BMW R1150RS (2001-2005): Review & Buying Guide

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Price: £2000-£4000 | Power: 95bhp | Weight: 246kg | Overall BikeSocial Rating: 3/5


BMW have been making RS models (the R stands for Road with the S signifying Sport, or Reisesport in German) since the 1976 R100RS but they have always done it their own way with the emphasis far more on road than any track abilities. A very sensible decision and as a result the RS range have generally been really rather good. Not the best looking it has to be said, but function and effective. And that just about sums up the R1150RS. Taking over the RS title from the R1100RS in 2001, the R1150RS was actually the first BMW boxer-engined model to run the revised 1150 four-valve motor, which shows how highly regarded it was at the time by BMW as it did so before the GS. Nowadays the R1150RS makes for a solid machine that while not very sporty at all, is a solid mile-muncher that is reliable, frugal and fairly cheap to buy. It may not thrill, but it certainly won’t disappoint.


BMW R1150RS (2001-2005) Price

Back in 2001 the RS cost £8310, which was good value for money. And that’s not all, there was also an SE model which cost £9410 and added some optional extras as standard. Nowadays you can pick up an early RS for as little as £2000, possibly even less if you don’t mind a few scratches and a big mileage. Good ones swap hands for around £2500-£3000. While there are a few advertised for over £3500, that’s very unrealistic as where the R1150GS and RT are sought after, the RS generally isn’t and so should be priced lower.


Pros & Cons

  • Good reliability
  • Comfortable
  • Frugal to run
  • Not very pretty
  • The engine is a bit rough
  • Quite heavy-handling
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Engine and Performance

The R1150RS is powered by the same 1130cc motor as the rest of the R1150 range, which includes the GS, RT and R. Unlike the later air-cooled boxer motors, the 1150 runs a single overhead cam, not twin, but it does have a four-valve head and a six-speed gearbox with the sixth gear very much an overdrive.

Quite an old-school feeling boxer, the R1150 engine is far less refined than the R1200 version and as such bikes powered by it can feel a touch rough and ready. Is that a bad thing? In some ways no as the ‘boxer twist’ when you blip the throttle is more pronounced on the 1150, giving it character, and it sounds pleasingly meaty and raw. But it is worth noting that as it isn’t as refined as the R1200 it vibrates more, is quite direct on the throttle and it does have a few things to look out for when buying used...

The first is the clutch, which is a well known issue. Very solid, the issue is simply down to wear and generally between 50-70,000 miles it will need changing and that means basically splitting the whole bike in half! It’s not actually that hard job to do as long as you have the confidence, tools and enough space to complete the work but if not, you are looking at a bill approaching the £1000 mark. Taking it to a non-BMW specialist can reduce this but it will still be quite hefty. A few bikes have also been known to strip the spline on the output shaft, so on a test ride always check for any clutch slip or general slip in the system. Also feel for excessive clunking from the rear hub, which may indicate play and therefore it requiring new bearings, and after the ride see if it is dripping oil, another clue all is not well. The good news is that all of these parts can be rebuilt, the bad news is that it can be quite a tricky operation and usually needs an expert and specialist tools.

The R1150 motor itself is very robust with few major issues as long as the servicing is kept on top of, which most are. DIY servicing isn’t that hard to do thanks to its exposed nature, which a few owners try, but in general R1150RSs go to professional mechanics. The service intervals are every 6000 miles with valve clearances checked at every service – an easy job but often missed. A few older bikes are now starting to suffer age-related issues such as fragile plastic fuel line connectors, exhaust corrosion, wiring loom failures and sensors going down but in general, the R1150 is a safe engine that is unlikely to explode as soon as you have left the seller’s address!


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BMW R1150RS (2001-2005) Handling & Suspension

The RS may be billed as a sports tourer but in reality it isn’t that sporty, so instead treat it as a lightweight tourer and you won’t be disappointed. The fact it weighs a hefty 246kg may seem heavy but when you consider an RT is 33kg more, it puts it into perspective – it’s a lightweight BMW sporty tourer, not a lightweight sports tourer...

