BMWBLOG Ride Review: 2011 R1200RT – The Well Rounded Ride

Featured Posts, Test Drives | September 21st, 2010 by 39
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Words and Photos: Shawn Molnar While suiting up for my first ride on BMW’s R1200RT I could not help but acknowledge its size. With panniers …

Words and Photos: Shawn Molnar

While suiting up for my first ride on BMW’s R1200RT I could not help but acknowledge its size. With panniers attached and its wide fairing staring back at me, it just looked so… big. Not Gold Wing big, mind you, but big nonetheless. As a bona fide sport bike rider, I wondered how agile this bike would be through city traffic, or ridden on twisty roads. What’s the ‘fun factor’ here? And what is attributable to its global success as the World’s favorite Police and Ambulance “duty bike?” I was soon to find out.

The Daily Commute:

Retracting the kickstand and steadying the bike is a breeze: where did all that weight go? Well, in truth, it was never there. Like an inflated hologram, the bike appears to have locomotive heft behind it, but under its wide, protective cowling lies an impressive tubular steel frame, using the engine and gearbox as stressed members. Without panniers, the R1200RT has a dry weight of only 505 lb (229 kg), 571 lb (259 kg) wet and ready to ride. This frame was once shared by boxer sport bikes within the range, the retired R1200S comes to mind. Now its DNA becomes more clear: this motorcycle has sport bike genes and it does not try to hide them.

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Setting off, windshield, fairings and panniers shrink around you until you’re tossing the R1200RT into corners with enthusiasm! The standard Metzeler tires provide excellent grip at steeper lean angles – this tourer wants to play!

From standstill, clutch modulation is light and progressive facilitating a smooth, stall-free ride. The 6 speed transmission snicks through the gears positively and during my 2,000 kilometers with the bike – I never found a false neutral. Gearing is ideal for city riding with 2nd gear covering most of your time in dense traffic – although with a plateau of torque across the rev-band, the engine was happy to turn in higher gears.

“…this tourer wants to play!”

Throttle modulation is very progressive and forgiving to bumps or sneezes. Don’t let its 1200 cc displacement fool you – it is very much a docile bike. I would even go so far as to say that beginner riders could likely ride problem free with no surprises – providing their inexperience does not correlate to wanton lack of respect for its power. Note the stark line between inexperience and immaturity. For beginners who would rather start off with less “go” a reduced power kit is available for purchase. Lower seat heights are also available for those with shorter in-seams.

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The overall relaxed and friendly nature of this bike makes for a uniquely comfortable ride through Toronto’s worst rush-hour traffic. Its large size adds a measure of visibility and presence to your ride that smaller bikes are simply incapable of. With panniers attached there is much to catch an approaching driver’s eye and ultimately, this perceived safety benefit adds to your relaxed ride.

Speaking of panniers, BMW’s integrated pannier system is convenient and trustworthy, adding huge practicality to the machine. Fully detachable with the twist of your key, both panniers can be carried as suitcases, or locked and left on the bike. A double locking mechanism provides trustworthy reliability – no need to fear for side-pod projectiles leaving your bike. Each side-case can hold 32 liters of volume, and an optional tank bag can hold an additional 49 liters of cargo for a combined capacity of 113 liters. This is Smart car practicality, the R1200RT only 37 liters short of the Smart car’s cargo space! If you really need those last few liters, throw on a backpack and leave the tiny Mercedes in your dust.


“After 8 hours of riding in one day, I was limber, energized and relaxed: I can think of no greater endorsement.”

Time to dice through traffic? The R1200RT proved highly maneuverable through the sea of cars. An incredibly small full-lock turning radius is invaluable at low speeds, allowing for truly heroic low speed maneuvers. I never ran out of lock during my time with the bike and was amazed at its low speed ease of use. No doubt this comes into focus as a benefit for EMS and Police Services – they do, after all, pull a lot of U-turns.

Visibility is excellent with mirrors placed uniquely under your arms. The geometry works well, offering full view through both slightly convex mirrors with a slight lift of your elbows. The Motorrad engineers did a great job eliminating vibration from the glass, even at low engine rpm or on the highway. Rubber bushings also reduce vibration through the handlebars, a welcome addition to the smooth ride.

Riding position is slightly forward leaning with good body alignment for comfort over long distances, while still offering a commanding stance on the bike during sport riding. Your wrists ride weight-free, and knees are bent at a comfortable angle, but pegs are still placed under-hip such that you can readily transfer weight from peg to peg or stand at will to soak up the big bumps.


