BMW R1200R Review & Ratings
- 17 February 2018
- Author: Nikolas Perseputto
Nice tech… how do you turn it off?
LET’S NOT LOSE sight of the wood for the trees. There are so many interesting details on the 2015 R1200R that it’s easy to overlook the important thing: the fundamental soundness of this latest evolution of BMW’s oddly unpopular naked twin. I really liked the previous model. It struck me as a bike that I’d buy, if I had the money and needed a bike to use – and enjoy using – every day. Fellow admirers of the R would go around saying things like: “It’s got all the good stuff the GS has, but it’s lighter and lower and cheaper and simpler, and you look less of a twerp riding one down to the shops.” I tried not to join in, as my enthusiasm for the GS might tie me in logical knots. But that is pretty much what I thought. Then the new R arrived – and I couldn’t believe how much better it is than the old one. I didn’t think there was that much room for improvement. But it’s better in every way: the handling, the braking, the riding position and, most especially, the way the engine reacts to your right wrist.
It’s achieved this by acquiring the part-liquid-cooled engine from the GS, the telescopic front forks from the S1000RR, and a bunch of electronic gubbins familiar from other current big-bore BMWs. It’s still lighter, cheaper and lower than the GS, but it can’t trump it for simplicity any more. Especially this version, which is a UK-only model called the Exclusive (as distinct from the basic R and the Sport, both of which come with many of these same features as the Exclusive; the Sport comes with BMW’s latest quickshifter, which this bike doesn’t have). The Exclusive spec involves Dynamic ESA – BMW’s electronically adjustable semi-active suspension – plus a more advanced onboard computer, a sat nav mount (and all the wiring – everything apart from the GPS unit itself), cruise control, a centrestand, a rack and pannier mounts.
That’s £11,910 on the road. Our bike also has two of BMW’s ‘packs’ of extras. The Comfort Package consists of chrome exhaust, heated grips and tyre pressure control, adding £450. The Dynamic Package, involving LED indicators and daytime running light, Riding Mode Pro (which has the more sophisticated DTC traction control system, replacing the regular R’s more basic ASC; and adds two riding modes, Dynamic and the customisable User, on top of the standard Road and Rain), and a flyscreen. That’s another £740. I’ve done about 600 miles on the R (which came to us from BMW GB, fresh from its initial 600-mile service). I made a point of not messing about with the buttons for the first couple of weeks, figuring that it was more important to get a feel for the bike’s fundamentals. It came set in Dynamic mode, and that’s where I left it. It felt great. I allowed myself the luxury of using the two-level heated grip button. Very effective.
After a couple of weeks, I began messing about with the buttons. Initial findings: cruise control – no thanks; Road mode – no thanks; switchable instrument screens – actually, it’s rather good to be able to customise the way information is presented you, up to a point; deactivating ABS – probably asking for trouble, so I immediately reactivated it. I’ve also tried and failed to change the time to BST. So far, it seems to me that Dynamic mode is all you’d want. Maybe some different road surfaces, or luggaged-up pillion trips, will change that. I’ve used the rack as a rack, rather than as a top box mount, and not attempted to attach anything to the pannier or GPS mounts. I have, in short, treated it as if it didn’t have most of its most expensive features, and I’m really enjoying it that way, but I will try much harder to explore what those buttons can bring. Plenty of time for all that.