The 2018 BMW R1200RT is very familiar-feeling right off the hop; it straddles the line of practicality and impracticality so well. This is the ideal blend of comfort and pleasure, being able to go from making cross-country road trips to jaunting around town, and everything in between. Its 1170cc 125 horsepower engine is a two-cylinder engine that is very responsive off the throttle, eager to accelerate but with a subtle elegance to it.
Although the R1200RT is not as long distance focused as its larger brother the K1600 Grand America, it is still very comfortable. Ergonomically, everything falls right where you’d expect it to. The seat is about as comfortable as any other sport tourer, with a comfortable and upright riding position and a slight bend in the knees. The seat is easily adjustable with a simple flip of a bracket under the seat; no tools are required. The menus on the on-board computer are fairly easy to navigate after a minute or two of exploring. Keyless ride is a great feature as you can zip the fob up into your jacket pocket, and forget about it. Even the fuel cap is unlocked by the key fob being within proximity of the bike.
There is no shortage of power with the 1170cc engine. Under hard acceleration I felt the front tire start to leave the ground without trying to do so, and with the Gear Shift Assist Pro option, changing between gears is lightning fast with no need to use the clutch. Just upshift or downshift effortlessly; no need to lay off the throttle either. If you do roll off the throttle when down shifting, the bike rev-matches perfectly. I should note that there is a mild harshness when changing gears without the clutch.
You won’t be touching your knees to the ground around corners on the R1200RT, but that’s ok as it’s not trying to be something it’s not. The R1200RT is a very comfortable tourer that remains nimble yet powerful. The geometry of the bike feels right, and low speed balancing is easy while idling in first gear. The rider will also get a decent amount of feedback from the road without making the ride rough or uncomfortable. Removal of the saddlebags did no real difference in terms of weight or wind noise at highway speeds – particularly impressive.
The clutch is very light and very predictable, so even with the optional radio drowning out the sound of the engine, it’s incredibly easy to start off from a stop without stalling. The R1200RT’s saddlebags are quite spacious and with the low-mounted exhaust pipe, the saddlebags on both sides are the same size. The saddlebags are also ridiculously easy to remove; it will take the amateur less than 30 seconds to have them on or off.
Some options that are nice to see as standard equipment are ride modes for rain and road, a center stand, heated grips which you’ll appreciate more than you’d think, automatic stability control and an on-board computer. Optional equipment on our tester includes the audio system which is a $1,450 option, keyless ride (a must-have) for $410, and the Gear Shift Pro Assist for $565 that I can honestly is worth every penny. The Touring Package is a must-have in my opinion as well; it includes cruise control, preparation for GPS, seat heating for both seats, and dynamic electronic suspension adjustment which has very noticeable differences between settings.
This particular model is also optioned with the Sport Package which includes the sport windshield and black powertrain. I personally would do without the sport windshield as it it’s a little shorter than the standard windshield, so unless you’re short, you tend to be a little more in the wind even with the windshield at its highest setting.
The 2018 BMW R1200RT really is an ideal bike that do anything you ask of it, and look good while doing it. Heads turned regularly when I rode past other motorists and pedestrians, and I got quite a few thumbs up signs from fellow riders during my travels on it. The R1200RT starts at $21,750, and this particular tester goes for $28,695.