BMW R1100R (1995 - 2003) Review
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£240|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
Often overlooked as a new machine, BMW's R1100R now makes tons of sense as a used bike. It’s the naked version of BMW’s twin cylinder ‘Boxer’ – undoubtedly their best range of motorcycles at the time. The R1100R is an incredibly versatile machine that does anything well except high speed work and track days.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
The BMW R1100R's Telelever front suspension takes some getting used to but works extremely well once you are. Paralever rear minimized the effects of the shaft drive and the motorcycle handles well in a smooth, slow turning manner – but don’t think it can’t hustle if required. Brakes are reasonable and ABS is handy where fitted. Great round town – and popular with couriers as a result.
EngineNext up: Reliability
Charming, simple and torquey or an underpowered antique with an atrocious. The BMW R1100R is both so whether you’ll enjoy it depends on whether you’re a glass-half-full person. The air/oil cooled twin’s not hugely changed since the 1950s. Vibey at low revs but with plenty of midrange.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
Apart from couriered examples, the BMW R1100R seems to get an easier life than most used BMWs. They don’t seem to rack up the huge mileages or get used in winter as often as their stablemates. The R1100R is still up to these feats though. Dealers, official and unofficial are excellent.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
Considering a Honda Hornet 600 will outperform the BMW R1100R for a fraction of the price, it could seem like an expensive buy. But the BMW’s high quality and durability help justify the price. It also feels like a special motorcycle. Plus when you sell it, you won’t lose much as depreciation is low. Find a BMW R1100R for sale.
Considering naked bikes are often pared down to the bare minimum, the BMW R1100R is quite well equipped. ABS was on all its motorcycles until 1999 when it became an option. Comfort’s excellent (a screen helps on the motorway), a centre stand’s always useful and the instruments are pretty comprehensive for the time. Compare and buy parts for the BMW R1100R in the MCN Shop.
|Engine type||8v opposed twin, 5 gears|
|Frame type||Steel spine|
|Fuel capacity||21 litres|
|Rear suspension||Preload, rebound, compression|
|Front brake||Twin 305mm discs|
|Rear brake||276mm disc|
|Front tyre size||120/70 x 17|
|Rear tyre size||160/60 x 18|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||46 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£96|
|Annual service cost||£240|
11 of 17
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two year unlimited mileage|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||80 bhp|
|Max torque||72 ft-lb|
|Top speed||125 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||12.3 secs|
|Tank range||210 miles|
Model history & versions
1995: BMW R1100R launched.
1997: Small changes – chrome mirrors and bar ends, silver oil cooler cover and pillion handles. From September.
1998: Non ABS model available from November.
BMW R850R: Similar but with smaller 848cc engine, lighter (210kg). ‘Classic’ model with special paint available in 2003.
Owners' reviews for the BMW R1100R (1995 - 2003)
9 owners have reviewed their BMW R1100R (1995 - 2003) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£240|
Version: R1100RS se
Annual servicing cost: £410
Good solid long distance tourer, still capable of nipping around the lanes.
Brakes need an annual deep clean
Adequate power and smooth in a cruise
Plus tyres £190
Buying experience: Private 24yrs ago
Version: 75th Anniversary Edition, spoked wheels
Annual servicing cost: £250
Best: Very comfortable seat, shaft drive, easy (but often, 6500 miles) valve adj, torque. Worst: Heavy, very expensive parts, throttle return springs too stiff, could use a 6th gear, persnickety transmission. I would not recommend it to the average motorcyclist, you would have to be that special person.
Brembo brakes, so good there. The ride quality is great on the highway, but a little rough in town. Too heavy and ponderous to use just in town, but fantastic on the highway. (the larger 18" spoked wheels may make it handle worse than the version with 17" wheels) Never had a passenger but it's the most comfortable bike I have owned for long rides.
The engine has good power and torque, and it moves the bike quite well. You never have to downshift, it's strong on roll on. I wouldn't say its a fun bike to ride, performance wise. I would not have liked it when I was 25.
It's built to last, but needs routine maintenance more intensive than an average motorcycle. The ABS worked for awhile, but now it needs the ABS rebuilt. ($700+ labor)
Parts are expensive. I replaced the driveshaft at 37,400 miles. The part alone cost $1025! The fuel pump was $337. Fuel filter was $45.50. On this bike you have to replace the engine oil, the transmission oil, and the final drive oil.
Of course I like the shaft drive. I also like the character and the feeling I am on something special. I installed a windshield, a must if traveling on the highway. The stock seat feels fine to me.
Buying experience: I bought from a private seller, $2900. (his price) He had added a windshield, replaced the seat cover, changed all the fluids and installed new Michelin tires.
