BMW puts the ’sport’ in sport-tour

LISTEN 10:29

BMW heads into MY2021 with a significant facelift and upgrade package for its bagger-tastic R 1250 RT. A nip here and tuck there presents a new face to the world with equally-new instrumentation and a revised windscreen to complete the package. As a showroom bagger, it rolls with rider comfort as a front-burner item and comes stock with panniers for immediate utility as a tour bike, commuter, or grocery-getter. The cherry on top is the Active Cruise Control feature that uses radar technology to bring a level of safety to the motorcycle market that has mainly been restricted to use on vehicles with four wheels or more.

  • 2021 BMW R 1250 RT
  • Year:
    2021
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    boxer twin
  • Displacement:
    1254 cc
  • Top Speed:
    125 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    19695
  • Price:

2021 BMW R 1250 RT Design

  • LED lighting
  • Large 10.25-inch TFT color display
  • New audio system
  • Updated styling
2021 BMW R 1250 RT
- image 975298
2021 BMW R 1250 RT
- image 975282

The factory abandoned the goggle-eyed headlights in favor of a new LED headlight arrangement on the R 1250 RT that’s quite a bit narrower on the vertical than the outgoing model. It’s joined by a new front trim panel and new windshield to finish transforming the R 1250 RT’s visage for 2021. A daytime running-light feature is cleverly incorporated with the headlight icon design, but my favorite lights are the cornering lights that light the way where you need it most, in the curve ahead where you’re headed, not necessarily where your bike is pointing as you lean into the swoop.

The new windshield design is all about comfort. It’s mounted on rail-like standoffs that leave it fully vented through an air duct along the bottom edge to relieve the vacuum behind the glass and provide a low-turbulence reintegration with the slipstream. Ultimately, this leads to less long-distance fatigue since you aren’t constantly fighting that wearisome head-buffet effect the whole time.

Around behind the glass is the single instrument panel that measures 10.25 inches and sports a full-color display with a fingerprint-resistance coating. Everything runs through here, including engine management, navigation, communication and entertainment to make it a one-stop shop for all your infotainment needs. As for music, the R 1250 RT brings enough to share with the class with its Audio System 2.0 that is piped through the new speaker covers in the inner fairing that bear some of the few bits of bling with its new chrome trim pieces. Plus, the factory moved the antennae from an exposed position

The stock saddle comes adjustable between 31.7-inches and 32.5-inches high, but if that doesn’t work for you, the factory has you covered with ex werke seats that range from as low as 29.9-inches off the deck on up to the nosebleed saddle at 33.5-inches high. No matter which you choose, your pillion pad will be lofted just a skosh higher for better visibility and comfort for your passenger. The hard panniers come stock for 18.4 gallons of secure dry storage with a luggage rack up top to complete the stock cargo capacity. If you feel like you need more storage, the factory offers an ex werke top case that doubles as a comfy backrest for your passenger’s safety and comfort.

2021 BMW R 1250 RT Chassis

  • Dynamic electronic suspension
  • Hill-Hold control
  • New Integral ABS Pro as standard
  • Dynamic Traction Control
2021 BMW R 1250 RT
- image 975309
2021 BMW R 1250 RT
- image 975316
2021 BMW R 1250 RT
- image 975314

The main structure of the R 1250 RT is a frame with the chunky lump used as a stressed member to complete the forward framing. A bolt-up subframe forms up the tail section, and down below, an elegant, single-sided, cast-aluminum swingarm finishes the standing structure and pulls double duty as the housing for the drive shaft.

Beemer goes its own way in the suspension with its curious BMW Motorrad Telelever system that uses dual, 37 mm telescopic fork tubes with a central, coil-over strut on damping duties. It’s an unusual setup to be sure, but it does have the advantage of separating the steering load from the support load to deliver low-effort steering inputs. Another coil-over shock out back supports the rear end and dampens the swingarm with variable preload and adjustable rebound-damping features that’ll let you tweak the ride to get it where you like it. To a degree, at least, it could be better with tunable front forks, but if it’s that important to you, a fully-electronic suspension package is an available option for this model.