Speaking of bumps, Toronto roads are infamous for their rim-bending, tire-blowing, rider-throwing moguls. Herein lies one of the R1200RT’s greatest talents: soaking up the big ones. So severe are some Toronto roads that I literally feel like I’m dirt-biking while riding stiffly sprung sport bikes along the cratered asphalt; not so with BMW’s RT. Front Telelever suspension isolates steering function from dampening and incorporates anti-dive geometry, allowing for composure over bumps, even when banked in a turn. BMW’s rear Paralever suspension is rock solid, free of twist or play.

“Did we mention it has near ‘Smart car’ cargo capacity with all panniers attached?”

The front Telelever suspension and shaft-drive rear swing arm are adjustable for spring pre-load, spring rate, and rebound damping rate – all without leaving the seat. BMW’s Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA) system is now in its second generation and offers 9 different suspension settings ranging from a ‘single rider sport’ setting to a ‘rider with passenger and luggage in comfort’ setting. On this second generation of the technology, the difference between the softest and firmest settings has been increased. My test bike was not equipped with ESA, but the standard suspension is set to a magical compromise between comfort and dynamism.

Should you check the box for ESA II when ordering your R1200RT? Absolutely. While I was impressed with the standard suspension’s comfortable yet sporty ride, the “dual personality” bred by this technology can offer a more aggressive sport ride and an even more comfortable touring ride; this behavioral change will pay dividends as you enjoy both personalities during your ownership.

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BMW’s proprietary switchgear has long been both hated and celebrated. Whichever fraternity you belong to, change has arrived. All BMWs will feature Japanese style switchgear moving forward, and we at BMWBLOG believe this is a good move. While the old ‘left handlebar signal button for left’ and ‘right for right’ worked well, it was mind-bending trying to adjust from German to Japanese machines! Now, finally, universally accepted, our brain’s left hemisphere can simmer down and enjoy the ride – no matter what Continent our motorcycle was built on.

“…throw on a backpack and leave the tiny Mercedes in your dust.”

Torquey low-end grunt propels you along in nearly any gear, always at the ready for a quick lane change or romp up an acceleration ramp. While it looks unchanged from the outside, a new silencer has been re-tuned to harmonize with the reworked engine specs. The result? An amplified soundtrack of the distinctive boxer sound – a real joy to listen to as you romp around through town. I’m sure the occasional passerby appreciates it too.

When the Going Gets Twisty:

Push a little deeper, bank over a few more degrees and the R1200RT… just asks for more. This is a touring bike? Not even a sport-touring bike? No matter the nomenclature, the reality is clear: this motorcycle can play on twisty back roads and never break a sweat.


BMW’s compact boxer engine allows for steep lean angles, in fact the foot pegs will scrape before the cylinder head does. On corner entry, the R1200RT is solid and stable under braking. Anti-dive geometry in the Telelever front suspension keeps things consistent when trail braking into the corner and prevents the bike from becoming unsettled over mid-corner bumps. Its weight is felt during spirited riding, but never overwhelms the suspension when pressed.

“Torquey low-end grunt propels you along in nearly any gear…”

BMW’s recently updated 1,170cc engine features a wider powerband with increased torque output. 110 hp is on tap at 7,750 rpm with 88 lb-ft of torque available at 6,000 rpm. Redline has been raised from 8,000 rpm to 8,500 rpm on the reworked engine. The improved power output was achieved by adding a second camshaft over each cylinder – one exhaust and intake valve served by each chain-driven camshaft. Enlarged valve apertures allow for freer breathing, the intake valves have been enlarged by 3 mm to 39 mm and the exhaust valves are 2 mm larger in diameter, now measuring 33 mm. Valve lift has also been increased on both intake and exhaust. Two spark plugs are used per cylinder for ignition (the HP2 Sport features one per cylinder) and compression remains at 12.0:1. The engine can be run on fuel qualities as low as 95 octane thanks to advanced anti-knock sensors connected to the ECU, but we advise you treat your boxer to the highest grade available at the pumps for maximum power, longevity and fuel milage.


“The R1200RT will put a smile on your face if provoked.”

Rolling on from corner exit rewards you with a surge of thrust from the engine accompanied by the boxer at full song. As revs build the engine changes its tone, offering a more vocal tune. Power remains very strong as you approach redline – in fact it’s easy at first to miss a shift because you’re waiting for the lull in the powerband often found toward redline on lessor engines.

Overall, the thumping boxer is keen to spin up through the gears while the forgiving yet precise suspension setup gives the bike a very friendly personality, happy to carve corners and put a smile on your face.

