Tech Specs

BMW K1200 R

1157cc inline 4 cylinder. 4 valve DOHC, liquid cooled. 6-speed transmission with shaft drive. Digital fuel injection with closed loop catalytic converter.

163bhp @ 10250rpm
127Nm @ 8250rpm

Bridging frame made of die-cast aluminium with the engine as a load bearing component. Duoloever front suspension with single, central suspension strut, fully adjustable with optional ESA. Paralever rear suspension with single, centrally located shock. fully adjustable with optional ESA.
EVO brakes with dual 320mm front discs gripped by 4 piston calipers and single 265mm rear disc with dual piston caliper. Optional ABS.

120/70 ZR 17 front tyre
180/55 ZR 17 rear tyre

Length: 2228mm
Seat height: 820mm
Dry weight: 237kg
Fuel capacity: 19lit

Price: £9,375



Introducing the K1200R

Road test by Jocke Selin, Pics as credited

You might have read
my first ride of the BMW K1200R, and perhaps you remember that I really liked that bike. I mean, I really liked it. So much in fact that I've now gone and bought one, and I now like it even more. If you haven't managed to read between the lines, let me spell it out for you; I really like my new K1200R.

I've been the lucky owner of a 2004 R1200GS for the last 17,000 miles, and while I really enjoyed the GS, all the commuting had taken a bit of shine off it and I felt that she had become a bit grey and didn't really ignite that special feeling for me anymore. A change was due - the question of what to change to didn't take long to answer; a slightly used K1200R would be just what the doctor ordered to cure my lack-of-biking-shine. I just couldn't justify buying a brand new one, and I really didn't want to bother with the running in; especially as there's 163 Bavarian horses wanting to go for a run. Nein Danke. Therefore I set a "slight rule" for myself; once a suitable spec low mileage one popped up, Jocke cleverly parks in front of the Ugliest Bike in Christendom before photgraphing his in an attempt to make it appear handsome... (JS pic)I'd ransack my finances (i.e sink myself deeper into debt), and see if the maths would meet up somewhere not too far in the red. You've probably figured it out by now; I managed to get the numbers to work, and I even managed to find a bike that was near enough to my spec.

The bike is a May 05 K1200R, in yellow and black. My preferred colour would have been graphite and black, but they don't do that, so I guess I'll settle for the yellow and black. The bike doesn't have ABS, which I've grown to loathe, more on that later. It does have the Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA) and Sport Wheels. Sadly it came with the original tiny tiny tiny screen, which really isn't up for any prolonged speeds around 70mph. The bike had a mere 2,400 miles on the clocks - just perfect for me. I've also managed to find a used Laser DuoTech can for it and I stuck that on as soon as I could. This was a quick and easy job, which saw me looking for the right tools longer than actually swapping the cans over.

Between the salt rocks, glimpses of daylight and rain showers, I have now managed to do about 300 miles on the bike, and I'm enjoying it a lot. The engine is truly magnifficent in both power and torque. I have a slight suspicion that the BMW engineers might have modelled this bike with inspiration taken from the Acme Rocket so eagerly piloted by Wile E. Coyote in his pursuit of Roadrunner. It sure feels like being propelled by a rocket engine as there's torque all over the rev range and the power just surges the bike towards the horizon, all in perfect harmony with the wonderful sound generated from both the intake and the DuoTech. Marvellous. When I try to describe the sound of the engine I can only think of the sunny days when I've been spectating at the Nurburgring Nordschleife in Pflantzgarten I, when Sabine Schmitz comes thundering down the hill in the BMW M5 Ring-Taxi, to give it full power up the hill, only to disappear over the brow leaving us, spectators with their jaws dropped. Yes, it sounds a bit like an M5. (Editor's note - as I'm just buying an (old) M5 I can only see this as a Good Thing)

The only negative I can find about the engine is that it's a bit snatchy on lower revs and especially a bit difficult when balancing between on the throttle and off. Pretty much like many other fuel injected bikes. It's also a bit of a pity that 98 octane fuel is required; it's expensive enough without shelling (no pun intended) out that extra. I guess I'll have to mumble "No pain, No gain" to myself everytime I fill up.

