The Very Embodiment Of The Term ’Roadster’

BMW’s R 1200 R roadster has been around since 2006, and the Motorrad looks to extend that run with a repowered and updated version for MY15 and beyond. The new “R” gets the same boxer mill as the R 1200 GS/GS Adventure/RT/RS, so it packs 100-plus ponies and 90-plus pounds of grunt into the narrow, minimally appointed roadster frame. Electronic gadgetry comes in the form of ABS and ASC, as well as variable power-delivery modes and traction control, for most of the top-shelf safety features folks tend to expect nowadays. There’s more of course, so it’s safe to say that there is much more here than meets the eye if you’ll forgive the shameless Transformers reference, so let’s dive right in and see what else the Bayerische Motoren Werke has in store for us with this newest incarnation of its popular roadster.

Continue reading for my review of the BMW R 1200 R.

  • 2015 - 2018 BMW R 1200 R
  • Year:
    2015- 2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Air/liquid-cooled four stroke flat twin engine, double overhead camshaft, one balance shaft
  • Displacement:
    1170 cc
  • Top Speed:
    125 mph
  • Price:
    14345
  • Price:

Design

2015 - 2018 BMW R 1200 R
- image 745192
The R 1200 R is the very embodiment of what it means to be a roadster, with minimal appointments, non-existent paneling and very little left to the imagination.

At its core, the R 1200 R is the very embodiment of what it means to be a roadster, with minimal appointments, non-existent paneling and very little left to the imagination. Exposed frame members accentuate the naked look, and since the R runs a boxer, the heads stick out completely clear of the machine to give us an unobstructed view of the jugs, heads and rocker boxes. A heavily pared-down front fender rides between the usd front forks below the stylish headlight can. What appears to be a tiny flyscreen atop the light housing is actually just the back side of the instrument cluster, and it provides something between nada and bupkis in the way of wind protection for the rider. Most naked-bike/roadster enthusiasts wouldn’t have it any other way.

The 4.7-gallon fuel tank comes tapered at the rear to match the bevel on the saddle for a narrow waist and easy reach to the ground from the 31.1-inch high seat. If that height doesn’t work for you, the accessory catalog will have options available to raise the saddle up to a lofty 33.1-inches tall, or drop it down to 29.9-inches high for the vertically-challenged riders out there. There’s a slight step-up to the p-pad that comes with a pair of horn-shaped oh,shit! handles and subframe mounted, fold-up footpegs to complete the passenger’s amenities.

The tail light comes tucked away beneath the tapered tail section, and though I’m no fan of the subframe-mount mudguard, to be fair, it’s about as narrow as it could possibly be, and so are the turn signals, so the visual impact is minimal at the end of the day. Still, a turn-signal relocation kit and hugger would clean the rear-end up even more.

Chassis

2015 - 2018 BMW R 1200 R
- image 745191
A tubular-steel frame and subframe serve as the bones of the beast with a stressed-engine arrangement that keeps the tubing and weight to a minimum.

A tubular-steel frame and subframe serve as the bones of the beast with a stressed-engine arrangement that keeps the tubing and weight to a minimum. The steering head comes set at 27.7-degrees, which is a little rake-ish for a sportbike, with 4.9-inches of trail and a 59.7-inch wheelbase that are also a little long for same.

A pair of 45 mm, usd forks support the front of the bike with a coil-over monoshock to tame the motion of the single-side, aluminum, EVO paralever swingarm. Components at both ends turn in 5.5 inches of travel at the axle. The rear shock comes with adjustable preload and rebound damping, but the front suspension is something else entirely. Beemer’s Dynamic Electronic Suspension Adjustment feature reads the road and lean angles to deliver instantaneous corrections to the ride quality, and it comes with two different modes; “Road” for general-purpose settings, and “Dynamic” for a firmer setup.

A pair of 320 mm front brake discs and four-pot calipers are joined by a 276 mm rear disc with a single-piston binder on braking duties. Switchable ABS comes as part of the standard equipment package, so you can take it or leave it as the conditions, or your mood, demand. Cast aluminum, 10-spoke rims round out the rolling chassis with a 120/70 hoop up front and a 180/55 out back.

