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2015 BMW R1200RS Review


by Pascal Bastien ,

BMW brings back the RS logo and stamps it to a new, faired version of the R1200R roadster. The 2015 BMW R1200RS is the latest in a line that started with the world's first mass-produced motorcycles equipped with a fairing that was developed in wind tunnels, namely the R100RS.

Whether you like the more modern look of the new R1200RS or not, you have to admit that fit and finish are impressive. The superb integration of wires and controls, the quality of the paintwork and welding, as well as the use of refined materials leave no doubt about its premium status. Part of its dynamic styling and visual charisma also comes from a front fairing that emulates the new 2015 S1000RR superbike.

The R1200RS manages to stand out with its size and large, adjustable windshield. The latter requires no tools and offers two different heights -- simply pull it up or push it down (something that’s easy to do at idle, but impossible at speed due to wind pressure). Protection is adequate, although the shoulders and everything above the chin are exposed.

New twin-cylinder boxer

Similar to the R1200R, the 2015 BMW R1200RS uses the latest version of the 1,170cc, air/liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, twin-cylinder boxer engine. Power amounts to 125 hp at 7,750 rpm, while max torque is 92 lb-ft at 6,500 rpm. That's a bit more than what you get with the R1200GS and R1200RT, and credit goes to a larger airbox and improved exhaust system. As seen on the R1200GS, the crankcase integrates the 6-speed transmission and wet slipper clutch.

Once again, the cumbersome Telelever system was dropped in favour of a 45mm inverted front fork borrowed from the sportier S1000R. In the rear, BMW opted for the famous Paralever EVO system which integrates the shaft final drive. When not featuring Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA), you'll have to manipulate a dial to fine-tune the rear shock (which offers 140mm of travel).

Braking duties are handled by a middle-of-the-pack Brembo system derived from the S1000R and including dual 320mm front discs with 4-piston callipers and ABS.

Versatile and comfortable
The rear section (identical to the R1200R) features improved rider and passenger seats. Both are comfortable enough for 200km of two-up riding, while the rider’s perch allows even longer solo trips (not quite as long as the R1200RT, though). The handlebars are attached to the frame by a unique aluminum part, and contribute to a sporty riding position -- somewhere between the R1200R and S1000RR. 

The instrument panel keeps tabs on all electronic nannies. It’s great on BMW’s part, but I know of a few riders who will complain about the excessive amount of information on such a small TFT display.

Smooth and capable
Throttle response is immediate and strong, while the transmission is calibrated about halfway between the R1200R and the adventure-oriented R1200GS. The smooth clutch lever and revised gearing are a definite upgrade. The Shifter Pro system continues to be a model of efficiency and fun operation with rev-matched downshifts.

The optional ESA makes the ride notably compliant, while the firm springs and stability-focused geometry enable quick, safe riding on country roads. Plenty of rider involvement (read: body transfers and footwork) is needed when going through a series of corners, but the R1200RS remains poised and predictable in all conditions thanks to the Pro Riding package, which features advanced traction control with lean sensor. Telelever fans will take solace in the fact that the new inverted fork is progressive in hard braking manoeuvres and never compromises the bike’s sporty handling.

Steering feels heavy at low speeds, but that’s all a thing of the past when you pick up the pace. At that point, clever mass distribution comes into play to help you manoeuvre the R1200RS like a more agile medium-displacement bike. Riding through traffic is not a problem, and you feel little heat from the engine, which is a true blessing. The flexible new twin-cylinder means you don’t have to bother with choosing the right gear all the time. No matter how or where you ride, it’s happy to deliver the goods including some unique thrills. Takeoffs are smooth, yet convincing, and accompanied by a lovely sound.

BMW R1200RS 2015
Whether you like the more modern look of the new R1200RS or not, you have to admit that fit and finish are impressive. (Photo: Sébastien D'Amour)

Pricey, but…
The 2015 BMW R1200RS is versatile, capable, stylish, and charismatic. It’s hard to find fault with this German sport bike. Sure, it can get quite expensive when you add all those options, but once you hit the road there’s no denying the fun is worth every penny.

  • Smooth and charismatic engine
  • Premium fit and finish
  • Modern looks with a unique personality
  • Advanced electronics that are easy to adjust
  • Versatility
  • Large windshield offers decent protection at best
  • Cluttered instrument panel
  • Heavy steering at very low speeds