The handling is quite remarkable too. The stability provided by the DuoLever front suspension is hard to describe, probably because it completely lacks drama. A traditional fork setup will see the bike dive and rise through a corner as you first slow down and then power up, but the DuoLever seems to keep the bike completely level. The stability is so different that it's near boring. Very enjoyable nevertheless. I promise I will do my utmost to come up with a better description once the weather gets better and the Nurburgring season starts.

Laser can fitted, Jocke proves that irony is a live and well and living somehwre in Oxfordshire as he takes a German motorcycle to the Home of British Motor Racing... (JS pic)Another interesting treat is the ESA - Electronic Suspension Adjustment - that allows you to alter the compression damping and the rear preload from a button on the bars. It provides three settings for the compression damping; "Comfort" (softest), "Normal" and "Sport" (hardest). There's also three settings for the rear preload; "Rider" (alone), "Rider and Luggage", and "Rider, Pillion and Luggage". I haven't figured out what I'm supposed to do when I've got a pillion passenger and no luggage, so I've simply decided that one day I'll remove the pillion pegs and grabrail. The difference between the settings is very noticeable. When I'm riding through town or bouncing down dual carriage ways, I'll flick the setting to "Comfort" and let myself wallow nicely along while I enjoy the scenery. For moderate "twisties" I have so far stuck it on "Normal" which seems to be hard enough to enjoy the corners, but soft enough to avoid enjoying bad road surfaces. When I approach a nice bit of road that I really enjoy and know, I snick it into "Sports" and marvel over the cornering capabilities. The negative parts with the ESA is that there's no real manual adjustment; wouldn't it be lovely if you could adjust compression and rebound on all three ESA settings?! Or maybe that would just give us too many things to, literally, screw up. Another little niggle is that, to me, the compression damping is quite harsh on sudden bumps in the road; way too much of the bump is transferred up to the bars. The GS was the same, so I suspect this is a generic modern BMW trait.

As I mentioned earlier this K1200R is without ABS, and that's how I want it for a few reasons. The most important reason is that I've experienced a few "issues" on the GS both with the ABS on and the ABS off. On an ABS equipped K1200R, you can't turn the ABS off like you can on the GS, which means you're in an "all or nothing" situation. On the GS you can turn the ABS off, but you can't disable the servo assistance. While the ABS system is a life saver in many situations and for most riders, it can play up. It is this "can" that worries me, because on the GS, it did. I'm intending to ride this bike "in a spirited manner", especially on the Nordschleife, and in this environment I will be braking quite hard, sometimes off camber. In this situation my life is depending on the brakes, and I really feel more comfortable if I'm in complete control over the way the brakes behave. I don't want any snatchiness from the servo assistance, and I definitely don't want the ABS to cut in and release the brake pressure only to see my eyes get to the size of golf balls whilst staring at an approaching piece of expensive Armco. On the GS I was quite often able to provoke the ABS to cut in, especially on bumpy roads, and that, to me, is where the brakes should work without exceptions. I haven't been able to try a DuoLever equipped bike with ABS near its limits, so I won't claim that the K1200R will behave the same way. Bottom line is; If I'm going to stuff it, I'd like to stuff it all on my own without a computer interfering.

What's in store for the future? Jocke must *really* love this bike - he normally sees cleaning as a thing that gets in the way of wheelies... (JS pic)You might ask. First on the agenda is better weather, I'm working on that and I think I can have something sorted by the end of March. Other than that, plans are to ride the bike, but to try to avoid mundane commuting on it as that only racks up miles, covers it in muck, and takes the shine off riding for fun. She will go to the Nurburgring and earn her Ring-sticker, that's a must. I wouldn't mind a short circuit track day or two either. But I guess most miles will be done around UK with a big grin on my face.

I'd like to do some modifications too, but I think that my lack of funds will be a big obstacle. Here's a few ideas:
- Larger screen (but not too large).
- Air box modification to accommodate dual high-flow filters as per K1200S.
- Bellypan a la the PowerCup bikes
- Single seat cowl/unit again a la the PowerCup bikes
- Crash protection
- Removal of pillion pegs - this requires an exhaust bracket.
- Maybe a paint-job, I'm not very keen on the yellow.

Other goodies would also be nice, such as:
- Autocom/Starcom incl bike-to-bike functionality.
- Bigger GPS (TomTom Rider, or Garmin Quest?)
- A paddock stand would be useful.

