My beloved R1100S has gone in for a service at Sawbridge BMW. The dealer shows me to the loan bike, a R1200RT. As he starts briefing me on what all the buttons do I can’t help thinking that there’s some mistake…This is a bike for bearded 40ish people who are sensible and wear slippers.” I am not there yet!” I want to shout but don’t. Because at the end of the day, beggars can't be choosers. As I set off I begin to notice some benefits to slipper wearing bikes. So in no particular order:
It’s really comfortable. And I mean really comfortable. I could spend all day in this saddle and in winter I imagine the heated seat option is really useful. The more upright seating position instills an almost leisurely traveling mentality. Instead of head down riding, just getting to my destination, I am looking about noticing the scenery. Luckily ABS is fitted and works really well, and with braided brake hoses this bike stops on a penny. It turns out that this is all really handy when looking at the cows and not observing the traffic in front.
The electric screen means that I can fiddle when I get bored of the scenery. It’s either too low, or at the right height it seems to be just within my line of sight. Further playing identifies that if you put the screen all the way up the world around you becomes silent. It’s almost like riding in a car and there is a curious side effect from the turbulence created, as it feels like someone behind you gently pushing you forward. I start to feel sick in this zero airflow bubble and put the screen back down.
Electronic Suspension Adjust. I must admit, I am a fan of BMW’s ESA and they have sorted the options out on the new RT models featuring ESA2. You now have options for pillion, luggage or pillion and luggage, which all have to be set before travelling, plus the 3 comfort levels; comfort, normal and sport which can be chosen adhoc while on the move. Great stuff.
Comfort removes all of those irritating potholes which seem to be so common on our roads. Sport on the other hand gives you great feedback and is fantastic on the twisties, but allows you to feel every little imperfection as well.
It’s almost as if the bike has a dual personality, I found that I was switching between comfort and sport depending on my mood and never really using the normal mode. It’s somewhere in between but I preferred the comfort mode for traveling on the motorway or when going for a pootle and sport on the A and B roads. I guess normal would be good in the rain but I didn’t get this tested.
The R1200 RT is not exactly made for filtering. It’s not that the bike is big as such, just that the mirrors are at the exact same height as average Joe’s car. (I wish they would put a bike lane round the M25.) This means that the commute requires much more care and attention. Apart from anything else, those mirrors are integrated into the front fairing panels so clipping one could become expensive. I might have never noticed if the optional CD/radio was fitted as this would remove all the tedium from the commute. It would also be great if you had a suitable cavalry charge anthem blasting from the CD as you progressively moved though traffic. I think this may work even better than an aftermarket exhaust. (Editor's note - it certainly did when I had another full dresser tourer on test - 60W of AC/DC parted traffic like Moses parting the Red Sea...)
This is a fantastic bike that eats mileage for breakfast. In winter these types of bikes are everywhere, and for good reason. Shaft drive means that you don’t get sticky oil everywhere from the chain and service intervals at every 6000 miles means you’ll spend less time fiddling and more time riding. The 1200RT is superbly comfortable and well mannered. Lights are bright (dipped beam uses both sides) and work really well in those grotty winter mornings. Styling is a personal choice. I started off not liking this bike but after 3 days it’s grown on me. It’s got the same quirky BMW switch gearthat we all know and, well if not love then at least get used to. Displays are bright and clear although I did find the addition of km/h measurements slightly confusing, but this would be useful in Europe, and the petrol warning light had a habit of coming on with 70miles still to go before you ran out. Which was a little irritating but certainly better than being the other way around and coming on just after it's spluttered to a stop leaving you to push around a quarter of a tonne to the next petrol station... If you're interested,
I was getting about 50.4 miles to the gallon so for a big bike economy was good.
So if you are doing big miles or are riding through the winter, and have started wearing (or even considering) slippers this is the bike for you. I am stubbornly resisting slippers so I will be sticking to the R1100S. Its mirrors are cheaper to replace, too...