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2015 BMW R1200R Review


by Pascal Bastien ,

The 2015 BMW R1200R is sportier and racier than ever before thanks to a fresh redesign. Hardcore fans will embrace this evolution as a sort of revolution, and more casual enthusiasts who did not like the outgoing model will likely hear the call of the new and improved streetfighter.

While the conservative looks didn't seem to bother the 50,000+ customers who purchased an R1200R since 2006, naked bikes keep getting sharper and more attractive, and the recent introduction of the Ducati Monster 1200 and Diavel Strada has forced the German manufacturer to return to the drawing board.

From an aesthetic point of view, the new BMW R1200R is genuinely exciting with taut lines, a low, modern-looking headlight, sleek radiator cowls (yes, it's now air/liquid-cooled!), and a trellis frame capped by streamlined tail. Inspired by the Revolution concept, this machine boasts much more youthful styling.

GS-derived engine and electronics
As mentioned, the latest version of BMW's liquid-cooled boxer engine (initially fitted to the R1200GS) can be found on the new R1200R. Torque is more abundant courtesy of a more effective intake and newly revised exhaust systems. More specifically, you get 92 lb-ft at 6,500 rpm to go along with 125 hp at 7,750 rpm. A close-ratio 6-speed transmission with swingarm-integrated shaft final drive sends power to the rear wheel.

ABS and Automatic Stability Control (ASC) with rider-selectable Rain and Road modes come standard with the 2015 BMW R1200R. Optionally, Riding Mode Pro features Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) in place of ASC, a gyro sensor that detects lean angles, and two additional riding modes: Dynamic and User. What's more, Shift Assistant Pro electronically handles upshifts (with no power interruption) and downshifts without disengaging the clutch. The transmission itself is sharp and precise, while the hydraulically controlled slipper clutch proves extremely smooth.

With the key in your pocket, you push the ignition button, then the start/stop button, and the R1200R engine lets out a nice, velvety sound while the horizontally opposed pistons pull to the side at every twist of the throttle. When launching from an intersection, there's no need to hold revs to separate yourself from other motorists as the twin-cylinder boxer responds beautifully from just 2,000 rpm and hammers forward like a freight train from 4,500 rpm. That torque and the aforementioned shifting assistant result in seamless sprints every time.

More nimble and more playful
On roads filled with corners and elevation changes, the 2015 BMW R1200R takes everything in stride, aided by a low centre of gravity and a precise front end borrowed from the previous-generation S1000RR. It happily obeys your commands and delivers quick, inertia-free changes of direction.

With regard to suspension, the optional Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA) system is surprisingly firm in Dynamic mode; in fact, damping control is just as good as a superbike's. Road mode is a bit more forgiving, but alas proves still too firm on rougher pavement. In most circumstances Rain mode works best to soak up imperfections. 

Incidentally, Dynamic mode provides crazy fun times both when cornering and braking. The effectiveness of the DTC, ABS and ESA systems, the tireless performance of the brakes, and the excellent grip supplied by the Metzeler Roadtec Z8 tires combine to allow safe, yet exhilarating, high-speed riding in all conditions.

A hint of comfort
No fatigue will spoil long stints on the highway, and it all starts with a great windscreen from the accessory catalogue. Even the thinnest of the three available seat designs won't make your butt sore. However, my long legs felt a bit squeezed between the seat and footrests, so anyone over 5’8” should opt for the Sport seat with the tallest height (840mm).

The dashboard on the new R1200R features an odd analog speedometer/digital tachometer combo, and I found both hard to read. All the info you want is there, though, from total/daily distance to gear position and fuel consumption. Speaking of which, I averaged 5.9L/100km despite pushing the bike quite often during my test ride.

BMW R1200R 2015
The 2015 BMW R1200R is sportier and racier than ever before thanks to a fresh redesign. (Photo: France Ouellet)

Summing up the 2015 BMW R1200R
This significantly updated and rejuvenated model looks and feels kind of all-new. You can enjoy sporty naked bikes of the future right now thanks to the R1200R's cutting-edge technology and innovative solutions mixed with easygoing dynamics for daily commutes and truly sporty potential for those times when the urge to attack the road is too great to ignore. Just beware of pricey options and accessories.

  • A high-quality package
  • Rider-friendly bike
  • Lovely and efficient boxer engine
  • Many electronic aids such as ESA

  • Speedometer and tachometer are hard to read
  • Harsh ride on bad pavement