First Ride: 2006 BMW R1200S

A sporty BMW to take on the likes of Ducati's 999 and even the mighty GSX-R1000? Niall is intrigued...






How sporty is the new R1200S? Well it's that sporty BMW has taken luggage off the option list - this bike's built for brisk road riding and the occasional track day. It seems BMW is sick of people comparing the R1100S with sports tourers and wants this new model to compete head-to-head with the sports bike competition.

Trimming weight off the chassis, wheels and power train means the R1200S is now 13kg lighter at 195kg. The space around the seat has been optimised for more room and easier maneuvering at low speeds. This gives the feeling of a lower seat height, something I definitely approve of as I once had a Boxer Cup rep pin me to the floor in the Donington paddock after I attempted to eat a packet of cheese and onion crisps while sat on it.

Looks are sharper with smoother fairing and an anti-scratch screen. The front view is further improved with GS-like headlights and the BMW 'kidney grille' feeding air to the oil cooler. At the rear the new underseat silencer looks plain compared to the previous model although the new 18-LED tail light does look good.

The 1170cc flat twin gets redesigned cylinder heads, new pistons and stiffer valve springs while bigger throttle bodies and exhaust manifolds also help provide more muscle. Max revs are up to 8800rpm making this BMW's most powerful, highest revving Boxer ever.

My test bike was fitted with the optional ABS, …hlins suspension, lower gearing and a six-inch rear rim allowing fitment of a 190-section tyre. I could live without the ABS, but a button on the left handlebar switches it off should you take to the track. Leave it switched on at your peril!

The first part of our test was on track. After a few laps I began to recall just how effective these bikes can be if ridden properly. Providing the track's smooth the front Telelever suspension allows you to brake incredibly late and its anti-dive properties mean the harder you brake, the more support you get from the front. Which is fine until you find a bumpy corner, and then the front tends to hop. I found the trick is to find the bumps and use more engine braking over them. Stop, turn and fire - that's what Randy Mamola says, so it must be right.

Also helpful for circuit riding is increased ride height, which improves cylinder head clearance. Ever keen for a challenge I did my darnedest to deck them out, but failed. Well done BMW, and also to the Michelin Pilot Powers.

Given the huge torque, I only used four gears around the whole track. Impressive considering the variety of corners and long straights, although I felt throttle response could have been better exiting corners. Pick-up was fine but there was a noticeable dead spot as revs built which became frustrating, although it was less noticeable on the road than the track.

Although the bike wasn't perfect I enjoyed every track session, but the open road is where the R1200S is really at home. Comfortable medium-speed sports is still what this bike does best and, although it's difficult to say how much better the new S is, the power-to-weight ratio increase makes it easier to ride.

Whether you need a blast of power to pass traffic or want to cruise all day at 100mph, everything is done with ease. There is a gear position indicator on the dash but it's hardly necessary as sixth will pull strongly no matter what engine revs you are carrying.

Many BMWs have servo-assisted brakes but happily this one doesn't. I prefer the feel of standard brakes and the 320mm discs do a brilliant job. ABS is another option I'm never sure about but it worked well, especially on the rear, so I suppose if you are doing a big mileage on winter roads it can only make life safer.

If you are an R1100S fan you'll appreciate this latest model. Although lighter, it's still a big bike and not for wimps. Great on all types of road because it's comfy and eats up miles but, unless you choose Donington Park, I wouldn't plan on doing too many track days.

VERDICT 4/5


A good bike that can cut it on a smooth track. Don't expect it to take on sports bikes, but for road blasts it's a good option

SPECS


TYPE - SUPERSPORTS


PRODUCTION DATE - 2006


PRICE NEW - £8955


ENGINE CAPACITY - 1170cc


POWER - 122bhp@8250rpm


TORQUE - 83lb.ft@6800rpm


WEIGHT - 190kg


SEAT HEIGHT - 830mm


FUEL CAPACITY - 17L


TOP SPEED - 150mph


0-60 - n/a


TANK RANGE - N/A

Click to read: BMW R1200S owners reviews, BMW R1200S specs and to see the BMW R1200S image gallery.

HOW SPORTY IS the new R1200S? Well it's that sporty BMW has taken luggage off the option list - this bike's built for brisk road riding and the occasional track day. It seems BMW is sick of people comparing the R1100S with sports tourers and wants this new model to compete head-to-head with the sports bike competition.

Trimming weight off the chassis, wheels and power train means the R1200S is now 13kg lighter at 195kg. The space around the seat has been optimised for more room and easier maneuvering at low speeds. This gives the feeling of a lower seat height, something I definitely approve of as I once had a Boxer Cup rep pin me to the floor in the Donington paddock after I attempted to eat a packet of cheese and onion crisps while sat on it.

Looks are sharper with smoother fairing and an anti-scratch screen. The front view is further improved with GS-like headlights and the BMW 'kidney grille' feeding air to the oil cooler. At the rear the new underseat silencer looks plain compared to the previous model although the new 18-LED tail light does look good.

The 1170cc flat twin gets redesigned cylinder heads, new pistons and stiffer valve springs while bigger throttle bodies and exhaust manifolds also help provide more muscle. Max revs are up to 8800rpm making this BMW's most powerful, highest revving Boxer ever.

My test bike was fitted with the optional ABS, Öhlins suspension, lower gearing and a six-inch rear rim allowing fitment of a 190-section tyre. I could live without the ABS, but a button on the left handlebar switches it off should you take to the track. Leave it switched on at your peril!