The BMW R1200RT has been one of BMW Motorrad’s most popular and well-regarded sport-touring motorcycle models since its introduction in 2005.
Over the years, the sport-touring bike has undergone continuous improvements in design, performance, technology, and riding comfort.
Design and Styling Evolution
The 2005-2013 R1200RT featured a completely new design from the R1150RT with a lighter and stiffer two-piece tubular steel frame.
The styling was more angular with an asymmetrically mounted dual headlight fairing and Motorrad’s signature heritage white pinstripes on the bodywork.
In 2010, the fairing and bodywork were updated with aerodynamic improvements for less buffeting.
Tank railings were also added for mounting tank bags.
The 2014 overhaul brought sleeker and more modern styling in line with BMW’s signature asymmetrical headlight design language.
Subsequent yearly updates mostly focused on new color schemes rather than major styling changes.
Engine and Performance Upgrades
The shift from the R1150RT to the R1200RT in 2005 brought about major changes under the hood.
Engine capacity was bumped from 1130cc to 1170cc along with the addition of an extra balancer shaft for smoother performance.
Peak power jumped from 95 bhp to 108 bhp while torque went from 72 ft-lbs to 85 ft-lbs.
Further refinements included a lighter crankshaft, a larger flywheel diameter, and a new six-speed transmission.
2010 saw the introduction of the upgraded DOHC boxer engine from the HP2 Sport, improving power and torque over a wider rev range while also boosting fuel efficiency.
2014 ushered in partial water cooling for increased smoothness and performance.
Displacement was further increased in the 2019 R1250RT to 1254cc, resulting in 134 hp and 105.5 ft-lbs torque.
BMW has continually upgraded the R1200RT with the latest electronic aids and amenities expected from a premium touring motorcycle.
2005 Standard Features
The 2005 model introduced electronic suspension adjustment (ESA) and an improved onboard computer system.
Later years added conveniences like tire pressure monitoring, electronic cruise control, and traction control.
The 2014 overhaul was especially significant, debuting partial LED lighting, two full-color TFT displays, and the “Next Generation” BMW Motorrad multi-controller system.
This allowed intuitive control of amenities like the electronically adjustable windshield, audio system, and navigation.
Chassis and Suspension Developments
Major weight savings came with the R1200RT’s new tubular steel frame and updates like the hollow-bored swingarm pivot.
The Duolever front end and Paralever rear end also offered rigidity improvements over previous models.
2010 saw the introduction of the ESA II electronic suspension system, allowing adjustments to both front and rear preload settings.
2014 brought a newly developed tubular steel frame with a focus on precision and stability even with heavier loads.
Suspension travel was increased front and rear along with thicker fork tube diameters.
The Dynamic ESA automatic suspension adjustment system became available, adapting to changing road conditions in real-time.
Model Year Highlights
- 2005: All-new 1170cc R1200RT model replacing the R1150RT
- 2010: DOHC engine upgrade and ESA II introduction
- 2014: Partial water cooling, new electronics/displays, updated styling
- 2016: Introduced “Candy Burgundy Smoked” colorway (UK only)
- 2017: Judder damper added to the transmission
- 2019: Increased to 1254cc – now the R1250RT. Added variable valve timing, more advanced TFT display
BMW has prioritized safety with the R1200RT through an array of advanced technologies.
2005 Standard Features
The 2005 model debuted an “EVO” ABS allowing for harder braking while maintaining stability.
Electronic suspension adjustment also helped to enhance control in changing conditions.
The later updates
Traction control arrived in 2012, followed by lean-sensitive ABS in 2017.
LED lighting first became available in 2014 with the dual headlight update.
The LED headlight high beams intelligently illuminate curves for improved visibility, an important safety feature for nighttime touring.
Market Impact and Popularity
The R1200RT has long been considered one of the top touring motorcycles in its class.
For many years it occupied the coveted spot of best-selling touring bike in European markets until the arrival of the 6-cylinder K1600 models.
However, it remains a strong seller for BMW and a popular choice for riding schools and police motors.
In rider surveys and comparison tests, the R1200RT consistently scores highly for its balance of performance, handling, and touring capabilities.
The R1200RT secured Rider Magazine’s prestigious “Best Touring Bike” award for 4 years straight from 2011 to 2014, demonstrating its high regard and popularity among experienced touring riders.
Racing and Achievements
While designed as an ultimate touring platform rather than a race bike, the R1200RT has been the choice for several feats of riding endurance.
Renowned long-distance rider Ron Ayres covered over 362,000 miles on his R1200RT before retiring it.
Police riders have also demonstrated the durability of the R1200RT like Dave Rogers riding his BMW patrol bike over 209,000 miles.
The R1200RT’s optimal balance of performance, handling, and comfort has cemented its status as one of BMW Motorrad’s most versatile and well-rounded models over 15 years in production.
The continued evolution of this iconic touring standard ensures it remains the two-wheeled traveling machine of choice for riders more interested in the journey than the destination.