BMW R1150R (2001-2006) Review

Published: 22 November 2006

"An honest-to-goodness Boxer twin that will provide years of faithful service"

BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Riding

"An honest-to-goodness Boxer twin that will provide years of faithful service"

  • At a glance
  • 1130cc  -  76 bhp
  • 54 mpg  -  240 miles range
  • Medium seat height (800mm)

Overall Rating 3 out of 5

The BMW R1150R is an honest-to-goodness Boxer twin that will provide years of faithful commuting service while not exactly setting pulses racing. Once you’ve overcome the idiosyncratic indicator switchgear arrangement (one per bar, plus another to cancel), the lumpy motor and poor gearbox, it’s actually quite endearing.

Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5

The BMW R1150R is comfortable for shorter journeys, but without a screen (available as an official aftermarket item) speeds over 85mph are a chore. It handles well and once you’ve built up confidence in the Telelever front end it can be thrown about quite briskly. Vibration through the bars can be intrusive on longer, higher speed journeys.

Engine 3 out of 5

The R1150R's tried and tested BMW air/oil cooled motor isn’t exactly over-generous with either revs or power, but it is very torquey and flexible enough to make either genteel touring or cross-town commuting a pleasure. The gearbox is somewhat agricultural and lacking in positivity. You’ll need to keep an eye on oil consumption, too.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

BMWs enjoy a reputation for high reliability, which is well deserved. The simple engine alloyed to a practical shaft drive makes six-digit mileages a reality. The finish on the BMW R1150R's  ‘fork’ legs and engine cases is poor, however.

Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5

Although the R1150R was expensive new the great news is that BMWs hold their values much better than comparable motorcycles from other manufacturers, almost regardless of mileage. Avoid anything without a full dealer service history as this hammers re-sale worth. Find a BMW R1150R for sale.

 

Insurance group: 12 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 3 out of 5

ABS was a £750 option and R1150Rs that are so-equipped are much more desirable secondhand, as are motorcycles with an official flyscreen, which really does make a difference. BMW luggage is excellent quality and very well designed. Compare and buy parts for the BMW R1150R in the MCN Shop.

Owners' Reviews

10 owners have reviewed their BMW R1150R (2001-2006) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

We’re currently improving the way this section works, which means we’ve had to suspend the submission of new owners’ reviews for a short period. Please check back soon.

Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.4 out of 5
Engine 4.4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.7 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.1 out of 5
Equipment 4.1 out of 5
4 out of 5

It's a well kept secret

20 May 2014 by Adrian71

Firstly let's clear up the fuss over the indicators switches , they're actually very intuitive to use particularly when riding with thick gloves on no fiddling trying to return the selector to the middle here The engine , if kept tuned and serviced... Read more will last forever , the torque is fantastic some reviewers bemoan the 8k redline but change up at about 6.5 and keep the throttle open and you'll soon be doing 120mph , that is providing you've got the screen to deflect the wind roar. Handling is fine no diving or flaws apparent and the ABS brakes are a godsend . Heated grips are a welcome addition and when turned onto max soon warm your hands up nicely. Build quality is typical BMW ie very good indeed , keep it cleaned and polished and it will retain it's showroom look , mines done 16k and still looks mint . If you're thinking of buying one of these go for it , the negative press reviews are totally unjustified , try it , love it , ride it , everywhere

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

It just keeps on growing on you!

23 September 2012 by DutchDiver

So I bought a 2001 R1150R in 2004 changing from a Honda Shadow! What a change. At the beginning I couldn't get used to the indicators, then the low down power or the boxer engine shake when stopped at the lights but I loved the controlable... Read more acceleration and the endless torque. So why write this review now? I've been thinking about swapping it for a GS1200 but can't seem to make the plunge. 8 years after buying, having toured across 10 countries, she's never missed a beat or given me any expense. She is serviced at CW BMW in Dorchester annually and that's it. I have fitted loads of stuff including the really needs BMW screen, a Remus titanium exhaust, starcom unit, Garmin sat nav, goodridge braided brake lines and had the seat rebuild to include a gell pad and none slip material (never got used to the standard material which left me slipping all over). So all I can say to anyone thinking about if this is a good bike, it's not good it's excellent and it's also not that common so loads of people come up and look over it asking if it's really a BMW. Mine is black which I think is the best colour. So I think whilst writing this review, I've also decided to forget the GS and stick with the R!