On the road the RS is best describe as ‘safe and sound’ rather than ‘light and agile.’ A bike you can trust, the RS takes a bit of effort to turn but once lent over is rock-solid and very predictable. Happier on a fast A-road than a twisty B-road, the RS is good to ride but you can’t help but feel it is more about ensuring you get to your destination safely rather than have fun on the way. Speaking of safety, the RS came with EVO ABS as standard (with boosted pressure) and an option of upgrading to Integral ABS (standard on the SE), which links the front lever’s action to the rear brake while the rear brake lever remains independent. On a used bike, always check the clarity of the brake fluid and for any ABS warning lights as replacing the ABS control system is expensive.

As you would expect, the RS comes with BMW’s Telelever front end rather than conventional forks, so check the condition of the shock, and also feel for any play or roughness in the system at low speed that may indicate it needs a rebuild. And while you are inspecting the suspension, see if the remote preload adjuster turns on the shock, they seize up due to owners generally not bothering to adjust the shock.


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Comfort & Economy

When the RS increased in size from R1100 to R1150, BMW gave it a full fairing as standard where the previous model had a half-fairing as an option – and good on them for that. Very protective and with a tall screen, the RS’s fairing is excellent and although some of the paint colours are ‘challenging’ (hideous), don’t hold that against it. With tall bars, low pegs and a deeply padded seat, you can cover big distances on an RS in total comfort and pillions also find them very relaxed. Not only that, it is surprisingly economical.

BMW claimed between 56 and 70mpg was achievable on the RS, which is pretty impressive but also very optimistic! Expect to record closer to 56mpg and you won’t be disappointed – giving you a range of over 250 miles thanks to its huge 22-litre tank.


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BMW R1150RS (2001-2005) Equipment

The R1150RS came in standard or top-spec SE versions, with the SE gaining Integral ABS, heated grips and panier mounts. If you wanted to up this further you could add BMW panniers or a larger screen but that was about it as in 2001, there wasn’t much call for extras beyond this. Pleasingly BMW gave the bike a centre stand as standard!

In the used market the vast majority of RS models are standard with the only common accessories aftermarket heated grips, panniers, a 12v input and a top box. In all honesty, there isn’t much more you could possibly need! A few owners fit new downpipes, which do release some extra power, but in general RSs stay standard.



BMW R1150RS (2001-2005) Rivals

Owners of the R1150RS are generally after a workhorse of a bike, a role the RS perfectly suits and is more than happy to fulfil.


Honda VFR800 VTEC (2002-2013) | Approx Price: £1500-£5000

Power/Torque: 110bhp/60.5lb-ft | Weight: 208kg


Aprilia Future (2001-2003) | Approx Price: £1000-£3500

Power/Torque: 113bhp/71lb-ft | Weight: 210kg


Suzuki GSX1250FA (2007-2012) | Approx Price: £2000-6000

Power/Torque: 96bhp/79lb-ft | Weight: 272kg


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BMW R1150RS (2001-2005) Verdict

The RS is a cheap and easy-going mile-muncher that while billed as a sports tourer, is much better regarded as a lighter tourer rather than a sports tourer as such. Solid, dependable and cheap, it’s a good used option but not really outstanding in any way. Ownership won’t leave you disappointed but by the same token it is unlikely to leave you excited either.


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BMW R1150RS (2001-2005) – Technical Specification

Original price


Current price range




Bore x Stroke

101mm x 70.5mm

Engine layout

Boxer twin

Engine details

Air-cooled, SOHC, 4v


95bhp (70kW) @ 7250rpm


73.8lb-ft (100Nm) @ 5500rpm

Top speed

130 mph


Six-speed, shaft final drive

Average fuel consumption


Tank size

22 litres

Max range to empty (theoretical)

262 miles

Reserve capacity

35 miles

Rider aids




Front suspension

BMW Telelever

Front suspension adjustment

Adjustable rebound

Rear suspension


Rear suspension adjustment

Adjustable preload

Front brake

2 x 320mm discs, four-piston calipers. ABS

Rear brake

276mm disc, two-piston caliper. ABS

Front tyre

120/70 – ZR17

Rear tyre

170/60 – ZR17


25.5°/ 111mm

Dimensions (LxWxH)

2170mm x 920mm x 1286mm



Ground clearance


Seat height


Kerb weight

246Kg Wet


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