Only time will tell where we'll end up. If you are a manufacturer or importer of any of said goodies, please get in contact, we'd love to try your products out and do a write up. Right now I'm in progress of trying to tidy up the tail a bit. The OEM licence plate hanger is too big for my liking. I've also mounted my tiny eTrex Legend C GPS and the Geodesy gatso-detector.

So far I've enjoyed the bike and I've truly found my riding shine again. I can't wait for the roads to dry up and the evenings to become lighter. If you haven't figured it out yet, here's a bigger hint. Ring your local BMW dealer now and book a test ride. It's worth it. See you out there!

A second opinion from Julie Marshall, Motoring Correspondent at the Wakefield Express

THE glossy brochure for BMWs K 1200 R is undeniably misogynous. The only woman who gets a look-in is driving a car along the highway, gazing dreamily in her wing mirror at the approaching he-man on his muscle bike. The pictures, and particularly the words, are targeted exclusively at the macho rider and there's nothing to endure the bike to the fairer, or should I say gentler, sex. And that's a shame because, despite the fact that this is BMW's most powerful and aggressively styled naked street bike (to borrow a phrase from the press pack) and that it's got 163 bhp at its disposal, the K1200R is a bike that can, and should, be enjoyed by all.

Now I'm a bit of a novice in the bike department. In my 18 months on two wheels I've never ridden anything like as powerful as the K1200 and so I was initially a bit daunted at the prospect. Factor in that the rain was lashing down, accompanied by thunder and lightning, and that I was on unfamiliar roads and you can appreciate I was not at my most confident. But within minutes, if not moments, of slipping it into gear and gently rolling away, I felt entirely at home and I continued to do so throughout the 50-odd miles of the test ride which took in villages and gently sweeping A roads round and about Newbury.

Look closely. There's fear in those eyes... (Pic by Victor Harman)Now, if I'd a mind (and a death wish) I could have sprinted up to 62mph in 2.8 seconds, but of course I didn't. Instead I accelerated smoothly through the gears and never got much beyond 4,000 rpm even when I hit the top speed for the roads I was on.

Now even I must admit that this is not what the K1200R is all about. Despite my complaints of its macho image, when you're on the fastest unfaired machine on the road it deserves to be treated with a bit more respect. Nevertheless, my mission on this rain-lashed Wednesday was to prove that this was a bike as forgiving to the relative newcomer as it was said to be mean in the hands of an expert.

Much of its allure for me was that the 1200 R, unlike the 1200 S on which it's based, has a far more upright riding position and the bars are straighter and wider.This makes for more confident manoeuvres and a more comfortable riding position over long distances. The look is not to everyone's tastes I know, but I'm a die-hard fan of the naked bike and am particularly well disposed to BMWs in general so I was generally happy with its quirky styling. Not sure about the strange headlight light configuration though.

The engine is pushed to the front thus contributing to its low centre of gravity and the weight, which at 237 kilos is on par with many other bikes of this class, makes for a controlled ride, even at not much more than a walking pace.

My test bike was fitted with the optional electronic suspension adjustment (ESA) which can be accessed by a push of the button on the handlebars. This is an operation that can be performed on the move when road conditions dictate or set up inadvance, depending on payload.

The BMW EVO brake system, as featured on all K series models, is said to be one of the safest and most effective brake systems in the world. The test bike was also fitted with sports integral ABS which means that both brakes are activated by the hand lever while the footbrake lever acts only on the rear wheel.

I had to rely on all this technology when a nasty bend almost took me unawares in the worsening weather conditions and I was forced to brake a little harder than I would have liked. The bike behaved with impeccable manners and showed no tendency to push wide.

The gauges are a mixture of analogue and digital; speed and rev counter are analogue with fuel, time and what gear you're in shown on the LCD. ESA current setting, if fitted, can also be found there.

In the short time I was with the bike I didn't get to grips with the indicators at all. In common with many BMWs the switches for right and left are on their respective handlebars. No problem there. What I couldn't get used to was that the indicator kill switch was on the right and meant that while stretching my thumb across to operate it I occasionally blipped the throttle. However, I was assured that in time this becomes second nature and doesn't cause regular riders any trouble.



Read external BMW K1200R reviews on Ciao.


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