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
4 out of 5

Wolf in sheeps clothing

26 February 2012 by Anonymous

This bike is a real surprise once you get used to quirky things like the front end does not dive when braking hard and the brakes need a real good squeeze when the engine is not running because of the servo assistance. It is a heavy old lump but is... Read more better controlled by using the back brake when moving slow. Once you have the bike fully serviced and tuned up, when you open it up and snatch a handfull it really picks up its skirts and runs. Change gear when you get to 6000 cos there is not much past that. It will cruise at 80mph and only show 4000rpm it is economical and the finish on the bike is fantastic. The engine is smooth and only a tiny bit of vibes nothing at 70mph plus. I have had the bike almost 3 years use it for commuting, touring and just blasting round. It needs to have all the schedules adhered to i.e change clutch fluid very year (how do I know this? my slave cylinder failed and destroyed the clutch!) and oils I use synthetic 15w50 it uses very little oil and does not need topping between yearly service but check anyway! This bike grows on you! I have had Japanese fours and twins but nothing that gets under my skin like this bike. My next bike will be a KTM 990SMT but I will keep this one.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Commuter

14 January 2012 by classkawa

I bought a 2004 R1150R after my ancient but reliable VFR suffered terminal loom failure due to road salt. First impressions are that it is a damn good commuter. The power is good low down but not available higher up the rev range and I am still... Read more recalibrating my riding style to cope. First tank full only got me 45mpg, worse than my 18 year old old Honda! Build quality seems excellent with just a couple of issues to sort that reflect the previous owner rather than the bike. I have a 30 year old Moto Guzzi that is faster, lighter and returns better mpg but this is a better commuter when all said and done. Mine is the non ABS model so normal brakes which are great and low maintenance. If you are coming from a Jap background you need to give this bike a long time to grow on you, don't judge it on a weeks riding or you will likely hate it.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 3 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 3 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
3 out of 5

It ought to be great, but...

24 October 2008 by tflinders

I moved up from the R1100R and the 1150 should have been an improvement - six gears instead of five, more power, servo brakes. However, the gears are badly spaced, the riding position isn't as comfy and the servo brakes are a nightmare. Try... Read more touching the front brake as you're turning at low speed and you find it grabs hard - not good! It always seemed to give me a headache, so after a few thousand miles I sold it and bought an R850R. If you just want a hooligan-ish bike though, it might be for you.

Overall Rating 3 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 3 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 3 out of 5
Equipment 2 out of 5
5 out of 5

R1150r rockster give it a go might surprise you

24 July 2008 by Anonymous

R1150r these are great bikes with good build quility very reliable nice and easy to ride in and out of town,very good on the twisties,ive had crusiers and sports bikes this is a bit in between,you can easely clock up a few hundred miles a day in... Read more comfort and do it the following day,there easy to do basic servicing on,the abs is outstanding,and they hold there value,so give one a go,comfort,fun,touring,what more do you want

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
4 out of 5

R850R / R1150R - great!

10 March 2008 by hirsty2

No listing for an R850R Classic, the run-out model before all the Boxer bikes moved up to the 1200cc hexhead engine. I used mine for a daily commute, weekend runouts and week-long tours of Scotland, Ireland and France. 14,000 miles & didn't miss... Read more a beat other than a weeping gearbox oil seal which was replaced under warranty without quibble. The Boxer motor is an acquired taste, but these bikes deserve a better run in the press/reviews - nobody whines about the Bonneville being underpowered, yet the BM will run rings around it. If you're not after out & out pace, then you should try one - great bikes.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 3 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 3 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

