The initials ‘RT’ have always been synonymous with supremely comfortable, highly dynamic touring motorcycles, but with the latest model, BMW Motorrad has raised the bar yet again. There are just days to go until the new R 1200 RT arrives in dealerships, so we asked Raimund Brandl, BMW Motorrad’s project manager for the new top-of-the-range touring boxer, to explain how the best just got even better…
The definitive RT touring boxer has a pedigree that stretches back several decades to the R 100 RT of 1978. This fully-faired and well equipped long-distance touring machine had an extra-high windshield and wide handlebars, and was a modified version of the iconic R 100 RS of 1976 – the world’s first production machine fitted as standard with all-round wind and weather fairing. Ever since then the model range has evolved, becoming more aerodynamic, powerful and technologically advanced with each new version.
The 2014 BMW R 1200 RT has an air/liquid-cooled twin-cylinder boxer engine that outputs an impressive 125 hp, compared to the respectable (for the time) 70 hp of the original RT. A look at the specification shows a combination of high-tech innovation and years of development that make the latest incarnation such an attractive proposition to those seeking out distant horizons on two wheels.
There’s a new chassis with a continuous frame that is even more agile and more comfortable than its predecessor. The new bodywork makes the latest RT look and feel more dynamic, even though comfort and aerodynamics have been improved. A new, adjustable screen offers even better wind and weather protection, while a choice of two riding modes (Rain and Road) plus Automatic Stability Control add to the versatility and safety of this long-distance boxer.
A whole host of innovative options can also be specified, such as Hill Start Control, Gear Shift Assistant Pro, Riding mode Pro, Semi-active Dynamic Electronic Suspension Adjustment, LED daytime running light, and much more. Add to that a multifunctional instrument cluster with large TFT colour display, onboard computer, innovative audio controls and a choice of new colours, and it’s clear to see that this is a giant leap forwards in technologically advanced touring.
An Interview with Raimund Brandl, BMW R 1200 RT project manager
How many years has this new RT been in development?
It’s been approximately four-and-a-half years since we first started talking and planning this new bike. In fact, as soon as the ‘old’ RT was launched, we started work on the ‘new’ one!
Are you pleased with the finished motorcycle?
Yes, very. The public have had a very nice reaction to it also. It’s a fine motorcycle; it looks very dynamic and light. I like its new ‘face’ and I can tell you that when you ride this bike, you will see just how dynamic it is!
How do you think existing RT owners will see the new RT?
I think they will see it as an evolution of what they had or currently have, and then will find many improvements to a bike which was already very good in the first place – and many new features too.
What is the most important development on the new machine?
There is no special one area that has been concentrated on. It’s the whole package we wanted to improve and the addition of all these special features improves the bike as a whole.
How do you think existing owners will judge the new model?
Just by looking at it, you can see that the optic curve of the bike is different. When you are sitting on the bike it feels smaller, due to the different ‘inner leg curve’ of the seat, which makes it feel lower. When you start the engine and move off, the first thing you notice is how easy it is to ride. You feel this as soon as you are moving. The handling is easier and the performance is of course rather special.
What about ergonomics and weather protection? How do you improve on these areas on one of the best bikes in the business?
For sure, it is difficult work to improve on such a great touring machine. It was not easy but we have succeeded in achieving an even better weather protection, as well as protection from windblast. We’ve also improved the acoustics, so that the engine noise is reduced and it is quieter to ride. Lots of work and many hours have been spent in the wind tunnel and out on the street to test this bike, with rider, rider plus passenger, and of course with full luggage.
That all sounds great, but is it good enough to persuade touring fans from four- or even six-cylinder machines to swap?
I guess this depends on whether these riders specifically want something like a six-cylinder motorcycle for its engine characteristics, but if this is not so important and long-distance ability and great agility is desired, then why not?