After owning 2 R1100RTs and having ridden a number of oil cooled R1200RTs it was a straightforward decision to stick with the brand and also the boxer engined RT, this time in its latest liquid (water) cooled guise. We picked up our machine, an R1200RT-SE in June 2015 with high expectations of a machine which is regarded highly among the bike touring community.
While the aesthetically pleasing side panniers are standard fit I did add BMWs 49-litre top box to the deal with liners for all 3 boxes and the Navigator 5 sat nav while the BMW dealer upgraded the exhaust to something with a bit more throaty.
In its ebony black finish the RT looked every inch a thoroughbred and firing up that boxer engine did not disappoint but I did not expect what happened when riding. The RT has always been full of character and immediately riding the liquid cooled bike I was struck by how efficiently it clicked through the gears, not Japanese bike perfection but a dramatic improvement over its predecessor. The brakes too, worked better especially the rear brake and the engine itself, smooth! Very smooth! So far so good then, well strangely I was a little sad as the clunky gear change and wavering rev-counter were things I liked with the old bike and added a certain imperfection which actual gave it depth and a personality. Watching the rev needle dip and falter every few seconds was a sick kind of fun and I felt I was helping the bike breath whenever I nursed the throttle, proving we were united and reliant on each other.
Quickly casting aside the wistful & melancholy I got on developing a new relationship with the 2015 bike and was immediately struck but how much quicker and responsive it was compared to the older oil/air. The power was instant and the front end nimble, quick, light and easy to turn. Engine and brakes hitting the mark, the gear shifting now positive and no longer involving guesswork the water cooled RT was ticking all the right boxes. Turning the key lit up a glorious display of colour and a full scale deflection on the rev-counter. The electric adjustable screen provided superb wind protection and when fully raised would allow the rider to open their visor at almost all speeds with no wind issue. A neat party trick being the screen returning to its lowest position when the bike was turned off only to return to its previous raised position when the bike was turned on again and ridden away. Small things eh?
The seat height was noticeably lower on the liquid cooled bike though I felt the standard seat would have been a item soon on my upgrade list as after a time it cut into my inside leg a little. Staying with the seat, The heating element would’ve certainly benefitted from being a little more beefed up. The heated grips lava like heat wasn’t repeated in the bottom department sadly.
I’m being picky, the 2015 RT-LC was virtually faultless and the hit or miss suspense when starting the old one was replaced with a positive Instant roar when firing the bike up from cold. Riding 20,000 miles in the 3 years of owning it was a joy. Some very minor warranty issues raised their head, the ignition ‘rocker’ switch was replaced after it became a little wobbly and the butterfly valve inside the exhaust was replaced after it developed a squeak when the key was turned. The control wheel on the left handlebar stiffened up when the bike was left standing for a few days but again, nothing major or distracting from an excellent bike.
Fuel economy - I was sad enough to monitor the miles-per-gallon over the entire 20k miles and without trying to ride ‘conservatively’ I achieved a 54 mpg average. That covered commutes, loaded touring, two-up riding and Sunday thrashes. Very impressed!
Night riding was not a problem as the candle powered lights of the old bike were replaced with twin full-beam lights which would make even the sun squint!
There are a lot of nice touches and a good finish with the RT-LC you won't find elsewhere - reassuring quality in abundance.
Generally the ride was relaxed, comfortable, positive and inspiring.
Would I buy it again? Hell yes!
Why did I sell this one? Good question, and to be fair I am not sure why. I have always been a fan of the GS and also became a little tempted by the ruthless power and speed of the XR which I ended up buying as a short term replacement but that's another story.
Did I regret selling her? Yes I did in honesty.
Returning to the 'would I buy again?' question... I would, in fact I would probably buy the very same one back! We have history together.
Ultimately the RT ticked every box and its bulky size disappeared the second you started moving. For sensible touring, two up or single riding I can not recommend it highly enough. BMW riders will love and embrace it, riders new to the brand will be hooked and never look back. An immense machine with superb heritage and lets face it, it is more pleasing to the eye than the GS (in some peoples view), better lines, more beautiful, more elegant.
At the time of writing our RT was for sale as an approved used BMW at Ocean Motorrad Plymouth. If you are in the market for a good RT, look no further...