Enter the K 1200 S, with its Hayabusa-beating claimed power of 167bhp and such gadgetry as electronic suspension. Not to mention the traditional BMW hideous paint scheme.I was really looking forward to riding the new bike in Germany with its unrestricted speed limits and neighbouring Austria with its twisty Alpine roads. To start, I select ‘comfort’ suspension mode in the car park via the bar mounted button and, despite a hefty breakfast of some odd looking sausages, I leave the rear spring preload in one-person mode.Out of the car park and I decide to whack it open in first gear to see if I can encourage the 167bhp to either leave a decent black line or hoick the front up. Disappointingly, not a lot happens. The bike accelerates forward but, rather than the tyre shredding thrust I expected, it feels stifled and although it makes reasonably good progress it is nothing like the kick you get from a Hayabusa, ZX-12R or even a Blackbird. It almost feels restricted and there is a slight pause between the throttle being opened and the acceleration starting. Being a BMW, it will pass all emissions tests until the natural resources of the world run out, so my first thoughts are that this may be the cause of the slightly lacklustre motor.The K 1200 S is in its natural territory on the Autobahn. The seating position is the perfect stretch to the high-ish bars, while the pegs are positioned in just the right place to create a real all-day riding position with a deeply padded seat. During the day’s riding, we cover around 300 miles and it never once gets uncomfortable. The new design screen means that a slight dip of the shoulders is all that’s needed to get the full benefit of its protection from windblast, while the clocks clearly show all the necessities, including a gear indicator and fuel gauge. In fact, the only thing that puts a down on the straight-line touring potential is a slight vibration from the engine at lower revs, but this smooths off at higher rpm.With the open road ahead, I decide to test the top speed and hold the throttle open in top. Again, rather than the rush of acceleration I expected, the BMW accelerates gently away and reaches an indicated 160mph, with a bit to go. Considering the potential owners of this bike, I don’t really feel the need to push it any further. But those who did mention a slight unsteady feel at high speeds, close to the 175mph maximum. But personally, I didn’t notice this. If you have the urge to test this in the UK, you’ll be glad to know the mirrors are excellent.At low revs the gearbox is clunky, especially going from neutral into first where it engages with a thud. Again, this smooths off at higher revs but it isn’t the slickest of gearboxes.Off the Autobahn and onto twisty roads, I attack the first couple of bends with the suspension still set in ‘comfort’ mode. The slightly uneven roads soon have the bike bouncing up and down on its suspension, so I select ‘sports’ mode. I have to say I thought this whole electronic suspension thing would turn out to be a bit of a gimmick, but it works really well. The bounce disappears and the whole bike is transformed. Considering it’s quite long, the BMW actually handles really well. It doesn’t have the top-heavy feeling and slight flop into corners of a Hayabusa and feels solid and planted at angles up to knee-down. The pegs are never in danger of touching down, despite being set at a comfortable riding position, and it is a fun machine on which to explore the twisty roads.The engine seems to have quite a linear power delivery and will pull top gear from as low as 2000rpm smoothly, if not that fast, so gear changing is kept to a minimum. Unless you come to overtake anything. I am surprised to find that if you get caught behind a slow moving car, you often have to shift down a couple of gears to get some drive from the engine. I thought it was meant to have 167bhp, surely it should be able to accelerate faster in top gear? I reckon someone at BMW is telling porkies and if it makes over 135bhp on a dyno I will be amazed – but that’s just my opinion. A Hayabusa makes a genuine 160bhp.The servo assisted ABS brakes are powerful, if lacking in feel, and rapidly bring the bike to a halt. But I still can’t quite get on with the system. My main gripe, apart from the lack of feel, is that when the ABS kicks in it simply lets go of the brakes, which is really unnerving. Hit a bump and where normally the tyre may chirrup slightly, the ABS has a panic attack, releases the brakes and causes you to stop braking. I am assured this is something you get used to with time, and the trick is to simply not let go of the lever, but it still worries me when the brakes feel like they suddenly stop working!
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