2021 BMW R1250RT review, prices, specs


You can’t say a bike is a great tourer after an hour’s riding. Or even two, three or four hours. The moment you really know you bought the right tourer is after full day in the saddle, lost, in an unknown city, in rush hour, one eye looking at unfamiliar road layouts, while the other scans for clues or a big neon sign saying, ‘your hotel this way’.

Sadly, lockdown is preventing the full touring experience right now, so to test BMW’s 2021 R1250RT, I went for the ‘let’s just ride it all day and finish in an unknown city’ approach. And do you know what? It turns out that the 2021 R1250RT is a very good touring bike indeed and Winchester is prettier than I expected.

When you’ve spent more than four decades developing your flagship touring bike it’d be disappointing if it was anything less than perfect. Of course, there’s a caveat here that we, the customer for tourers have changed significantly since BMW launched the R100RT in 1978. Oh, and motorcycle technology, tyres and electronics have come on in leaps and bounds too.

BMW has a different update strategy to Honda’s touring division. Honda typically revamps its Gold Wing every 10-15 years, adding tweaks along the way. In the 17 years between the Wing’s 2001 and 2018 revamps BMW launched the R1150RT, R1200RT, a twin-cam R1200RT and a water-cooled version too. Every version is always better than the previous one and aside from occasional blind alleys (2002’s servo-assisted brakes were a notable miss), the new tech works while the comfort and ergonomics get better all the time.

2021’s R1250RT is all about the electronics. Radar-assisted cruise control turns out to be bigger news than anyone thought on a bike and the new 10.25-inch TFT screen and connectivity with the BMW app makes expensive motorcycle sat-navs (almost) redundant.


2021 BMW R1250RT (39)

This R1250RT LE in ‘Sports’ trim is £19,605, but the ‘still-very-well-equipped’ base model is almost £4000 less


2021 BMW R1250RT Price

The standard R1250RT costs £15,820 and the higher-spec LE model tested here is £19,105 on the road (plus an additional £500 for the gorgeous blue paint and cheesy ‘Sports’ stickers). The base model is competitive for a machine that rides this well with most of the kit that most of us would want including the new 10.25-inch TFT screen with smart phone connectivity, panniers, rear luggage rack, cornering ABS, switchable riding modes, LED headlights and old-school cruise control.

If you want the radar-controlled cruise (ACC), keyless ride, wireless smartphone charging, electronic suspension, heated seats, central locking, quick shifter, adaptive headlights and all the other bits and pieces standard on the LE model, it’ll cost more than the £3285 difference. But for me, the basic bike plus ACC, smartphone charging, heated seats and keyless ride would be fine and still very good value.

Clearly, this won’t be what happens in real life and any BMW salesman worth his commission will make sure no one leaves the showroom on a plain white base model. If your dealer can’t come up with an unmissable deal on a fully-laden R1250RT or, even better the LE model, he should be made to stand in the corner, next to the still-unsold K1600B that’s been gathering dust since 2019.

As a simple example of a finance starter-for-ten, with a 20 per cent deposit and PCP plan over three years, the numbers on the standard R1250RT look as follows.

Cash Price is £15,815, so your deposit will be £3,163, followed by 35 payments of £177.68 and a Final Optional Payment of £8,909.35. Right now, a three year-old R1200RT (the oldest R1250RTs are not three years old at the time this article is written) sells for around £11,500, meaning its trade in price is probably around £10k, meaning you should have enough equity in your three year-old RT to make up some of the deposit for your next one.

The only thing to consider when arranging finance on something like an RT is agreed mileage. When a bike is this good to ride in so many different environments it’s all-too-easy to underestimate the miles you’ll end up doing.


2021 BMW R1250RT (50)

ShiftCam technology means strong low and midrange power but a proper kick in the pants up top as well


2021 BMW R1250RT Power and torque

It’s perfectly possible that an R1250RT owner could ride for years, changing gear at 6500rpm, enjoying the surging midrange, lazy motorway cruising and easy overtaking of this stunning flat-twin engine. And then one day, for no apparent reason he decides to really give it some gas at 4000rpm in second or third gear. At this point our sensible, middle-aged motorcyclist will realise that big twins no longer live by midrange alone and this German gentleman’s express has a dark and playful side. Wow.

