BMW R1200S

NICE... BM's semi-naked sports bike

The latest 1200 Boxer machines punch much harder than before while moving with a lot more agility than their predecessors,

and after sampling the latest and greatest Bavarian Boxer I reckon it's a great bike.

The R1100S was first introduced in 1998. I sampled one shortly after they arrived and was duly impressed. Claims were made of 74kW, which is close to 100 horsepower, and while I could live with that amount of power and not complain too much, although I found the old gearbox clunky.

But times have changed. The leap in performance and manners enjoyed by the all new R1200S makes for a much more exciting bike. There's no mistaking the R1200S is a BMW, and proud to be one. The switchgear is little changed, the lurch to the right as the machine bursts into life and the solid albeit smoother engagement of the gears all serve to make sure that unmistakable Boxer feel is clearly evident and of course celebrated by BMW enthusiasts worldwide.

Another proven concept is the multi-dimensional frame structure on the R models integrating the engine into the chassis and suspension as a load-bearing element: The S features a three-piece frame specially geared to the qualities and characteristics of this sports motorcycle.
The central and front sections of the tubular frame structure are made of steel, while the rear frame bolted in place is made up of extra-light square aluminium tubes. The advantages of this structure are not only low weight, but also simple and low-cost repair of accident damage at the rear.

The passenger footrest supports also bolted on to the frame come off easily within just a few minutes, for riding the S on a race track.

Steering precision is a particularly important requirement on a sports motorcycle. But apart from an absolutely precise response to his steering commands, the rider also expects clear feedback from the front wheel.

This is precisely why the Telelever front wheel suspension on the S comes with fixed tubes measuring 41 millimetres in diameter and wheel travel of 110 millimetres. Featuring longitudinal arms supported on a specially matched spring strut, the Telelever does not require any maintenance and reduces brake dive to a minimum.

The geometry of the suspension is new and has been specifically tailored to the R1200S, even the basic data and configuration figures clearly highlighting the agility and great handling of the Boxer on winding roads, naturally in conjunction with low weight in road trim with a full tank of just 213 kg: Measuring 66°, the steering head angle is 1° steeper than on the former model. As a result, the rider will hardly even notice that wheelbase is up from 1,478 to 1,487 millimetres. What the sports rider will however, notice and appreciate immediately is that the R1200S allows him to lean over at an angle 2 per cent lower in bends than on the former model, enabling the rider to reach an extreme position of up to 52°.

A sports motorcycle must allow the rider to lean forward in a dynamic, “fast” position in order to benefit in full from his or her preferred style of riding. The shift in weight provided in this way generates an optimum load on the front wheel when braking and entering a bend, and keeps the wheel even better on the road when accelerating.

Despite this the handlebar remains at exactly the right height to avoid any undue loads acting on the rider’s wrists. Seat height of 830 millimetres and the well-conceived arrangement of the rider’s footrests guarantee a comfortable knee angle allowing the rider to keep his knees firmly on the tank. A further advantage is that the rider will find it easy to reach the ground with his feet, the seat particularly slender at the front keeping the overall distance from one foot to the other on the ground to a mere 1,810 mm.

Öhlins sports suspension for the particularly demanding rider. A true specialist in motorsport, Öhlins supplies the components for the sports suspension. The spring strut up front features an adjustable in­bound stroke and variable spring pre-tension responding particularly smoothly and sensitively to bumps on the road and offering even greater reserves under sporting and dynamic riding conditions. The gas pressure spring strut at the rear with its integrated equaliser reservoir and travel-dependent damping effect, in turn, allows not only individual adjustment of the inbound and rebound stroke, as well as spring pre-tension, but also variable adjustment of the rear end for height. So with the basic spring setting
remaining unchanged, the rider is able to modify the steering geometry of the R1200S and fine-tune his bike.



BMW are certainly getting serious about performance, the S is at home on the highway

...and on the track

Modified in numerous important features, the 1170cc engine offers good power reserves reaching a peak of 90 kW/122 hp at 8,250 rpm. These figures alone underline the sporting standard of the new model, which nevertheless does not seek to be a supersports. Rather, one of the most important objectives in developing the new S was to achieve
a perfect synthesis of sportiness and everyday riding qualities, enabling the rider to take on a relaxed seating position for effortless riding even on long distances. And thanks to its slender waist, a result of the seat configuration optimised around the rider’s legs, the S also provides good ground contact when at a standstill.

It almost goes without saying that BMW’s new Boxer comes with all the features so typical of the brand, such as a fully controlled catalytic converter, the single-wire system for the on-board network complete with an electronic immobiliser, a smooth and easy-shifting six-speed gearbox, maintenance free shaft drive with a single-sided swingarm, as well as Telelever front wheel suspension. The specific set-up of the suspension and running gear ensures precise and smooth handling at all speeds, further enhanced by the excellent brake system: Optional BMW Motorrad ABS anti-lock brakes combine low weight and fast response simply perfect for the sports rider, in this case without the integral function but with on-demand operation allowing the rider to deactivate ABS for track use.

