BMW aficionados that hold the boxer layout dear to their hearts will swoon over the latest incarnation of the R 1200 RT SE.
The RT name is derived from the German ‘Reise-Tourer’ which translates to travel tourer. From the early airhead generation through to the oil cooled 1100 to 1150 and then to 1200 the model has certainly come a long way.
Touring riders that stick to the tarmac have always held the RT in high regard and for 2010 the R 1200 RT SE has scored more power and technology to help the ultimate road going boxer reach new heights.
A switch to the double overhead cam layout pioneered on the exclusive limited-edition HP2 Sport, along with larger valves lifted dramatically higher and pushed 500rpm further, has given the boxer twin a new lease on life.
Maximum torque is still delivered at 6000rpm but at 120Nm it is 4% stronger than before. More than 100Nm is available at just over 3000rpm. At 110hp (81kW), claimed maximum power is unchanged but at 7750rpm it is delivered 250rpm higher and stays on song right through to the 8500 limiter. On paper the changes don’t really amount to much but are certainly felt on the bike. The latest Boxer responds with more urgency and delivers more sporting satisfaction than before. It is no huge powerhouse by contemporary standards but is rarely found wanting.
A new servo controlled flap in the exhaust system helps the RT to meet noise requirements while also improving the sound of the engine. So goes the BMW claim. It sounds a bit weak to my ears though, if you have the coin to spare the optional Akrapovic muffler will no doubt improve the acoustics markedly.
Power is transferred to the ground via a six-speed gearbox, last updated and strengthened for the 2008 model year, and connected to BMW’s trademark shaft-drive system. The gearbox is ultra-smooth with each gear engagement almost imperceptible, including from neutral to first. The box is a class act that could probably only be improved by the addition of BMW’s excellent powershifter from the K models or S 1000 RR.
With its generous 25 litre fuel tank full the R 1200 RT SE tips the scales at 259kg. It is certainly no lightweight but it hides its bulk well.
Suspension duties are taken care of by the familiar Telelever and Paralever arrangement unique to BMW.
The lack of fore and aft weight transfer that is a trademark of the Paralever front end works extremely well and allows hefty motorcycles to feel quite nimble even in the cut and thrust of tight back-road brawling.
The layout offers little feel and isolates the rider somewhat, that takes some getting accustomed to, but once trusted the front end turns and holds on extremely well. Riders new to the design may not take to Telelever instantly, but learn to trust the way it works and the rewards are certainly there. The lack of pitch change entering downhill turns is simply a revelation and encourages you to push the boundaries of front tyre adhesion much further than you otherwise might. The RT also has plenty of ground clearance to explore those boundaries. In tight terrain the RT will show an ST Honda, FJR Yamaha or GTR Kawasaki a clean pair of heels.
For 2010 the previously available electronic suspension adjustment is now pushed to ESA II. The second generation system adds spring rate adjustment to the damping and preload adjustments found on the first generation system.
Preload and spring rates are adjusted using buttons situated on the handlebar and can only be applied while stationary. The interface presents the rider with a simple selection of rider, rider with luggage or rider with passenger and luggage with the electronics taking care of the adjustments.
Damping settings can be cycled through on the move and vary through comfort, normal or sport modes at the touch of a button. It is smart and it works. Enter some nice flowing bends and selecting sport firms up the damping response nicely. Or if the road turns pockmarked then selecting comfort helps smooth the ride. It adds a new dimension in usability and convenience that translates to a better riding experience.
Anti-lock brakes are standard and in R 1200 RT guise are partially integrated. As such the rear brake pedal activates only the rear brake while the front lever applies both front and rear. Measuring 320mm at the front and 265mm at the rear and matched to superb ABS mapping the stoppers are excellent. Long gone is the servo assistance of older models.
Out on the open road an electrically adjustable windshield moves through a 140mm plane to tailor resistance to the conditions while on the fly. The heated seat, grips and new audio system make the cockpit a pleasant place to spend time if you want to use the whole 400km touring range afforded by the RT in single stints. Ergonomically the R 1200 RT pushes the right buttons.
For those people that simply must shuffle through their IPod’s available music rather than just go with the flow, you know who you are, BMW have provided an innovative multi-controller on the left bar. Push it to move to the next song or podcast, flick through radio stations or rotate the dial to alter the volume. The controller is convenient but while using it I often hit the indicator button in the process. But then I do have fingers like sausages. Gone is the CD player of the previous model.
The stereo system works well enough up to the national speed limit and for a news junkie like myself allows me to catch up with all the latest news and current affairs podcasts during the ride. Those that have never ridden with a good integrated stereo system may scoff, but I assure you it can make long journeys much more pleasant.
Likewise many describe having cruise control on a motorcycle as blasphemy. Obviously they never ride long distances on highways with a view to retaining a licence in today’s Australia. With our ridiculous open road speed limits, huge penalties and mindless enforcement cruise control is certainly an asset.
The launch was conducted in only daylight so we can’t comment on the effectiveness of the lights but have no reason to doubt their power. The previous model’s beams were certainly strong enough. The headlight angle adjuster has moved within reach of the rider’s hand and can now be adjusted on the fly.
While the R 1200 RT SE could never be described as a cheap way to go motorcycling it does offer reasonable value thanks to an unrivalled list of standard equipment. The R 1200 RT SE is generously loaded standard with ESA II, ABS, traction control, tyre pressure monitoring, heated grips and seat, cruise control and stereo system. A pair of colour-coded 32 litre panniers round out the $30,990 package nicely.
A low suspension version is also available but misses out on ESA II and seat heating due to space requirements. Correspondingly the price comes down by $900 for the RT LS machine.
For boxer lovers the R 1200 RT SE is the ultimate dream machine. For others that enjoy really big power the latest tweaks to the boxer have certainly made it a much more satisfying ride. Those that can never have enough power and prefer seamless big-bore four-cylinder grunt would probably prefer the K 1300 GT. But that model misses out on the stereo and accoutrements that adorn the RT.
Despite the cylinders hanging out the side the RT also offers a much fresher face from its latest bout of cosmetic surgery. Although the nicest colour with the two-tone slashes across the flanks will set you back an extra $765.
All in all the R 1200 RT SE is a class act. Thoughtful implementation of technology that adds rather than detracts from the riding experience, matched with the best boxer engine yet and mated to an excellent chassis makes for a compelling argument in its favour. Boxer lovers are already salivating; the true test will be if BMW can win over riders from other brands with the new RT. If they can convince enough people to sling a leg over a demo they just might convert more than a few.
|BMW R 1200 RT SE Specifications|