BMW R 1200 R: Boxer-twin en­gine im­mor­tal­ized

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‘This may be your ideal part­ner for your daily com­mute on two wheels’

At the risk of sound­ing like a bro­ken record, we have to say again that we are deeply in love with BMW’s R 1200 GS se­ries. The high rid­ing po­si­tion and the ca­pa­ble sus­pen­sion el­e­vate its abil­i­ties be­yond all but the most ex­pe­ri­enced rid­ers, and the 1,200cc par­al­lel-twin mo­tor gives it the oomph it needs to stay on the tail of much more pow­er­ful sport bikes, as well as a bari­tone ex­haust note as unique as the then con­tro­ver­sial asym­met­ri­cal head­lights.

The height of the GS, how­ever, has al­ways been a stick­ing point: A bike this tall and of­froad-ca­pa­ble alien­ates not just shorter rid­ers, but also those look­ing for a more re­laxed mo­tor­cy­cle for ev­ery­day use. Some­thing not so much to take to the ends of the earth, but more at home do­ing short sprints to the near­est Star­bucks and the oc­ca­sional blast up and down a twisty moun­tain road.

Thank­fully, BMW knows this all too well, which is why it has re­leased the R 1200 R, a smaller, nim­bler, street-ori­ented mo­tor­cy­cle that re­tains most of what makes the GS spe­cial, in a much more man­age­able naked­bike pack­age.

The first thing that strikes you is the ab­sence of the asym­met­ri­cal head­light de­sign. Yes, BMW’s sig­na­ture de­sign fea­ture has been elim­i­nated in this road­ster. In its place is an an­gu­lar and reg­u­lar-look­ing height-ad­justable head­light, which, though less po­lar­iz­ing than its sta­ble­mates’ twolamp unit, is also more pleas­ing to the reg­u­lar mo­tor­cy­clists among us. Over­all, the bike looks very tra­di­tional: It’s a no-frills naked bike with an an­gu­lar tank that seems as if it’s melt­ing into the seat.

Step back, how­ever, and the R 1200 R’s most unique fea­ture stands out like a sore thumb: the iconic BMW boxer en­gine’s cylin­der heads peek­ing out un­der the rider’s shins. The same 125hp mill from the GS re­sides at the heart of this bike and gives it more street cred any other fea­ture does. Take away the cylin­der heads and the R 1200 R be­comes an­other run-of-the-mill twowheeler, but with the boxer en­gine slapped on side­ways, you have a bona fide BMW.

The 1,170cc twin-cylin­der pow­er­plant is an air- and liq­uid-cooled four-stroke boxer, which not only pro­vides oo­dles of torque (around 125Nm at 6,500rpm), but also ef­fec­tively low­ers the bike’s cen­ter of grav­ity. This means that de­spite the R 1200 R’s 232kg mass when fully fu­eled, much of the load is cen­tered so low that the bike ea­gerly darts into a cor­ner and is more than will­ing to dial in that ex­tra lean an­gle when you need it. And with top speed ex­ceed­ing 240kph, you will need such lean.

The en­gine puts the power to the road through a six-speed, con­stant-mesh, he­li­cal­geared trans­mis­sion and BMW’s fa­mous shaft drive. It is qui­eter than a tra­di­tional mo­tor­cy­cle gear­box, and the shaft drive en­sures that ad­just­ing chain ten­sion is a thing of the past, thereby sim­pli­fy­ing main­te­nance and help­ing you fo­cus on the im­por­tant thing: rid­ing.

The R 1200 R is equipped with BMW’s stan­dard suite of elec­tronic rider aids. All 125 wild horses are kept in check un­der the strict guid­ance of the avail­able trac­tion con­trol sys­tem, al­low­ing the rider to ex­pe­ri­ence the most of what this po­tent ma­chine has to of­fer. The sys­tem is com­ple­mented by stan­dard ABS, which is a good thing to have con­sid­er­ing that the tops of the en­gine cylin­ders are com­pletely ex­posed. So, if a rider is abu­sive enough to de­feat the rider aids and man­ages to lay the bike down, the en­gine will take the brunt of the dam­age in the event of a slide. It seems that en­gine pro­tec­tors are a must on this ma­chine, if only to pro­tect your in­vest­ment from any un­to­ward dam­age.

At the end of the day, while the GS lum­bers along dusty trails in the mid­dle of nowhere, its seat height more fit for NBA play­ers than the av­er­age Filipino, the R 1200 R pro­vides a more ev­ery­day-ap­pro­pri­ate ride for the discerning rider. With looks to match the per­for­mance on tap and ease of use to match the svelte frame, this may just be the ideal part­ner for your daily com­mute on two wheels. Save the GS for the week­ends on the trails; for all other days of the week, this boxer road­ster is the one for us.

Clas­sic-styled road­sters aren’t ready to go ex­tinct (yet)

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