Frame: Tubular steel bridge frame, engine self-supporting
Front suspension/Travel: Upside-down telescopic fork, Ø 45 mm / (140 mm)
Rear suspension/Travel: Cast aluminum single-sided swing arm with BMW EVO Paralever; WAD strut (travel-related damping), spring pre-load hydraulically adjustable (continuously variable) at handwheel, rebound damping adjustable / (140 mm)
Castor: 4.9" (125.6 mm)
Steering head angle: 62.3°
Wheels: Cast aluminum wheels
Rim, front: 3.50 x 17"
Rim, rear: 5.50 x 17"
Tire, front: 120/70 ZR 17
Tire, rear: 180/55 ZR 17
Brake, front: Dual floating disc brakes, 4-piston fixed calipers, diameter 320 mm
Brake, rear: Single disc brake, diameter 276 mm, dual-piston floating caliper
ABS: BMW Motorrad Integral ABS (part-integral, can be switched off)

Drivetrain

2015 - 2018 BMW R 1200 R
- image 745189
Beemer's flat-twin boxer boosts plenty of power for some thrilling holeshots and authoritative passes, and should hold it in good stead against the majority of similarly-sized rides out there.

Beemer’s flat-twin boxer boosts torque over the previous gen while extending the powerband down into the lower rev range a bit. The mill generates a total of 92 pound-feet of torque at 6,500 rpm with 125 horsepower on tap once you wind it up to 7,750 rpm, and at around 500 pounds wet, that’s plenty of power for some thrilling holeshots and authoritative passes, and should hold it in good stead against the majority of similarly-sized rides out there. A hybrid liquid/air cooling system deals with the waste heat generated by the 12.5-to-1 compression ratio; yeah, that’s right, it’s nothing but premium fuel for this ride. The 101 mm bore and 73 mm stroke gives it the typical, short-stroke configuration with DOHC valve timing to manage the four-valve heads.

A ride-by-wire system enables the stock, two-channel rider modes and the optional Dynamic Traction Control feature that protects the integrity of the contact patch in wet or otherwise low-traction situations. The DTC comes bundled with the Ride Modes Pro that adds another couple of channels to include an owner-programmable one for custom power delivery.

An electronic Gear Shift Assistant lets you cycle through the six gears, up and down, sans clutch or throttle adjustment; just lay the hammer down and go. Power delivery ultimately winds up being smooth and predictable, even with the stock rider mode engaged, and this alone makes for a safer ride even without all the electronic fandanglery.

Engine: Air/liquid-cooled 4-stroke flat twin engine, four valves per cylinder, double overhead camshaft, wet sump lubrication
Bore x stroke: 101 mm x 73 mm
Capacity: 1,170 cc
Rated output: 125 hp (92 kW) at 7,750 rpm
Max. torque: 92 lb-ft (125 Nm) at 6,500 rpm
Compression ratio: 12.5 : 1
Clutch: Multi-plate wet clutch, hydraulically operated
Gearbox: Constant-mesh 6-speed gearbox with helical cut gears
Drive: Shaft drive 2.82:1

Pricing

2015 - 2018 BMW R 1200 R
- image 722520
MSRP runs $300 more than last year, but still not a bad price for what you get.

The base-model R 1200 R rolls for $14,345, which includes ABS and Automatic Stability Control. Adding the option packages can push that to $18,295.

Color:
2017: Thunder Grey Metallic, Cordoba Blue, Light White
2018: Espresso Metallic, Racing Red, Light White/Cordoba Blue
Price:
2017: $14,095
2018: $14,345

Competitor

2015 - 2017 Ducati Monster 1200 / 1200 S / 1200 R
- image 722535
2015 - 2018 BMW R 1200 R
- image 745193
Beemer's ABS can be disabled if you like, 'cause sometimes you just need to be able to slide a bit.

Roadsters typically bring moderately-high performance to the table in a rather minimal package, and while the differences between them and a naked sportbike are subtle, they’re definitely there. With that in mind, I went hunting for another proper Euro-style roadster, and decided Ducati’s immensely popular 1200 Monster would do nicely.

Right off the bat one can’t help but notice the similarities in design. Cut-back fenders nestled between beefy, usd front forks with a teensy headlight can to lead the way ahead of a bulky engine section. Both fuel tanks come stylishly shaped with a relief for knee and thigh on each side for a race-tastic appeal. Unfortunately, both would benefit greatly from losing their current rear mudguard in favor of a hugger, at least in my humble opinion. Narrowish fronts with chunky shoulders and a wasp tail and nothing in the way of fat or fluff; sounds like a roadster to me.

Tubular-steel frames rule the day, as do inverted front forks, but the Duc’s 43 mm forks are a hair smaller than those on the Beemer. While they come with the full spectrum of adjustments they fall short in that department as well since said adjustments are manual versus the automatic Beemer forks.

In back, both of these rides run a fancy-schmancy, single-side swingarm with adjustable monoshock. Dual front brakes are another constant, as is the ABS, but there’s a trade-off between the two. Ducati runs its “cornering” ABS that dynamically adjusts itself based on lean angle kind of like Beemer’s front forks, but the Beemer’s ABS can be disabled if you like, and sometimes you just need to be able to slide a bit.