136bhp and 105 lb-ft are very good numbers for a tourer and 33 per cent more than Ducati’s legendary 916 race replica used to make. But much more important than ‘how much?’ is ‘how is it delivered and how does that feel?’

The R1250RT is unusual for a tourer because, instead of somehow slipping into top gear without realising it, you find yourself using all the gears and always being in just the right one. It’s a tourer that you engage with. I like that, especially because every time you ask for power, it delivers…and then some.

Touring bikes don’t really need lots of horsepower because once you’ve used the horses to gently accelerate yourself and partner to cruising speed, it doesn’t takemuch to maintain that speed. Lugging a couple of people and luggage out of twisty mountain hairpins needs torque and a consistent delivery and the rest is either, fast twisting A-roads (see cruising) or filtering slowly through towns and cities, looking for ‘Los Travelodge’.

What tourers need is plenty of torque, easy and consistent power delivery and just enough ‘wahay’ in reserve when you underestimate the speed of the Fiat Uno coming straight at you as you overtake the truck. Thankfully, the BMW has it all.  


2021 BMW R1250RT (6)

You can’t see the ShiftCam, but you can see the radiator and, in truth the water-cooling, introduced in 2014 had the bigger impact on RT performance.


2021 BMW R1250RT Engine, gearbox and exhaust

Water-cooled, fuel-injected twin cylinder, with variable cam timing and a six-speed gearbox. If you’re still riding an air-cooled BMW Boxer and are yet to try the water-cooled engine, you’ll be surprised that it no longer rocks to the right when you blip the throttle. The ShiftCam variable valve timing system has been around for a couple of years now and swaps between cam profiles seamlessly giving strong torque at low revs and enough power at high rpm for significant trouser glamping when someone asks, ‘what’ll it do then mister?’ What this does in reality is remove the need for words like midrange and top-end, each of which implies that the other might be missing. Instead, ShiftCam simply gives ‘drive’ or ‘thrust’ if you prefer, everywhere in the rev range.

In practice, you rarely rev it above 6000rpm because that’s where it feels right to change gear. But when you do get a bit giddy, the BMW does absolutely nothing to discourage you from doing it again. BMW’s ShiftCam twin is my favourite modern engine, by some distance.

The clutch is light as is the gearchange – another beneficiary of all those years’ development. The LE model we tested has BMW’s gearshift-assist-pro quick shifter which, as ever is both good enough (sometimes) and not-good-enough (other times) that I had to check the spec sheet to see if it actually has one fitted. It’s not just a BMW problem – quick shifters on road bikes are all like that. Full-throttle, going-for-it gearchanges love a quick shifter, but anything else just feels clumsy and better-done with a conventional shifter.

I’m still surprised that BMW hasn’t developed a dual-clutch semi-automatic gearbox. Honda’s DCT has evolved into a slick and genuinely useful addition to its touring bikes that is a seamless auto gearbox when you want it and the quickest and slickest of quick shifters when you want to go ‘manual’, I was surprised how much I missed it on the longer trips on the RT.


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25 litre fuel tank gives around 250 miles range


2021 BMW R1250RT Economy

The downside of having an engine that encourages you to tour like a sports bike is that you lose around 10mpg. Consumption varied between 45-55mpg, averaging out at 51.3mpg in mixed-riding. Which means around 200 miles before the warning light comes on and another 45 careful miles until you’re pushing it and wondering if you can press the SoS button just for more fuel.


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Styling is sleeker than before, but there’s still a lot of it to push around


2021 BMW R1250RT weight and manoeuvrability

All-up weight with a full tank of fuel is 279kg – the same as the outgoing model. That’s around ten per cent more than BMW’s R1250GS and most of that comes from the enormous full fairing and bracketry, plus standard-fit panniers.

Having that extra mass relatively high-up and forwards makes the RT feel a little cumbersome at very low speeds. All tourers feel like this but the RT’s Telelever front suspension helps it feel much more controlled.

Pushing it around with the engine off needs a bit of confidence and some muscle to get it moving. BMW’s other big tourer, the K1600 has a powered ‘reverse’ function linked to the starter motor like Honda’s non-DCT Gold Wing (the DCT Wing has a proper reverse gear). I’m surprised they haven’t offered this on the R1250RT – it would make a huge difference when manoeuvring it around. 


