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FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MY THIRD NEW R1200R, RELUCTANTLY LEAVING MY R1200GS

Nudging 74, I have found that the GS, excellent in so many ways, is becoming a real handful for me due to its height and somewhat top-heavy weight, especially when loaded up for travel. My last long trip of over 4200km just before Christmas really told the tale, and when I’d recovered I made up my mind to move onto something more sympathetic to my ageing joints and bones!

I was very interested in BMW’s new F800GT and after a long wait for the bike’s release had a test-ride, but to be frank found the performance to be little underwhelming, although I liked the look of the bike and many aspects about it, including the belt-drive. But I’ve always been fond of naked bikes, so after considering many alternatives the newer R1200R beckoned, this time with the newer dohc engine. This will be my third new R1200R, after two R1150Rs and my first big bike, a 1998 R1100R. In between, a cuppla GSs and other bikes…

Well, unexpectedly, the dealer phoned to say that the funds I’d transferred had been cleared and the bike was available to collect at any time! I’d arranged insurance to commence on Monday, so it was a mad scramble to get that changed to midnight on Thursday, but it only took a phone call…

So, off to the dealer one recent morning, after an anxious look at threatening skies, although there was a patch of blue, whatever that may have been! The ride home was through heavy city traffic initially, but I know the route well enough so there was no problem finding my way while coping with a new bike – which in truth isn’t really a new bike as it’s identical in almost all respects to the GS as far as the actual riding of the thing is concerned.

Some squally showers and very high winds prevented me from going home via a longer route, and I was soon home, having dodged the worst of it. Despite being brand-new, everything worked easily and smoothly and there was no fuss, although at the initial service the gear-change lever will require minor adjustment. Rear brake pedal – perfect!

It was very easy getting on initially, and bliss to be able to get my feet firmly down at lights and in other stop/ go situations as I made my way out of the city. My wife had driven me to the dealer, and drove behind me on the way home, telling me later that despite the fierce winds the bike looked stable and she was also pleased to see both my feet flat on the ground at lights. And once home I put the bike onto its main stand (very easy to do) and was again very pleased that I can easily get on and off without high-kicks!

In the showroom I liked the contrasting paintwork detail of some elements of the bike, replacing the now too-familiar flat silver paint. I thought initially that the colour was a sort-of ‘gunmetal’, which I later mentally changed to ‘bronze’, but it’s still very hard to describe – now it looks more like a mid- to dark-ish grey in some lights. Forget bronze! The rear Paralever single-sided swing-arm and front Telelever unit are in an unusual but tasty ‘sandblasted’ finish, while the cylinder heads are semi-gloss grey paint, and the wheels gloss.

One thing I hadn’t picked up earlier that’s changed from the GS and other earlier Rs is that BMW have blacked-out the engine (except for the cylinder head covers): the crankcase and lower (inner) parts of the cylinders are now black, previously silver. That will make it easier to keep it looking clean! Anyway, whatever the real colour of the items mentioned, it’s very subtle and quite pleasing, and the different surface textures make for some nice contrasts.

Looking at the bike – which despite its family connection to the GS doesn’t appear anything like as intimidating as that undeniably b-i-g bike does - I feel very pleased with myself: for only a few hundred dollars more than I’d have paid for the GT I think I have a superior road bike and certainly one with more rewarding on-road performance. It is – as they say – quite a lot of bike for the buck! Certainly, not everybody’s cup of tea as far as looks and styling may be concerned, but I’ve always much preferred naked bikes to faired ones, and this R1200R certainly is naked!

The BMW F800GT most definitely is a very attractive bike with some nice features, but after riding the R again I’m convinced that in time I’d have become dissatisfied with the relatively lack-lustre performance of the GT – but I’m sure it will find its niche and will satisfy very many people. I must say that when I went to the dealer first to complete the paperwork there was a Graphite GT on the floor, and for one brief moment I wondered if I should have bought that instead…!

