Test: Jeff Ware, BikeReview.com.au Photography: Luci Luci
After spending a fantastic day on the versatile BMW R 1250 RS Exclusive and a relaxing night talking BMW with the crew, it was my turn to hit the hills on the naked version, the R 1250 R Exclusive.
The R Exclusive comes with the same extras as the RS Exclusive, being the Pure Tank Cover, Touring Package (Dynamic ESA, Keyless Ride, Nav Prep, Cruise, Centre Stand, Pannier Mounts, Luggage Grid), and Dynamic Package (Daytime light, White LED blinkers, Gear Shift Assist Pro, Riding Modes Pro). The up-spec will set you back $4,700 over the base model. It’s a fair chunk of coin but gets you a serious number of goodies… Total price for the R Exclusive is $25,965 + ORC.
I really enjoyed the RS but it was the R that had my eye most of the previous day. From any angle, I just love the look of it. That Boxer twin is shown off, the TFT dash stands proud and there’s nothing but a set of fat alloy tapered ‘bars, forks and a front wheel ahead. To me the styling is much tougher and less conservative than some of the previous models and with the gold highlights of the forks and calipers standing out against the black frame and green (Pollux Metallic Matt) finish the Exclusive looks the goods. Maybe the rack could be dropped unless needed but aside from that it looks horn… Even the big chrome muffler is OK but would soon be replaced with an Akro… The silver bellypan and engine shrouds top off styling for me.
Once on board the R the first thing I notice of course is the ride position, which is not as radically different to the RS as it looked to me. It’s a bit more upright, the tapered ‘bars feel wider and they are slightly pulled back. The fantastic TFT dash is prominent and that’s all there is in view. Nice…
Like the RS version I rode, the R I am on has the 820mm seat option, which is too low for me. I’m average or just above it at 187cm tall and my legs are at close to full flex when I sit on the bike. It’d be great for shorter riders, however, and is an easy seat swap for taller riders. Aside from that, I feel good on the bike and as we hit the road, I’m quickly falling for the R. It just feels more of a hooning bike… but as I discover, it still has good manners for more ‘mature’ riders.
Just by snapping the throttle open on the way out of town and soaking up the meaty exhaust note and that distinct Boxer growl I’m starting smile under the lid… I know fun is on the way when I can’t behave myself in traffic. Already, the shorter wheelbase (-15mm) and increased trail (+16.2mm) give the R a totally different feel to the RS, particularly with the leverage of the ‘bars.
As we get out of town and hit the corners the sharper handling of the R stands out immediately. There’s no escaping 239kg but the way the weight is carried leaves a brilliantly balanced bike that only starts to feel heavy when the rapid direction changes get repetitive or when under extreme braking. Aside from that I only notice the weight when wheeling the bike around to park it at lunch…
With a whopping front footprint there is next level mechanical front grip on the R 1250 R, it’s a BMW specialty, so my confidence is high, meaning I’m having a blast as I flick the bike through the hills. Ground clearance is mega, it’s hard to believe there are two massive ShiftCam heads poking out each side (which incidentally are not heating up my legs like on the RS), the Gear Shift Assist Pro is reliable and accurate but really needs a heavy foot compared to on the RS, the throttle action is silky smooth, ultra-responsive and that stunning engine just revs… and revs… and revs more. It’s easy to feel the ShiftCam operating on constant revs, but when revving through the range I couldn’t feel it at all. BMW have taken the Boxer donk to next level with this thing… And efficient, with BMW claiming a healthy 4.75L/100km average. With 18L that’s a good 400km ride.
Considering the range of roads and conditions, I’m impressed with the suspension. The inverted forks equipped with Dynamic ESA are supportive under all braking conditions, keep the wheel on track cornering, even over sharp bumps, while at the back support is there spring and comp-wise but there is some lack of rebound control at times mainly when on the throttle off turns, when there is a series of sharp bumps. Still, I am super impressed and on the touring sections when I pop it in Road the bike becomes comfy and even plush… The motor is smooth while cruising, with virtually no vibes.
I know how good the braking package is after my RS test, however, the brakes on this R have had enough and the lever is coming back close to the throttle grip. I set it to max span but unfortunately it isn’t on the improve so I can’t brake to full potential on the bike. It isn’t going to spoil the ride though – and I’d say is a result of serious braking punishment by the Aussie press during the launch days!
In terms of ride comfort, the big plus I am finding as we ride the open countryside roads is that I am cooler on the R than I was on the RS, thanks to the lack of fairing and more airflow around the cylinders, plus, surprisingly, there is much less wind noise and buffeting from the front of the bike. The RS screen was just wrong for my height, whereas the R’s TFT dash and the headlight seem to be perfectly directing air over my lid.
Just like I did on the RS, I play around with the 6.5in TFT, which after using it on the S 1000 RR, C 400 X I’m getting familiar with and more and more impressed. I love the connectivity for calls and navigation, not so much music for me, but the functions and displays are appreciated and many riders would be right into that stuff.
This sort of feature level has me thinking as the ride mellows and we return to the BMW dealer. I’ve just had a day going nuts on an extremely capable performance motorcycle that would stand against any performance nakedbike on the market, beating the majority of them in most conditions, that has now morphed into a mellow, sensible urban transporter. A luxury, high-tech, high-end one. That makes me realise just how much bike this is for under thirty grand with the good bits…
Overall, despite the ride being a shorter one than I did on the RS (by a fair bit), I rode the R enough to know that it is a bloody fantastic motorcycle and a truly fun nakedbike. It’d be a great choice for an everyday ride, with weekend scratching ability and even touring thanks to the range of luggage, accessories and generous a 221kg load limit. For me? I prefer it to the RS purely based on the more engaging and exciting ride the open position and altered geometry offers.
2019 BMW R 1250 R Specifications
Price: From $23,600 Ride Away.
Colours: Black Storm Metallic, Light White Lupin Blue Metallic Racing Red, Pollux Metallic Matt, Option 719 Stardust Metallic
Warranty: Three-year, unlimited kilometre
Claimed power: 100kW/136hp@7750rpm
Claimed torque: 143Nm@6250rpm
Kerb weight: 239kg
Fuel capacity: 18L
Engine: Air/liquid-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke boxer, 1254cc, 12.5:1 compression ratio, 102.5 x 76mm bore x stroke, four-valves per cylinder, two overhead spur gear driven camshafts, counterbalance shaft, variable intake camshaft control system BMW ShiftCam
Gearbox: Constant mesh 6-speed gearbox with helical gearing system, shaft final drive
Clutch: Wet clutch with anti-hopping function, hydraulically activated
Chassis: Two-section frame concept consisting of main frame with bolt-on rear frame, load-bearing engine, cast aluminium single-sided swingarm?Steering head angle: 62.3º Castor: 126.6mm
Suspension: BMW 45mm inverted forks, 140mm travel, BMW Motorrad Paralever rear, WAD spring strut, 140mm travel, continuously adjustable spring preload by means of hand wheel, rebound-stage damping adjustable by hand wheel. Option: Dynamic ESA
Brakes: Twin front disc brake, floating brake discs 320mm, four-piston radial brake calipers, single rear disc brake 276mm, two-piston floating caliper, BMW Motorrad Integral ABS as standard, disengageable.
Wheels & Tyres: Die-cast aluminium wheels, 3.50 x 17in front, 5.50 x 17in rear, 120/70 ZR 17, 180/55 ZR 17
Overall length: 2165mm
Seat height: 760 – 840mm (820mm std)
Max height: N/A
Max width: 880mm
Instruments: Full-colour TFT dash.