2021 BMW R1250RT (40)

Telelever front suspension allows a big heavy tourer to corner with confidence


2021 BMW R1250RT Handling, suspension and chassis

BMW’s Boxer twins share a similar architecture. There are two frames – front and back – that mount to the engine. So, in essence the R1200GS is the same platform as the R1200RT. Big conventional touring bikes share the same handling problems as big conventional adventure bikes. They need soft suspension to soak up bumps, but they also have a lot of weight at the front, usually quite high up, which means they need substantial springs. When you brake, all that weight goes crashing downwards, using all the suspension travel very quickly, giving your lazy tourer the temporary steering geometry of a sports bike. As you release the brake it all springs back up again and your geometry resembles a chopper right at the point you want to start steering.

BMW’s Telelever front suspension fixes this because the steering and braking are independent of the bump management. So, the bike can have the correct weight of spring for a comfortable ride, but when you brake there’s virtually no dive from the front and therefore no bounce-back either. So, the front remains settled on the way into a corner, which in turn makes the most of all available ground clearance and doesn’t affect the steering.

It’s a superb system, only spoiled occasionally in the past by BMW choosing settings for their electronically controlled ESA system that were too soft, much too soft or only just firm enough.

This version on the 2021 RT is very good and this latest system is semi-active, in that it senses the movement and automatically adjusts the damping to suit. On a touring bike that works well because you are always getting the most comfortable ride. On a sportster it’s less clear-cut – some riders prefer a bike to behave consistently, so they know exactly how much dive and damping to expect, even if it’s not optimal. There’s no ‘best’ answer and it’s good that, on the standard RT BMW gives riders the option.

Ride comfort with ESA is superb and the transition between brakes-on, brakes-off and steering is linear and very confident. There’s a moment, as you tip the bike into a very slow turn when you’re aware of the weight over the front end of the bike, but once you’re used to it, cornering is fun like no other tourer ever.

ESA is standard on the LE version or an £820 option on the standard bike. For my money I’d take the standard set-up because I prefer the consistency and almost always ride solo meaning once set-up I rarely fiddle with suspension. Judging by the ratio of ESA-to-non-ESA used RTs for sale, most buyers prefer the electronics and I’m clearly an oddball.


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Plenty of power and cornering ABS is standard, but the front-and-rear linking is crude


2021 BMW R1250RT Brakes

BMW-branded Hayes (an American company) calipers replaced the Brembo items previously used in 2019. There’s plenty of power and feel both front and rear, plus cornering ABS is standard on both models. I tend to use a lot more back brake on big touring bikes – sometimes just brushing it to add a bit of stability when filtering through traffic or again, just brushing it in a quick change of direction, going through a roundabout, for example to turn the bike faster. BMW’s ABS-Pro links the front and rear brakes, so pulling the ‘front’ brake lever also adds a little rear brake.

Occasionally when slowing gently in traffic or approaching a roundabout, holding the front brake gently on, if you apply the rear brake it changes the front lever pressure at the same time. This feels like something in the linking mechanism is switching-in and it makes the front brake lever move a couple of mm further back to the bar without the rider adding any extra squeeze. I find it really disconcerting because low-speed control on a bike is a matter of subtle, tiny instinctive movements. Having the lever slip back a few mm is really distracting.


2021 BMW R1250RT (46)

After 43 years’ evolution, the riding position is almost perfect… so long as you’re the same shape as BMW’s test rider


2021 BMW R1250RT Comfort over distance and touring

After 43 years’ evolution you’d expect the RT’s riding position and ergonomics to be perfect. And mostly, you’d be right. Seat height is adjustable, but footpegs and handlebars aren’t and that still seems unthinkable on a bike designed to do long days in the saddle.

Don’t get me wrong, the RT is a very comfortable motorbike, but it could be better. My knees were aching at the end of a (very) long day in the saddle. If Suzuki could fit adjustable footrests to their GSX-R range in 2006, it seems daft that BMW tourers still don’t have it all these years later.

