BMW R1250RT (2019 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Huge dash makes others look like a postage stamp
  • Linked brakes improve stopping distance and stability
  • Wide spread of growling power from ShiftCam engine
MCN AWARDS
Best Tourer 2020
WINNER

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Annual servicing cost: £200
Power: 134 bhp
Seat height: Medium (32.5 in / 825 mm)
Weight: High (615 lbs / 279 kg)

Prices

New £15,820
Used £13,000 - £15,400

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
5 out of 5 (5/5)

This BMW R1250RT replaces the R1200RT. It was always going to be tricky to improve on such a successful machine, but BMW have managed it, thanks to its tasty new motor. Now there's more of everything: lolloping lowdown power, a chunkier midrange and the kind of savage top end kick that leaves you asking whether this really is a humble boxer twin.

The motor's extra sparkle and the firmer electronically suspended ride gives a sportier overall feel, but still manages to be ultra refined, comfortable, roomy, convenient and characterful. It's this enviable mix of peppiness-meets-luxury that's going to make the mighty RT harder to beat than ever.

2021 BMW R1250RT

2021 BMW R1250RT on the road

For 2021 the R1250RT gets a new face, more luxury, safety and convenience. A new 10.25in colour dash gives the BMW a more sophisticated feel and linked brakes improve stopping power and stability.

New optional equipment adaptive cornering LEDs spray night-time roads with brilliant white light and its active cruise control works well when you’re happy to cruise in lines of traffic, but you’ll need to help it along with the throttle when its radar lingers on slower vehicles. The automatic braking function works well, too, but isn’t as smooth as you’d be.

Elsewhere the 2021 R1250RT is the same sporty tourer we’ve come to know and love. It’s still supremely comfortable, full of luxury, tech and its ShiftCam engine still has the uncanny ability to be calm when you need it to be and riot of growling thrust when you want to get a move on.

The RT is as happy to waft along motorways as it is to dance in the corners, but you’re always aware of its sheer bulk in town, filtering and shorter riders will always be aware of its size coming to a stop.

There are more luxurious machines out there, but none have the BMW’s sense of fun on backroads. Sportier and more adventure-focussed tourers will do big miles with an even bigger spring in their step, too, but they just don’t put their arms around you and cosset you to your destination like the RT does.

The BMW doesn’t have any direct rivals, but even if it did, it would still be in a class of its own.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
5 out of 5 (5/5)

Changes may only be restricted to its engine and a few details, but that's fine by us because BMW's new tourer does what RTs do best: just about everything, especially if you’ve spec'd it to the moon, which you’re advised to do.

Easy controls, perfect fuelling and fingertip-light steering make it a joy to ride through town. Cruise control, an electric screen, superb wind protection and a lack of engine vibes let you waft, untroubled for hundreds of miles and you won't ever get cold thanks to five stage heated grips and seat, which you could cook your dinner on.

And when you want to blast along your favourite stretches the RT will do that in style, wet or dry, thanks to its fantastic brakes, grippy Metzeler Z8 Roadtec tyres, stable chassis and grunt from the best boxer engine ever made.

A wide ride

It’s wide enough to make you think twice about breath-in filtering, so spacious you’ll forever have a happy pillion and full of fuel weighs a hefty 279kg, but the R1250RT somehow has the steering, agility and short wheelbase-feel of a sportsbike. It’s always been this way, which is why the RT is exemplary on the mountain roads of Europe as it is trudging along the motorways to get there.

Optional electronic suspension with constantly adjusting damping and rear ‘self-levelling’ preload, is sharper and more accurate than ever in its Dynamic riding mode. It still delivers a smooth ride, especially in Rain and Road modes (although not as well damped), but the ride quality isn’t the last word in shag pile plushness, like a multi-cylinder tourer, American cruiser or BM’s own K1600

A 'hill start' system comes as standard, which is far handier than you'd imagine, especially on a big bike riding through stop/start towns and cities. Holding the brake on sloped junctions is hardly taxing, but with hill start doing it for you (clamping the rear brake until you pull away) it’s just one small extra thing that makes the RT nicer to live with. 

An optional up/down quickshifter

It works by pulling firmly on the front brake lever, or if you’ve ticked the options box it’s gyro controlled and does it automatically on a five degree or steeper slope. Optional up/down quickshifter (also available on the previous RT) works well with the engine under high load, but with gear ratios widely spaced it’s stiffer at low speed and kinder on the box if you use the clutch.