Fun Factor:

What you’re about to read may be shocking to some sport bike riders, and is rated VH (very honest).

“…she lifted her visor and asked, “can we please keep riding?”

This bike is a hoot.

If treated like a touring bike and gingerly guided along its path, it will behave like… a touring bike. Relaxed, poised, quiet and composed. But push its buttons and you will be rewarded by a grunting, willing bike that will dive deep into corners and rocket out with torquey boxer twin spirit. By the end of a choice twisty road, I had completely forgotten about the extra wide fairing and double panniers on the tail.

The R1200RT will put a smile on your face if provoked. For that it earns a 6/10 fun factor rating, zero being average – high praise indeed for a pannier laden touring bike.


A Two Hour Tour:

Generally speaking, a machine performs well in a particular discipline when it contains that discipline in its name. As you’ve probably guessed by now, the ‘T’ in R1200RT stands for ‘touring,’ and that is what this bike does best.

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Your upright, neutral body alignment allows for hours of continuous seat time before taking any breaks. Rubber bushings reduce vibration through the handlebars and plush seating surfaces keep your bottom happy. The standard suspension is well suited to touring duty, offering ample shock absorption, but as mentioned earlier in the review – BMW’s ESA II will allow greater extremes of comfort or sport while the standard suspension lies somewhere in between.

The recently updated wind fairing and windshield have been reshaped to provide better aero-acoustics at speed. The large windshield is electronically adjustable on-the-fly, allowing you to channel the airflow onto your helmet at just the right angle to reduce buffeting and wind noise. The windshield can be raised 140mm (5.5 inches) at the touch of a button mounted by the left hand grip.

As earlier discussed, this bike will hold 113 liters of cargo when equipped with both side panniers and the optional tank case. Such cavernous storage space should keep back packs out of the equation even on long trips.


On the open road in 6th gear, the boxer twin is spinning happily around 3 to 4 thousand rpm, depending on your cruising speed. 88 full bodied lb-ft of torque push you along at speed, always at the ready for a sudden passing maneuver. Down shifting will, of course, speed your progress to complete a pass, but is hardly necessary at highway speeds – just open the throttle and the torquey boxer will twist out more thrust. It’s easy to understand this motorcycle’s Country of origin – the R1200RT is incredibly stable and comfortable at high speeds; cruising along the Autobahn is no doubt one of this bike’s many talents.

“Maybe I can take this to work everyday.”

Lighting is excellent when riding at night, two lamps provide low-beam light while an additional lamp (centered in between) provides high-beam. Light is thrown far, far down the roadway adding to this BMW’s active safety measures. The beam is manually adjustable by dial fixed on the left side of the control display.

Heated seats and handgrips are sure to extend your riding season, but even in the sumer, a long ride through the rain can give you a chill. I enjoyed the “almost too hot” heated grips when things got soggy. BMW has a reputation in the industry for being one of the only motorcycle manufacturers who make their heated grips hot enough to be felt through cold, thick, damp gloves. Since your fine motor control is compromised when your hands get cold, these effective heated grips are both a comfort and a safety feature.

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Cruise control will help erode the miles while the on-board computer offers up a plethora of important diagnostics. Fuel level, fuel range, trip computer, ambient temperature, coolant temperature, amenity settings, suspension adjustment, tire pressure warning, and an oil warning light are all provided through the system.

The open road is where the R1200RT is most at home. Over the long haul, the many safety and comfort features mentioned above become necessities. After 8 hours of riding in one day, I was limber, energized and relaxed: I can think of no greater endorsement.

And Then There Were Two:

She did, after all, allow you to buy this machine – didn’t she? The occasional ride is the least you can do. How does the R1200RT perform with a pillion?

Extremely well, to say the least. With girlfriend aboard, the R1200RT handled as though no weight was added. Carving corners was as fun as ever, and the great stability inherent to this bike made for a very smooth experience – there was no finicky behavior, constantly adjusting for passenger movements or additional suspension compression. The powerful 1200 twin powered along unabashed, its torquey nature fully compensating for the extra weight.


Of course, when it comes to the passenger seat, her testimony is more important than mine. At a stoplight close to home she lifted her visor and asked, “can we please keep riding? Anywhere, I don’t care!” Hmm. She never said that on the Ninja.

Where’s the Beef? Qualms and Quibbles:

It’s difficult to criticize a market leader.

