The One-Two Punch: BMW R 1200 RT and R 1200 ST
Das Motorrad: Test und Technik (Issue
26, 2004, December 3, 2004)
Written by: Gert Thoele
Photos by: BMW
Translated by: Kari Prager (for customer information)
The Bavarian Boxer hits twice: First, the new BMW R 1200 RT appears in its production version, Later the BMW R 1200 ST will arrive, which follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, the R 1200 RS.
Conceded: Often the first photos of new machines from BMW cause quite a bit of irritation and worry. One need only think of the duck's beak on the first R 1100 GS. Shocking! But the GS was an absolute sales hit, and this is not the only case where success has proven the wisdom of the designers correct.
Another unusual example from more recent times: the naked K 1200 R, equally out of the mainstream, brought confusion to the BMW cadres. In such a context the new R 1200 RT appears almost conventional, without any startling elements, and closely connected to the function-oriented design of the previous model. But it is clear that this is far more than a superficial facelift, for the successor of the RT is based on the motor and chassis technology of the current R 1200 GS.
As a result the new bike has more power, 16% more horsepower than the old RT, according to the sources at BMW. That means about 110 HP instead of the 95 HP of the older bike, and about 10 HP more than the current GS. This increase of peak horsepower is achieved through a modest increase in the peak RPMs by 500, and through the introduction of improved intake ports, a new exhaust system and altered cam profiles.
The new bike reaches its maximum output at 7500 rpms, and tops out at 8,000. Additionally, the tuners have increased the compression ratio to 12:1, a courageous move for a motor with a bore diameter of 101 mm. But through the most modern engine management system, knock sensors and separate oxygen sensors, the combustion process remains under control. In fact, in spite of the increased horsepower, at a constant speed of 120 km/hr, the motor gets about .7 liters/km better fuel economy than the old motor. In any case, the motor is designed for 98 octane super plus, but midgrade or regular gas can be used in a pinch, with a slight reduction in power.
In principle, the chassis is the same as the GS, using bolt-up components. Subframes for the front and rear are bolted to the load-bearing Engine-transmission assembly, supporting the voluminous, well-rounded bodywork.
The suspension system is also familiar. The proven Telelever with 35mm fork tubes and now 120mm stroke in front, and the new compact Paralever in the rear, with minor modification to accept the wider tire and 135mm of travel. For the first time in the Boxer series, there is an optional electronically adjustable rear suspension (ESA), as has already been released on the K 1200 S. This allows the adjustment of the damping at the touch of a button while riding. If it works as well as it does on the K, it could be an interesting feature for the touring rider who travels with varying amounts of luggage.
There is also news about the brakes. The RT comes equipped with partially integrated ABS instead of the full-integrated ABS, changed because of the rather abrupt action of the full-integrated servo-assist. For fine tuning of the braking system there is a slightly smaller disc in the rear, as well as stainless steel brake lines and stiffer caliper mounts.
The bike's wiring harness is replaced by the CAN-bus (Controller Area Network) system as used on the R 1200 GS. The increased use of electronics need not disturb the touring rider, as the system has worked flawlessly on the R 1200 GS. An anti-theft device is integrated into the system. We're grateful that the instrument panel shows classical simple elegance, with an Info flatscreen with all important monitoring features between two easily readable round instruments. As an option BMW offers an on-board travel computer, which now includes an oil-level monitor. Two simultaneously lit H7 halogen headlights assure good visibility at night, with a distance high beam light in the middle.
The substantial fairing offers optimal wind and weather protection, and takes the passenger into consideration. As before, the windshield is electrically adjustable, with a range of 140 millimeters. The rider's seat is also adjustable, though not electric, and there is a lower seat available if the two positions do not suffice. BMW says that the bike, ready to ride, weighs 259 kilos (569.8 lbs.), which is 20 kilos (44 lbs.) lighter than the old RT.
For individual equipment there is a plethora of special options and accessories, including CD-Radio and navigation system and even transparent lens blinkers. Interesting options like ESA adjustable suspension, Radio/Navigation system and topcase can send the price skyrocketing upwards. Even the base price of 15,100 Euros is nothing to sneeze at, in comparison to the 500 Euro cheaper predecessor model. This new model will be in German dealerships by the end of January.
The details are scant for the second new model from Bavaria, although we won't have to wait long to find out about this sport tourer; the bike is rumored to be released in April of next year. In the case of the ST the Bavarian designers have taken a more daring path, especially in regards to the frontal aspect. The two centrally located headlights loom proudly above the twin air intakes (for the oil cooler). The instruments are not mounted in the fairing, but turn with the handlebars on the upper triple clamp, an unusual design solution. From the rear aspect the bike is far more conventionally designed.
Designated the successor to the RS, the ST is conceived as a classic sport tourer. The basis is probably the same as the RT, and the motor should appear with a similar power output of 110 HP. In this respect it is certainly in the same class as the Honda VTR 1000 and 1000cc MZ, but remains under the category leaders of the class, such as the recently released Suzuki SV 1000 with 124 HP. However, the last couple of horsepower are not the same issue in the sport tourer category, as opposed to the supersport class. The chassis characteristics have greater significance in this class, as for example the bike's handling. And in this category the new bike far outclasses its predecessor, not least because of its lighter weight. Under 230 Kilos (506 lbs.) fully tanked and ready to go is the reported figure, a good 15 Kilos (33 lbs.) lighter than the RS. The chassis is based on the well-known elements (Paralever and Telelever), even though at first glance the front end looks like an upside-down front fork.
And the rest of the Boxer program? The Roadster appears to remain unchanged, while the R 1200 C Cruiser goes into retirement, and the R 1100 S must continue as it is for one more year. A successor is doubtless expected, certainly sportier and more powerful than the two new models that have arrived, but in no case sooner than 2006.