In these lean times, it is normal for the typical buyer to look for value for money, a search that usually starts with a lower cost. Most high-volume manufacturers have reacted to this tendency in the last few years with lower prices for simpler entry level models in most classes and sizes.
|Just your average medieval church and buildings we ran across in Nemours, just south of Paris. Guy called Du Pont started a gun powder business there in 1802. Today they sponsor a major NASCAR team! (Photo: Bernard Suquet)
Happily for you and for us testers, a few manufacturers still work hard to deliver completely equipped high quality bikes – and price them accordingly. My latest trip to France provided me with an opportunity to taste something from those pages in the menu, aboard a fully equipped 2010 BMW R1200RT
, now featuring the four-cam version of the ubiquitous Boxer engine.
I rode the first iteration of the R1200RT back in 2006, experiencing the giant leap from the 1150 model, with much more power (+15hp), a lot less weight (-25kg), and a first iteration of advanced aerodynamics. The latest 1200RT is not as much of leap forward, but it does feature a more refined and effective engine with more usable torque, a smoother ride, better ABS and effective suspension adjustability, traction control, and even better aeros. Come along for my trip on the right side of the track.
Air cooled sophistication
This latest configuration of the R engine features the twin-cam cylinder head from the HP2 (Very) high performance engines. This most efficient and powerful air- and oil-cooled street engine on the market dates back a few years, but remains the highest expression of performance for a street air cooled engine.
The calmed down version of the quad-cam engine as used on the R1200RT delivers 110hp at 7750 rpm, while maximum torque of 88.5lb-ft arrives at 6000 rpm. The most significant leap forward from the older R1200RT - the real news here - is that the torque curve is now fatter and flatter from about 2300 to 6000rpm, right where you need it for urban riding as well as fully loaded touring.
The six-speed gearbox shifts easily while retaining a slight “Clunk” on upshifts, a hint of the reassuring solidity needed to manage the generous torque. The dry clutch engages smoothly and with low effort on the lever, and the driveline lash has been cut to a minimum. The first four ratios are relatively close and short, ideal for city work, while 5th and 6th are longer and rather closer together, for efficient highway cruising and an extra surge when required.
|They may look busy and complicated, but these controls are so well thought out that you can operate them almost instinctively right off the bat. I loved the circular volume control right next to your hand, that you also shove sideways to change stations. (Photo: Bernard Suquet)