Long term update: This is the modern world

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It feels like I’ve discovered a brave new world. Like I’ve been boiling water in a pan for the last 20 years and I’ve just bought a kettle. It just makes life easier and, mostly, better.

This is the first bike I’ve ever had with rider modes, heated grips, satnav and so on. For years I’ve convinced myself that a lot of the things the R1200RS offers are simply solutions to problems that don’t exist. That to confess to wanting or even enjoying panniers, adjustable screens and the like is tantamount to admitting frailty – maybe even early signs of senility.

Since taking delivery of the big Beemer, I’ve realised that all of this is nonsense. Riding a motorcycle, especially riding one a long way in a short time, is not always easy. Weather conditions, heavy traffic and physical exertion all take their toll. The R1200RS simply accepts that and does everything in its power to take away as much of the pain as possible.

After early misgivings about the panniers, I’ve found they can take a surprisingly large amount of clothes. Hard, regular objects are a struggle, but chuck a load of clothes and clobber into a plastic bag and they’ll hold enough for a week (for me, at least).

The satnav is another item that’s winning me over. I like to know where I’m going and appreciate my surroundings and have always been happy to study a map and tape a few instructions to my tank. I rarely use satnav in a car, but the BMW Navigator V is a brilliant piece of kit. My SE version of the RS comes with the mounting in place but the Navigator V costs an extra £610. A lot of money, but if you’re regularly doing big miles in regions you’re unfamiliar with, it’s a great piece of kit.

Easy to use and well placed for quick glances down, it’s a class act. But I’m not keen on the ‘wonderwheel’ that lives at the clock-end of the left handlebar grip and controls the satnav and clocks. I find myself constantly knocking it, sending the satnav into a different mode. It’s easily rectified with a couple of dobs on the glove-friendly screen but it’s annoying nonetheless. I’ve also completed a couple of long-range rides and have found the screen better in the highest position for motorway stints.

I’ve managed to get a smidge under 50mpg (49.72mpg to be precise) and am confident it could cover 200 miles between fill-ups. I’ve not had the nerve to push it that far yet, but I’ve done 180 miles, had 19 miles showing on the ‘range’ display and only squeezed 16 litres into the tank (which holds 18 litres). So it’s possible.

My wrists felt a bit achy after three hours in the saddle, and after 300 miles in 48 hours my backside was telling me the seat was a bit hard. I’ve got the tallest seat option (820mm) and maybe that’s why there’s a bit of weight on my wrists, but at 6ft 1in I’m not keen to use anything lower. It’s not that bad, I’ll just have to man up!

BMW tourers used to have a bit of a reputation for being a little agricultural, but that’s not been the case for quite a while now and the R1200RS really does put the sport into sports tourer. It’s refined and eminently capable, but also torquey and quite nimble. It’s as much of a joy to swing around country lanes as it is to gobble big miles.

When faced with a wet 150-mile ride, the R1200RS is the bike you’d choose... Just pull the screen into its tallest setting, turn on the heated grips and hit the ‘home’ button on the satnav.

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Andy Calton

By Andy Calton

Content director, motorcycling, and Suzuki Katana rider