Spy shots: New BMW R1200RT on the way

Published: 12 March 2018

The BMW R1200RT is the UK’s best-selling tourer, but new spy shots suggest it is getting an update that will bring better tech and a new, more powerful engine to keep it relevant in the face of competition from KTM and Ducati’s big-power continent-crushers.

Same old, same old?

A quick glance and you could be forgiven for thinking it’s the same, as the big fairing does as good a job of keeping out prying eyes as it does at keeping off the rain. The particularly eagle-eyed might notice the additional fairing panel, or changes to the screen mounts, but by far the biggest change is that the bike in the pictures above appears to be using a new engine that we first saw last year.

While nothing is confirmed, we believe the new engine will push the capacity up a little to 1250cc, but more importantly it will have variable valve timing (VTT), for a better spread of power across the rev range, better fuel economy and improved emissions. We expect the new engine to make approximately 150bhp, which would make it the most powerful boxer engine BMW have produced.

Clocking on

The current RT has standard analogue clocks, with a small TFT information screen and a cut-out for a GPS unit above it. However, the new bike has just one large TFT dash. It’s expected to work in a similar fashion to the optional TFT dash on the new R1200GS, with various screens that swap and change to display navigation, multi-media and phone connectivity alongside the usual information such as a speed and revs. We’re expecting it to be standard equipment on the RT.

Given BMW’s prolific use of boxer engines, we imagine the engine (picture below) will also go into a new GS. It’s possible we’ll see that unveiled as early as the Cologne show in October, to go on sale in 2019. We expect a new RT, R, RS and GS Adventure before the Euro 5 deadline in January 2020.

One vision

The old multiple analogue clocks and separate GPS unit are gone in favour of a single large TFT dash with increased connectivity.

Spread your wings

The rest gets a small facelift and tweaks, including a reprofiled screen with smaller mounts and new fairing below the exhausts.

Don't stop me now

The whole R family will get a new boxer engine with an increased capacity of 1250cc along with a broader spread of power, thanks to VTT.

What is variable valve timing?

Variable valve timing is the process of actively altering the time at which the valves open and close. Due to the high-revving nature of most motorcycle engines, it’s impossible to create a single cam profile that delivers decent torque and top-end power, while meeting emissions regs.

VVT lets firms advance or retard the opening of the valves to tune the engine more accurately across the rev range. Early systems operated one timing below a particular engine speed and another above (as on the early VFR800 VTEC) but modern systems continually adjust valve timing through the entire rev range.

BMW’s cars have taken this further to incorporate variable lift in a system called Valvetronic. This enables near infinite valve adjustment and negates the need for a throttle body to control engine speed.