Perhaps a slipper clutch could add to the R1200RT’s split personality, on the sporting side. Xenon High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps would also be a welcome addition for night time visibility and stylish high-tech flare. Why not go a step further and make them auto-leveling? Fumbling for the adjustment dial while riding is not an exercise in safety by any means. Otherwise, I can think of no other suggestions, and certainly no complaints.


Our time with BMW’s 2011 R1200RT was a horizon-widening experience. Through advanced engineering, BMW has produced a versatile machine that is good at everything it does.

Size does matter, but it is relative. Unless you’re a knee-dragging track day junkie, you will likely be satisfied by this machine’s sporty side. It is so eager to please – begging for steeper lean angles and a wider throttle when it comes time to unleash. On public road ways, it’s more than enough performance – any more and you should be on the track.

High tech safety features work in the background to keep you on course while you’re pampered in luxuries some car owners dream of – heated seats come to mind.


Its practicality is difficult to ignore. Did we mention it has near ‘Smart car’ cargo capacity with all panniers attached? Maybe I can take this to work everyday.

For all of the above reasons and more, the R1200RT has become the World’s best selling ‘duty bike’ for Police and Ambulance Services around the globe with over 100,000 copies sold in ‘duty’ form. Whether on a Sunday ride or saving lives, BMW’s R1200RT surpasses all expectations.

After riding the R1200RT along sun and rain soaked roadways, through city streets and on open highways, I may have found the ultimate well-rounded ride.

We would like to thank BMW Canada for providing us with the R1200RT test motorcycle for our review. We would also like to thank Graham Allen of BMW Toronto Motorrad for his expert riding during our photo shoot.

39 responses to “BMWBLOG Ride Review: 2011 R1200RT – The Well Rounded Ride”

  1. Giom says:

    Great read Shaun!

    I had the R1150RT – previous shape, and it is clear where this bike comes from. My first ride through a mountain pass, I thought I had run out of road through a tight bend, but pruposfully leand as hard as I could, expecting to slide out in stead of going over willingly, the bike just stuck to the surface and completed the turn as if to say ‘what?’

    This new one sounds to be tripple the bike the old one was, I would love to get my hands onto one again:)

    • plaxico says:

      Giom , i see ur still waiting for ur spine transplant. ..”oooooh great read SHAUN”

    • Shawn says:

      Yes, they are terrific bikes – after testing the RT I am more inclined towards owning one as my “everday” bike.

      As far as a track bike, I’m looking at picking up a new middleweight, but BMW does not currently have anything on offer in this range. I’m leaning towards buying a Triumph Daytona 675 – beautiful bike. Rumor has it that BMW is building a middleweight supersport bike, said to have a 675 triple as well. If that’s true and we come to see an S675RR from BMW, it will no doubt take the competition by storm, much like the S1000RR stunned the liter bike market (in which case I’ll trade in my Triumph!)

      Stay tuned for our S1000RR review coming soon.

  2. LordSmoke says:

    So what are *your* dimensions, Shawn? You make the bike look tiny. I ask because I am 6’4″ 230lbs and my biggest problem is finding a bike big enough for me. I currently ride a DL650. TIA

    • Shawn says:

      The gentleman you see in the photos is our expert rider, motorrad mechanic and friend, Graham Allen of BMW Toronto. Yes, he is a big guy and a great rider, he would put most of us to shame on two wheels – he’s been riding since a tyke. Both he and I are around 6’2″ and while he dwarfs the bike much more than me, he still finds the bike very comfortable for his size. I suspect you would find it even more accommodating than your Vstrom.

      You should check out the new K1600 bikes – I’m sure they would suit you well both in dimensions and power. Safe riding.

  3. Dave says:

    I have a 2009 R1200RT and love it, but not enough to ignore buy the new 2011.

  4. Bigdaddy says:

    Well lets start with my experience. First I have been riding for 18 years and have owned 6 different tractors (Harley’s). I went on a long trip to the Grand Canyon I was so tired of my HD when I returned I said “no more”. A friend told me to look at the BMW I did and I bought a 2010 R1200RT. I love the bike but I have numerous problems with the adjustable seat sinking in the high setting. I finally made a wooden bracket to solve the problem. The IPOD hook up is intermittent works when it wants to. BMW is unable to fix it. Lastly the thing burned 26 ounces of oil in less than 2,000 miles. I asked myself did I buy a two-stroke or what???? Poor quality for $20,000.

    • Shawn says:


      I’m sorry to hear of your mechanical trouble. As far as the iPod problem, I’m surprised that the dealership has not fixed it. My local dealership would go to any length to ensure it’s fixed properly. I advise you drop it off to be fixed and refuse to pick it up until it has been fixed properly. Part of what you paid for in that $20,000 is good customer service and repair, and frankly this sounds like your dealership is letting you down, not necessarily just the bike. Things break on all bikes, but they must be fixed properly. Insist on it.