2021 BMW R1250RT

2021 BMW R1250RT right side

The 2021 R1250RT rides exactly the same way as before, but the main change to what you’ll feel behind the bars is its new dual braking system. Both brakes operate regardless of whether you pull the front lever or stomp on the rear and that flattens the BMW under hard braking - pushing both wheels into the tarmac for maximum grip and stopping power.

Its standard electronically controlled screen is refined to shield the rider from unwanted windblast and works beautifully, but it’s a little too short for taller riders, who may need to go for the higher, wider accessory screen 

If you go for the active cruise control option, it adds an extra dynamic compared to a regular system. As you approach a vehicle the RT slows down to match its pace and accelerates back up to your previous speed when it moves clear.

It also brakes for you when it needs to shed a lot of speed or going downhill, although it does it with little finesse. The radar often catches slower traffic when you don’t want it to, so you have to keep helping the cruise control along with the throttle to maintain momentum.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
5 out of 5 (5/5)

Remember the old days when BMW flat twin engines were quirky, but bulletproof lumps, designed for pushing along policemen, beards, pipes and slippers? Things couldn't be more different now with the RT’s evolving into graceful sophistication. 

Sure, the Boxer lump still isn't as refined as a conventionally laid-out three, four or six-cylinder motor and there's a fair bit of vibration on a closed throttle above 4000rpm, but it growls and bellows like a race bike one minute and whispers along the next, depending on your mood.

A wide, beefy spread of power lets you pull cleanly from as little as 2000rpm in top (35-40mph), cruise on the motorway at 3500rpm and give sportsbikes the hurry-up when you keep the revs on the boil.

A capacity increase

Like the 2019 R1250GS, GS Adventure and R the R1250RT gets an 84cc capacity hike and variable valve timing 'Shift Cam' system. There's 14ftlb more torque, 250rpm lower down in the revs and power is up from 123bhp to 134bhp. Each cylinder’s inlet cam features partial and high lift cam lobes and slides across the top of the engine (in just five milliseconds and undetectable from the rider) delivering mild or hairy cam timing, depending on your throttle input. 

Inlet valves are staggered when they're open, creating swirl in the combustion chamber for a better burn. BMW claims improved fuel economy - we managed 47mpg (191 miles before the reserve light) and a theoretical range of 258 miles from the 25-litre tank.

Performance is left unchanged for the 2021 model and on MCN’s dyno it makes healthy 126.24bhp and 101.21 lb-ft of torque at the back wheel. In its new (and optional) fuel saving 'Eco' riding mode the power curve is smoother, but runs out of puff sooner, peaking at 92.09bhp and 74.99lb-ft.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Powering BMWs since the dawn of time the German’s firm’s Boxer engine is well developed and largely dependable. The ShiftCam 1250 has been around since 2019 in the R1250RT, RS and GS and despite its variable valve system having the delicate complexity of a Swiss watch it’s proved to be reliable, according to our owners’ reviews below, as have its raft of electronic systems and rider aids.

From the way the new mirrors glide seamlessly in their housings when you adjust them, to the reassuring click of its chunky switchgear controls the RT is always ready to remind you it’s premium piece of kit.

For 2021 it has four 'favourites' buttons on the fairing to short cut you to the menu features of your choice on the dash and adaptive headlights have 'welcome' and 'follow me home' functions.

Castings, plastics and fasteners are quality, in a Teutonic Tonka Toy kind of way and infill panels around the engine bay keep everything looking neat. The dash has a satin, anti-glare finish that water-stains easily, but glass cleaner brings it up like new.

2021 BMW R1250RT fast access menu buttons

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The R1250RT is a lot of touring bike for the money, but it doesn’t have any direct rivals other than more cruiser-style tourers or adventures.

There’s the RT’s big sister: the K1600GT. It’s hard not to be impressed with a 1.6 litre tourer that sounds like an BMW M3 at full chat and glides like a bullet train on the motorway.

But it’s a behemoth of a thing that weighs the same as a small country, has a surprisingly agricultural gearbox and has more a cruiser-like feel to it than the far nimbler RT. It’s not cheap, even in base trim.

