TopSpeed 2020 BMW Buying Guide
See what BMW has on the table for 2020by Allyn Hinton, on LISTEN 12:57
BMW Motorrad has long been known for the quality of its products, and the factory earns that reputation anew with its MY2020 lineup. In-house electronic innovations and mechanical refinements hold the marque in good stead against even the best market performers around the world. Sporty demeanors and luxe appointments combine across the model spread, and the factory has something for everyone with its Urban Mobility segment up through the top-tier touring machines.
BMW Motorrad History
Like so many current bike builders, the Bayerische Motoren Werke got its start in support of the war effort during World War I. During the Great War, BMW built engines for the burgeoning aircraft industry. By turning out the 230-horsepower BMW IIIa engine in 1917 with its famed “altitude throttle” in the Fokker D.VIIF, BMW singlehandedly shifted the balance in air power though this came too late to affect the outcome.
The factory took the experience earned through the war and by 1921 had started building engines to power other marque’s motorcycles. It would build its first whole bike – the R32 – in 1923, and that would herald the wonderful things yet to come.
World War II would see a cessation of activities at BMW until 1947 when it would receive permission to resume production. A point of interest here is that when the Berlin Wall went up, the BMW holdings in East Berlin fell into Soviet hands, and the German DNA is readily apparent in the design of the Russian-made Ural motorcycles. It’s safe to say that the company has fully recovered from the Second World War to become, yet again, a force to be reckoned with on the global market.
BMW Motorrad Model Names Decoded
Like many manufacturers, BMW uses its own shorthand when cooking up the designations for its array of products. The result is a consistent and handy code that informs the reader of the most pertinent model info at a glance. (ie. G 310 R)
Model names start out with a letter that designates the engine arrangement;
C: Parallel-twin scooter engine with CVT gearbox.
F: Parallel-twin engine, standalone.
G: Single-cylinder engine.
K: Covers engines with three or more bores.
R: Opposed-twin “Boxer” engine.
S: Four-cylinder sportbike engine.
The numbers in the middle of the string denote the engine size and are fairly consistent, though the factory will occasionally use a set of numbers arbitrarily. For the spread of 2020 engines, the numbers are as follows: 310, 400, 650, 750, 850, 1,000, 1,200, 1,250, and 1600.
The model codes wrap up with another letter or letters that indicate the general trim package and/or model designed use;
G: Off-road – from the German Gelände (terrain).
GS: Gelände/Straße (terrain/road) – Sometimes used forGelände Sport instead.
GSA: Grand Sport Adventure.
GT: Sport Touring.
GTL: Luxury Sport Touring.
RR: Road Racing.
RT: Road Touring.
S: Sport or Straße (street).
BMW Motorrad Terminology
BMW also uses a number of proprietary terms to describe its products and features that include but are not limited to:
Airhead: A dual-valve, air-cooled, two-cylinder “Boxer” engine.
Duolever: Suspension system that uses dual forks with a central shock on a trailing arm for support and damping.
Flat Twin: Horizontally-opposed twin-cylinder “Boxer” engine.
Motorrad: German for “motorcycle.”
Oilhead: Passages in the hottest spots in the head circulate engine oil to carry off excess heat.
Paralever: A single-side swingarm with dual parallel members, one of which acts as a housing for the cardan shaft drive and the other as a brace.
Precision Cooling: Liquid cooling that targets the hottest parts of the head and contributes up to 35-percent of the overall waste-heat removal.
Telelever: Uses lower-fork sliders that a similar in appearance to a standard telescopic fork, but relies on an A-arm and central shock for support and damping.
BMW Motorrad Models
BMW narrows its sport family to a pair of models for 2020: the S 1000 RR and R 1250 RS. The S 1000 RR owes its inception in ’09 to the racing ambitions of the factory that saw the development of a racebike specifically for the Superbike World Championship. Updates include engine tuning that turns out 205 horsepower at a lofty 13k rpm, weight loss with a stock wet weight of 434.7 pounds, and a higher redline with 14,600 rpm on tap. An optional “M Package” for this year’s model trims almost 8 more pounds from the total to maximize the power-to-weight ratio.
The S 1000 RR is a straight-up superbike even though it does show a little bit of ankle out back where the bodywork peters out. Clip-on bars and jockey-mount footpegs force the pilot into a decidedly aggressive riding posture, so it is not the bike for you if you’re looking for long-distance comfort. The electronics suite reflects the S 1000 RR’s race-tastic nature with ABS, dynamic traction control, riding modes, and Hill-Start Control all part of the stock package.
Billed as a sport-tourer, the R 1250 RS completes the lineup and totes Beemer’s recently redesigned boxer-twin. Beemer’s ShiftCam technology adjusts the cam drive relative to the shaft itself to deepen the torque well without sacrificing the top end, so you can count on 136 ponies and 105 pounds of grunt to drive your road adventures. A redesigned front fairing brings LED tech to the table for safety and visibility. A short-rise handlebar pushes the pilot back and up slightly to give your arms a bit of a break to make the R 1250 RS more comfortable on the long run than its stablemate. Since it rolls sans stock baggage, the stock version is definitely more “sport” than “tour,” and it leaves the touring facet to its cousin, the R 1250 RT.
|R 1250 RS||$15,695||1,254 cc|
|S 1000 RR||$16,995||999 cc|
BMW’s dedicated touring line brings lots of luxe features and capabilities to the table for discerning long-distance riders. At the top of the range are the K 1600 GTL and K 1600 Grand America that roll with the best goodies the factory has to offer and max out their cargo capacity with a top case over stock hard bags. Technically, the K 1600 GT and R 1250 RT are also baggers in that they have stock, hard-side panniers but no topcase. However, these two are more like sport-tourers with an emphasis on the “sport” aspects.
