BMW R1200RS (2015 - 2018) Review
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£230|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
BMW’s R1200RS slipped in under many a rider’s radar when it was launched in 2015 and didn’t even arrive in dealers until halfway through that year.
It completed the German firm’s boxer-twin line-up of the day, all of which featured it’s then new 125bhp water-cooled motor, but it (and the naked R version) always lived in the shadows of the headline-grabbing R1200RT tourer and the globe-trotting R1200GS.
That’s a shame because it’s a hugely capable sports tourer in every sense. It excites and relaxes in equal measure and combines a big chunk of the luxury and long-distance comfort of the RT with a fruity twist. It looks pretty funky, too with its snazzy S1000RR-a-like asymmetric lights, upside down forks (no ‘funny’ front end here) and radial Brembos.
With grunt pouring from its sticky-out cylinders the flat twin is long-legged and flexible, sounds like a race bike on the pipe and is as happy scratching through corners as it is melting motorway miles. Find a fully loaded RS and things like cruise control, heated grips, an up/down quickshifter, keyless ignition and electronic suspension and you’re never left wanting more.
In its four-year life it’s proven to be well built, reliable and although servicing isn’t the cheapest, BMW main dealers are a friendly and helpful bunch. Better still you can find early examples for not a lot of cash, which truly makes the BMW R1200RS an unsung sports touring hero. It was replaced by the BMW R1250RS in 2019.
BMW R1200RS long-term test
Former MCN Editor Andy Calton spent a year living with the R1200RS and found the £13k bike to be capable but a little expensive with a fuel tank that's too small.
Once you've been through this review and our owners' reviews at the bottom of the page, you can get more information on the BMW R1200RS by heading to the R1200RS Forum or that website's Facebook page.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
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.
EngineNext up: Reliability
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.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
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.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
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.
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.
|Engine type||Liquid cooled, DOHC, 8v flat twin|
|Frame type||Tubular steel|
|Fuel capacity||18 litres|
|Front suspension||45mm telescopic forks, non-adjustable (semi-active suspen-sion optional).|
|Rear suspension||BMW Paralever with single shock adjustable for preload and rebound damping (semi-active suspension optional)|
|Front brake||2 x 320mm front discs with four-piston Brembo radial calipers. ABS|
|Rear brake||276mm rear disc with twin pis-ton caliper. ABS|
|Front tyre size||120/70 ZR 17|
|Rear tyre size||180/55 ZR 17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||56 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£93|
|Annual service cost||£230|
|Used price||£6,500 - £12,300|
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two years|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||125 bhp|
|Max torque||92 ft-lb|
|Top speed||140 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||222 miles|
Model history & versions
2015: R1200RS introduced, sharing its 125bhp boxer twin motor and basic chassis layout with the RT and GS models of the day, but like its naked R sibling it has telescopic forks instead of a Telelever front end.
2019: Replaced by BMW R1250RS.
Owners' reviews for the BMW R1200RS (2015 - 2018)
17 owners have reviewed their BMW R1200RS (2015 - 2018) 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:||£230|
Annual servicing cost: £150
Has been totally reliable in the 4 yrs I’ve had it. Covered approx 18000 miles. Multiple touring trips through Central Europe (Hungary,Bosnia,Croatia’s etc etc ) Fully loaded two up. 17 Day trips. No problems at all Bike is fast, smooth a doddle to ride and very comfortable (surprisingly).
Comfort is great. Sitting position if perfect for me. Can sit all day no trouble at all. Settings on suspension are so easy to adjust too Brakes are 1stclass. I did have cause to test them in Snowdonia when a vectra pulled out in front of me at 😱💩🤬 range! I did not believe I could stop - but I did. Great brakes and abs.
Engine is superb. Transmission has gearshift pro assist so is really fun too
Corrosion appearing on frame and main stand. I have already repainted the stand once, it needs doing again. Noticed light pitting on frame too. Mechanically no issues at all
Servicing by main dealers is not cheap. But is good. Coopers sunderland. £150-200 approx 52 mpg- seems doesn’t matter how it’s ridden or what weight is on it. Insurance isn’t bad either. Tyres front obviously lasts twice as long as rear, change rear at least once a year.
