BMW R1200RS (2017) long term test part 4

 

Rad. Shutters. Auto.

Forgive me, I've used that line before. It comes from the film The Dam Busters and it’s the last thing the Lancaster pilots say to their engineers as they shut the engines down at the end of a long, challenging flight.

It's become a tradition now that I say it to myself at the end of one of those days in the saddle. And this has been one of those days. The plan was to do Lincolnshire to Inveraray in Scotland, without touching a motorway. What could have been a 361 mile, six hour ride turns (according to Google maps) into a 375 mile,  nine and a half hour festival of the UK... northern section 

Of course Google’s timings don’t allow for cake stops or a middle-aged prostate requiring a piddle every 75 minutes. Or the need to sit down in a darkened room every now and then and consider the implications of what it has just done. Neither do I....too often, but as me and the R1200RS pull up into Inveraray, nine and a half hours after leaving home, there's a lot to look back on.

 

 

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Take out the food, fuel and self-counselling and we've spent about six hours on the road, average speed around 60mph, which is bloody good, considering the narrowness, bumpiness and remoteness of where we've just ridden. Part of me wants to list the route, but most of me wants you to discover it for yourself, it's a lot more fun, and not too difficult to work out.

And besides, this isn't some kind of 'Britain's best roads' feature. Most of them were tricky, challenging and not always as ‘good’ in conventional biking terms as the big, fat A-road that runs parallel. It was just a bit of fun to fall back in love with the R1200RS. Like a date night, but with more flies.

 

 

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Three highlights were a fast and bumpy stretch across the top of Northumberland mixing stunning views and challenging changes of surface, a deserted couple of B-roads running parallel to the M74 and then the last thirty miles on the awesome A83, chuckling as I tried to remember that Joey Dunlop quote about 'Theres a grey blur and a green blur....I try to focus on the grey'

I can't keep my eyes off the green. This part of the world has more subtle shades than anywhere I know. At cruising speeds the BMW’s riding position becomes as comfy as it should be at low speed, the simple screen adjustment makes everyone else’s seem daft and I genuinely feel as fresh almost ten hours after leaving home as I did after three.

 

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The clocks are still hard to read, switchgear is cluttered and I stopped using the quickshifter six weeks ago, but as we pull into Inveraray, I’m back in love with the R1200RS

 

 

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Helmet off, finally getting chance to rewind the journey there's the bit on the B1257 where the new road surface felt stickier than gum on a warm summer pavement. Where the little link road between Yarm and Darlington really did have a puddle a foot deep and where stopping for a coffee at Gretna Green found me sitting opposite a genuinely lovely and funny couple of newlyweds and their mates who'd ridden up from the midlands on a tidy Kawasaki Zephyr.

I could have come on the motorway, used a lot less petrol, got here earlier and... and what? That's the point, surely. I could have come in the car and stayed dry as well. But today has been one of those days we wait for all summer. I'm knackered, but buzzing. Must go to bed, but don't feel like sleeping. I might just set the alarm for five am and do a quick lap of Loch Fyne before breakfast.

 

 

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That isn't a bright red top-box you can see, honest...

 

And the R1200RS is probably the best sports tourer I've ridden. Finally.

Interestingly, on the way home, late for a family do, I’ll just follow the sat-nav and discover that the problem with Google Maps and Garmins is that the whole world ends up on the same roads making life busy, dangerous and slow. It took me longer to get home on the shortest route than it did to get up there having fun.

By the way, that bright red top box? You didn't see it, it doesn't exist. I asked BMW for a matching grey one to go with the panniers, but they're sold out. The nice man in marketing said he could let me have a red one if I promised not to show it in any photos. Thing is, I like it and it is a bloody good box. Big enough to surprise me, sturdy enough and easy to use to make me smile every time. But you haven't seen it, ok?

 

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Three things that make BMW’s R1200RS our favourite sports tourer

 

  1. The package. Not too much power and what there is is just where you want it. Light clutch, slick gearshift and the most sublime throttle response of any big twin. Add in a chassis that does sporty (with a bit of muscle required) and comfy (at speed… below 50mph there’s a bit too much weight on your wrists) and stable at all speeds, plus brakes with power, feel and cornering ABS, the best heated grips and factory luggage in the business. Oh, and shaft drive, powerful headlights and comfortable pillion accommodation too. Love it
  2. Flexibility. It can do loopy and it can do sensible. 40mpg or 58mpg, secure in the wet or sharp in the dry. Nimble commuter or two-up tourer. Not quite every bike you’ll ever need but not too far off
  3. Affordable. Maybe not this sooper-dooper £14k SE Sport version with a load of gadgets I still haven’t used after six months. But the standard version, which misses out on the traction control, cruise control, electronic suspension, heated grips and chrome exhaust costs less than £12k, which is good value for this much performance. Spend the money saved on luggage and the heated grips and a summer’s worth of fuel and B&Bs instead.

 

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Price: £14,065

Engine: 1170cc liquid-cooled flat-twin

Power (claimed): 125bhp @ 7750rpm

Torque (claimed): 92lb-ft @6500rpm

Transmission: Six speed, shaft final drive with BMW Gearshift Assist

Frame: Steel trellis

Suspension: (F) 41mm inverted telescopic forks with semi-active electronic adjustment

(R): monoshock with semi-active electronic adjustment

Brakes: (F) Twin 320mm discs, four-piston radial calipers and cornering ABS; (R) 276mm disc, two-piston caliper, ABS

Tyres: (F) 120/70-17; (R) 180/55-17

Wheelbase: 1530mm

Seat height: 820mm

Kerb weight: 238kg

Fuel capacity: 18 litres (4gallons)

Click here for an insurance quote

 

 

 

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