First ride: BMW R1250RT

RiDE (UK) - - Contents - Words Martin Fitz-gib­bons Pic­tures Chippy Wood

BMW’S R1200RT HAS long been the two-wheeled em­bod­i­ment of Ae­sop’s fa­ble The Tor­toise and the

Hare. Never the fastest, flashiest or most-pow­er­ful tourer, yet the RT’S easy­go­ing en­thu­si­asm, dogged de­ter­mi­na­tion and plucky per­sis­tence made it a dev­as­tat­ingly ef­fec­tive way of de­vour­ing dis­tance. From 2005’s air-cooled orig­i­nal to its fi­nal techno-tas­tic evo­lu­tion, the RT’S softly spo­ken Boxer has al­ways been out­gunned by Honda’s ST1300, Yamaha’s FJR1300S and Kawasaki’s 1400GTR — not to men­tion BMW’S own K-se­ries fours and sixes. And yet, more of­ten than not, the RT out­sold the lot.

So while you don’t need buck­ets of grunt to make a great tourer, it doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily hurt ei­ther. The right kind of power makes ev­ery ride feel more re­laxed: over­takes are cleaner, quicker and less fren­zied; loads are lugged more lazily; cruis­ing speeds can be held more serenely. So the ideal suc­ces­sor to the R1200RT would be vir­tu­ally iden­ti­cal, but with a bit more poke and noth­ing else sac­ri­ficed. The same tor­toise, just wear­ing a brand-new pair of run­ning shoes.

And hey presto, here we have the 2019 R1250RT, which ap­pears to have been root­ing around in the same box of go-faster good­ies as BMW’S flag­ship GS (see last month’s is­sue). That means a big­ger-bore, longer-stroke mo­tor, with dis­place­ment boosted from 1170cc (as since 2005) to 1254cc. Power is up from 123bhp to 134bhp but, more en­tic­ingly, peak torque jumps 14% to a whop­ping 106lb·ft. On pa­per, that’s more torque than an FJR or GTR.

Sure enough, crack the new RT’S throt­tle open wide and the dif­fer­ence is in­stantly, ob­vi­ously no­tice­able. From tick­over to red­line, ask to see what the mo­tor’s got and it gladly shows you the dif­fer­ence. As it well should: torque is greater at all revs; gear­ing is un­changed; and the 1250’s ex­tra few ki­los do vir­tu­ally noth­ing to counter the ex­tra thrust. There are no chins to be rubbed or de­lib­er­a­tions to be dwelled on: the 1250 mo­tor is just plain bet­ter.

The Boxer hasn’t lost any of its man­ners ei­ther — in fact, it’s bet­ter be­haved than ever be­fore. Fu­elling is be­yond crit­i­cism, throt­tle ea­ger­ness can be cus­tomised through rider modes (Rain and Road on the ba­sic RT; Dy­namic on higher-spec mod­els), and the mild vibes from the even 360° fir­ing in­ter­vals are never in­tru­sive.

RIDE takes BMW’S new R1250RT for an ex­clu­sive UK first ride to see if it lives up to the legacy of the na­tion’s favourite tourer. No pres­sure, then…

The new Shift­cam sys­tem de­serves some credit for all this. BMW’S new vari­able valve-tim­ing sys­tem al­lows the in­take camshafts to switch be­tween two markedly dif­fer­ent pro­files. There are pointy cams, giv­ing full power and per­for­mance when you ask for it, as well as milder part-load lobes that im­prove ef­fi­ciency when you’re trundling about be­low 5000rpm. I say “trundling” — in sixth gear, that’s enough to hold 90mph.

Try as hard as you like, but you sim­ply can’t de­tect the sys­tem shift­ing be­tween these two dif­fer­ent states. There’s no click or clunk, no change in en­gine char­ac­ter or ex­haust note, no stut­ter or hes­i­ta­tion as it au­to­mat­i­cally shifts. My brain hurts when I start to imag­ine how long it must have taken to de­velop some­thing so clever into some­thing so re­fined.

Per­haps the amount of time it took ex­plains why rel­a­tively lit­tle else on the bike is new. The R1250RT car­ries over the R1200RT’S tubu­lar-steel chas­sis, Telelever/ Par­alever pair­ing, most of its run­ning gear and vir­tu­ally all of its styling save for a few de­tails. Ready to see if you can spot them?

There are the front brake calipers. The 1200 used Brembo parts but the 1250 uses Bmw-branded items made by Amer­i­can firm Hayes, bet­ter known for moun­tain­bike brakes. The new R1250GS has them too — there’s no per­for­mance im­prove­ment, so it’s al­most cer­tainly a cost thing.

Mov­ing back down the bike, there’s now a new ‘en­gine spoiler’ that sits in front of the 1250’s less-cur­va­ceous ex­haust down­pipes. It doesn’t do any­thing, other than fill in the dead space that the 1200’s pipes took up.

And to the rear of the RT (de­pend­ing on which model you go for), you’ll find the lat­est ver­sion of BMW’S Dy­namic ESA sus­pen­sion. As be­fore, it’s a semi-ac­tive setup, only now with two modes - Road (pretty soft and bouncy) and Dy­namic (gen­er­ally in­cred­i­ble, oc­ca­sion­ally a smidge firm) — rather than the pre­vi­ous trio (Hard, Nor­mal, Soft). The big­ger change is that preload can now be set au­to­mat­i­cally, so you no longer have to tell the bike whether you’re rid­ing solo, with a pil­lion, with or with­out lug­gage and so on. The bike just knows, and the rear shock is ad­justed to keep the bike level with­out you do­ing a

“Ag­ile han­dling that lets it shine on twisty roads”

thing. Whether down to this change or not, the RT’S pay­load — the amount BMW rates it to carry — is up from 219kg to 226kg.

Oth­er­wise, ev­ery­thing else is fa­mil­iar wa­ter­cooled RT. There’s the same huge elec­tron­i­cally ad­justable wind­screen, the same twin-dial dash, the same 25-litre tank, the same re­laxed rid­ing po­si­tion and the same wide, plush, heigh­tad­justable sad­dle. The same com­pact wheel­base and de­cep­tive ag­ile han­dling that let it shine on twisty roads, the RT re­tain­ing its im­plau­si­ble abil­ity to cor­ner with the in­tent and poise of a chunky street­bike, rather than the vague, clumsy fum­bling of a fully-laden con­tainer ship.

All of which is wel­come news, if not a gamechang­ing leap for­wards. The R1250RT loses out in no area to the 1200, while adding more power, a more tech­nol­ogy and more car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity. The R1200RT had an un­matched abil­ity to shrink dis­tances; the 1250 makes them smaller still.

One mil­lion ‘thank-yous’ to the lovely peo­ple at Balder­ston Mo­tor­cy­cles in Peter­bor­ough for lend­ing us their demo bike. To book your own test ride and try an R1250RT for your­self, phone them on 01733 565470 or visit www.balder­ston.net

PAN­NIERS Fear not – the RT still comes with colour­matched pan­niers as stan­dard; they’ve just not been fit­ted to our test bike. PhewA fa­mil­iar logo but the ‘5’ means a world of im­prove­mentsThe same 1254cc Shift­cam en­gine as the 1250GS

Dash same as R1200RT. No Gs-style TFT, sadly

Bye Brembo, hello Hayes. Stop­ping power un­changed

Neater down­pipes and a new en­gine spoiler

Fa­mil­iar switchgear also car­ried over from the 1200

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.