The electric screen is as good as it ever was (which is really good and what I’m about to say is all about extremes and context), but still doesn’t go quite as tall (and therefore quiet) as Honda’s Gold Wing or the all-time best screen ever on a bike as fitted to Honda’s ST1300 Pan European. On the ST1300 you could ride visor-up in the rain, flat-out and still be comfortable with the screen fully raised (although, given the high-speed weave you were also fighting there was a lot more to worry about than wet whiskers). On the 2021 RT you still get wet and it’s still slightly too noisy.  


Active Cruise Control (ACC) uses a radar sensor in the fairing and allows the rider to choose three different distance settings before it activates


Rider aids and extra equipment / accessories

The big news is that, while the RT is last bike in the range to get BMW’s TFT display, it makes up for it by getting the dashboard equivalent of your mate Dave’s 83-inch flat-screen home cinema. The R1250RT’s 10.25 inches is a lot of inches for pretty-much any purpose, and it allows some really useful options about what information is displayed and how. Everything from resetting the trip meter to setting up your phone and navigation is controlled via the menu button and spinny-wheel and, mostly it’s straightforward and intuitive. New for this year are four pre-set buttons so you can get to the things you need most (like the seat and grip heater controls) quickly.

On the standard bike there are two riding modes; road and rain, plus hill start control, cornering-ABS, traction control and cruise control. The LE version adds eco and dynamic riding modes, adaptive headlights, BMW’s quick shifter and radar-controlled Active Cruise Control (ACC).

ACC works brilliantly. The radar sensor in the bike’s nose measures the speed of the vehicle in front and adjusts the bike’s pace accordingly. You can set it to engage at three different distances from the vehicle in front. On the road, as you approach a slower vehicle it rolls off the speed very gently and steadily – you hardly even notice – and rolls it back on again equally gently. If you move into a clear lane the bike picks ups speed as soon as you start to turn.

I never used to bother with cruise control but since getting nicked three times in quick succession by average speed cameras I use it whenever I see those pesky yellow fellas. ACC takes away the frustration of continually engaging and disengaging cruise control on a busy motorway where all the cars seem to be doing slightly different speeds. If you use cruise, then it makes a lot of sense.


Wireless charging for your phone, while it drives the navigation via onboard wi-fi is all controlled by the spinny-wheel and menu button. Pre-set buttons in the fairing-inner allow quick access to your favourite functions


2021 BMW R1250RT connectivity

BMW’s TFT displays are designed to work with their ‘Connected’ app. The app has two main functions; it monitors the status of your bike and reminds you of things like service requirements and it plans routes and measures data on your rides, which is the really interesting bit.

How much trouser-arousal you get from things like top speed reached (you can switch this off), distance, average speed, mpg, lean angle and G-force accelerating and braking probably depends on your combination of chromosomes and number of hairs on your back, but the navigation part of the app is what really makes it.

It’s not going to replace your £400 Tom-Tom or Garmin and it doesn’t do live traffic updates, but it will plan you a route based on fastest, shortest or three levels of twistiness, you can upload your own GPX files of other routes to it and it does record the whole trip in conjunction with all the data previously mentioned like lean angles, G-force etc.

It takes a few trips before you stop shouting at it for being stupid and realise that the app is fine, it’s the operator that’s the issue. Once you get into the routine the app is simple, reliable and, for most people, all the navigation help you’ll ever need.

Very occasionally it loses signal, and the map screen freezes, even more occasionally (once so far) the app disconnects from the bike and won’t reconnect without switching everything off and then back on again and, mostly, if you go wrong or change your mind halfway round, it will come up with an alternative route.  

But the best thing about this system by far is that, although your phone connects via Bluetooth, the actual data used is transmitted via a wi-fi router built into the bike, which your phone also connects with. There’s no subscription costs for this – it’s free (apart from the £15k for the bike, obviously) which means you won’t chew your way through three months of 4G data allowance before you reach the Belgian border. 


2021 BMW R1250RT (53)

Probably, possibly the best all-round motorcycle in the world


2021 BMW R1250RT second opinion

Dave Yorke is an ex-police escort rider and tactical pursuit advisor. He’s ridden tens of thousands of miles on BMW R1200RTs and so seemed like the perfect person to put some additional miles on BikeSocial’s R1250RT test bike.


