2005 — 2013     R1200RT

Click here for the 2014-2018 BMW R1200RT

by Jeff Dean

Below: A 2007 R1200RT near Tucson, Arizona. It is a fully equipped Biarritz blue 2007 BMW R1200RT with color-matched top case, BMW tank bag (not Shown), Rick Mayer saddles, Cee Bailey windshield, a set of BMR Driving Light Mounts with PIAA halogen driving lights, Motolight driving lights, and Cee Bailey saddle bag liners. The engine protection bars are made by Wunderlich

Model year 2007 was the first year the R1200RT came out without servo-assisted (power) brakes. That is why I once owned a 2007 model. Only the 2005 and 2006 models have the discontinued servo brakes.

Below is my friend Norm, who now owns this motorcycle, outside the Saguaro National Park west of Tucson, Arizona.

The BMW R1200RT is a touring motorcycle that was introduced in 2005 by BMW Motorrad to replace the R1150RT model. It features a 1,170 cc (71 cu in) flat-twin engine producing 110 bhp at 7500 rpm and 85 foot-pounds of torque at 6000 rpm and a six-speed gearbox and shaft drive. Cruise control, heated hand grips, and Paralever and Telelever suspensions were standard. The standard electrically operated windscreen can be adjusted across a large range of heights. Standard ABS brakes, servo-powered on the 2005 and 2006 models but deleted in 2007 and later, were partially integrated such that the rear brake pedal only applies the rear brake while the front brake lever applies both brakes.

Below is Norm's 2007 R1200RT seen in 2018. It now has Clearwater's Erica Lights on E5 under-mirror mounts. Slip-on protective covers with clear and yellow lenses are an option.

BMW announced the arrival of the 2010 R1200RT in November 2009. Torque and RPMs were increased; horsepower was unchanged. Cylinders came with double overhead cams. There were modest changes in styling. For 2013 the R1200RT is unchanged from 2010 to 2012. The only colors available for 2014 are two shades of gray and "ebony metallic."

Below, I was putting this 2007 R1200RT through its paces in March 2011 during the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Advanced Rider Course in Tucson, Arizona.

Below, a beautiful day, a 2005 R1200RT, and a wonderful curving road in southwestern Wisconsin. Life was good.

For 2005 and 2006 BMW offered a lovely Piedmont red R1200RT (below and above). It was the last red RT BMW would offer for the next twelve years.

Below: An R1200RT battling the elements during a trip through Zion National Park, Utah.

The R1200RT was the next iteration of BMW's renowned “RT” series of sport-touring motorcycles, dating back to the 1978 R100RT (photo below, left), which was replaced in 1987 by a slightly revised R100RT (photo below, right). The “RT” designation stands for Reisetourer, German for “travel tourer.”

Late in 1995, BMW placed its eight-valve oilhead engine, which had been introduced two years earlier in the R1100RS, into the RT model to replace the earlier air-cooled models, and increased horsepower (from 70 to 90) and torque (from 56 to 70 ft.-lbs.) significantly. Key improvements included ABS brakes, four-valve heads, an electrically adjustable windshield, and revolutionary suspensions front (Telelever) and rear (Paralever).

The photos above show the evolution of the RT series since 1995. The R1100RT series of model years 1996 to 2001 established the standard for high quality, medium weight touring motorcycles. For the 2002 model year, with the R1150RT, displacement and power were increased. Power-assisted, integrated ABS brakes were included and the headlight area was expanded to include better lighting and two fog lights. For the 2004 model year dual spark plugs were added to each cylinder to improve mileage and eliminate surging problems some owners experienced with its predecessor.

Right above: With the R1100RS in 1993, BMW introduced on its boxer twins the Telelever fork, a variant of the earlier British Saxon-Motodd design (above, left), wherein an additional swingarm that mounts to the frame and supports the spring. This causes the trail and castor angle (rake) to increase during braking instead of decreasing as with traditional telescopic forks, reducing substantially front end dive when braking. The two fork sliders have no damping, as a central coilover hydraulic damper, supported by an A-frame connected to the engine crankcase, handles that. The Telelever has been used on the all BMW “RT” models since 1995, including R1200RT.

The 2007 R1200RT (above, right) offers significant improvements over certain aspects of the 2004 R1150RT (above, left). Notably:
      Horsepower is increased 14% from 95 to 110 @ 7,500 RPMs.
      Torque is increased 13% from 72 to 85 foot-pounds @ 6,000 RPMs.
      Engine displacement increases 4% from 1,130 to 1,170 cc.
      Weight claimed, wet, is down 7% from 614 to 571 pounds.
      Fuel capacity increases 7% from 6.6 to 7.1 gallons.
      Alternator output increases 3% from 700 to 720 watts.
      EVO ABS brakes changed from fully to partially integrated.
      Starting in 2007, new partially integrated ABS brakes are used without power assist.
      Cruise control is available on U.S. models! Did not exist on earlier RTs.
      Starting in 2007, electronic tire-pressure monitoring (TPM) is available.
      Electronically adjustable suspension (ESA) is available on U.S. models.
      U.S. prices increased with many options available.