One thing that’s already very pleasing is that I also – unexpectedly – again have a dash of that important (I think) ‘pride of ownership’ as the bike sits in the garage. I think in large part that’s due to the fact that despite it essentially being almost identical visually to earlier models I’ve had, it’s also different, if you know what I mean – in the sharper engine and more assertive exhaust note, smoother gearbox, slightly different details such as the revised dash and seat, and the new paint scheme. I am very pleased about this!

This early, a cuppla points, however, do annoy! On the GS the tyre-valve stems are mounted on each wheel in the traditional centre of the wheel rim, pointing radially inwards (towards the centre of the wheel). They are very rigid, I assume because in some way the tyre-pressure monitoring device fitted inside the tyre requires that, whereas most stems are rubber-mounted and can be moved sideways a little. This GS feature makes it very difficult, in fact impossible, to re-inflate the tyres with the conventional air-hose as found in most servos. The rider has to carry some other device, such as a right-angled adaptor, to allow the tyre to be inflated – this takes time, is fiddly, and loses air in the process so it’s necessary to over-inflate and re-check, etc. I was once aggressively harangued by a car driver who thought I was fiddling too long at the air-hose that he wanted to use!

I was pleased to note that on the GT they have resolved this by putting the tyre stems on a wheel spoke, pointing outwards – instant accessibility and all’s well. One would have thought and hoped that this would have been the same on the 2013 1200R, but no! – the front wheel has this useful feature, while on the other wheel it’s as on the GS – i.e. almost inaccessible! Only a small point, but frustrating – and of course nothing to be done about it! Aarrgggghhh!

While in the BMW dealership I also looked at, then bought, my solution for luggage, in the form of the small (they make two sizes) ‘Soft Bag’. It sits very neatly indeed on the rear rack and partially on the very back of the pillion seat, and importantly for me it doesn’t get in the way of my foot when I swing the leg over to mount the bike. It attaches by sliding the base of the bag onto the rack, as the bag has a sort-of wide strap fixed underneath: then two snap-buckle-ended straps are fastened elsewhere, locating the bag fore-and-aft and down. Installing the bag, and removing it, is a moment’s work.

The bag has a capacity of about 34L (by my quick measurement) and is as beautifully made as one would expect from BMW. It expands a little vertically via a zip-out extra section of the material, and can take a full-face helmet, and has lots of other little pockets. Since I travel very light that will do me for at least three weeks on the road! I won’t mount the bag permanently, but for day-to-day rides will use a small hard case that’s more than sufficient for a day out.

So, as you may imagine I’m now looking forward to getting reacquainted with the 1200R.

I hope to take a long trip down to Victoria just before or after Easter, a 4200km round-trip over about ten days or so, then mid-year to head north into the tropics for a winter ride to Cooktown – where on this eastern side of Australia the tarmac runs out, another 4000km+ round trip. You are – as they say – a long time dead!

Lawrence of Suburbia – Brisbane, eastern Australia

 

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Nice report Sir Lawrence. The Roadsters are such awesome bikes. I've only had mine for a little over a month and it makes me happy everytime I'm on it. I did some canyons yesterday that had lots of twisties and straightaways, I really heated the tires and rode pretty hard for about 2 hours with very little fatigue. The R performed beautifully.
Congrats on your 3rd R.
 

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Congrats on your purchase and welcome. I enjoyed reading your write up. Like you in late 2011 I had anticipated purchasing a F800ST (GT now). I went to test ride it and decided to ride the R1200R as well and after five minutes on the R1200 I new it was the bike for me. I ordred mine and took delivery in March of 2012. Last year in 9 months of riding season I covered just a few miles shy of 10,000, including a 6 day 2400 mile trip up to Toronto Canada and around central Ontario. The bike performed flawlessly and even on a 8 hour non stop stretch, just short refueling stops it was comfortable and was fun to ride.

I purchased the BMW hard cases with mine and they were fantastic on the trip. I also use them for my commute to work a few times per week.

Enjoy your new wheels and safe riding.
 

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Really enjoyed your story. On my first R1200R - rode an F800ST prior to this, and the new found power is definitely exhilerating.
 

