Alongside the R 1250 GS, BMW also launched the new ShiftCam equipped R 1250 RT in 2019, offering the full touring package. Here's Heath's review from the Australian launch. Test: Heath Griffin Photography: Dean Walters
As part of BMW’s launch of their all new 1250 (1254cc) ShiftCam Boxer equipped range of motorcycles, I spent a full day riding the new R 1250 RT from Canberra through the Snowy region and across the ranges to the NSW south coast.
This route combined some city riding with lots of open winding country roads and a tight twisting descent down to the coast, providing an ideal test route to demonstrate the performance of BMW’s new Boxer-engined tourer in a wide range of conditions.
Sharing BMW’s all new 1254cc Boxer engine with the R 1250 GS range, the most powerful BMW production boxer engine ever made provides a significant step up in all aspects of performance from the R 1200 RT, producing 100kw of power at 6500 RPM and 143Nm of torque at 6250 RPM.
Key to this increase in performance is BMW’s ShiftCam technology, which utilises a shifting gate on the camshaft controlled by an electronic actuator in order to seamlessly transition between it’s two different cam profiles.
At low RPM the partial-load cam is selected, which allows better combustion in this engine speed range for improved bottom end torque, throttle response and emissions. Once RPM increases the engine automatically shifts to the full-load cam which provides higher valve lift for maximum top end power.
The increased capacity and updated technology in this engine produces much stronger bottom-end acceleration, which keeps on building to provide even more exciting performance towards the top end of the rev range. Ride-by-wire throttle is smooth and snatch free even from fully closed at idle speeds, and the small amount of vibration from the big boxer twin is at a frequency that never allows it to become intrusive.
For long distance touring the engine is smooth and quiet, although a nice induction growl from the airbox adds character without being loud enough to become annoying. Even though they share an identical motor, the additional 30kg dry weight carried by the R 1250 RT makes it feel less athletic under acceleration than its R 1250 GS cousin.
It’s still a big step up from its predecessor and produces more than enough performance for most situations, proven by its ability to hoist the front wheel on the throttle through the bottom three gears!
The R 1250 RT is also equipped with the ubiquitous BMW Motorad Telelever suspension system at the front, combining with a single-sided swingarm and BMW Motorad Paralever at the rear. In terms of comfort and bump control this system is second to none and is perfectly suited to all day touring on Australia’s less than perfect road surfaces.
I have had several BMW tragics try to persuade me of the sportsbike slaying superiority of the front Telelever setup, however on the bigger sports touring bikes I can’t really get along with this system when upping the pace through the twisties.
I don’t necessarily believe this is just down to the Telelever system, as on the R 1250 GS I honestly wouldn’t have picked that it didn’t have conventional front forks if you didn’t tell me, so maybe it’s a combination of the heavier weight, low centre of gravity and long wheel base, but whatever the reason I found it hard to be confident with the front-end at silly cornering speeds, which are not what the bike is for anyway.
Ground clearance and grip are both excellent, even with hard panniers fitted, however I felt like the bike understeered slightly mid-turn, and lacked a little feel on corner entry on the brakes compared to forks.
As with the rest of the new BMW range, the R 1250 RT has BMW’s Gear Shift Assistant Pro available as an option, which allows clutch-less shifting both up and down gears. Shifting action of the gearbox in general is light, slick, and the GSAP worked pretty much flawlessly in all situations.
I especially noticed how well the system operated on partial throttle settings compared to many bikes with similar dual action quickshifters. Tourers are likely to spend a lot of their life operating under partial throttle loads, so it’s great that the BMW system works so well under those conditions.
ABS Pro also comes standard on the R 1250 RT and combines with four-piston radial-mount calipers gripping 320mm dual floating disks at the front, plus a twin-piston caliper and single disc at the rear, to provide excellent stopping power for a bike weighing nearly 280kg.
I struggled a little with feel from the front brake, which is strange, as the setup is basically the same as the R 1250 GS which I found excellent. Maybe the extra weight or different chassis geometry has an impact there. It was far from terrible, and not something I noticed at touring speeds, but I just never felt comfortable to trail brake as aggressively as I would have liked when trying to up the pace in sports riding mode. The brakes look to be the same Hayes items that replaced the Brembo items on the S 1000 RR, which were heavily criticised by the world’s media at the world launch in Portugal recently.
