BMW R 1200 R: Boxer-twin engine immortalized
‘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)