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Nice story LofS agreed. Looking forward to the next installment. . . . It's 42 degrees in Chicago, warm enough to disconnect my 12 Classic from the battery tender - started the first time - and it was amusing watching the WD40 smoke off the exhaust pipes for a minute or two. Dodged some ice blocks in my driveway, and did an hour of errands. Feels like I just rode it yesterday instead of almost 3 months ago.
 

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Nice story LofS agreed. Looking forward to the next installment. . . . It's 42 degrees in Chicago, warm enough to disconnect my 12 Classic from the battery tender - started the first time - and it was amusing watching the WD40 smoke off the exhaust pipes for a minute or two. Dodged some ice blocks in my driveway, and did an hour of errands. Feels like I just rode it yesterday instead of almost 3 months ago.
Feel kind of the same, I don't have mine on a battery tender since the garage where I keep it is temperature controlled.

We had a really nice day today in Brooklyn sunny and around 50, took the bike on a 30 mile BQE ride, first thing was to stop by the flat fix place 3 blocks away and put air on the tires, missing 10 PSIs on the front and 7 on the back, then fresh gas, the I was happy, felt that it was just yesterday when IO rode it last time.

I was a little worried about the battery but started like any other time.
 

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Thanks for sharing L of S :)

Wish I could ride my bike finally. Was going to take it for a trip this Friday.. Had everything ready.. Just needed to get my bike from the climate controlled storage unit and dodge the few ice strips left on the road.. But I managed to fall and hurt my wrist pretty badly.. I still wanted to do the trip.. But when I couldn't even hold my coffee cup in my right hand I realized I might not be able to twist the throttle. Well... I had an x ray, nothing broken.. Just a bad enough sprain that I am not going to be able to ride for another week!! :mad::censored:
 

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I had an x ray, nothing broken.. Just a bad enough sprain that I am not going to be able to ride for another week!! :mad::censored:
Feel better, Dr. A! Or just splint your wrist and duct tape it to the throttle. . . .:dizzy:
 

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Feel better, Dr. A! Or just splint your wrist and duct tape it to the throttle. . . .:dizzy:
I do have a splint/brace on my wrist currently... hmm.. maybe that could be my type of cruise control.. just tape my wrist to the throttle.. and make sure I don't have to ever slow down or stop... until I run out of gas.. great plan... will see where the bike takes me
 

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Bad luck atractaspis. At least nothing broken and gives you a bit more time to get the maps out and do some route planning.
 

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Thanks for sharing L of S :)

Wish I could ride my bike finally. Was going to take it for a trip this Friday.. Had everything ready.. Just needed to get my bike from the climate controlled storage unit and dodge the few ice strips left on the road.. But I managed to fall and hurt my wrist pretty badly.. I still wanted to do the trip.. But when I couldn't even hold my coffee cup in my right hand I realized I might not be able to twist the throttle. Well... I had an x ray, nothing broken.. Just a bad enough sprain that I am not going to be able to ride for another week!! :mad::censored:
WHAT????:eek::eek::eek:

Good thing nothing broke, bad you had to cancel your visit to Yonderbob.

What happened, did ice get on your way? Bike condition?

Hope you feel better soon to enjoy your new toy over the spring/summer
 

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WHAT????:eek::eek::eek:

Good thing nothing broke, bad you had to cancel your visit to Yonderbob.

What happened, did ice get on your way? Bike condition?