Keyless ride ESA Abs Cruise control Adj screen Adj seat height Power modes 3different dash screen choices Htd grips Main stand Luggage carrier Sat nav mount All above standard on sport SE model
Buying experience: Coopers Sunderland. Really good to deal with. (Steve Brown)
Version: SE Sport
Annual servicing cost: £250
So far, faultless. I bought a 3 year old one with just over 50 miles on the clock. Yes, 50 miles. I have put 2,500 miles on it in the last 4 months and it never ceases to bring a smile to my face.
It is equipped with ESA, with 3 modes, rain, road and dynamic. For British roads I find Road, ideal. My previous bike was a 2011 R1200R, but the handling was a little vague. This model with the LC engine and upside down forks is so much better. The brakes are much sharper than on my previous bike.
It gets a bit rough at higher revs, but hopefully this will improve as the mileage increases. In saying that, I rarely need more than 5,000 revs, even two up.
The 5th BMW I have owned and the best, so far! No problems yet. It seems well put together and if I'm careful can get an indicated 62 mpg.
I bought it from a main dealer in Dorchester. They usually manage to do a service and MOT for less than £250. Let's hope they can on this one.
Fairly good on this spec. The newer 1250 with similar spec would have cost about £6k more. I have added a hugger, engine plate and radiator guard.
Buying experience: I went to my usual dealer in Dorchester and generally they are very good. They always seem to keep the servicing costs down where possible. My nearest dealer just got too expensive, even charging to test ride my bike after a service and a contribution to insurance costs on a loan bike!
Annual servicing cost: £380
Love it as much now as I did when I bought it over 3 years ago. Brilliant bike
Ride quality is brilliant - long distance two up no problem at all. While touring from Newcastle, into Central Europe (as far as Hungary and Croatia, Bosnia etc,) we would mainly do couple o hundred miles a day, but occasionally over 500, and I would say we feel fine - better than we did on the Lt 1200 ! I now run on Dunlop Sportmax 111 tyres and these are awesome even, or especially, in the wet. The brakes are fantastic. The whole riding experience is confidence inspiring.
Great feel, immediate throttle response, great sound. Massive amount of torque, hardly need to change up or down unless you’re in a hurry. Uses hardly any oil. Easily over 200 mile tank range - consistently returning 52mpg fully loaded and motoring hard.
After more than 3 years 15000 miles. NO PROBLEMS to report. Only slight corrosion on main stand, which I have rubbed down and repainted. And a bit on the brake line fittings.
15000 mile main dealer service, included MOT, fitting rear tyre £20.00 very reasonable I think (I supplied). Also £80.00 for rear pads. £379.93 all told. Not cheap. But very good service From Cooper Sunderland.
Usual. Keyless ignition. ESA ABS CENTRE STAND 3 mode settings ASC cruise control Heated grips Sat nav Quick shift
Annual servicing cost: £250
equipment levels good on the SE, worse quality, you have to pay for the 790mm seat, standard is 800 or 760..... bizarre
decent tyres are a must, Michelin pr4 at the minute, avoid the Metzelers, nasty in the wet
could always do with a bit more, but nice and torquey
it has stopped once for a faulty throttle connection
55mpg and 200 + miles to the tank, not sure how MCN get such low figures?
Buying experience: dealer bought, did well when it broke down
Version: Sport SE
Far too heavy. Otherwise a brilliant bike.
Buying experience: Dealer very good service. Although a long wait to get it booked in.
Version: Sport SE
Annual servicing cost: £295
A really good all-round real world bike between this and my S1000RR there was only ever one winner when it came to everything apart from track days... and I have done a track day on it too!
There's apparently a VVT version of this engine out soon and estimated to make 144hp, which should put it in the range of FJRs and the like... this one is a bit puffy up top but it's a twin.
No issues at all, after my Versys experience and 12 months of misery, this has been a total hoot 10k up and nothing to report!
