning with heated or velour-like Soft Touch seats and a low windshield. Electronic and communications options such as an AM/FM/CD stereo, cruise control and onboard communication can make time on the road much more pleasant, whether you’re out for an afternoon ride or a cross-country trek - because after all, nobody says you have to be back in six days. Other available electronic features include an anti-theft alarm, which also disables the engine.

Accessories designed to personalize the CL even further range from cosmetic to practical, but all adhere to BMW’s traditional standards for quality and fit. Chrome accessories include engine-protection and saddlebag - protection hoops. On a practical level, saddlebag and top box liners simplify packing and unpacking. In addition to the backrest, a pair of rear floorboards enhance passenger comfort even more.


Standart Equipment :



  • BMW EVO full integral ABS
  • Closed loop 3-way catalytic converter
  • Stainless steel exhaust system
  • Oil cooler integrated in front frame sect.
  • Side stand with starter interlock
  • Diagnostic interface
  • Jump start connection point
  • Low-beam headlamp height adjustment
  • Large speedometer
  • Rear susp. strut with trav. Dep. Damping
  • Toolkit
  • Handbrake/clutch lever 4-pos./3-pos. adj.
  • Integral ignition switch and steering lock
  • Integral pannier cases (color matched)
  • Touring fairing attached to handlebar
  • 2 section dualseat
  • Detachable, color-matched top case
  • Low windshield
  • Hazard warning flashers
  • Heated hand grips
  • Cruise control
  • Radio/CD sound system
  • Chrome package

Available Equipment:


  • Heated seats and back rest
  • High windshield
  • Anti-theft alarm


I drive a 2003 R 1200 CLC. I love my bike. Over the years, I’ve put many miles on three Hondas.

BMW needed to re-introduce the R 1200 CL because, without it, BMW lacked a touring bike with floor boards.

The three colors on the 2006 R 1200 CL look great.

The boxer engine, heated grips, and heated seats make the R 1200 CL a better bike than the Harleys. (I live in Milwaukee, too.)

BMW could lure customers if it rented the R 1200 CL. Harley Davidson rents a full line of motorcycles, and I’ve enjoyed riding three Harleys the past three months. This year, while traveling, I rented Harleys while in Las Vegas and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. I’d never driven Harleys before, but after putting 800 miles on the three Harleys, I can recommend Harleys to friends who are looking for a new motorcycle. My R 1200 CLC is a superior bike, in every respect, to the Harley’s while I rode — including the Harley Fat Boy, the Harley Heritage, and the Harley Electra Glide (Standard).

Note: While in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, I also rented a BMW R 1150 Rockster from the local BMW dealer, and I rode a hard 250 miles on the R 1150 Rockster. The BMW was not as nice as the Harley Heritage or the Harley Electra Glide on which I put 500 miles in the Baja desert. Motorcycalists would be included to buy an R 1200 CL after they rented.

Robert Crawford
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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