at the Kruger Gate - Kruger National Park                  Photo Kenn Slater

Recently I had the opportunity to ride the big 1200CL BMW on two of my Redline tours, once on my Redline Run held in the Eastern Transvaal, using the Summit Lodge in Graskop as a base (that was a trip of about 1200km) and again on my Joburg to Durban Run to La Mercy Beach Hotel on the East Coast (about 1400km), and with a bit of running around in Joburg and Pretoria, I reckon I clocked over 3000 kilometers on the CL, and it never missed a beat. At this stage I must thank Bavarian Motorcycles in Pretoria (there's only one Bavarian Motorcycles in South Africa anyway) for the loan of their 1200CL.

First impression of the big Cruiser is that it's big, heavy and cumbersome. What with that big screen, that big, fat, 15/80 front tyre and the big, wide, horizontally opposed twin, the bike is BIG, it is HEAVY and it is CUMBERSOME. Once you get moving past second gear it does improve, but you can't expect to keep up with... an RT or an LT, because the BMW R1200CL was designed to be ridden slower, so you can smell those roses and so you can take in that scenery, so you can just chill out and leave the rat race behind.

The best way to describe the CL is that it's very different. It may not appeal to superbike riders, but as a "slower" touring bike it does have it's attributes. Firstly there's loads of dry packing space, there a CD/radio/tape deck fitted as standard, the bike has cruise control, the large screen, fairings, protruding mirrors and strategically placed flaps offer quite a bit of protected from the elements and the four headlights are big and bright enough to turn night into day.

Although the BMW R1200CL is so big and heavy, it's still a breeze to ride. Just to see how far the bomber could stretch her legs, I pushed her to the limit (for a short while), edging the needle past the 180kph mark. To reach those speeds I had to get down behind the screen and really hang on the cable for a while, the bike was relatively stable (as long as I didn't change direction) considering the size and weight (of me and the bike), slowing quickly after having flashes of being hunted down by George Bush for riding a Weapon of Mass Destruction.

The low-revving, single-overhead-camshaft, 4 valves per cylinder, oil- and air-cooled, 4-stroke, flat-twin engine produces 61 horsepower at 5000 rpm and a plough-pulling 98 Newton meters of torque at only 3000 rpm. Fuel consumption around town is about 5 liters for every 100km, on the highways, averaging around 120kph, you should use about 6.2 liters per 100km. There is a single fuel injector squirting juice into two 585cc combustion chambers (1170cc twin), with a compression ratio of 10:1. Clutch is hydraulic. Gearbox is 6 speed with 6th being an overdrive. Brakes are EVO system with duel, 305mm discs in front and a single 285mm disc on the rear. Ready to ride, fully fuelled the CL weights in at 308kg. Fuel tank capacity is 17.5 liters and seat height is 745mm above the deck.

The suspension is handled by BM's Telelever system in front and a steel monolever strut at the rear, the rear spring preload is adjustable by a hand wheel. Tyres are 150/80-16 in front and 170/80-15 on the back, fitted onto die-cast aluminium wheels.

The only criticism that I have for the R1200CL is in the sound department. I would have preferred a 6 CD shuttle instead of the single CD player and 2 extra speakers in the rear (like on the 1200LT). Otherwise its a nice touring bike, a totally different and cheaper alternative to BMW's K1200LT.   Kenn Slater.

at the Voortrekker monument in Pretoria.   Photo by some gorgeous lady tourist



Engine Type

Air/oil- cooled, 2-cylinder 4-stroke "boxer", one camshaft, 4 valves per cylinder

Mixture preparation / engine management

Bosch Motronic MA 2,4 with fuel cut-off when coasting



6 speed (with overdrive 6th)

Final drive ratio



4 per cylinder


1,170 cc

Bore x stroke

101 mm x 73 mm


61 bhp at 5 000 rpm


98 Nm at 3 000 rpm


Fuel Consumption:

Tank volume

17,5 l, approx. 4 l res.

per 100 km acc. to ISO 7118 at 90 km/h 4,8 l. at 120 km/h 5,9 l.

Seat height (unladen)

740 mm



Unladen weight

256 kg






z700 W

Maximum speed

approx. 180 km/h


12 V / 19 Ah

Frame: chill-cast alloy front section
Forks: BMW Telelever with central strut and anti-tilt handlebar mount
Suspension travel: 144 mm
Swinging arm: monolever
Transmission: shaft
Suspension strut: central, with coil spring and single-tube gas-filled shock absorber, continuous rebound-stage adjustment, 7 spring preload stages
Brakes: front: twin discs (305 mm), floating, 4-piston fixed calipers with angular wear compensation
              rear: single disc (285 mm) with 2-piston floating calipers
Wheels: cross-spoke
Tyres: front: 100/90 - ZR 18 (tubeless)
            rear: 170/80 - ZR 15 (tubeless)

Bike supplied courtesy of Bavarian Motorcycles in Pretoria. Tel: 012 323 4865/6