My bikes all get all year round use and no mercy... most are fine and this has been great. 5k of miles for under 300 pounds of work, even the Michelin Pilot tyres lasted the full 10k... although they were goosed!
Loaded and the Nav system is fantastic.
Buying experience: II bought from BMW in Peterborough and I can't fault them. Sales guys aren't vultures and still say hello when you walk in and the servicing is good too... Wheels in Peterborough... not so much.
Probably one of the best all around bikes made. As happy in the twisties as it is on the motorways. Very low CG and abundant low end grunt make for easy living in the city as well.
Dynamic suspension is fantastic, easy to set for current conditions. Brakes have a little too much initial lever travel than I like, stopping power is phenomenal however. Switching to an S1000RR master cylinder to get the initial feel that I like.
I fairly certain this engine slows the rotation of the earth when I leave a stop light. Lots of grunt. Very easy power wheelies when you turn the nannies off.
After two years and 12k miles the bike has not had a single reliability issue. As an Aircraft Mechanic I am amazed by the fit and finish of this motorcycle.
It’s a BMW... regular service is a little pricey. BMW is exceptionally proud of their oil and the price reflects that. It is very easy to service this bike yourself and save some coin.
From the GPS to the heated grips, dynamic suspension, quick shifter pro, power outlet..this thing is loaded with stuff
Buying experience: Bought used with 200 miles off some sucker on e-bay... saved $5k. Very happy.
Its really hard to fault this bike, if you can forget the traditional image of Boxer engined machines, you will find them hard to beat.
Suspension is superb, easily adjustable at the flick of a switch. Brembos are flawless on the bike.
Boxer engine works superbly in this chassis, power is just right for the bike. Forthcoming VVT version with more HP will only be a bonus.
BMW quality is top drawer, RS1200RS is a fine example. No reliability issues to date.
BMW are amongst the highest service labour rates in the bike world, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Pound for pound, bike itself is excellent value for what you are actually getting.
Is there a better equipped bike out there for the money?
Buying experience: BMW dealership experience can be patchy, some excellent, some very mediocre.
Bought it as knackered collarbone due to RTA, low down weight easy handling greats looks and bullet proof engine, ak47 solid and do anything
Handles like a diesel - pure grunt torque —- go elsewhere is you are looking for stupid BHP values, pure torque smooth and steady across whole rev range
Extras like keyless, spot, engine bars etc extra
Buying experience: Great service from Bmw run bridge wells, but some delays on getting aprovika exhaust from factory
Version: Sprite SE
Annual servicing cost: £80
After 8 years on K1200LT THIS FEELS LIKE A MOPED (a very quick moped!) It's featherweight in comparison and unbelievably easy to ride. It really inspires confidence when cornering and braking is superb. Comfort is OK to good.... After the luxury of the LT this is still high praise. Gear shift assist is very smooth, keyless ride is great (except when someone rides off with them in his pocket). Gearbox is the customary BMW clunker at low speeds. All in all a great bike.
Superb all round. Brakes outstanding
Pulls great throughout range. Quick shift very smooth at high revs.
It's only 6 weeks old with 1200 miles on - so time will tell .......... My old LT was reliable until 6 yrs and 25,000 miles - then turned into a money pit for repairs.
Only service to date was 600 mile running in service at £80.00
ESA ABS CRUISE CONTROL. Ride mode. Should really come with sat nav unit. Fitted Givi Blade 47 top box, fits two Full Face helmets. The bm box is ridiculously small and expensive.
Buying experience: Coopers Sunderland. Traded in my 8 yr old LT against this. (Which I also bought new from them) Quality dealer
Annual servicing cost: £325
Sophisticated and practical.
Smooth and secure, brakes powerful and progressive.
Premium piece of kit
Buying experience: Good.
Annual servicing cost: £250
Great touring bike, with fantastic performance in terms of power and handling. does well on M-ways too, important to get you the twisties. Extras well worth the money, especially the Dynamic suspension and quick shifter.
