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BMW R1150RT (2001-2004): Review & Buying Guide

Massively experienced road tester



2001 BMW R1150RT Review Used Price Spec_00


Price: £2000-£3999 | Power: 93bhp | Weight: 255kg | Overall BikeSocial Rating:5/5


Launched in 2001 to replace the popular R1100RT, the R1150RT (RT stands for Reise-Tourer, or travel tourer) is a perfect demonstration of why over the years BMW has forged such a formidable reputation for engineering excellence and crafting superb mile-munchers. Designed with comfort and ease as a priority (if you want sporty there is always the R1150RS, if you crave adventure there is the R1150GS) this boxer-powered full-dress tourer makes churning out the miles simply effortless. With sensible features such as panniers, a shaft drive, electronically-adjustable screen and wonderfully supportive seats for both the rider and pillion, if you are after a great-value way to explore Europe, or even further afield, there are very few better options. The BMW R1150RT is a brilliant, and extremely reliable, full-dress tourer that is worth every single penny.


BMW R1150RT (2001-2004) Price

The RT is one of those bikes that tends to hold its value fairly well due to the fact owners (much like with a Pan European) usually stick with them as they are so reliable, upgrading seems a waste of money that could be better invested in a touring holiday. That said, they aren’t hard to find in the used market due to the fact so many were made. Setting your sights at the lower end of the market, a budget of £2000-£2500 will get you a well looked after example that has gone over 50,000 miles, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as it has been serviced regularly. That said, up your limit to the £3500 area and you can get a late 2004 area bike with between 30 and 40,000 miles on its clocks from a dealer, which is probably a better buy. If you opt to go private you may be able to reduce the mileage to under 30,000 for a bike in this price bracket but that’s more of a gamble as at least you have a bit of warranty from a dealer and often they will know the bike’s history.


  • Very reliable

  • Extremely comfortable mile-muncher

  • Fairly low price tag

  • Some parts are expensive to replace

  • The ABS system isn’t great

  • It’s quite heavy at low speed


Engine and Performance

The R1150 boxer engine replaced the older R1100 motor and added not only a bit of extra capacity and with it grunt but also a sixth ‘overdrive’ gear and a touch more refinement. A thoroughly tried and tested engine, if you are into boxer-powered BMWs you know what you are getting and it is reliable, easy to service and more than happy to lollop around at a gentle or fairly brisk pace. While it is worth noting that BMW updated the RT very slightly in 2003 to a new ‘twin spark’ (twin sparkplug) head that owners report cures the older model’s fuelling’s tendency to surge a bit, it wasn’t a huge upgrade, more a reliability tweak as a few other parts were also modified. Ideally buy a later-engined bike but it’s not a huge issue if you can only find an early one within your price bracket.

When buying used there is little to add that isn’t common older boxer engine knowledge. Always feel for any signs of clutch slip as replacing the clutch is a major job, see if the clutch slave cylinder is leaking, listen for rumbles or slight oil leaks from the rear hub that indicates the bearing is on its way out and be cautious of any warning lights on the dash. When it comes to its mechanics the R1150 engine is pretty much bulletproof but sensors do fail with age and it does like to be serviced at its correct (6000-mile) intervals (valve-clearances at 12,000 miles) as they can drink a bit of oil, especially when the miles have been piled on. A lot of owners do their own maintenance, mainly as it is so easy, so if this is the case always inspect the fairing for cracks as getting it off can be a bit tricky, look behind it for hidden corrosion or crash damage and ask when the rear hub’s oil was last changed as it is often overlooked. The exhaust is also worth giving a good check-over as they can crack. Generally if an RT starts crisply, doesn’t smoke and runs nicely, you can look forward to thousands of hassle-free miles.



BMW R1150RT (2001-2004) Handling & Suspension

BMW have always tried to make their full-dress tourers surprisingly agile and the R1150RT is no exception. Yes, it is a big old girl at 255kg dry (approaching 290kg wet), but it corners well and is quite light on its feet. Carrying its weight nice and low thanks to the boxer engine, the RT’s bulk isn’t too intimidating at slow speed (even less so with a low seat fitted), although you do need to be a touch careful when you add a pillion into the equation. Out on the open road you can enjoy the RT but, probably more importantly, it remains rock-solid at speed – even in windy conditions. But while helping its stability, the RT’s weight does bring with it drawbacks...

