2016 BMW R 1200 R

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2016 BMW R 1200 R – technologically advanced & confidence inspiring

A bike that is a joy to ride for every skill level

By Jason Baedke

The BMW R 1200 R is more than a vintage motorcycle, with a bit of naked sport bike blended in. I found myself quickly comfortable on this motorcycle, which was particularly surprising to me given my extensive sport bike experience. Around town and in the city splitting lanes, I felt confident and constantly in control. At freeway speeds, the dynamic suspension shined well over settings a constant adjustment manually, adjusting automatically for tight handling yet a smooth ride in straights.


2016 BMW R 1200 R (base price): $14,095

2016 BMW R 1200 R (as tested): $19,651

EPA Fuel Economy Estimate: 60 mpg

Bike Highs: Comfortable seat, easy to adapt to, confidence inspiring, smooth engine response and torque curve, responsive handling, excellent stability below 70mph, great turning radius, easy to maneuver when parking, well refined ABS, traction control, & dynamic suspension adjustment, speedy navigation, needed grip warmers.

Bike Lows: Lack of fairing results in constantly cleaning you helmet visor & anything over 60 creates excessive drag, touchy steering at speed, rear end feel is lacking.

Bike Rivals: Ducati Monster 1200 S

Our suggested upgrades: Tank & rear storage bags, BMW Navigator, larger windscreen, increase rear tire size


The BMW R 1200 R combines modern technology, comfort, and performance into a confidence inspiring package. This motorcycle could even be called a jack of all (motorcycle riding) trades given its race-derived components including Dynamic Electronic Suspension Adjustments, a factory quick-shifter including auto-blipping downshifts, traction control, steering damper, aggressive Brembo disk brakes, and more, as well as a slew of luxurious accessories I found more useful than expected: fast & responsive handlebar-mounted GPS navigation (added accessory) integrated into the motorcycle & controlled by an intuitive and unique left-hand control, heated grips, well placed, large, yet stylish, mirrors, comfortable yet supportive seat, and BMW’s acclaimed driveshaft technology.

Sure, I was a little intimidated when I first saw this motorcycle; she is wide, bottom heavy and appears beefy. I quickly found out this is actually where the uniqueness of this motorcycle comes from. With the low center of gravity, the rider quickly feels assured maneuvering around tight, short corners as well as highway speed cornering. I would not recommend the R 1200 R to anyone looking for a daily commuter though it has the power and maneuverability to handle many miles at 70+mph.

The tight turning radius combined with the low center of gravity make parking and maneuvering at walking speeds a piece of cake; opposing my initial intimidation. The German engineering mindset of strength and longevity shine boldly through, with large exposed bolts and a very masculine tubular chassis wrapping around BMW’s updated and acclaimed boxer engine. The power from the 1,170cc boxer engine is smooth any steady, with a slight power band around 5,000RPM. I always felt confident in expecting power at any time, but this is an engine that feels more “comfortable” at lower rpm’s.

The R 1200 R also possesses unique and eye-catching style features including a colored tube frame, single-sided swingarm, along with a beautifully painted body which gave me the impression it would last a long time, even in the blazing sun. A slightly-but-so-right flexible knee/thigh grip area allows for comfortable grip and stability. The seat is well cushioned with a slight divot to encompass the buttocks.

I constantly noticed the smooth torque/power curve from the improved Boxer engine; there were no sudden surprises at any speed or RPM. The torque of the R 1200 R brought a constant sense of relaxing confidence as no matter what RPM’s I was riding, there was power, and plenty of it. The low-end torque of the opposing twin cylinder boxer engine was always encouraging to twist the throttle just that little bit more and get out of the field of traffic without ever a whine or whimper (quiet & tight valvetrain designed for power at every RPM range), while the high-end horsepower allowed for confidence at freeway speeds to pass and quickly yet safely arrive at speed with other traffic.

The handling of the R 1200 R seemed almost too good to be true, but several hundred miles into the review, I realized the light feel, nimble response, and perfectly balanced steering damper (one would never know it is in place without looking and lack of tank-slappers) is simply what this motorcycle is all about: inspiring confidence. While I do not believe this for an extreme racer or someone wanting the ultimate, luxurious cruiser, I am convinced this motorcycle would quickly and easily entertain riders of all sorts, shapes, and sizes.

The BMW R 1200 R fits right into the BMW family with style, technological advancement, and plenty of performance. This is the type of motorcycle anyone would be happy to commute daily with as well as take for joy rides on the weekends.

It is powered by an air/liquid-cooled 2-cylinder 4-stroke flat twin engine. At 1170-cc’s, it makes 125-bhp, 92 lbs-ft torque, with a published top-speed of over 125-mph.

For more information, see your local BMW motorcycle dealer, or visit BMWMotorcycles.com

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