When it comes to styling, in my opinion, the R 1250 RT is the best looking bike in the class. The fairing looks sleek, modern and aerodynamic, colour options are classy with nicely integrated and colour coded hard panniers, and the running gear is premium quality all over. Both rider and pillion seats are wide, comfortable and well supported, and controls are light to operate and naturally located.
Height adjustable heated seat and multi-stage adjustable heated grips ensure a comfortable ride in the coldest conditions, and while I didn’t have the opportunity to test out the rain protection of the front bodywork and push button height adjustable front screen, they give every impression of being well up to the job of providing excellent protection from the elements if the weather turns nasty.
There is a slight downside to such a well sheltered riding position though, as there is not a lot of airflow to cool you down in hot weather. The afternoon of our ride was pushing 30 degrees, which on a naked bike is not unpleasant, however on such a well sheltered machine I found myself craving cool air.
While the R 1250 RT misses out on BMW’s new 6.5in full colour TFT display which is available as an option on the R 1250 GS and F 850/750 GS models, it seems this is mostly a packaging issue, as the dash on the RT is a fully integrated part of the front bodywork, meaning the whole front cowl area would need to be re-modelled in order to accommodate the new style dash.
Instead the R 1250 RT retains the existing 5.7” TFT display, which is accompanied by a traditional analogue speedo and tachometer. You still get full Bluetooth integration, along with stereo speakers integrated into the front bodywork, and control over all the bikes ABS, Traction Control, Power Modes, Cruise Control, and Electronic Suspension (if fitted as an option), however the intuitive control and improved interactivity of the 6.5” TFT display is sorely missed once you are used to having it on BMW’s Adventure bikes.
The front speakers are a nice novelty, and I had heaps of fun cranking out my favourite tunes on the first part of our ride, however with the options now available for Bluetooth helmets and ear buds they are not as big of an asset to the bike as they may have been five years ago.
The R 1250 RT comes with a very high level of specification, as the Comfort, Touring and Dynamic packages are all included as standard. Highlights of the inclusions include; Riding Modes Pro, which includes Dynamic Traction Control and ABS Pro, Dynamic ESA, Keyless Ride, Cruise Control, Pannier Mounts, Heated Seats and Handgrips, and Tyre Pressure Monitoring.
It’s great that the Riding Modes Pro is included in the standard version, although I’m not sure that the other modes are really required at all, as the bike is perfectly well mannered in the highest performance Dynamic mode, so I’d just set and forget (which I did after testing was complete). Both Traction Control and ABS are un-intrusive, and while I’m never likely to fully test their capability on public roads it’s nice to know you have that safety blanket in case of an emergency or unexpected low traction conditions.
On top of the standard packages there are also a huge range of optional extras, including the Option 719 Billet accessories, HP exhaust, Classic or Sport Wheels, and High or Low seat options.
2019 BMW R 1250 RT Conclusion
The R 1200 RT was already at the top of its class in terms of comfort, technology and quality, and the R 1250 RT moves it further ahead with substantially improved engine performance. In terms of value against tourers from the competition it’s definitely at the high end of the price scale, but with that premium price tag comes one of the most refined machines in class, so you do get what you pay for.
2019 BMW R 1250 RT Specifications
Price: From $34,990 RRP Ride Away
Colours: Carbon Black Metallic, Mars Red Metallic/Dark Slate Metallic Matte, Alpine White, Opt. 719 Blue Planet Metallic, Opt. 719 Sparkling Storm Metallic
Warranty: Three-year, unlimited kilometre
Claimed power: 100kW/136hp@7750rpm
Claimed torque: 143Nm@6250rpm
Kerb weight: 279kg
Fuel capacity: 25L
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 swing arm
Steering head angle: 64.1º Castor: 116mm
Suspension: BMW Motorrad Telelever front, central spring strut Ø 37 mm, 120mm travel, BMW Motorrad Paralever rear, WAD spring strut, 137mm 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: 2222mm
Seat height: 805/825mm
Max height: 1570mm
Max width: 990mm
Instruments: Full-colour TFT dash.