When buying used you need to be careful with areas on the RT that you may not necessarily expect to look at on a lighter bike. The Telelever front end can wear its ball joints, so feel for a gentle weave at low speed (this could be worn wheel bearings), and also ensure the discs aren’t approaching their minimum wear limit. Both shocks need to be checked for leaks or duff damping (the rear shock is adjustable, the front one not) and the shock’s linkages will probably need stripping and regreasing soon if it is a high-mileage bike, a job that can lead to a lot of headaches if they are badly corroded...



Comfort & Economy

There are few bikes as effortlessly comfortable as an RT. Absolute bliss to ride, the boxer engine gives out a few vibes but nothing that will upset your rhythm too much, and as well as an adjustable seat (805mm or 845mm, there was an optional lower seat) you can also adjust the position of the RT’s bars. Both the rider and pillion seats are incredibly well padded and the screen is electronically-adjustable in its height, which is great news as it means you can put a really big one on for motorway miles and lower it when the scenery is worth looking at. As long as it does still lower, but more on that later...

When it comes to economy, the RT will average around 45mpg but that is easily increased to over 50mpg if you are taking it easy. Even with the 45mpg ‘worst-case’ scenario, the RT’s huge 25.2-litre tank should be good for a range of 250 miles with touching 300 miles certainly possible if you ride economically. What more could you ask for in a tourer?



BMW R1150RT (2001-2004) Equipment

The RT was BMW’s best-selling full-dress touring model so you have to expect its spec list to be pretty high. As standard it came with linked ABS as well as panniers, an electronically-adjustable screen and a centre stand but you could also add heated grips, a top box and even a radio. Generally, most used bikes come with heated grips and a top box fitted, which are good to see. When buying used, always check the electronically-adjustable screen moves smoothly as it has a habit of breaking its mechanism and that leads to a lot of hassle as parts are tricky to locate and often expensive. To prevent future damage, try to avoid moving it upwards when travelling at speed as working against the wind pressure puts a lot of stress on the mechanism. The ABS is also worth keeping an eye on as if the modulator breaks it is expensive to replace or get rebuilt, so watch out for warning lights. It may just be a sensor but if it is more serious you are often better off just junking the whole ABS system, which simply involves bypassing the modulator with new brake lines. To be honest, it’s not a major drama if the bike has had its ABS deactivated and many owners actually reckon it is beneficial as the performance of BMW’s linked ABS system isn’t regarded that highly.



BMW R1150RT (2001-2004) Rivals

When it comes to full-dress tourers, the RT’s natural rivals are the FJR and the Pan, both of which have their own passionate fanbases. An RT buyer has likely considered both rivals but opted for the BMW as they are a lot easier to maintain.


Yamaha FJR1300 (2001-2020) | Approx Price: £3000-£11,500

Power/Torque: 144bhp/102lb-ft | Weight: 292kg


Kawasaki GTR1400 (2007-2015) | Approx Price: £4000 - £8500

Power/Torque: 139bhp/94lb-ft | Weight: 304kg


Honda ST1300 Pan European (2002-2018) | Approx Price: £2500-£8999

Power/Torque: 124bhp/92.3lb-ft | Weight: 321kg



BMW R1150RT (2001-2004) Verdict

The BMW R1150RT is a fabulous mile-muncher that despite the fact it is now approaching (or over...) twenty years old is still very unlikely to let you down. A solid and reliable machine that is extremely comfortable, it is the kind of bike that will effortlessly ease someone new to pillion riding into the joys of two-up touring. If you are happy to do a bit of DIY, the RT is an easy bike to maintain (once you have worked out how to remove the fairing) and also cheap to run – provided nothing major breaks, which to be fair it seldom does. At around £3000-£3500 for a good one, it’s hard to argue too hard against ownership.


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BMW R1150RT (2001-2004) – Technical Specification

Original price


Current price range




Bore x Stroke

101mm x 70.5mm

Engine layout

Boxer twin

Engine details

Air-cooled, SOHC, 8v


93bhp (70kW) @ 7250rpm


72.3lb-ft (98Nm) @ 5500rpm

Top speed



Six-speed, shaft final drive

Average fuel consumption


Tank size

25.2 litres

Max range to empty (theoretical)

250 miles

Reserve capacity

40 miles

Rider aids



Three section composite

Front suspension


Front suspension adjustment


Rear suspension


Rear suspension adjustment

Adjustable preload

Front brake

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

Rear brake

276mm disc, two-piston caliper.

Front tyre

120/70 – ZR17

Rear tyre

180/60 – ZR17



Dimensions (LxWxH)

2170mm x 940mm 1220mm



Ground clearance


Seat height


Kerb weight

255Kg Dry


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