BMW R 1150 R Rockster review

Posted: 27 Feb 2013

If there’s one thing that could lay to rest the misguided belief Germans do not have a sense of humour then the R1150R Rockster could be it. After all, you only have to look at the oddball styling and colour scheme to see someone was having a laugh – or just heavy on the weissbier intake?

The basis for the Rockster was the R1150R a competent roadster with the same Boxer engine used in all its models of the time. Some cynics will say BMW had an excess of the 1150 engine at the time of the new 1200 engine and the Rockster was just a campaign push to get old engine stocks out of the door. But if this was the case, then the Rockster wouldn’t have been lumped with a slightly higher price than the standard R1150R.

Take away the Rockster’s bad dream paint scheme and the host of BMW parts bin details (R1150GS headlight, R1100S Telelever stanchions, rear wheel and front mudguard etc.) and you are left with a competent roadster that performs admirably but with minimal levels of excitement in any area.

The 1170cc engine carries twin-spark heads but it’s not like it’s noticeable. Top speed is around the 120mph mark but to get there the rider has to endure vibration of an overworked flat-twin engine; buzzy bordering on obtrusive that starts around 90mph. Keep the speeds on or around the legal limit though and it is a pleasant and easy going lump that will serve well as a commuter or steady weekend road riding tool.

We like BMW’s Telelever front suspension – it’s designed to give little in the way of dive under braking from the excellent servo-assisted brakes while giving up a lot of feedback. It does this too, but the ride can be choppy at low speeds. The rear suspension gives a more controlled plush ride and feels better with additional spring preload dialled in via the remote adjuster.

To be honest, the 220kg-plus weight and sedate steering geometry gives the bike a ponderous feel even at a brisk pace. The upshot is although the Rockster needs a little extra cajoling to have fun in the corners it will never give any indication of being unsettled.

Because of its ‘unique’ styling the Rockster never made it big in sales terms and residual prices are lower than most of the BMW range, which is a good thing because as a dependable workhorse the Rockster fits the bill to a Tee even its looks say it’s something else completely.

+ points – reliable and proven engine and chassis.

- points – most of your friends will think it’s ugly. Performance doesn’t tally with its styling.

Year: 2003-2005
Power: 85bhp, 72ft lbs
Dry weight: 219kg
Seat height: 835mm
Colours: Orange/black, green/black