      As far as your oil consumption, this sounds like it may have been caused by an improper break-in. Break-in is critical to ensure the rings seal properly and prevent oil consumption. Of course, it could also be a host of other problems. I would encourage you to confront your Motorrad dealership with this problem as well and if it’s still under warranty (which it sounds like it is), demand a fix. Don’t pick it up until they guarantee they’ve taken care of it. If they are non-compliant, go above their head to BMW’s HQ in your home country. I know that at a corporate level, BMW would never stand for this. They will take care of you, but you can’t keep silent about your troubles. You’ve paid for a BMW, it’s their job to make sure your BMW lives up to your expectations, and keeps you coming back to the brand for future bikes.

  5. Bigdaddy says:

    Shawn I did not buy a $20,000 motorcycle so I could park it at a service department. I left the bike with them for 12 days and the claimed they “reprogramed” the stereo. They said the factory sent out a bullet on the problem. I have not been able to find any info on this bullet I contacted BMW and requested a replacement of the exact same bike. I told them to make my bike a demo and sell it used later. They said “sorry”. I also learned it is impossible to contact BMW engineering department directly. The bike was broken absolutely correctly. I would have spent that kind of money to abuse it. The bike had 2,700 miles on it when it burned the 26 ounces of oil. According to BMW they say one quart of oil every 1,000 miles is within specs. I asked them is this a two stroke motor or what???? My Harley NEVER used that amount of oil.. Then the dealer claimed the oil was “hiding” in the motor and that it was over full. I called other BMW service departments and asked them to explain “hiding”. One service manager laughed and said “WHAT”? I told the service manager to dump it right in front of me and prove it. I am not an idiot the oil level was not visible in the sight glass when I had added it. Also the low level oil indicator light is suppose to stay luminated once the motor senses a low oil level. The light is suppose to remain lit until the problem has been corrected. This did not happen. I told the dealership I wanted one quart of oil removed from the motor so I could make sure the low oil level indicator was working properly they refused and said it worked fine. I asked how they could prove it. They did not say a word. I really like the way this bike handles but I would not recommend to any of my friends to purchase one. I tell them stay with HD their are more service departments and HD always seemed to fix my problems. I currently have approximately 700 miles on the bike and the oil level has dropped from almost the top of the sight glass when I picked it up at the dealer to half full. So I am guessing at this rate I will use another 20 some ounces before I put 2,000 more miles on it. The bike has a total of 3, 723 miles on it. I WILL HAVE TO RIDE AROUND WITH A QUART OF OIL IN MY BAGS. HOW EMBARASSING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Shawn says:


      Again your response only confirms my fear that your dealership has been derelict in their responsibilities to fix your bike properly – at any cost. It’s nearly winter time, now is not a bad time to drop it off and insist that it is fixed properly (unless you’re fortunate enough to live near the equator! :). Have you written a letter/email to BMW HQ in your country? It sounds like this will not be solved at a dealership level. Once corporate gets involved they will likely put the dealership in line, operating a franchise is a privilege BMW grants – not a ‘right’ based on money to purchase it. Once corporate gets involved, your treatment by the dealership may change very quickly.

      Based on the extremely low milage, it sounds even more likely that the engine did not achieve proper break-in. There is huge, systemic misinformation about proper break-in and unfortunately (likely for legal reasons) the owner’s manual never outlines the proper way. “Easy” break-ins are ineffective because they do not produce sufficient compression early on to properly seat the piston rings are create even, effective mating of the surfaces. Very often, a poorly broken-in engine will burn lots of oil, lose compression/power, and most often this is due to a very “easy” break in.

      I will put you in touch directly through your email with a highly talented Motorrad mechanic (he’s currently training in NY, but he’ll get back to you asap), and I believe he will be able to give you sound advice about how to solve these issues. My local dealership would never treat you as you’ve been treated and I’m very disappointed to hear about your treatment, particularly the silly “hiding” oil story.

      Don’t jump back on your Hog just yet. ;)

      • RIDEFAR says:

        The comment that BMW corporate will get the dealership in line if you get in touch with them. Sorry, another misconception. A dealer in La. knowingly put me on the road
        with a faulty ABS module and would not order a new one even though it was under warranty. After contact with BMW they said “sorry” but dealers are privately owned and they have no control. Thanks to Blue Moon in Georgia for finding the problem and
        correcting it ASAP. The owner of the Baton Rouge dealer wouldn’t even respond. So,
        so much for corporate giving a rats ass. I’ve been on BMW’s for 35+ years. Anyone at BMW listening?