Suspension travel clearly points to a bike that prefers the urban jungle to the real thing at 4.7 inches up front opposite 5.4 inches out back. The steering head sets a 25.9-degree rake angle, and once the 17-inch cast rims and hoops are factored in, a 4.6-inch trail figure that combine to lend the R 1250 RT a nimble nature that belies its 615-pound curb weight. “Z”-rated rubber makes the connection to terra firma in a 120/70 and 180/55 on the front and rear, respectively.

The brakes are straight-up serious business with dual, 320 mm discs and four-pot calipers to haul down the front end, followed by a single-pot anchor that bites a 276 mm rear disc. Beemer’s proprietary ABS feature comes stock with lean-angle optimized intervention that calculates the available traction on the fly and moderates the ABS pulses to prevent loss of traction in the corners and the lowsider that inevitably follows.

Frame: Two-part frame concept consisting of a main frame and a rear frame bolted to it, with a co-supporting engine
Front suspension/ Travel: 37 mm BMW Motorrad Telelever, central spring strut/ 4.7"
Rear suspension/ Travel: Cast aluminum single-sided swing arm with BMW Motorrad Paralever, WAD spring strut, spring preload continuously and hydraulically adjustable via adjuster knob, adjustable rebound-stage damping via adjuster knob/ 5.4"
Steering head angle: 64.1°
Caster: 4.6"
Wheels: Cast aluminum
Front wheel: 3.50” x 17"
Rear wheel: 5.50 x 17”
Front tire: 120/70 ZR 17
Rear tire: 180/55 ZR 17
Brake, front: Twin 320 mm disc brake, floating discs, four-piston radial brake calipers
Brake, rear: Single 276 mm disc brake, double-piston floating caliper
ABS: BMW Motorrad full integral ABS Pro (full integral braking, lean optimized)

2021 BMW R 1250 RT Drivetrain

  • Proven 1,254 cc boxer engine
  • 136 horsepower and 105 lb-ft of torque
  • BMW ShiftCam
  • Active cruise control with radar sensor
2021 BMW R 1250 RT
- image 975304
2021 BMW R 1250 RT
- image 975312
2021 BMW R 1250 RT
- image 975306

Nothin’ says Beemer like a boxer-twin mill, and the R 1250 RT is no exception. The jugs protrude from both sides where they harness the full cooling power of the incoming airflow. Dual over-head cams time a quartet of poppets per head, but it’s the intake cam that steals the show through its ShiftCam feature that deepens the torque well for a broader powerband. Massively oversquare, the bore mics out at 102.5 mm with a 76 mm stroke for a spicy, 12.5-to-1 compression ratio and a 1,254 cc total displacement. Yeah – premium fuel – full stop.

A balancer shaft joins the cams in each head to take most of the sting out of the power pulses from the engine. Ride-by-wire throttle inputs control the engine and enable a number of ride-quality and safety features that include Dynamic Traction Control, Hill Start Control, and a trio of Ride Modes.

Perhaps the pièce de résistance here is the Dynamic Cruise Control with braking function that uses a radar — that’s right a radar — to measure your distance to the traffic ahead and speed match to maintain your relative position. Yeah, that’s been around the car industry for a minute, but this may be the first production application in the motorcycle segment. Not only does it open and close the throttle, but it’ll hit the brakes for you as well, for full-spectrum protection against running upside someone’s rear end. NO giggity.

Engine power flows through an anti-hopping clutch for yet another layer of traction insurance. The six-speed transmission runs with quiet and efficient helical-cut gears, and the final drive ratio in top gear turns in a claimed top speed in excess of 124 mph. Not a surprising turn of speed from an engine that produces 136 horsepower at 7,750 rpm with 105 pound-feet of torque at 6,250.