Version: R1100RS SE
Now old. No equivalent available.
ABS never had worked as I would like. Does not pulse.
Buying experience: Private. No problems
Annual servicing cost: £200
I bought mine in Sydney NSW in 2009. In 2018 after a couple of years storage I decided to rebuild her and her back on the road. I'm hooked on her.
Disconnected ABS (Shhhh...) I prefer her this way. Brakes always when and where I need very well.
I'm biased for boxers. Yeah it has a vibe at low revs, but tickle her and the torque will zap you down the highway nice and smooth.
My R1100R has had some rough treatment, Bush rides, long rides, dropped twice, ridden in rain, sleet and scorching heat. Hasn't missed a beat and has never let me down.
Oil, filters tyres and two batteries in 9 years. German quality means reliability. Great bang for the buck.
All luggage by BMW. Cannot fault fit and usefulness.
Only the transmission really stands out as less than ideal. The rest is pretty much perfect for what it is designed to be (an uber-reliable tourer with serious performance capabilities).
ABS does go out from time to time. Given that most similar bikes don't even have ABS, it's hard to hold it against this bike...
Great torque. Winds right up, for a fairly simple design.
Change the brake fluid... The brake master cylinder is integral to the throttle and really expensive to change out. The running gear is uniquely bullet-proof.
The BMW tour bags are always fantastic. The simple naked look ages really well -- all those fairings get nicked and dated pretty fast...
Buying experience: It's hard to buy a bad one, although I'm sure there are some about.
Annual servicing cost: £100
Great all round bike, fun on twisty roads and can cruise long distances for touring too with the hard bags. Worst feature is the stock seat, I find it uncomfortable in as little as 60 miles. You hear some luke-warm comments about performance but mine really flies and is super torquey..
I found fitting the high friction pads made the brakes even better.
If set up properly, throttles and air screws correctly synchronized the engine is very smooth. It is also very quick for what it is, good acceleration for overtaking and it's hard to keep your cruising speed down it will sneak up to 80-90 mph if you are not careful. My engine is super torquey too, that improved dramatically with an aftermarket chip that makes it run a little richer. They come terribly weak from the factory. I even get better mpg with the modification. The factory exhaust is extremely quiet but makes the bike sound anemic. I finally broke down and fitted a Remus system that transformed the riding experience. Even more mid range and a satisfying exhaust note which at idle and cruise are very little louder just much deeper in tone. When you get on the power the sound is quite addictive.
Solidly built, the finish and appearance definitely looks up market.
If you source your parts from ebay etc. normal maintenance parts are not expensive. They are also very easy to work on, with good access too, things like adjusting valve clearances takes no time at all. Bike comes with a comprehensive tool kit .
I wish it had a fuel gauge
Buying experience: I've owned it for 6 years now and love it, I've not found anything that's motivated me to change. It does everything I want of it and still has style. I still get asked about it almost every time I stop for fuel, people seem to think it's a new bike with it's still somewhat futuristic look.
I keep thinking I ought to sell this bike, but every time I get close to it, no other bike matches up to this machine's all-round ability. It has impeccable handling, you can brake deep into corners, cursing the wobbly part-timer on the sportsbike in front of you as he slows you down through the turn. It even has a very loud hooter for urging the spotty oiks out of your way. Given the right kind of camber conditions, you can even hoik the front end up coming out of corners, certainly this happens frequently during spirited roundabout negotiation. A punchy heavy beast, a proper bloke's bike that you can also carry your missus on, not to mention a ton of camping gear. It's not a toy it's a 1/4 ton of bouncing (but in a controlled way), throbbing joy between your legs, a second willy if you will. And like the other one, it can most certainly be enjoyed with the missus sat astride it, or if you're more the solo type, then with just a twist of the wrist of course as well...
A great bike that hardly anyone knows about. Owned a GS1150 before this but pound for pound this is a better bike if you only ride on road. Doesn't have the kudos of the GS hence they are bargains. Bucket load of torque, brilliant b-road handling, perfect riding position, all day comfort excellent headlight, build quality better than post '99 beemers. Downsides - not exactly a looker, clunky gearbox, no span adjustment on clutch lever. Go and buy one and save £2k over a GS
Very reliable, tours well two-up with luggage. Fairly economical to run, if you avoid main dealers, 44mpg isn't that good for the performance. Cruises all day (literally) at fast motorway speeds. Worth fitting a screen. Worst point is gearbox, which makes it a pain around town. Heavy, but weight disappears on the move. Rear shock gets tired after 40,000 miles, replacing it transforms bike.