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Possibly the best all-weather motorcycle on sale. R1250RT riders are warmer, drier and probably safer too in foul weather than any other bike we can think of


A few years ago, I ran a protected escort ride - armed police, guns and all, for a pretty unsavoury character, between two secure facilities. We were using the old water-cooled R1200RT, I only mention it because at about 240 miles one way it was almost the same distance as my first ride on the 2021 R1250RT and it was mostly on the same roads.

I’ll come back to it later but my history with RT’s goes through the original 1200, the later one with the water-cooled heads and now the 1250 with the shift cam engine. This particular R1250RT is the first I’ve ridden that has a pillion seat and has been painted in anything other than white.

The 1250 shift cam engine, producing 136 BHP, jumps into a deep rumble at start up and settles down very quickly afterwards. At idle, it’s smoother than the 1200. However, If you’ve ridden RT’s in the past you’ll still recognise the little swing to the left if you rev it a standstill.


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Enormous TFT screen can be split to show trip information or navigation details. Your phone charges wirelessly in a separate compartment


The new 10.25-in TFT screen is clear with the main information all there. Rev counter, speed, adaptive cruise indicator along with some comfort features like the heat setting of your grips and seat. You can also see how much charge is in your phone while it’s being wirelessly charged in its own compartment.

 A fuel gauge and information message pop up when you hit reserve at 44 miles to go and you can configure the screen in a fair few different modes including a split screen to show either navigation or more detailed trip information such as miles ridden, tyre pressures and fuel range available if you don’t want to wait for that reserve message.

You can split the display on the screen to show navigation on one half or choose to have the entire screen as a map, It’s all very intuitive once you get the hang of the rotary wheel control and the menu switch which are more intuitive than, say an Africa Twin and its myriad of buttons. Like most other things in life, it pays to read the manual and have a play before you start trying things on the move.


BMW R1250RT Controls Walkthrough
Dave Yorke provides a detailed walkthrough of the BMW's controls, including a demonstration of the Adaptive Cruise Control 

Watch BMW’s adaptive cruise control in action here


It’s difficult to talk about one part of the bike in isolation from the others. The engine and electronics package, particularly the electronic suspension system, really complement each other. I was surprised by the gearbox when I selected first gear on picking the bike up. It went in without the little clunk that normally happens on an RT. However, normal service was resumed as everything warmed up.

The gear selection is positive but the shift assist (BMW’s name for their quick shifter) is only really effective when there is a bit of loading on the engine at higher revs and bigger throttle openings. It can make gear shifts feel awkward in slower speed environments. Having said that, in conjunction with the adaptive cruise it can produce some very smooth downshifts and yes, you can change gear and not disengage the adaptive cruise. It has a sweet spot though, it’s the B6479 from Settle to the Ribblehead Viaduct, or on an evening ride anywhere away from rush hour traffic, where changing from 3rd to 4th and back again is seamless under just the right amount of loading.

It’s easy to dismiss the shift assist as clumsy or clunky on occasion. It isn’t, you just have to be in the right place at the right time and in the right frame of mind to use it. You don’t, of course, have to use it if you don’t want to.

It’s like saying ‘Dynamic’ riding mode is better than ‘Road’ mode, It’s only better in the right setting. Take for instance, a typical ride around the Yorkshire dales, I mention them a lot, but they really do provide a great mix of road types and I’m lucky enough to live not too far away. Riding in road mode, the bike feels relaxed and throttle response is lovely but the moment you start to press on - I’m not talking MotoGP speeds here - it becomes a bit soft over bumps and crests, the result being that it’s not as easy to keep a line in corners. In such conditions the RT can lose it composure but it’s not a flaw with the bike.  It’s easily remedied with a quick switch on the move to Dynamic mode. The suspension firms up and the throttle response become more direct in its actions.

With the bike firmed up you can use the engine. It’s more powerful than the 1200 and with greater torque to boot and because – in Dynamic mode you’re not waiting for the bike to settle, after say a light crest into a right hander, you can keep a constant throttle, hold the line and ride out of the bend with confidence.

The reverse also applies though and if the road is dictating that you can’t push on or you simply don’t want to, then it might be better to wind it all back in and put it back to Road mode where, perversely, it’ll perform better than in Dynamic. Mode names are just that, names, you decide how the bike is set up and how to ride it.