Good all rounder, not quite as comfortable as the K1600GT on M-ways, I needed an aftermarket screen, which made a huge difference. Fantastic on Alpine like roads. I use it for 1-up touring, with the overall bike size and available luggage space 2 would be a squeeze. Hard to beat R1200RT or K1600GT for 2-up.
Great power, quick shifter makes for even quicker corner entry/exits and over-takes.
No problems so far. Runs well in hot climates had it up to 42C in cities and no issues. Can't say the same for my K1600GT.
Annual servicing cost (euros) reasonable, plus tyre wear not bad ~7000km/set.
Went for everything except the Alarm, immobiliser fitted as standard. Also allows extra room under pillion seat. Fitted HID lights, along with the driving/fog lights excellent visibility on the road, plus, on the rare occasions good visibility at night. Recommend Givi or similar top box, BMW top box way too small and expensive.
Buying experience: Bought from main Dealer. I thought the initial launch price, with all extras, was very good. Price increases since then :-(
Version: R1200RS SE
Annual servicing cost: £200
I had the R1200GS (new version) but the GS was lost in a sea of bikes. The R1200RS gets loads of admirers. Love everything about the new bike. You are inclined to push it on faster than the GS, so don't expect the same MPG. Being a BMW, it has a very high quality finish. I would highly recommend this bike.
Ride quality is great. The RS is more suitable to motorways/good road surfaces etc. The suspension is a tad firm for back roads, having changed from the GS. The missus much prefers the new bike.
Again, the engine is supposed to be same as the GS, but I find that the new engine is far smoother. The slipper clutch is brilliant
No problems with Quality and reliability.
The GS was giving 60 MPG overall. The RS is returning 57 MPG. Very good consumption
More than enough equipment on the R1200RS SE
Buying experience: Bought direct from BMW - no issues here. Prices are non-negotiable
Version: SE sport
Annual servicing cost: £190
Gearbox a bit "clunky" going into first when engine at operating temp. No other issues.
Had my first BMW in 1980, (R100CS), loved that one and love this one. Traded in a GS and love the lower COG, makes cornering a more enjoyable experience, for me. Brembos are superb and really progressive.
My last boxer was the air/oil cooled GS, the LC has just so much more usable power.
Only had it 3 months, so don't expect it to fall apart just yet. Quality: Outstanding.
£190 for initial service, (600 miles). Met expectations
I have the SE, so can't think of anything i would like to add to it.
Buying experience: Chester motorad made the trade in and buying experience seamless and hassle free. Nothing was too much trouble. I had multiple test rides on the new GS, the XR and on the RS, i also had more test rides on the RS after ordering, "just to make sure" Chester Motored staff indulged me happily. I know from where i am buying my next bike.
Annual servicing cost: £300
Ride quality and comfort superb the Brembos are brilliant
love the power delivery real world for the road not the race track
its a bmw boxer so should be first class
electronic suspension with pro mode is a must
Buying experience: BENHAM BMW GOOD FRIENDLEY SERVICE
Version: SE Sport
Annual servicing cost: £86
After three yearson a sports bike and looking for something a little more comfortable for pillion riding and predominantly commuting into central London, I was overwhelmed by this bike. It's light and nimble in traffic, ok it's a bit wide for filtering sometimes, but still a great commuter bike. On the open roads though, the handling is sublime.
The electronics on the suspension are excellent and the brakes, well they are Brembos!
Soooooo much torque, it will pull in any gear.
Only had it two weeks, just had first service done, the quality is good, but it's a BMW. I certainly don't envisage any reliability issues.
600 mile service done, not too painful.
Being the SE Sport model, it has all the bells and whistles.
Buying experience: Bahnstormer Alton can't fault them, shocked that they were even able to cut a good deal.
Version: Sport SE
Came off a GSA onto this and it it sooooo much more comfortable, brakes at least as good
It's a BMW so you'll pay high for the servicing but then again, you paid high for the bike and you didn't buy it because it was cheap!
This model comes with all the toys so all good
Buying experience: Traded the GSA into a dealer for this, costs some but makes the experience easy and stress free