Below, left: In August 2005, Cycle World magazine named the R1200RT the year's Best Touring Bike. Below, right: In September 2005, Motorcyclist magazine also named the R1200RT the Best Touring Bike of 2005 and again of 2006, and named the R1200GS the Best Adventure Bike. To read the R1200RT articles, click here.

In May 2013, Rider magazine published an R1200RT page — “Mr. Traditional.”

I bought a Piedmont red model from BMW Motorcycles of Milwaukee (sadly, since absorbed by a “powersports” super store) in June 2005. It 13 years before BMW offered another R1200RT motorcycle in red. It was ESA equipped with the alarm system, tank bag, top case, additional power socket, supplemental tool kit, valve cover protectors, on board computer, oil-level warning, and clear signal lenses. No radio and no heated seat. I added a Cee Bailey 27.5" (70 cm) tall windshield, which is 3" (7.6 cm) over stock (photo below left). In warm weather, I installed Cee Bailey's short windshield (photo below right). I also used Cee Bailey's saddle bag liners, which are similar to others but are relatively inexpensive.

I traded the red R1200RT for a Biarritz blue 2007 R1200RT at Iron Horse Motorcycles, an exclusive BMW dealership, Tucson. The photo above, right, is that bike. This color was introduced for the 2007 model year, and a new generation of ABS brakes without servo assist also arrived. The latter was key to my decision to acquire the newer model, which I no longer own.

For years, actually decades, BMW motorcycle saddles have been uncomfortable. The only stock BMW saddle I have ever found to be comfortable for long periods was that on the K1200LT. I had often wondered why BMW could not produce comfortable saddles for its motorcycles. A good friend once asked a BMW employee about this and was told that, surely, BMW could make comfortable saddles, but it could not sell bikes with them because of the way they look. In other words, BMW's theory is the reverse of Architect Louis Sullivan's famous dictum, “form follows function.” That is, BMW believes that when it comes to saddles, at least, form follows style. The lack of comfort of the R1200RT's stock saddle became apparent the first time I rode it from the dealer to my home. Therefore, on my full-size R1200RT I had installed a Rick Mayer leather saddle (photo below) to cure the serious comfort shortcomings of the stock saddle (Rick Mayer is no longer in business). Aftermarket saddle makers may well be happy with BMW's saddle design concept.

There are two BMW top cases available for the R1200RT. The smaller case has a capacity of 28 liters (1 ft.³ or 7.4 gallons); the larger case 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. You can definitely feel the impact of the large case on handling when you are loaded for touring. I was often asked, “Are they available color matched to the motorcycles?” The answer is 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. For $100, I had the top lid painted, by Tucson's own Ed Carlson, to match the bike, as can be seen below.


BMW has produced a really cool 1:10 R1200RT scale model (photo above, right), BMW part number 80 43 0 393 420.

I added an RCU Shelf to the R1200RT to hold a variety of electronic gadgets. I had to cut the trailing edge of the RCU shelf back 1½ inches (3.8 cm), however, so I could see the highest indicator lights.

On this shelf I installed a digital clock/voltmeter/thermometer (below, right). While not waterproof (and needs to be wrapped in rain) it provides good information. This and similar devices can be found on Amazon.

I installed another electrical socket on the right side of the fairing (photo below, left), wired with an in-line fuse directly to the battery.


I had added Motolight driving lights (see lower lights in the photo below).

In 2012 I installed a set of BMR Driving Light Mounts (below) and PIAA halogen driving lights (upper lights below). I wanted to have a pair of lights higher than the Motolights for improved visibility for me and to motorists.

Below: the Machine Art "Moto Avant" front fender 5½-inch extension to the fender keeps the engine clean. Installation is very easy and no holes in the fender are needed to install it. Below right: Wunderlich's chrome engine protection bars.


Below: Some owners have seen their windshield arms break. It happened to me on an R1150RT in Vermont. Now there is a solution for R1200RT owners, the West Tool windshield support arms, below, which I installed on the 2007 R1200RT in January 2013. The instructions state, “15 minute job.” Perhaps this is true if you do not count collecting all the needed tools and you have done it a dozen or so times before. Otherwise, allow an hour.

Below, left: Hyper-Lites' turn signals increase conspicuity when signalling turns or lane changes.

Below, right: Hyper-Lites can also provide its famous flashing LED brake lights for the single-filament brake light on the R1200RT. I installed the dual function version with 16 LEDs per side. It shows steady tail LEDs (shown below) and flashing brake LEDs.

Below, left: Rotating, adjustable blind spot mirrors are up where your views otherwise tend to be of your hands on the hand grips.

Below, center: BMW's rear fender extender (part #71607694184) slides up and down to adjust amount of projection below the stock fender.

