I confess, I’ve never been a huge fan of the K1200R. Back when it came out in 2005 I thought a 163bhp naked bike with a top speed of 170mph was about as much use as mudguards on a tortoise. But that was before the whole super-naked craze took off; so was I being too judgmental?
To be fair, the K1200R is still not a good-looking bike. Its googly-eyed headlights are a bit weird and BMW haven’t really made much effort to style the bike. Some would argue its rugged, almost robotic, look is part of the charm, but to me it is lazy design. And then there is the ride.
I remember K1200Rs being really agricultural and nothing like the slick machines you expect from BMW. Within a few metres this used K1200R proves exactly that. The initial fuel injection is very abrupt (I think BMW have released something like 12 different maps in an attempt to sort this out), the clutch is grabby, the gearbox clunks and the bike feels really long. Not exactly a promising start to our re-acquaintance – but then I hit the open road.
The inline four dominates any ride on a K1200R. Like a Hayabusa it pulls from next to no revs and is so fast the speedo has a hard time keeping up. But, and here is what I missed back in the day, you don’t have to go ballistic on it everywhere. No really, you don’t.
The motor is so stacked full of grunt that you can just leave it in top and take it easy, surfing the wave of torque and avoiding the gearbox. This endless thrust makes the R really easy going as you wind on the throttle to overtake traffic and relax into the comfortable riding position. Windblast aside, and this used bike has a screen to help cut this factor down, it’s effortless motoring personified.
And come the bends it handles as well. The K1200R’s length certainly helps mask the Duolever front end’s difference in feel when compared to forks. You don’t get on the R and think ‘that feels strange’, you just get on and ride it. It’s a bit heavy steering, but so is the B-King or any large-capacity naked.
But agility isn’t everything. While you can ride the K1200R very quickly, you can also easily ride it in a relaxed fashion if you so wish and that makes it a very pleasant road bike.
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