The brakes are not changed, and worth highlighting for that very reason. While the R1250GS and R1250RT switched to front brake calipers made by Hayes, the R1250RS and naked R stick with Brembos. The Hayes calipers have no shortage of stopping power, but for most riders the Italian brand is a far more familiar, established and proven name.
The bike handles well and although a little on the heavy side, can be swung through corners without too much drama. Tack action would be a stretch and only for the brave.
The RS inherits BMW’s new-for-2019 1254cc flat twin. With a bigger bore and a longer stroke than the old 1200, there’s way more power and torque at all revs. Performance is identical to the latest GS and RT, with 134bhp and a thundering 105ftlb of torque (more grunt than KTM’s Super Duke GT or Kawasaki’s supercharged H2 SX).
Like its siblings the motor has ShiftCam, which seamlessly shuffles its inlet cams to swap between two sets of lobes; one for low-rev efficiency; the other full performance. The end result is an absolute joy of a road engine, with mountains of midrange, a plentifully powerful top-end and faultless low-rev manners.
The R1250RS oozes quality parts and there are little reported issues with its predecessor, the R1200RS. You get the finish you’d expect from a high-end BMW.
While the base bike costs an almost reasonable £12,100 if you get a bit lively with extra options you can soon find yourself piling on an extra grand or two. The bike tested here costs £15,640. It’s an Exclusive (£13,960) which gives it metallic blue paint, keyless ignition, semi-active suspension, GPS mount, cruise control and centrestand.
And it is also adorned with the Comfort pack (£465: chrome exhaust, heated grips, tyre pressure monitors) and Dynamic pack (£910: daytime running lights, two-way quickshifter, smarter aids, LED indicators). BMW’s SOS button is a further £305, bringing this test bike to a fairly hefty £15,640.
Traditional sports-tourers are now few and far between as adventure bikes seem to appeal more to riders wanting to cover big distance in comfort. But for thos wanting something a bit more sporty looking or to take on a track the Kawasaki Z1000SX is hugely popular.
It's more sporty than the RS, but costs just £10k and appeals to those wanting their sports-tourer more on the sporty side.
Insurance group: 12 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.
The RS can now come with BMW’s latest Dynamic ESA (that’s semi-active suspension in plain English). The big difference from the R1200RS is that the latest system automatically sets rear preload.
Where you previously had to tell the bike whether you were riding solo, two-up or carrying luggage, the 1250 can calculate the load it’s carrying and automatically compensate to maintain the bike’s attitude.
Damping can be set to Road (softer) or Dynamic (firmer), with a noticeable difference between the two. Dynamic ESA is a £775 extra, part of the Premium pack or included as standard on the Exclusive model.