What makes the R1200RS so special is that it can do just about anything. Weighing 236kg, it’s no lightweight, but it’s sportier than you’d imagine, not to mention crisper and more agile than a pure-bred tourer.
Its tubular steel chassis is nicely balanced, has sweet steering and gives you the confidence to dart cleanly through corners with a big smile on your face. Radial Brembo calipers have serious bite and 45mm non-adjustable S1000RR-style forks are laced with more feel and control than BMW’s usual Telelever set-up, especially in the wet.
There’s little rocking or pitching from the big Boxer engine, or the updated ‘EVO Paralever’ shaft drive system to upset handling, either.
Find an RS with semi-active suspension and the damping control constantly reacts and adjusts to suit road conditions, he way you ride and is easy to fine tune at the touch of the button. Preload is electronically adjustable to account for luggage and pillion loads, too.
The electronic suspension also helps with ride quality, stability, help the tyres find extra grip and supports you when you’re pushing on.
So, the R1200RS does the sporty really well (some owners have even taken them on trackdays) and will easily take care of the daily commute, although it’s a squeeze through tight traffic, but it’s born to tour. It’s supremely comfortable and many owners have done big miles on them around Europe with ease.
The BMW R1200RS's dimensions mean it’ll handle two-up work, especially as adding more suspension support is only the flick of a button away, but if you’re going to do a lot of miles loaded with luggage and a pillion, a more spacious R1200RT is a better bet and the six-cylinder K1600 better still, but with those you lose much of the RS’s playfulness.
First seen powering the refreshed 2013 R1200GS this evolution of BMW’s mighty 1170cc flat twin gets partial liquid-cooling, ride-by-wire and more lead in its pencil - up from 109bhp to 125bhp.
But its headline power figure is a mere side dish, because while the RS will gallop along at a fair old rate when you thrash it (although it gets vibey at high rpm) and will wheelie with the electronics turned off, it’s all about its low and midrange grunt and the dark, throaty exhaust bark that accompanies it.
BMW claims 92ftlb of torque, which is a lot and will put an Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 and Ducati Panigale V4 in the shade. It translates into instant, crisp acceleration no matter where you are in the revs or what gear you’re in.
Calm and friendly when you’re cruising and surprisingly fiery when you’re in the mood, too, it’s this virtuous Jekyll and Hyde character that makes R1200RS such a great sports tourer.
Elsewhere, the gearbox is generally smooth, especially with the optional quickshifter/blipper fitted, but slightly clunky at low speed. Expect around 56mpg for normal riding, which will give you theoretical fuel range of 222 miles from its 18-litre tank - an easy 200 between stops in the real world.
Owners are glowing in their praise of the R1200RS’s fit, finish and reliability with words like ‘premium’, ‘outstanding’ and ‘faultless’ being bandied about in our readers’ reviews. There’s the odd report of corrosion, a few centre stands that need repainting and minor electrical glitches, but in general the BMW R1200RS's problems are minimal, and it is standing the test of time well. It uses little oil and there are no reports of major mechanical issues.
Replaced by the Shift Cam-motored R1250RS in 2019, prices of the 1200 have settled and there are great deals to be had on earlier models. It’s always worth paying the extra to bag a fully loaded example, not least because it makes it easier to sell-on again.
BMW servicing isn’t cheap, but essential to maintain its bomb-proof reliability and owners have nothing but good things to say about dealer service.
If you're considering an R1200RS, the other bikes to look at are the Triumph Sprint GT 1050, Kawasaki Z1000SX or Honda VFR1200F.
In standard trim the R1200RS comes with few goodies, but you do get ABS, basic rider modes and traction control, but official accessories and ‘packs’ available at the time included every performance and touring goodie imaginable.
Owners’ greatest hits are keyless ignition, quickshifter/blipper, cruise control, heated grips and semi-active suspension. Aftermarket favourites include non-BMW pannier and top boxes for more space, crash protection, radiator guards and huggers. Many riders install a set of BMW R1200RS bar risers to make the riding position a little more upright.