Engine: Two-cylinder, air-/fluid-cooled, four-stroke boxer engine with two overhead spur-gear driven camshafts, one balancer shaft and BMW ShiftCam variable intake camshaft control.
Bore x stroke: 102.5 mm x 76 mm
Displacement: 1,254 cc
Power: 136 hp @ 7,750 rpm
Max. torque: 105 lb-ft. @ 6,250 rpm
Compression ratio: 12.5: 1
Fuel preparation: Electronic port fuel injection, digital engine control: BMS-O with throttle by wire
Emission control: Closed-loop three-way catalytic converter, compliant with EU-5 emission standard
Clutch: Wet clutch with an anti-hopping function, hydraulic activation
Gears: Six-speed helical synchromesh gearbox
Secondary drive: Drive shaft

2021 BMW R 1250 RT Price

2021 BMW R 1250 RT
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2021 BMW R 1250 RT
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2021 BMW R 1250 RT
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The 2021 R 1250 RT starts out with an MSRP of $19,695 for the Alpine White colorway, though the factory offers plenty of optional equipment and ex werke custom fodder that’ll quickly balloon that sticker well north of $20k. As for color packages, you can choose between Manhattan Metallic or Racing Blue Metallic in style packages for an additional $550, or the Option 719 Mineral White Metallic for $21,445.

Standard equipment: 10.25-inch color TFT instrument cluster with connectivity and integrated map navigation, BMW Motorrad full integral ABS Pro, DCC (Dynamic Cruise Control with braking function), Full-LED headlights, Four programmable favorite buttons, DTC (Dynamic Traction Control), 3 Ride Modes (ECO, Rain and Road), HSC (Hill Start Control)
Optional equipment: Adaptive headlight, ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control with radar sensor), High-power audio system, Charging compartment (inductive charging and USB), Dynamic ESA (Electronic Suspension Adjustment with load compensation), Keyless Ride, Central locking system, Seat heating, TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitor System), Ride Modes Pro (driving mode dynamic and HSC Pro, dynamic engine brake control, dynamic brake control DBC), Option 719 billet packs, Option 719 wheels, Sports silencer
Optional accessories: LED additional headlights, Seat variants, Top case, Tank bag, BMW Motorrad Navigator
Warranty: Three years
Color: Manhattan Metallic, Racing Blue Metallic, Alpine White, Opt 719 Mineral White Metallic
Price: $19,695

2021 BMW R 1250 RT Competitors

2021 BMW R 1250 RT
- image 975299
2015 - 2021 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS
- image 742683

I could have grabbed a Harley-Davidson or maybe even an Indian to see how the Beemer stacks up against a domestic product, but the truth is, the R 1250 RT will likely be competing for its share of the “import bagger” market, so it was straight to Kawasaki for its Concours 14 ABS.

Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS

2015 - 2021 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS
- image 871722

Every inch the sport-tourer, the Concours carries its own windtunnel-tested front fairing and electrically-adjustable vented windshield for comfort and protection. Like the Beemer, it rolls with stock panniers and a bare tail end that’s ready to have something bungeed to it or a passenger perched on it. Kawasaki even graces the Concours with its proprietary linked brakes that shares pressure between the front brakes and the rear regardless of which brake input you use, hand lever or pedal. That’s nice as far as it goes, but falls short of the level of technology touted by the Bavarian.

Kawi gets some back with its almost-fully adjustable suspension both front and rear that’s better than the 1250’s stock stems though it pales against the electronic suspension system. For power, Kawasaki shoehorned in a transverse-mount, liquid-cooled four-banger that displaces 1,352 cc with a solid 100.5 pound-feet of torque on tap. An in-house traction control keeps the Concours from spinning out but the tech stops there and so the Concours can’t hold a candle to the Beemer in that respect. You pay for the difference though, since the Kawi rolls for a low $15,799, it leaves quite a bit of money on the table, and that’s likely a solid selling point that’ll make up for the lack of tech.

He Said

“The RT family has been rolling for around forty years now, and the new model is a perfect example of why that is. I mean, the thing will do well over 100 mph, and there’s no denying its touring chops or its level of fandanglery; not at this price point. If you’re into touring or just want a fun commute, this bike should be on the short list. Personally, I’d say it’s well worth the extra cheddar.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “I think the aero-dynamically redesigned front end looks much better. It’s sleeker with the antenna integrated under the fairing panels. Handling is effortless and the riding position makes for a very comfortable ride. Be mindful of the width of the panniers, otherwise, you can maneuver this anywhere. The adaptive cruise control is amazing, allowing you to maintain speed and set distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. It just adds a whole new safety parameter for your journey.”

