What was it like then?
Bland but effective BMWs, like the R1150RT, managed to attract an army of fans, but they did comprise a rather stereotypical legion of buyers. While many bikes in the Bavarian range could be accused of image and purpose confusion, the tourers had at least always been fit for purpose, until the R1200RT emerged blinking into the sunlight in 2005.
Here, suddenly, was a bike with all the touring capability of the 1150, but exuding a sophistication and contemporary style that opened up the potential target audience by a whole decade.
It was the biking equivalent of an M3 estate, sort of dull and practical, but ruthlessly effective, surprisingly sporty, and somehow alluring for all its clean lines and functionality.
There was a performance revolution to underpin the visual improvement, too. The air-cooled boxer was now punching out 15% more power and 10% more torque, and the 1200’s diet had also resulted in a leaner RT, a little over 20kg lighter than its predecessor.
Covering big distances while carrying a stack of kit was suddenly looking attractive, and the sure knowledge that you could not only enjoy the ride, but have fun hustling the mountain or coast roads of your destination once you’d dumped all your gear, made the new RT an attractive prospect.
BMW’s multi-mode Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA) was offered as an optional extra, and with cruise control, heated grips, audio packages, the electronic screen and enough else in the catalogue to keep your dealer on track for his Christmas bonus, the RT could be everything your wallet could afford.
Little wonder then that it tops the UK sales charts in its category year after year, and has won multiple MCN awards.
What is it like now?
It’s just as good as it was then. Age hasn’t dulled its merits, and only the latest incarnation offers any tangible spec improvements over an older model (a water-cooled version is expected in 2014).
Haters of the old servo-assisted brakes might want to plump for the 2007 model onwards, and anyone looking at first-generation 1200s should take good care to check the front discs for any signs of warping.
The problems were caused by mis-machined wheels rather than poor quality discs, but the result is the same. Faulty wheels were replaced under warranty, so if the service history shows a raft of discs, but no wheel change, you know the cause.
There have been mutterings about final drive failures, too – but there doesn’t appear to be any inherent design flaw as many owners report huge trouble-free mileages
Maintenance and care seem to keep the problems away. In the 1200’s life to date there have been six recalls issued by VOSA – affecting various model years or chassis number ranges – so check the history for proof of work being carried out.
Most are well looked after and it’s not hard to grab exceptionally tidy examples. Find a clean, low-mileage RT with all the extras fitted, and it’ll deliver a lifetime of riding pleasure.
Price for a good one: £5000 to £9250
ENGINE: 8v dohc, 1170cc air-cooled boxer twin
POWER: 110bhp @ 7500rpm
TORQUE: 85ft.lb @ 6000rpm
SEAT HEIGHT: 820mm
TOP SPEED: 135mph