The linked brakes work well, they’ve got a lot of weight to haul up from speeds that can surprise you. In the context of not talking about one particular aspect in isolation they work brilliantly alongside the shift assist gear selection and the selected riding mode. The hill assist on the brakes is really handy on a heavy bike, especially fully loaded and two up. I set it to automatically apply, it maintains a hold on the brakes if it detects the bike is stopped on a gradient, releasing after just enough throttle is applied to get moving.


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Yes, the R1250GS is good, but the RT is every bit as capable and even more comfy in all weathers…until you come to the first jump



I did just shy of 1500 miles on the RT including a couple of 270 miles days, one of them was the back end of a 540-mile day, and I felt fresh at the end. The seat, with adjustable height, is plush and has the added benefit of being heated.

As part of the Sport LE package this bike is fitted with a shorter screen, at 6’2” I could feel the air passing over the top of my helmet with the screen at maximum height at 70 MPH. It wasn’t obtrusive or buffeting and although there’s a no cost option of a higher screen on the BMW build configurator, I wouldn’t spec it.

The small clear aero panels on top of the fairing are really effective and I could raise my hand a good four inches above the grips before they reached the airflow. No wind and heated grips mean warm hands, mean comfort.

Is this a strange place to talk about the Adaptive Cruise Control, right in the middle of the comfort section? It should be the headline, shouldn’t it? I did say it was hard to talk about one part of the bike in isolation from the rest and this is where it fits best. The ability to set a speed on a bike then have the bike dictate the speed according to the traffic in front is a game changer for long distance riding. It’s not lazy riding, the rider still has to maintain total concentration, still pay attention to mirrors and what’s around them but it takes away that little bit of constant strain on the wrist. It’s better for your licence on controlled motorways and average speed camera zones too but it’s not infallible. It won’t bring you to a complete stop and if you are moving the bike around looking for a view up the road it can lose track of the vehicle in front and start to speed up. It slows down again as soon as you pull back in, you’ve just got to be aware of what it does and is likely to do.

Differentiating from standard cruise control, ACC `allows gear changes without deactivating, pushing the throttle against its stop deactivates it, the same method is used to select riding modes on the move.


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It’s not just your panniers that get filthy when it rains. Your pillion’s jacket is just as dirty


What’s it like with a pillion?

The riding modes come to the fore here, BMW say in the manual that because of reduced acceleration ability in ECO mode its best to change to a different riding mode prior to critical overtaking if riding two up or heavily laden. With that in mind I stuck it firmly in Dynamic mode and headed off with my wife on the back on a 150-mile trip that incorporated motorways, A-roads and a run over the Horseshoe Pass in North Wales. Keeping the bike in Dynamic mode didn’t throw up any surprises and I was able to pick off A-road overtakes at will. Even in heavy rain the Michelin Road 5 GT tyres felt surefooted.  Rain-soaked roads did show up one thing - dirty water from the road somehow gets flung up not only on the rear of the panniers which I can cope with, but also on to the rear rack and the back of the pillion's jacket. Imagine arriving at a nice hotel not only wet, but dirty and wet. The pillion would have been saved the worst of it if a top box was fitted.

There’s a heated seat, with two settings for the pillion, which is easily operated by them via a switch on the side and the higher of the settings was described as “too hot’ before it was turned down on what was a fairly cold and wet day.

Getting on the bike with the panniers fitted was a bit of a challenge for my pillion. It’s something you’ll have to work out between the two of you. But once on there’s plenty of room and my wife declared she’d be happy to tour on it.


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BMW claim 279kg kerb weight - which usually means ready to ride, full tank of fuel. British kerbs must be heavier than German ones because ours weighed 280kg with half a tank and a packed lunch


Living with the R1250RT

With a couple of gallons in the tank and a little bit of everyday stuff in the panniers, the bike weighs in at 280Kg (I weighed it on a DVSA weighbridge) but as with previous generation RT’s the weight is all low down and it’s a doddle to manoeuvre slowly. That extra weight shows itself when you have to push it around.

Aside from the panniers you get a couple of small storage compartments up on the fairing, one is for wireless charging of your phone and all the storage centrally locks. Its more useful than you think. One little thing that did bug me though was a small mark that appeared on the fairing where it had been in contact with the right knee of my textile trousers over the 1500 miles I rode it. If it’s a result of the more agile riding that the bike allows then BMW need to put a protective coating on it.

