2014 — 2018     R1200RT

The finest “RT” BMW Has Ever Made
Since the First One Came Out in 1978!

by Jeff Dean

Last updated

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Click here to read magazine articles about this BMW R1200RT

The BMW RT, a motorcycle that has defined the classic touring bike segment since 1978 has been completely redesigned — the 2014-2018 BMW R1200RT. The new RT has a new air/water-cooled BMW 1,170cc boxer engine with 92 lb/ft of torque, 125 bhp, and a traction control system ASC. The standard ride modes "Rain" and "Road" can also be activated at the press of a button, to adapt to weather conditions and road surfaces. An on-board computer, an electrically operated windshield, standard color-matched saddle bags, and heated grips are also basic items.

Optional equipment for the new RT include semi-active electronic suspension adjustment, and BMW Dynamic ESA, which responds quickly to changing road surfaces, and shift assistant pro that allows the rider to shift up and down without using the clutch or throttle. A central locking system locks both cases by remote control, a radio, a top case, low or high saddles, a tank bag, and cruise control are available.

For the 2015 R1200RT model year keyless ignition and a new color, San Marino blue (see photo above, right), were introduced. The only change by BMW for the 2016 model year of the R1200RT is in available colors — “Platin bronze metallic” has been added.

Click here to read the road test of the 2014 BMW R1200RT in the May 2014 issue of Cycle World.

The Winner of the 2014 Rider magazine people's choice vote: 2014 BMW R 1200 RT — Comments from readers:

• It’s brilliant…a better sportbike than most STs, and a better touring bike than far heavier, less nimble, more expensive bikes.

• Fast enough? Yes! Can you bring stuff with you? Yes! Comfortable? Yes! Long-distance capable? Yes! Handles around corners? Yes! All around greatness? Yes, yes and YES!

• Yes, it has 20 percent less horsepower than the GTL, but it is also 20 percent lighter…plus, the ergos and wind protection are best in class. Simply a fantastic machine!

• More efficient, more powerful liquid-cooled motor, improved styling, traction control, electronic suspension and a host of BMW’s standard convenience farkles make this ultimate distance tourer even better.

• BMW has taken one of the best bikes of all time and dropped in a great new engine, bumped the horsepower up to 125, improved the ergos, surprised everyone with clutchless shifting, and put more fun into the ride. What is not to like?

• Outstanding balance. Not too big…not too small. Not too sporty…not too focused on touring. Not too heavy. Perfect balance of performance. If you can only have one bike (like most of us), this one is it.

• A supreme tourer and a very good sportbike and canyon carver.

• Styling, handling, lower center of gravity, new dynamic features like hill start control, gear shift assist, auto stability control, Dynamic ESA.

Click here to read about and see the earlier 2005-to-2013 BMW R1200RT models.

The police, or authority, version of this bike, or the R1200RT-P, and its RT-P predecessors, are the most popular police motorcycles in the world.

My 2015 R1200RT, in San Marino blue, below, is equipped with a Cee Bailey headlight guard, a 28" Werks Quiet Ride (QR) windshield, Russell Day-Long leather saddles, a small BMW top case, painted to match by Tucson's own Ed Carlson (a large BMW top case is also available). Also installed are BMW's driving lights, and, under the mirrors, Clearwater's Erica LED Lights, and Ilium's front and rear protection bars in light gray finish. From Suburban Machinery I obtained a footpeg lowering kit. To lower the brake lever after lowering the foot pegs, from Ilium I obtained an adjustable brake lever. I removed the awkwardly positioned antenna because I never use the radio and replaced it with a short one.

Below: Here am I with my 2015 RT after a lunch with the South East Arizona Touring Riders (SEAT) in Green Valley, AZ in January 2015.

Below is Rich Henrion, who lives in the lovely Upper Peninsula of Michigan. with his brand new 2016 R1200RT, just after he rode it home from the BMW dealer in Green Bay , Wisconsin. He rode it 9,000 miles in his first five weeks with the bike.

Below: here, left, is Rich five months later at 20,000 mles and then still later with Lake Superior in the backgound, zeroing in on 24,000 miles. Update: As of July 2017 Rich is up to 38,000 miles.