Hope you feel better soon to enjoy your new toy over the spring/summer
Dave: I am doing exactly that.. planning my first trip with this bike! So maybe I can report on MY first impressions of riding it somewhere :)

Hoshiko: well.. it's actually quite embarrassing to admit what happend.. :cursing:
oh well, here it goes... I dropped the bike while trying to get it off the center stand, while still INSIDE my storage unit.. I refused to accept that I am a little too short for the bike and thought I could just get it off the center stand like any other bike I had done that with before (shorter bikes). I realized that I need to learn to handle this bike differently than previous bikes in terms of me being a little too short for my dream bike. However, my pride did not allow me to ask someone to help me get the bike off of the center stand for the first time . I figured I could manage it. Well, I couldn't push it off of the center stand while standing next to it..so I hopped on it (that's where I should have asked someone to be at least present, but again, I refused to acknowledge that I need help for now still until I learn a better technique on my own) and of course couldn't really reach the ground with my feet while it was on the center stand.. but I figured out how to get one foot kind of down and start rocking the bike off the center stand.. oh well.. it came off the center stand, I lost my balance and the bike went falling towards the wooden wall with me on it.. I was more concerned about not damaging my bike and tried everything I could to avoid the fall... which only resulted in me flying against the wall and then finally on the ground. Still worried about the bike I right away tried to get it up, but it had fallen so close toward the wall that I couldn't get between it and the wall to push it up. I finally got over the pride thing and asked someone who works there if he could help me get the bike up. He of course laughed at me and told me that the bike was too big for me and he figured I would drop it.. :cursing:

The bike is fine, I inspected it a few hundred times with a magnifying glass, only damage is a scratch on the engine guards (now I am really glad I installed them already!).

Well, it wasn't until later that I noticed the swelling on my wrist and bruises on my arm the next day. And as mentioned, when I noticed that I couldn't even hold my coffee mug the next morning I knew I had to cancel my trip :closedeyes:

so, here it is.. I am too short and weak for the R1200R and my pride has been damaged, and my confidence a little as well.. but I won't give up.. I will tame this beast as well! Although I think the name I picked for her, but was waiting to find out if she deserves it, might actually fit her pretty well now... but until I take her for a few trips I will not decide on the name yet. If she should keep on throwing me off the saddle I might consider the thought that I am too little and weak for this bike... or I just simply start lifting weights and put on some muscles like my fellow country man Arnold. There are surgeries to get taller, but I am not quite that desperate yet. I already got some riding boots with a heel, and actually am having the heel made a little taller in hopes I can actually get my heel down while on the bike. (I am close to considering those riding boots you suggested months ago Hoshiko! :dots:)
 

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atractaspis, it took a BIG person to admit that, I'm not sure I would!!! I'd have just said I banged my wrist or slept awkwardly. Glad it hasn't put you off, I'm sure you'll win the battle.
 

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+1 Dave's comments. Endeavor to persevere. You'll win in the end, and have many great days in the saddle. Feel better soon!:)We are all pulling for you.
 

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You go, girl. Big boots and leather work for me :)
 

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Good things come in small packages :D

Before you buy your "monster" platform boots, consider something like this:


$140 that can make a big difference on putting on and taking off the center stand. Lifting Handle, Silver R1200 R 8500141 | BMW Wunderlich America


""Lifting the motorcycle onto the center stand can be a chore when the bike is fully loaded.(or if you are tinny) The Wunderlich center stand lifting handle makes this task much easier. The hinged handle installs with an allen wrench and stays securely in place. Pull the handle out to lift the bike onto the stand and tuck it away when it is not needed. Silver anodized finish.

Going to the gym is a great idea for just about everything
 

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Leave it to Hoshiko to spoil my fantasies. . .buy the Big Boots, Dr. A.. . . .
 

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Dr. D: my fantasy is still alive... Seeing Hoshiko in those boots. :D no worries, with or without the fancy wunderlich tool, I already am having the heels made taller on my riding boots and if that doesn't work I will go for the wunderlich tool AND the monster boots... Might just take me a few months to learn and walk in them. The leather thing: I do have my eye on some leather, but until my wallet recovers I will stick to the more functional riding gear I have right now

Hoshiko: thanks for that link. I was eying this nice wunderlich tool a while ago and decided to wait and see how things go. I am already practicing (with brace and all) to get the bike on and off the center stand .. Might still get that tool in the future though. (As I said my wallet is still trying to recover from buying this bike). For now it's time to get rid of the warming winter lipid padding and replace it with muscle mass for the riding season :). Soon I will be small but mighty :ninja:
 
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