        • Shawn says:


          Thanks for your comment. I have to say that I am shocked by your experience and it sounds like you need to go another rung up the latter with your documented complaint. At some level (I don’t know how high up) BMW will be very interested to hear your experience, and ensure it’s taken care of properly. At the end of the day, BMW has a reputation to maintain, and a customer base to keep happy. As a loyal customer, it’s obviously their goal to keep you on a BMW because they run a business, and above all they aim to make a profit. Private dealers do not have free reign and cannot act negligently with impunity. BMW does not take this so lightly, at least not high up the chain of command.

          As far as the faulty ABS module – we’re not talking about having a problem in our cars where we lock up or maybe even have a crash – we’re talking about motorcycles. This can be life or death and if you were expecting the ABS to function and it doesn’t – this could really throw you off (pun intended).

          I am personally offended by this. I liken riding to flying. Mechanical perfection is required – nothing less – because the stakes are very high when something goes wrong. You entrust your life to Motorrad mechanics in a way very different from car mechanics.

          I’ll do my best to make sure this message finds the right ears. Thanks again for your comment.

          Safe riding

  6. Bigdaddy says:

    thank you I was told to be careful with the rpm the first 500-700 miles so I did as instructed. I live in CA and I ride year around. I will drop off the bike soon but they want me to drop it off when it fails the ipod so it will help them solve the problem. It is very hard to duplicate the problem. You should see the home made Kmart seat support I had to make out of wood to hold the seat up. Good thing no one can see it. I would imagine there is no solution for the oil consumption now that the bike has 3700 miles on it. And I did contact BMW customer service and all they do is refer me to a service dealer. One main question I had was how low does the oil have to be for the low oil level indicator light to come on??? no one can give me the answer. I was told that once you cannot see the oli in the sight glass it takes a minimum of 14 ounces of oil to fill it. Is that correct????

    • Shawn says:

      I’m not sure how BMW will respond at higher levels, but here in Canada, if there is a problem under warranty – no matter what – it will be fixed. My local dealership is great for that.

      I will put you in touch with my Motorrad mechanic friend as soon as he’s back from NY and hopefully he can give you some guidance in terms of what to demand, and what “normal” is for this bike. I don’t know about the reservoir warning glass volume, it’s funny because looking back to when I had this press bike, at one point early on I checked the oil and it was very, very low. I rode to a service center and had to top it up. Probably coincidence, but funny after your comments.

      Lucky you in California, it’s already hovering around -32′ F here… most of us store our bikes over the winter, but the die hards among us ride straight through when the pavement is dry.

    • mycal says:

      Inspection and work on BMW engines by independent mechanics has shown that the BMW cylinder and rings metals are so hard (good for long wear) that it takes about 10,000 miles for them to truly break-in and seat.  I suggest you start a real break-in procedure immediately – it may not be too late.  What you want is to get high compression loads on the engine (without lugging it), at medium to higher rpms, but very little full out.  This expands the rings out to rub hard against the walls to seat them.  Be careful of your cylinder head temperatures: do not let them get above normal–which the seating friction tends to do– so that you may need to stop and let them cool for a while between ring-seating rides.  “Easy” breakins tend to glaze the walls and not create a good seal, which leads to excessive consumption. 

    • mycal says:

      Inspection and work on BMW engines by independent mechanics has shown that the BMW cylinder and rings metals are so hard (good for long wear) that it takes about 10,000 miles for them to truly break-in and seat.  I suggest you start a real break-in procedure immediately – it may not be too late.  What you want is to get high compression loads on the engine (without lugging it), at medium to higher rpms, but very little full out.  This expands the rings out to rub hard against the walls to seat them.  Be careful of your cylinder head temperatures: do not let them get above normal–which the seating friction tends to do– so that you may need to stop and let them cool for a while between ring-seating rides.  “Easy” breakins tend to glaze the walls and not create a good seal, which leads to excessive consumption. 

  7. Henry says:

    I’m into my 4th RT….1100, 1150, 2008 1200 and now 2010 RT……touching wood..never a single prob :) Has anyone tried the Akraprovic exhaust for ths baby? Is there any real improvement?
    Tks and safe riding

  8. Bigdaddy says:

    Hey Shawn boy where do you live in Canada? We are taking a ride there this summer. I would imagine you live near the east coast.