2021 BMW R 1250 RT Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Two-cylinder, air-/fluid-cooled, four-stroke boxer engine with two overhead spur-gear driven camshafts, one balancer shaft and BMW ShiftCam variable intake camshaft control.
Bore x stroke: 102.5 mm x 76 mm
Displacement: 1,254 cc
Power: 136 hp @ 7,750 rpm
Max. torque: 105 lb-ft. @ 6,250 rpm
Compression ratio: 12.5: 1
Fuel preparation: Electronic port fuel injection, digital engine control: BMS-O with throttle by wire
Emission control: Closed-loop three-way catalytic converter, compliant with EU-5 emission standard
Clutch: Wet clutch with an anti-hopping function, hydraulic activation
Gears: Six-speed helical synchromesh gearbox
Secondary drive: Drive shaft
Chassis:
Frame: Two-part frame concept consisting of a main frame and a rear frame bolted to it, with a co-supporting engine
Front suspension/ Travel: 37 mm BMW Motorrad Telelever, central spring strut/ 4.7"
Rear suspension/ Travel: Cast aluminum single-sided swing arm with BMW Motorrad Paralever, WAD spring strut, spring preload continuously and hydraulically adjustable via adjuster knob, adjustable rebound-stage damping via adjuster knob/ 5.4"
Steering head angle: 64.1°
Caster: 4.6"
Wheels: Cast aluminum
Front wheel: 3.50” x 17"
Rear wheel: 5.50 x 17”
Front tire: 120/70 ZR 17
Rear tire: 180/55 ZR 17
Brake, front: Twin 320 mm disc brake, floating discs, four-piston radial brake calipers
Brake, rear: Single 276 mm disc brake, double-piston floating caliper
ABS: BMW Motorrad full integral ABS Pro (full integral braking, lean optimized)
Dimensions & Capacities:
Length: 87.5"
Height (above windscreen): Min. 57.5", max. 61.8" (Style Sport: min. 53.5", max. 58.3")
Width (including mirrors and cases): 39.0"
Wheelbase: 58.5"
Seat height, unladen: 31.7" / 32.5" (SE high seat: 32.7" / 33.5", low seat: 29.9" / 30.7")
Rider step length, unladen: 71.3" / 72.8" (SE high seat: 73.8"/ 75.4", SE low seat: 68.5" / 70.1")
Fuel tank capacity: 6.6 gal. with approx. 1 gal. reserve
Fuel type: Super unleaded
Curb weight: 615 lbs.
Max. permitted weight: 1,113 lbs.
Max. load (with standard equipment): 482.2 lbs.
Maximum speed: over 124 mph
Electrical system:
Alternator: Three-phase generator with 508-watt nominal capacity
Battery: 12 V / 11.8 Ah, maintenance-free
Details:
Standard equipment: 10.25-inch color TFT instrument cluster with connectivity and integrated map navigation, BMW Motorrad full integral ABS Pro, DCC (Dynamic Cruise Control with braking function), Full-LED headlights, Four programmable favorite buttons, DTC (Dynamic Traction Control), 3 Ride Modes (ECO, Rain and Road), HSC (Hill Start Control)
Optional equipment: Adaptive headlight, ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control with radar sensor), High-power audio system, Charging compartment (inductive charging and USB), Dynamic ESA (Electronic Suspension Adjustment with load compensation), Keyless Ride, Central locking system, Seat heating, TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitor System), Ride Modes Pro (driving mode dynamic and HSC Pro, dynamic engine brake control, dynamic brake control DBC), Option 719 billet packs, Option 719 wheels, Sports silencer
Optional accessories: LED additional headlights, Seat variants, Top case, Tank bag, BMW Motorrad Navigator
Warranty: Three years
Color: Manhattan Metallic, Racing Blue Metallic, Alpine White, Opt 719 Mineral White Metallic
Price: $19,695

Further Reading

BMW Motorrad

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TJ Hinton
TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read full bio
About the author

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

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