don't knock it til you try it

18 January 2008 by jenko1

This is my first BMW, and I reckon it's one of the best bikes I've ever owned in 24 years. The Vmax was more manic, the Armstrong was cheaper, the SV was lighter, the 1200 Bandit was faster, lighter, more manic AND cheaper, but has a chain!... Read more Everything on the R1150R is good quality. It doesn't corrode, (unlike Ducatis), it doesn't give up the ghost at a whiff of moisture, (unlike Ducatis) it's good for touring, and I can scratch on it because it actually lasts longer than 50 miles before breaking down, (unlike Ducatis)! The engine has plenty of character and torque, sending it to speeds high enough for everyday use by mortals. I've never used it on a track, I doubt it would be well suited to that. I have used it for a 3000mile one-week-long trip in October to France, Andorra and Spain. The BMW luggage is excellent, the ABS brakes are outstanding, the reliability is fantastic, and the servicing is so easy I do it all. The only niggle, and it is only nitpicking, is the rear suspension. I have it set almost fully hard for normal riding otherwise it wallows. It can still cope with pillion and luggage though. It's comfy, handles very well, never gets left behind. And it still looks like a new bike, even after 30k miles. Mine had a Y-piece on the exhaust, but I've removed it and refitted the cat. It's smoother and runs better. The heated grips and charging/accessory point are bonuses. Ignore what the bike press say about the weight, if you know how to ride, this bike really excels at slow speed manouevres and town riding, while devouring distances like any BMW. It doesn't feel heavy at all. I'd rate it 9.99/10. The only criticism is the rear suspension. That's just a personal thing. Plus BMW back up is great, really professional. What more do you want from a bike?

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5

2004 R1150r - Give it a break!

13 April 2007 by Jackspratt

Never really saw myself on one but due to the fact no other manufacturer then made a reasonably practical high distance machine, I've had the bike from new! Why an R? Less weight than the others. It handles excellently it really does, and it is at... Read more home on the twisty's. It tours brilliantly and with the addition of a slightly modified National Cycles F16 Tour Shield, and GS1150 handguards, it is comfortable and practical. It works best with Metzeler R6 tyres, maybe a pound up on suggested pressures if you are over about 13 to 14 stone. I have firmed the front up by 1.5 clicks and the rear by about 2 clicks and the pre-load is up two turns as standard and about 3.5 turns with luggage or pillion. The real revelation is the replacement of the cat with a y piece and a Remus silencer. You really can feel the difference. Fuelling is of course taken care of by the lambda sensor. It also loses 22lbs in weight! I really don't understand why the bike mags and papers are so anti-R1150r, and probably the new r1200 r as well. These are very good machines, and if you want to you can just about keep up with your mates, but when you are in the mood on the tight twistys - can they keep up with you? No really!! Great bike, very underated as it is neither glamorous nor Italain, well it can't be it's really well engineered...

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

Had it 5 years and still as good as day one.

20 May 2006 by bmwr1150r

Had my R1150R for 5 years now. 40,000 miles and its still as good as on day one. Not the fastest bike on the road, but one of the best. Great looks. Stand back and just take a look at its flowing lines and curves and you'll have to agree.... Read more Strengths:
The ease at which you can play ping pong with cars. Easy to ride, restfull even. Will give any other bike a good run for its money up to 120mph, due to its easy and predictable handling. Weaknesses: No BMW top Box. Just a floppy bag. So had to buy top box from other producer.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
Read all 10 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2001
Year discontinued 2006
Original price -
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 12 of 17
Annual road tax £80
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 76 bhp
Max torque 69 ft-lb
Top speed 120 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 13.35 secs
Average fuel consumption 54 mpg
Tank range 240 miles
Specification
Engine size 1130cc
Engine type 8v Boxer twin, 6 gears
Frame type Tubular space frame
Fuel capacity 20.5 litres
Seat height 800mm
Bike weight 218kg
Front suspension Rebound
Rear suspension Rebound, preload
Front brake Twin 305mm discs
Rear brake 276mm disc
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 170/60 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

2001: BMW R1150R introduced as bigger engined version of old R1100R.
2006: BMW R1150R replaced by R1200R.

Other versions

BMW Rockster: Funky paintschemes and styling camoflage an otherwise mechanically identical machine. In production from 2003-2005.

Photo Gallery

  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Side view
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Instruments
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Front view
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Instruments
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Side view
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Side view
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Brakes
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Engine
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Side view
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Instruments
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Front view
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Instruments
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Side view
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Side view
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Brakes
  • BMW R1150R motorcycle review - Engine