    Ridefar you are right about BMW corp not giving a rats ass. They have a bunch of kids answering the phone at the customer service department and have never seen a BMW bike just the cars. They did not have a clue what a R1200 RT was when I first called. Until I gave them the vin # then a picture must have popped up on the screen….. I thought “oh great this is not going to go any where”……. The have a MAJOR lack of communication in their chain of customer service….

  9. AB says:

    My HD dealer and my BM dealer are one and the same so I have had the same crappy service.
    All boxers use a little oil and yes while the oil doesnt really hide, the sight glass system can be eratic depending on the use of side or centre stand .
    For other HD die hards, thats the big stand that makes the bike level.
    It does take a while to settle so checking it each morning before start up is the most reliable method.
    Your Ipod isnt working properly? suck it up sister. They will find a fix but until then, just think about where your ipod would have been plugged into your “Ultrasoftsportyclassic”??????

  10. Bigdaddy says:

    Hey AB I bet if we stood side by side you would be my little sister. You sound like one of those cute Harley wanna be hard core guys who wear one of those gay vests and leather chaps with your loose levi’s hangin out the back. I bet you ride a sportster and you can’t even afford a new BMW. Keep wishin Santa might bring you one. Happy Holidays!!!!!!!

    • AB says:

      Hey BigSister, you certainly sound big.
      Sorry to disapoint but no vest or chaps, Levi’s yes but not for the bike.
      In my short 35 year riding history I have owned 2 new Fatboys and 1 Road King and I wannabe a HD rider no more.
      A host of Jap bikes, 2 Ducati’s, 1 Triumph and 5 new BMW’s, the most recent ones an R1200GSA and a 2007 K1200GT and I have a new 2011 R1200RT on the way in early March.
      For some stupid reason this made me think that offering you some advise regarding your oil use and your terrible Ipod catasrophe might have made you feel a little more relaxed and enjoy your bike a little more but some people are just plain angry.
      Have a really Big Xmas and enjoy that beautiful bike, I wish mine was here NOW!!!!

  11. Chris says:

    Shawn, appreciate reading your detailed review and the discussion above. I am waiting for delivery of my 2011 RT in March. How should the bike be broken in?

    • Shawn says:


      Congratulations on your new RT, you will positively love it.

      I’ve been meaning to write a technical piece on proper engine break-in, look for it to be published here before you pick up your bike in March. Thanks for the suggestion.


      • Basalt says:

        Shawn, did you get a chance to write the “break-in” article as per Jan 9/2011 reply tp Chris?

        Don J J C

  12. Don JJ Carroll says:

    I recently discovered this blog after searching for reviews on the R1200RT BMW. For years I had been a tourer with several Goldwings as my saddle. Unfortunately, as I got older, perhaps a wee bit smaller in height as well, the Goldwings seemed to get bigger and heavier. I finally said it was about time to change and downsize in 2004. I still wanted to tour, but on a lighter machine. I eventually ended up with a Suzuki Burgman 650, what a pony! After fitting it with a large trunk, I was once again on the road touring my favourite roads in the New England states. Despite this bike “looking small” it does have speed, agility, and some comfort, but I still thought there must be something better out on the market. I have over 38,000 kilos on the bike and have enjoyed every ride, especially after having my seat modified by DayLong Saddles. On several of my road trips I often encountered many riders on BMW’s especially the R1200RT, thus I recently decided to look into this bike.

    I came across a review of the R1200RT and was surprised to find that this bike weighs less than my 650 Burgman! Just this past weekend I attended an out of town Mortorcycle Show in Moncton, NB and saw upfront a 2011 R1200RT. With BMW’s lower seat options, this may be just the “ticket” for my next ride.

    However, the main point of my message, is that I have read all the comments on this R1200RT blog review and now have concerns about spending $20,000 Cdn + on a bike that consumes oil at what seems a rapid pace. (reference BigDaddy Comments). I am not technically minded, so I am not sure if a “BMW Boxer” would normally consume more oil than say a BMW “K” bike; all I know is that none of my Goldwings, nor my Burgman, ever needed additional oil outside the regular service intervals.

    Also, the BMW Service (or lack thereof) that BigDaddy was getting from his local dealer seems appalling!

    It was heartening to read where a few of the commenters had more positive things to say about the R1200RT and their local BMW Service Center interactions.

    Despite this, I would have hoped that someone from BMW would have seen some of the comments posted here and would have contacted BigDaddy to assist with solving his problems.

    Like I said earlier, it’s comments on problems like BigDaddy experienced that may steer this potential new customer away from the BMW R1200RT.

