of 320mm front discs mated to four-piston, radial-mounted calipers. At the back is a 276mm disc mated to a two-piston caliper.
The standard ABS works exceptionally well, with limited lever
inconsistencies even when the system is under serious braking,
with smooth oscillation between front and rear. As a testament
to the sporting intent of the R1200R, its ABS can be deactivated
for those who wish to have full control of their braking. The
other superbike influence borrowed for the Roadster are the 17''
diameter wheels; 3.50'' wide at the front and 5.50'' at the rear.
The Roadster has a low-to-the ground feel, giving the impression of sitting “in,” as opposed to, “on” it. The seat is surprisingly comfortable, shaped to accommodate relaxed riding while
at the same time catering to more aggressive riding by firmly
supporting body position changes. The standard seat height of
31. 1" grants an average-sized rider the ability to sit with both feet
planted squarely on the ground when stopped, although it feels
far too low for a rider over 5' 10''. There’s an optional lower seat
( 29. 9''), as well as two taller choices ( 32. 3'' and 33. 1''). Take the
time to try the optional seats before purchasing. There’s also an
optional accessory “passenger comfort seat” available. The bars
provide a decent amount of leverage for both sport riding and
close quarter maneuvering but feel too high. Either of the taller
seat options will certainly improve this aspect.
There’s a great deal of riding satisfaction to be found in the
new R1200R. The machine’s low stance augments its precise
steering, and the use of a traditional telescopic front fork (as
opposed to BMW’s Telelever system) provides more feedback
from the front end, especially during cornering. Pick your turn-in
points and the Roadster complies as if it’s second nature. In
the right hands, the agile handling, coupled with the capable,
responsive powertrain, will have the Roadster easily pacing a
host of more tightly focused sportbikes.
The water Boxer purrs along at freeway speeds not like a kitten, but as a contented lion. The throatiness of the engine at low
rpm tickles the ears, and it has 6th-gear roll-on power sufficient
to dispatch any lumbering motorists. However, power makes
calories, and if you get into stop and go situations or are sitting
at lights for any length of time the engine’s heat can definitely
be felt coursing up the inside of your thighs.
The R1200R is a magic combination of everyday rideability,
sporty attributes for twisting road, and rock solid stability at
freeway speeds. That said, in stock trim–i.e. lacking a windscreen–your arms will struggle against the full force of the wind
blast that catches your chest like a sail and finds your hands tiring
from holding on against the pressure. The Roadster desperately
needs some sort of bikini fairing to alleviate this issue.
Instruments & Controls
BMW’s engineers have packed a lot into the instrument cluster, requiring the ten-page section in the owner’s manual on
programming to be essential reading. The speedometer is a tad
difficult to read due to the choice of blocky fonts, making the
speeds of 40, 50 and 60 mph difficult to discern, especially at a
glance when riding on sketchy roads or in traffic situations, as
you have to search a bit, and even when you find it you have to
try and figure out the lines in relation to speed indicated. Thankfully this is easily solved with the optional digital speedo in Tour
Mode. The tachometer has a very clever design with the active
rpm number (in thousands) automatically enlarging as the tach
sweeps through the digits. Nice touch.
Both the clutch and brake levers are adjustable, and have a
bend that conforms nicely to the natural bend of the fingers.
As for the feet; the gear shifter and rear brake pedal are almost
transparent in terms of placement and ease of reach.
Attention to Detail
The BMW bristles with sophistication. Even in its pared
down, minimalistic profile, the Roadster has enough panache
for even the most discerning. The sweep of bodywork lines on
the R1200R starts with the uniquely-shaped headlight, tapers
flowingly into the tank and through to the tail section, and the
economy of bodywork allows the fully exposed Boxer engine
to be the dominant element.
Value & Conclusion
All of this rhapsodizing on the virtues of the R1200R in terms
of its presence and stance shouldn’t mislead, the bike works with
impressive efficiency in a multitude of performance-oriented tasks.
Plus, over a long weekend of mixed riding (freeway, city, and
canyon fun) it averaged an excellent 43.63 mpg. Multiplied by its
4.7-gallon fuel tank, this translates to a potential range of slightly
over 200 miles, which we regard as a minimum for practicality.
The Roadster is available in several colors. You have the
option of Cordoba Blue (with black frame) like our test bike, an
eye-catching White with bold R insignias combined with a red
frame, which also includes a small wind-deflecting shield and
under engine spoiler, and lastly, there is Thunder Grey Metallic
matched with a gray frame.
The 2015 BMW R1200R starts at $13,950, and there are
several option packages that BMW offers as cost consciousness
toward tailoring the R to personal taste. With options, our test
bike’s MSRP came to $16,995, but if you really wanted to build
yourself the ultimate Roadster with all the available technical
bells and whistles, and a host of accessories to keep you and
your passenger happy on a long haul, it would be easy to spend
$20,000. That may sound like a lot, and it is, but the Roadster is
a sophisticated machine catering to enthusiasts who are willing
to pay for their indulgences.
The Roadster delivers very respectable performance wrapped
up in functional, stylish clothing, exuding a gentlemanly
demeanor. But even if one isn’t a hooligan at heart, it can be
hard not to wonder what that sweet Boxer motor would sound
like with a decent aftermarket pipe.