The true bagger for Beemer is its K 1600 B that brings oodles of boulevard bruiser attitude to the table along with large bags and a clean rear end that gives it an all-up-front look. The “K” models roll with Beemer’s 1,649 cc inline six that generates 160 horsepower and 129 pound-feet of torque with a robust electronics suite across the board. As for the “R” model, it carries the new boxer that churns out 136 horsepower with 105 pounds of grunt on tap through the ShiftCam system that broadens the torque band downwards.
|K 1600 B||$22,145||1,649 cc|
|K 1600 Grand America||$26,295||1,649 cc|
|K 1600 GT||$24,045||1,649 cc|
|K 1600 GTL||$26,245||1,649 cc|
|R 1250 RT||$18,645||1,254 cc|
BMW’s roadster category is limited to a quartet of models; the entry-level G 310 R and street-burnin’ S 1000 R carry over into the new model year alongside a pair of freshmen models in the new F 900 R and R 1250 R. The plucky little G 310 R is as essential as ever with nothing of the superfluous in its build. It carries a 313 cc thumper that puts out tractable power with 34 ponies on tap.
Next up is the F 900 R with its 895 cc parallel-twin powerplant and the 99 horsepower it delivers. The factory tried to keep weight down on this model, so the electronics suite is limited to the ASC and a pair of riding modes.
The S 1000 R is a straight up street-racing machine. An inline-four powers this superbike with 165 horsepower and 84 pounds of torque ready to go, and the electronics are beefed up to keep you reasonably safe while you explore the powerband. Adjustable suspension front and back provides a final ride-quality tweak.
The new R 1250 R carries the also-new 136-horsepower boxer engine, and though it’s a fairly essential ride it does sport some electronics with ASC, HSC, and two riding modes stock.
|F 900 R||$8,995||895 cc|
|G 310 R||$4,945||313 cc|
|R 1250 R||$14,995||1,254 cc|
|S 1000 R||$14,045||999 cc|
BMW looks to cash in on the recent prolonged boom in interest in retro-styled bikes with its “Heritage” lineup of R nineT bikes. The R nineT line has an authenticity that can only come from genuine experience, and the company has its own deep roots from which to draw upon.
Power comes from an air-cooled, 1,170 cc boxer-twin engine. This engine turns out a respectable 110 horsepower with 86 pound-feet of torque ready to go and a sporty nature that fits the impetuous look of the R nineT family. Adjustable suspension, ABS, and Automatic Stability Control comes stock to round out the package. The differences between the submodels mainly come down to color and trim packages. Many of the paint packages are two-tone, and BMW’s “Option 719” is represented across the board.
|R nineT||$15,495||1,170 cc|
|R nineT /5||$12,495||1,170 cc|
|R nineT Pure||$9,995||1,170 cc|
|R nineT Scrambler||$12,995||1,170 cc|
BMW’s adventure-bike footprint covers a lot of ground, figuratively and literally. With no less than seven models from which to choose, you can likely find a bike with the engine and surface bias to fit your needs whether it be on-road, off-road or some combination thereof. As a shameless name-drop here, BMW adventure bikes carried Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman in both the Long Way Down and Long Way ’Round shows, so you can be assured of Beemer’s globetrotting potential.
Four different engines are represented in this range with a 34-horsepower 313 cc thumper; 77-horsepower 853 cc parallel-twin; 165-horsepower 999 cc inline-four; and new, 136-horsepower 1,254 cc boxer twin. Ride-quality controls and safety electronics increase along with engine size but fit and finish is top-shelf all the way down to the smallest model in the family.
|G 310 GS||$5,795||313 cc|
|F 750 GS||$10,395||853 cc|
|F 850 GS||$13,345||853 cc|
|F 850 GS Adventure||$14,445||853 cc|
|F 900 XR||$11,695||895 cc|
|R 1250 GS||$17,895||1,254 cc|
|R 1250 GS Adventure||$20,195||1,254 cc|
|S 1000 XR||$17,945||999 cc|
BMW Urban Mobility
BMW’s Urban Mobility category is the scooter umbrella, and for 2020, that comes down to the C 650 GT. Beemer keeps to the urban-professional look for its twin-cylinder maxi-scooter with tasteful angles and shapes in the design, a well-protected leg well and vented windshield to complete the protection package. Twist-and-go operation comes courtesy of the CVT gearbox that uses a centrifugal clutch and works sans manual clutch.
The twin-cylinder engine cranks out a generous 60 horsepower with a lofty top speed of 112 mph. Needless to say, that kind of performance is quite rare in the scooter world. Under-seat storage provides the secure, dry storage, and a wide p-pad and beefy J.C. handles pull double duty as a handy place for some cargo and a bungee net to add to its utility as a business commuter, school transportation, or grocery-getter.
|C 650 GT||$10,995||647 cc|
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