1. The high style of the new Roadster is best
expressed in its headlight; it’s a radical
departure from past incarnations while
delivering excellent illumination.
2. The R1200R employs a traditional fork that
signficantly enhances its front end feedback. Our test machine was also fitted with
the Dynamic ESA–easily identified by the
gold anodized fork tubes.
3. The seat is comfortable but the standard
height feels too low for riders over 5’ 8”. Two
taller versions are available plus an optional
“comfort” passenger seat to pamper pillions
on longer trips.
4. The dashboard is a compact and complex
unit that will require a careful reading of the
owner’s manual to take full advantage of all
its bells and whistles. It’s worth it. Unfortunately, it does nothing for aerodynamics.
5. The controls, levers and multifunctional
switches are all well laid out and easily
learned. The only downside: The bars and
switch gear require a long reach.
6. The rear suspension’s springing and
damping are not well-matched with the front
and have trouble absorbing bigger bumps at
higher speeds, regardless of adjustments.
The R1200R suited my personal needs almost perfectly. Its
power and agility were ideal for my 84-mile round-trip freeway
commute, and it was great fun to uncork on weekends while canyon riding. But it does have one noticeable flaw, its rear suspension, which doesn’t match the front end’s setup, creating a
near constant pitching sensation on normal road surfaces, and
delivering sharp shocks to my back over bigger bumps, regardless of ESA settings. That said, the Roadster still has many
charms. Demanding riders will be rewarded by its responsive engine and slick transmission—made even better by BMW’s Shift
Assist, which allows clutchless up and downshifts. Plus, its
braking power is inspiring and ABS is standard, adding to your
sense of security when riding quickly. Although the stock seat
is too low for my 34" inseam, taller versions don’t cost more at
the time of purchase. And I’d also recommend at least a small
windshield, as the turbulence created by its naked layout can
be fatiguing on longer runs. All in all, the new Roadster makes a
terrific platform for personalization. —Jeff Buchanan
The new Roadster’s torquey DOHC water-cooled engine
sounds great and has excellent throttle response. Plus, its
transmission shifts beautifully. Although its centrifugally assisted clutch makes high-rpm drag strip launches more difficult, we found the motor’s potent torque allows equally quick
take-offs from low rpm. Its brakes are also state-of-the-art,
powerful and controllable. But its ride quality was actually put
to shame by the Yamaha R3 at less than a third of the Roadster’s price. Telescopic forks may improve its style compared to
the older Telelever design, but their spring and damping rates
need further development to match the action of the Paralever
shaft drive. Had the fork been fully adjustable, we might have
found settings that would eliminate that issue, but some suspension tuning will be needed. I’d want one of the higher seats
to fit my 32" inseams, and I’d also need a windshield, as its wind
turbulence is fairly extreme at freeway speeds.
Despite a few gripes, the new Roadster is a very satisfying
ride that’s not far from being perfect. —Dave Searle