The mills are brand-typical with Beemer running a boxer against the L-twin Duc. Ducati crams in a few more cubes with 1,198 cc in total over the 1,170 cc BMW, and it also manages to milk an impressive 150 horsepower and 93.1 pound-feet of torque from its Testastretta. That’s just a skosh more torque than the 92 pounds o’ grunt from the R, but 25 ponies more for a difference that will be marginally detectable with the heinie dyno.

These two are neck-and-neck at the checkout. Beemer squeaks in a win with its $14,095 price tag, just under the Monster’s $14,695 sticker.

He Said

“As always, Beemer puts out a really good product, and this one actually has a little sex appeal to it in the curve of the tank and kick of the tail. It’s not stodgy at all like, if we are honest, some of their stuff is, and I like the look a lot. As always though, I’d prefer if it didn’t run a boxer with those vulnerable, expensive heads sticking out the sides just waiting to get whacked or ground.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, "It gives you a rather sporty riding position, though not that forward aggressive stance, and the bike feels quite agile. Throttle response is quite snappy and the center of gravity is low so the bike is easy to handle at parking-lot speeds. All-in-all it is an easy bike to ride, and dare I say, new-rider friendly."

Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Air/liquid-cooled 4-stroke flat twin engine, four valves per cylinder, double overhead camshaft, wet sump lubrication
Bore x stroke: 101 mm x 73 mm
Capacity: 1,170 cc
Rated output: 125 hp (92 kW) at 7,750 rpm
Max. torque: 92 lb-ft (125 Nm) at 6,500 rpm
Compression ratio: 12.5 : 1
Mixture control / engine management: Electronic fuel injection with ride-by-wire throttle system
Emission control: Closed-loop 3-way catalytic converter, emission standard EU-3
Alternator: Three-phase 508 W generator
Battery: 12 V / 12 Ah, maintenance-free
Clutch: Multi-plate wet clutch, hydraulically operated
Gearbox: Constant-mesh 6-speed gearbox with helical cut gears
Drive: Shaft drive 2.82:1
Chassis:
Frame: Tubular steel bridge frame, engine self-supporting
Front suspension: Upside-down telescopic fork, Ø 45 mm
Rear suspension: Cast aluminum single-sided swing arm with BMW EVO Paralever; WAD strut (travel-related damping), spring pre-load hydraulically adjustable (continuously variable) at handwheel, rebound damping adjustable
Suspension travel front / rear: 5.5" / 5.5" (140 mm / 140 mm)
Castor: 4.9" (125.6 mm)
Steering head angle: 62.3°
Wheels: Cast aluminum wheels
Rim, front: 3.50 x 17"
Rim, rear: 5.50 x 17"
Tires, front: 120/70 ZR 17
Tires, rear: 180/55 ZR 17
Brake, front: Dual floating disc brakes, 4-piston fixed calipers, diameter 320 mm
Brake, rear: Single disc brake, diameter 276 mm, dual-piston floating caliper
ABS: BMW Motorrad Integral ABS (part-integral, can be switched off)
Dimensions & Capacities:
Wheelbase: 59.7" (1,515 mm)
Length: 85.3" (2,165 mm)
Width (incl. mirrors): 34.7" (880 mm)
Height (excl. mirrors): 51.2" (1,300 mm)
Seat height, unladen weight: 31.1" (790 mm) Standard; variable seat heights available between 29.9" (760 mm) and 33.1" (840 mm) (available as accessories and/or factory options, see an authorized BMW Motorrad dealer)
Inner leg curve, unladen weight: 70.1" (1,780 mm) Standard; variable inner leg curve (inseam) between 67.7" (1,720 mm) and 73.8" (1,875 mm) (seats available as accessories and/or factory options, see an authorized BMW Motorrad dealer)
Unladen weight, road ready, fully fueled 1): 508 lbs (231 kg)
Permitted total weight: 990 lbs (450 kg)
Payload (with standard equipment): 483 lbs (219 kg)
Usable tank volume: 4.7 gal (18 l)
Reserve: Approx. 1 gal (4.0 l)
Details:
Maximum speed: Over 125 mph
Fuel consumption: 60 mpg at a constant 55 mph (3.9 l)
Fuel type: Premium Unleaded
Color:
2017: Thunder Grey Metallic, Cordoba Blue, Light White
2018: Espresso Metallic, Racing Red, Light White/Cordoba Blue
Price:
2017: $14,095
2018: $14,345

References

2015 - 2017 Ducati Monster 1200 / 1200 S / 1200 R
- image 650082

See our review of the Ducati Monster 1200.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: bmwmotorcycles.com, ducatiusa.com

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