You could also go for the BMW R1250GS, which also trample miles without breaking a sweat, but it has an extra string to its bow: it’s an extremely capable off-roader, too. It’s lighter, more agile and sportier with decent weather protection, but it isn’t as calm and comfortable as the RT on motorways or have so much standard luggage capacity and storage space.

If you want something more elegant the Ducati Multistrada V4 combines comfort with searing on-road performance and muddy-tyred fun. It’s far sportier than the RT and similarly packed with tech and rider aids, including active cruise control. but you’ll have to do without an electrically adjustable screen, or as much wind-cheating bodywork to hide behind.

2021 BMW R1250RT left side

Equipment

5 out of 5 (5/5)

The RT is all about pampering its rider with space, a natural riding position, sumptuously padded seat and goodies galore. The base model has panniers, cruise control, heated grips, electrically adjustable screen, 'Rain' and 'Road' modes, traction control, cornering ABS and linked brakes.

The all-singing LT version and showers you with goodies like 'Eco' and 'Dynamic' riding modes, semi-active suspension damping, self-levelling rear shock and an up/down shifter, keyless ignition and fuel cap, central locking and heated seat.

New for 2021 is a 10.25in colour TFT display is standard and replaces the previous analogue dial/small TFT layout. Tastefully huge and easy to read without being garish or distracting, it makes every other dash look puny at a stroke.

2021 BMW R1250RT dash

It has a split screen function so you can view your main display with revs, speed and gear position on the left and choose any number of menu functions, including its in-built sat nav on the right. Four buttons, fitted to the left side of the fairing, short cut you to your favourite menu functions.

There’s a catalogue as long as your arm with more touring, cosmetic and performance accessories, including luggage, billet ali parts, active cruise control and an air-cooled cubby hole with an integrated wireless charger.

The BMW R1250RT is packed full of tech

Specs

Engine size 1254cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 8v, flat twin
Frame type Tubular steel
Fuel capacity 20 litres
Seat height 825mm
Bike weight 279kg
Front suspension Telelever with non-adjustable single spring
Rear suspension Paralever with single spring adjustable for preload and rebound damping (Dynamic ESA optional)
Front brake 2 x 320mm front discs with four-piston Hayes radial calipers. ABS
Rear brake 276mm rear disc with twin piston caliper. ABS
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 180/55 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption -
Annual road tax £96
Annual service cost £200
New price £15,820
Used price £13,000 - £15,400
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Three years

Top speed & performance

Max power 134 bhp
Max torque 106 ft-lb
Top speed 140 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 259 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 2005:R1200RT introduced – replaces the R1150RT. 15% more power, 20kg lighter
  • 2010: Update: HP2 Sport-derived new twin cam engine, fairing and clocks.
  • 2014: RT gets partially water-cooled motor, smoother throttle, fairing and ergonomic tweaks. Traction control, two riding mods, electric screen and ABS are standard.
  • 2019: R1200RT replaced by R1250RT with more powerful new ShiftCam engine, a change from Brembo to BMW branded Hayes calipers, hill hold control and self-levelling rear shock (with electronic suspension versions). Available in base, SE and LE spec.
  • 2021: R1250RT gets restyled nose fairing and screen, a 10.15in colour TFT dash with split screen function, cornering ABS with dual braking and options including adaptive headlights, active cruise control and wireless phone charger. Available in base and LE spec.

Other versions

There are none to date.

Owners' reviews for the BMW R1250RT (2019 - on)

3 owners have reviewed their BMW R1250RT (2019 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your BMW R1250RT (2019 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Engine: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Equipment: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £200
5 out of 5
06 March 2021 by Tilly

Year: 2019

Yes.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5
28 November 2020 by jimmyrottencauliflower

Year: 2019

Very agile very comfortable touring bike.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5

Heated grips, ESA, and Riding Mode Pro are very good................. Shift assist is pain because sometimes its smooth but sometimes not.

Buying experience: Very good

5 out of 5 40 years searching,Have I found the one ?
04 September 2020 by Mark from York.

Version: Le

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £200

The one ?

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Long time

Engine 5 out of 5

Exceptional

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

None

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Tyres extra

Equipment 5 out of 5

Capacious top box ,excellent panniers.

Buying experience: Bought from Allan Jefferies,Baildon/ Shipley. Pleasant,amusing experience,Steve was very helpful,yet professional,I am quite driven in my requirements,and they were met.

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