When darkness falls, the TFT screen remains clearly lit, the fast preset buttons are backlit and the headlights are superb.


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Headlights are superb in a straight line and in corners too


So, going back to my protected escort along the motorway at the start of the article. Adaptive Cruise Control coupled with heated grips a heated seat and electrically adjustable screen and a larger range of riding modes meant I was more relaxed on the R1250RT at the end of the day than had been on the 1200.

The 1200 had most of the parts of that jigsaw but it didn’t have ACC and that’s the game changer for everyday long-distance touring.

It’s a bike that adapts, literally in the case of ACC, to the situation and to how you want to ride it, none of its riding modes are better than the others, they all do their thing but the rider needs to adapt as well. You need to be in the same mode, mentally, as the bike to get the best out of it.

The R1250RT warps distance and miles flash by, just don’t get one a limited miles finance deal because you’ll be up at the allowance limit in no time at all.


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In a world seemingly full of plus-size adventure bikes, an easy-to-manage sporty tourer makes a lot of sense.


2021 BMW R1250RT verdict

I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that, for me, a mid-50s, year-round, high-mileage road rider, BMW’s 2021 R1250RT is the best all-round motorcycle you can buy. Really, absolutely, definitely. Why not? Something has to be and I’ve yet to come across anything that does so many things so stunningly well as this. The engine is just incredible, it’s comfy, it handles, the gizmos and gadgets are useful and intuitive, and it has shaft drive, heated seats and grips and an enormous fairing meaning I could (and would) use it every single day.

It’s nimble enough to filter through traffic, easy to live with and it looks good too (apart from the ‘Sports’ stickers. BMW’s quick shifter is still not good enough, but I don’t have to use it. And I don’t like how the linked brakes modulate the lever pressure, but I’ll get used to that. It needs a top box/backrest to be as good for pillions as it is for the rider, but I doubt many will leave the showroom without having one fitted.

At £15,820, the base model is a steal by today’s prices, only needing heated seats and the wireless charging to be perfect (for me). Seriously, it’s that good.


2021 BMW R1250RT spec

New price

From £15,820 (£19,605 as tested)



Bore x Stroke


Engine layout

180-degree flat twin-cylinder

Engine details

Liquid-cooled, 4v DOHC ShiftCam


136bhp (100kW) @ 7,750rpm


105.5lb-ft (143Nm) @ 6,250rpm

Top speed

145 mph (estimated)


6 speed, shaft final drive

Average fuel consumption

51mpg tested

Tank size

25 litres

Max range to empty (theoretical)


Reserve capacity


Rider aids

Road and rain modes, cornering ABS TC, hill start assist, quick shifter


Bolt-on front and rear subframes

Front suspension

37mm Telelever suspension 120mm travel

Front suspension adjustment


Rear suspension

Electronically adjustable monoshock 136mm travel

Rear suspension adjustment

preload, rebound

Front brake

2x320mm disc, four-piston caliper

Rear brake

276mm disc, two-piston caliper

Front tyre


Rear tyre





2222mm x 985mm x 1570mm (LxWxH)



Maximum loading


Seat height


Kerb weight



Unlimited miles / 3years

MCIA Secured Rating





Looking for motorbike insurance? Get a quote for this bike with Bennetts motorcycle insurance


2021 BMW R1250RT_MCIA


What is MCIA Secured?

MCIA Secured gives bike buyers the chance to see just how much work a manufacturer has put into making their new investment as resistant to theft as possible.

As we all know, the more security you use, the less chance there is of your bike being stolen. In fact, based on research by Bennetts, using a disc lock makes your machine three times less likely to be stolen, while heavy duty kit can make it less likely to be stolen than a car. For reviews of the best security products, click here.

MCIA Secured gives motorcycles a rating out of five stars, based on the following being fitted to a new bike as standard:

  • A steering lock that meets the UNECE 62 standard
  • An ignition immobiliser system
  • A vehicle marking system
  • An alarm system
  • A vehicle tracking system with subscription

The higher the star rating, the better the security, so always ask your dealer what rating your bike has and compare it to other machines on your shortlist.