     

My 2017 R1200RT, in Alpine white (Alpinweiß), below, is equipped with a Cee Bailey headlight guard, a 27½" Cee Bailey tall windshield, a Rocky Mayer leather saddle, a small BMW top case, with the lid painted to match by Tucson's own Ed Carlson. Also installed are BMW's driving lights, under the rear-view mirrors are Clearwater's Erica LED Lights, and Ilium's front protection bars in light gray finish, and rear protection bars in black. On the rear I have mounted Clearwater's Billie Jr. brake light. From Suburban Machinery I obtained a footpeg lowering kit. To lower the brake lever after lowering the foot pegs, from Ilium I obtained an adjustable brake lever. I removed the awkwardly positioned antenna because I never use the radio and replaced it with a short one.

Many motorcyclists are also private pilots. Below is a Cessna 172 in Marana, Arizona.

The aftermarket is catching up to the needs of the 2014-2018 R1200RT. On the left of the two photos below is Cee Baileys's (CB) 27½" tall windshield (other sizes are available) and headlight guard for this bike. I am 6'-4" tall and I use the tall CB on my 2017 R1200RT and used them on my former 2007 R1200RT and on my earlier R1100RT and R1150RT BMWs.

New to the market is Werks Quiet Ride (QR). The 28" QR windshield (right below) is listed on its web site as a regular option.

The main differences between the two are these. The CB (left in photo above) is ½ inch shorter and does not have a forward "flip" on top (the pre-2014 CBs did have a flip, which you can see on the photos in my 2005-2013 R1200RT web page.) The QR (right in photo) is wider, carrying its additional width high, and it does have a forward flip on top. In riding, I noticed that the 28" QR was quieter than the 27½" CB. The QR windshield is seen in the left photo below.

The stock horn on the R1200RTW is terrible. A wimpy monotone beep that is not worthy of a motorcycle of this quality. The right photo below shows one of a number of possible aftermarket solutions: the Stebel Nautius Horn. It ensures, with its 139 decibel (dB) sound, that you get the necessary respect you deserve and that you won't be overlooked. Here is a 6¾-minute video on how to install this horn on an R1200RTW. (This horn can even wake up a loud-Harley rider next to you cutting into your lane — I know.)

 

Many BMW riders swear by Russell Day-Long saddles. I ordered a pair of these saddles for my 2015 R1200RT and they are pictured below. They are very comfortable.

Machine Art Now offers a "no drill" 6-inch front fender extender (below right) for the 2014-2018 R1200RT.

Wunderlich offers “Engine Protection Bars” (below left) for the 2014-2018 RT (see photo below), but Ilium's are better.

   

Driving light from BMW, below right, helps you to be visible to car drivers.

Ilium's saddlebag protection bar is below, left. It is stronger than Wunderlich's and interferes less with passengers.

 

Ilium's engine protection bars (photo below) with BMW's driving lights mounted on them. Ilium's rear guard bars can be seen in front of the saddle bag.

Clearwater Lights offers a variety of excellent and powerful accessory lights for BMWs. I chose the Erica model with an under-mirror mount, which is kit E79, (photos below) to get them higher and visible. They were mounted for me by Grant Guerrero, Certified Technician, at Iron Horse BMW, Tucson, AZ.

Hyper-Lites are taillights and flashing brake lights that help drivers behind you see and understand that you are braking. Mine are mounted above the turn signals (photo below). I wired them to the rear socket, but then it takes 60 seconds to turn off when the ignition is turned off. If you plug a charger into the BMW's socket, front or rear, they light up again. You need to attach a charger directly to the battery to avoid this. If one wired the Hyper-Lite positive wire to a positive ignition-switched wire, this would not happen. I do not know how to find such a wire.

There are two BMW top cases that are available for the R1200RT. The smaller case (photo below right) has a capacity of 28 liters (1 ft.³ or 7.4 gallons); the larger case (photo below left) has a capacity of 49 liters (1.7 ft.³ or 12.9 gallons) and comes only in light gray. The small case is perfect for daily use. The large case, which will swallow two full-face helmets, is great for packing for long trips. Is it available color matched to the motorcycles? No. Because it presents a large hunk of light gray lid, it surely would be nice if the large case, especially, was available from BMW color matched. I had my top lids painted to match my bike by Tucson's Ed Carlson, as can be seen in photos below.

