There's no shortage of cross-country touring motorcycles on today's market. If riding from coast to coast while listening to the stereo is your thing, you can choose from the likes of the Honda Goldwing, Harley-Davidson ElectraGlide, BMW K1200LT and so on.
But if you want to do it quick-time -- riding as far and as fast as you can all day --with at least a modicum of weather protection and creature comforts, there's really only a handful of bikes out there. These are the so-called sport tourers and include the Honda ST1300, Yamaha FJR1300 and now the BMW R1200RT, which was recently introduced to the Canadian market and costs $23,250.
The R1200RT, or Touring Boxer, replaces the R1150RT. In a nutshell, it's lighter and faster, with suspension and drive train refinements and more kit. In fact, you could argue that BMW's top-end Boxer is now as much a luxo-tourer as it is a sport tourer.
My test bike came with stereo/CD player, heated handlebar grips (with two settings), heated seats (also with two settings), locking hard bags and electrically adjustable windscreen. In terms of pampering rider and passenger and providing as comfortable a ride as possible, the R1200RT doesn't miss much.



But the essential riding experience is unchanged. If anything, the newest Beemer Boxer offers more in the way of riding kicks. With an additional 15 horsepower on tap and a dry weight (229 kg) that is about 26 kg less than its predecessor, the R1200RT is an extremely lively motorcycle with all kinds of usable power.
Its 1170-cc horizontally opposed twin redlines at 8,000 rpm and develops 110 horsepower at 7,500 rpm.
It's been a while since I've ridden the R1150RT, but this new model feels somehow more sporty than its predecessor. It still has that trademark Boxer sideways lurch when the throttle is blipped, but that just gives it character, in my opinion. Transmission is a slick six-speed and final drive is, of course, shaft.
Keeping all of this power in check is a formidable braking system that features ABS, twin front discs and a single rear disc. The front brakes on the new R1200RT are massive, featuring four-piston calipers and a 320-mm diameter rotor.
This is also a "semi-integrated" system; the front brake lever activates both front and rear brakes, while the foot lever just handles the rear brakes. Overall brake feel is a step up from the R1150RT.
All the better to pitch it into tight turns. Despite its heft, the R1200RT has a nice light feel to it and is easily manhandled.
Obviously, it'll eat up freeway miles effortlessly, but if you're feeling adventurous and want to lean it over and play boy (or girl) racer, no problem. Run it up into the turn, scrub off some speed, find your line, and Bob's your uncle.
Yes, there are sport bikes that can surpass the R1200RT's cornering abilities, but for the market it's aimed at and for 99.9 per cent of us, it has more than enough handling and braking prowess.
It's also manageable at low speeds; no tippiness or instability, which may explain why the RT series has always been so popular with law enforcement agencies around the world.
Having said that, I must still gripe about the transitional power thing. Although the new R1200RT has a completely new engine management system, the combination of shaft drive and computer-controlled power delivery tends to make for an abrupt throttle feel.
Crack the twist-grip and power snaps on instantly -- almost too fast, it seems, for the drive train to catch up. Ditto during deceleration. The R1200RT is better than the 1150 in this regard and isn't alone in the industry with this issue, but it's still annoying and detracts from an otherwise sweet-running motorcycle.
But not enough to prevent me from laying down the long green, were I in the market for a bike. Other than the power delivery issue and its seat height (which I'll get to in a minute), I liked everything about this motorcycle.
It goes like Jack the Bear, brakes like a sport bike, corners like it's on rails, offers a very high level of comfort and could probably be ridden year-round.
As it happened, it was raining when I picked up my test bike, yet after a 50-km ride home in a fairly serious downpour, I was virtually bone-dry and, most importantly, warm. Love those heated grips and seat.
I also grew to really appreciate the power windscreen feature; just press a button on the left handlebar and up or down it goes. Outstanding.
About that seat height. BMW has taken steps to accommodate shorter riders and my test bike had the lowered seat option. But even at its lowest setting - 780 mm - I still found the R1200RT to be a tippy-toe proposition at stoplights. What I wouldn't give for another 150 mm -- in height.
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