    I hope to experience my first ride on the R1200RT later this spring (after the humongous amounts of snow in Atlantic Canada has melted) when the BMW Dealer offers demo days. At that time, I will be posing questions re oil consumption, quality of service, etc. to the dealer reps.

    I wish BigDaddy all the best in getting his issues resolved.


  13. Bigdaddy says:

    Here is the latest update. Since the bike was serviced at 2995 miles I had to add 7.5 oz at 4143 miles. So that means I used 7.5 oz in 1148 miles. I have ridden an additional 600 miles since then and it is still dropping but not below the sight ring. I just found out that a co-worker has the exact same bike and he says his bike does not use oil at all. So figure this one out because I can’t. We think it has a cracked ring in the cylinder.

  14. Geoff Whale says:

    Hi.   Can I lower the seat/bike on the R1200RT. The bike has a heated seat , wont this be affected if lowering is tried by lowering the seat packing. etc   Can it be done???  

    • Weston says:

      When ordering new if you get the factory lowered seat it can not come heated. So i would assert that if you have a factory heated seat you can not lower it and if you did you might find yourself afoul of the warranty.

      • Tex says:

        I am new to this site but finding it is timely. I am looking at purchasing a 2011 RT and have been trying to decide between that and a HD street glide. I am coming out of a Ducati SS 900 and a Triumph Sprint and it is time to find more of a touring cruiser type bike, both of these bikes will sell in the mid 20s so price points will not help me differentiate. i am looking for the good and bad in both of these bikes and having a hard time deciding. I like the HD because it will let me ride in a more relaxed fashion on longer trips, but the beemer will allow me to travel more quickly and be more nimble. I don’t need the 10 HP of the beemer for canyon carving but for highway use when I just want to go a bit faster or get around large moving objects. The HD will be upgraded with a 103 engine with a stage II upgrade to include push rods and hipo cams, better breathing, D&D headers and exhuast. So it will be able to get out of the way of large moving objects when needed and will also pass a few things when I need to. I am more concerned about getting the bike that will offer me the least amount of problems and when a problem does arise being able to get it fixed easily while on the road. Any feedback is welcomed as I need to make my purchase by the end of next week as I am off to Sturgis. I know the HD is more Sturgis appropriate but I am more interested in hearing which bike will get me their more comfortable. I am 240lbs and 6 foot. The beemer seems a bit tight while the HD feels like there is enough room to move around. I noticed that my hips tend to cramp and tighten while test riding the beemer and a couple of times needed to stand on the pegs to uncramp  my hips…..forgot to mention I am 55 yrs old and want a touring/cruiser as my last bike before I call it quits a few years down the road. I almost introduced the GS into the mix wanting to one day attempt Alaska but the seating position really pushed me up against the tank and it just did not feel comfortable. Look forward to some good advice and was pleased to see that there are HD and beemer riders in the same place. I thought I was the only crazy one comparing two very different bikes.

  15. Aaron says:

    hi Shawn 

    i am impressed with your write up 
    i ride now R1150RT for the last 3 1/2 years 
    the power upgrade on the new RT and general hole package form BMW  to make the bike complete 
    is one of the reason i am now trying to buy the new bike 
    like you i test drove the RT 1200 for 24 hours and covered 750 km all kinds of road and weather to go 
    and was very impressed  with the bike looking forward to putting my own mileages on my new bike very soon  

    greeting from Holland 


  16. Patrick says:

    Where are the riders gloves???

  17. Flybobsolo says:

    I love all BMW Motorcycles, as I have been riding them for the past 50 years.

  18. dbw says:

    I’ve got a 2005 K1200s I’ve had since new and it’s a great bike but I am giving serious thought to going to something more touring….Last Wednesday I had a chance to ride a 2012 RT on a ddeemo ride and was impressed. Weight is about the same which I like, and it is so nimble, handling is good, as are brakes and power is more than sufficient…..which is saying something coming from a K12s rider. Gonna research it more and may just get one.

  19. PaPa Steve says:

    Just got home from a 3,000 mile round trip from Houston to the upper mid-west on a 2011 R1200RT. What a wonderful experience! I’m 6’3″ 195 lbs, my wife is 5’9″ 160 lbs. We were fully loaded with larger trunk & tank bag. Took the scenic routes a little over the speed limits.
    Got 50 MPG & consumed 1/2 pint of oil. Smooth ride, cruise control is great, blue tooth works flawlessly! Wife says rear seat could use better padding, other than that no complaints.

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