BMW’s new Sports Boxer benefits from the innovations already featured on the R1200GS. Displacing 1170 cc, the two-cylinder features four valves and two spark plugs per cylinder, thus following the basic principle of the flat-twin power unit of the GS model. But at the same time far-reaching modifications ensure much higher peak output than on the RT and ST models. While the modified cylinder heads enable the R1200S to develop 122 hp, smoothly delivered to the crankshaft running in anti-friction bearings. Power is transmitted via new, high load-resistant connecting rods made of extra-strong steel alloy. The camshafts with modified control timing and larger valve lift rotate no longer in two, but rather in three bearings serving to further enhance the stiffness and precision of the entire valve drive system. Harder valve springs and reinforced rocker arms take the high speed of the engine of up to 8,800 rpm into account, a speed level incidentally never seen before on a BMW Boxer.

New pistons are also one of the significant changes made on the S power unit, increasing the geometric compression ratio to 12.5 : 1 and thus marking a new record for an air- and oil-cooled power unit. This high compression ratio serves in particular to boost torque at low and medium engine speeds, the flat-twin developing maximum torque of 112 Newton-metres or almost 6,800 rpm, despite the emphasis on supreme peak power. On the road, this means great engine response and at all times.

Throttle butterflies and intake manifolds enlarged in diameter by 5 mm to 52 mm and interacting with the modified intake funnel to boost the cylinder charge also serve to increase engine output. Due to the large intake cross-sections, the throttle butterfly housings feature special, progressively-acting kinematic control, the rider’s commands in calling up engine power being delivered to the throttle butterflies.

R1200S is at home on the track or around suburbia

over 'n under pipes are a nice change

the R1200S is slightly faster than this, just had too much traffic. Photos by Dylan Slater

I took the Boxer 1200 S through its paces around Midvaal Racway and came away very impressed with the machine.

The new R1200S... BMW Motorrad's most powerful production Boxer the world has ever seen, a machine standing out clearly from all other models in the range. The new Boxer is following in the footsteps of the successful R1100S, with the focus clearly on sporting performance and dynamic riding characteristics.

The S's performance and sporting power is borne out from the start by the athletic looks of the R1200S. From the front fairing with the “kidney” grille so typical of BMW and the asymmetric dual head­lights all the way to the unmistakable silencer at the rear and the LED tail lights, every feature of S simply exudes power and dynamism all the way.

BMW quite intentionally chose the former model as the benchmark in creating the design of the new R1200S. Together with this legacy, the designers were able to successfully bring out a particular touch of lightness and dynamism in the looks of the new bike, not least thanks to its more athletic look, bearing clear testimony to the lightweight R1200S.

Overall weight of the new bike in road trim but without fuel is a mere 195 kg, making it 13 kg lighter than it's 1100cc predecessor. And with the tank full, overall weight of BMW’s new Sports Boxer is an equally impressive 213 kg.


Specifications R 1200 S


Flat twin 




1,170 cc




101/73 mm



Max output

90/122 kW/hp @ 8,250 rpm



Max torque

112/83 Nm/lb-ft @ 6,800 rpm



Compression ratio/fuel grade

12.5/premium plus 



Valve management/gas control

HC (high camshaft)



Valves per cylinder



Intake/outlet dia

36/31 mm



Throttle butterfly dia

52 mm



Fuel supply





Single-plate dry clutch, dia 180 mm 



Dog-shift six-speed gearbox  


Final drive



Suspension and Running Gear




Type of frame

Main and front frame made of steel tubes,

rear frame made of square aluminium tubes,
engine with load-bearing function


Wheel suspension, front

BMW Telelever 



Wheel suspension, rear

BMW Paralever 



Spring travel, front/rear

110/120 mm




1,487 mm



Steering head angle

66 °




front   Double-disc brake, dia 320 mm



rear     Single-disc brake, dia 265 mm



BMW Motorrad ABS optional 



Cast light-alloy 




front    3.50 x 17




rear    5.50 x 17




front  120/70 ZR 17




rear  180/55 ZR 17



Weight and Dimensions




Length, overall

2,151 mm



Width, overall, with mirrors

870 mm



Handlebar width, without mirrors

738 mm



Seat height

830 mm



Dry weight

190 kg



Unladen weight, DIN standard, in road trim

213 kg



Max permissible

410 kg



Tank capacity/thereof reserve

17/4 ltr







Fuel consumption




90 km/h

4.3 ltr/100 km



120 km/h

5.6 ltr/100 km







0–100 km/h

3.15 sec



Top speed

230 km/h




Bike supplied courtesy of Bavarian Motorcycles in Pretoria

Tel: 012 323 4865/6