Regarding both top cases, the 2013 and earlier cases fit just fine on 2014-2018 RTs. At $832 MSRP the large case is about half the cost ($1,585 MSRP) of a 2014-2018 case, and is lighter. They just have no electric locks, which are offered on the newer cases. The small case is sold by BMW unchanged for the newer and older models.

 

The 2014-2018 R1200RT windshield support arms, below right, seem sturdy enough to not have to be replaced. The arms on previous R1200RTs were thinner and prone to breakage when using larger aftermarket windshields.

       

The RCU Shelf (photo above) provides an excellent place for small electronic accessories and provides some shade for the GPS.

To increase my leg room a little, I obtained a foot peg lowering kit from Suburban Machinery (photos below). The spring looked intimidating to me. It is not. It is not under compression when the foot peg is down. When you re-install the spring you do not have to compress it. You do have to center it to accept the plastic collar that slides into it. On 2014 and newer RTs, if you want to adjust the travel of the shift lever you can adjust the nuts on a connecting rod that is plainly visible inside the left side foot peg apparatus.

The left photo below shows the Ilium adjustable brake lever, which you may wish to obtain to lower the shift lever after lowering the right foot peg.

 

I am a tall rider, so I added Ilium bar backs (below) to bring the handlebars closer to me and higher. In this photo you can also see the large black ignition button, indicating this bike has keyless ignition controlled with an electronic fob with a fold-out key (see inset). I bought an extra fob in case I lose the single one that came with the bike.

Accessories mounted on my R1200RTWs are Listed below:

Below is the BMW tank bag for the 2014-2018 "wet-head" R1200RT models. It has two straps in the rear and one strap in front to hold it on. The 2005-2013 RT tank bag mounting grid was much better as the tank bag was easier to remove and put on.

The blue 2015 RT below, left, is, to be sure, very pretty. But I have always thought that the RT would be beautiful in red. The 2005 RT below, right, was available in red for only that one year. Then BMW went back to focusing on various shades of gray for the new "wet head" models. The lovely “Candy Burgundy Smoked” R1200RT in the middle was available for 2016, but only in the United Kingdom. I was very disappointed that it was not brought into the United States.




Below is an 2015 BMW R1200RT-P police or authority verson of this bike. The BMW RT-Ps are the most popular police motorcycles in the world. Below is Garden Grove, CA, Police Department motorcycle officer Katherine Anderson.



2016 and 2017 R1200RT

The only change by BMW for the 2016 model year of the R1200RT is in available colors. “Platin bronze metallic” (photo below) has been added and the existing paint finish Callisto grey metallic matt is no longer available. When it comes to selecting colors for the R1200RT BMW cannot be called especially adventurous. Clock on the 2016 photo below to read review of 2016 RT.

Like the 2016 R1200GS Adventure, all 2017 liquid-cooled boxer models will now be fitted with a judder (definition: an instance of rapid and forceful shaking and vibration) damper on the transmission output shaft. New features also include a revised selector drum actuator, transmission shafts, and transmission shaft bearing. In addition to these technical changes, the 2017 R1200RT is now available with optional ABS Pro, which senses lean angle and adjusts intervention accordingly (as part of the Ride Modes Pro option package). It is also available in two new colors: Carbon Black Metallic and Alpine White. Ebony Metallic and San Marino Blue Metallic are no longer available. Platinum Bronze Metallic remains in the program.

The only changes for the 2018 model year are colors. The bronze color (below center) is gone and in its place is a red-orange color, Mars red metallic with a dark slate metallic nose (photo below right). Otherwise they continue with the 2017 changes.

Click here to read magazine articles about this BMW R1200RT

Wikipedia's entry on the R1200RT

2014 — 2016 BMW R1200RT specs are here.

BMW Motorrad USA has posted 2015 R1200RT information here.