Below, right: The door to the glove/radio box has a neat flashlight clip that holds perfectly an AA Mini Maglite® — color matched, of course.

Have the stainless exhaust pipes on your R1200RT turned brown, like the pipe below, right? Would you rather it was shiny, like the pipe below, left? There are several ways to do that. I used Blue Magic Metal Polish Cream, from Amazon, along with xxxx super fine steel wool. Took me less than half an hour per pipe. You can do it without the steel wool, but it takes quite a bit longer.

Others recommend the these two items — Autosol or Stain-Magic. Stain-Magic seems to work quickly and very well, but it is very expensive.

The R1200RT-P Authority Motorcycle

In 2006, BMW began manufacturing the "Authority" version of the R1200RT, known as the R1200RT-P (photos below). It is the successor to the acclaimed R1150RT-P. BMW has the largest number of police motorcycles in service worldwide — over 80,000 — and its motorcycles are gaining wide acceptance in the United States because of their superior power, handling, brakes, and life-cycle costs. Below left is an R1200RT-P of the Arizona DPS Highway Patrol.

Click here to read a report (PDF file) done in 2006, “Law Enforcement Motorcycle Test and Evaluation Program,” from the Los Angeles County Sherff's Department.

R1200RT Specifications (through 2013)
(Converted into pounds, inches, U.S. gallons, etc.)


  • Model years 2005-2009 — Air/oil-cooled 2-cylinder 4-stroke Boxer engine, one camshaft and four valves per cylinder, central compensation shaft
  • Model years 2010-2013 — Air/oil-cooled flat twin ('Boxer') 4-stroke engine, two camshafts and four radially aligned valves per cylinder, central balancer shaft
  • Bore / stroke — 101 mm x 73 mm
  • Engine displacement — 1,170 ccm
  • Rated output — 110 bhp at 7500 rpm
  • Maximum torque — 85 foot-pounds at 6000 rpm
  • Compression ratio — 12.0:1
  • Mixture control / engine management — Electronic intake pipe injection/digital engine management: BMW engine management, BMS-K with overrun fuel cut-off, dual ignition
  • Emission control — Closed-loop 3-way catalytic converter

Performance / fuel consumption

  • Maximum speed — Greater than 125 mph
  • Fuel consumption over 62 mile course at a constant 56 mph — 65 mpg
  • Fuel consumption over 62 mile course at a constant 75 mph — 49 mpg
  • Fuel type — Unleaded premium, octane rumber 98 (RON) with automatic knock control

Electrical system

  • Alternator — 720 Watts / 60 Amperes three-phase alternator
  • Battery — 12 Volts / 12 Ah

Power transmission

  • Clutch — Single-disc dry clutch, hydraulically operated
  • Gearbox — Constant mesh 6-speed gearbox with helical gearing
  • Drive — Shaft drive  

Chassis / brakes

  • Frame — Three-section frame consisting of front and rear section, load bearing engine-gearbox unit
  • Front wheel location / suspension — BMW Motorrad Telelever; stanchion diameter 35 mm, central spring strut, rebound damping electronically adjustable with standard ESA
  • Rear wheel location / suspension — Die-cast aluminium single-sided swinging arm with BMW Motorrad EVO-Paralever; spring pre-load hydraulically adjustable to continuously variable levels by means of electronically adjustable ESA, rebound damping with standard ESA
  • Travel front/rear — 4.72 inches / 5.31 inches
  • Wheelbase (in normal position) — 58.3 inches
  • Castor (in normal position) — 4.3 inches
  • Steering head angle (in normal position) — 63.4Ý

Die-cast aluminum wheels

  • Rim, front — 3.50 x 17
  • Rim, rear — 5.50 x 17
  • Tire, front — 120/70 ZR 17
  • Tire, rear — 180/55 ZR 17
  • Brake, front — EVO brake system with dual disc, floating brake discs, 320 mm diameter, four-piston fixed caliper
  • Brake, rear — Single disc brake, diameter 265 mm, double-piston floating caliper
  • ABS — BMW Motorrad Integral ABS (part-integral) as standard

Dimensions / Weight

  • Length — 87.8 inches
  • Width (including mirrors) — 35.6 inches
  • Height (not including mirrors) — 56.3 inches
  • Seat height, unladen weight — 32 / 33 inches (special equipment low seat bench: 30.7 / 31.5 inches)
  • Unladen weight, road ready, fully fueled — 571 pounds
  • Dry weight — 505 pounds
  • Permitted total weight — 1,091 pounds
  • Payload (with standard equipment) — 520 pounds
  • Usable fuel tank volume — 7.1 gallons U.S.
  • Fuel reserve — Approximately 1 gallon

Wikipedia's entry on the R1200RT

2010-2011 BMW R1200RT specs are here (PDF)

BMW Motorrad USA has posted 2014 R1200RT information here.