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2004 BMW K1200 RS

BMW K1200 RS

Although designated a sports tourer, BMW's powerful K1200 RS is much more than that; it is probably the most versatile, dedicated road-going superbike currently available. In a number of riding categories that include touring, passenger and luggage carrying, commuting and sports, it will outperform even the so-called best machines.

Despite its 1200cc engine capacity, the K1200 RS is a highly manoeuvrable motorcycle, thanks to a low centre of gravity, superb balance and surprisingly tight turning circle. Add the immense tractability of the powerful 130 bhp engine, with high torque at low revs, and cutting a swathe through urban traffic doesn't seem so forbidding after all. Naturally, the open road should be the environment in which the K1200 RS excels and it does.

The list of attributes is a long one industry-leading aerodynamics designed to stabilise the machine in fair weather or foul; BMW's legendary road holding; a comfortable and adjustable riding position; six-speed gearbox; optional ABS, and dual-position windscreen allow the K12 to be ridden easily, and with minimal rider input. The bike's generous power output and more usable torque means that it won’t be lacking when in the company of sports bikes either in fact, the standard characteristics mean that it is more suited to highway use than any dedicated sports machine. The K1200 RS is a master of all trades and jack of none.

Available in Capri blue metallic, Alpine white/orient blue metallic and Piemont red metallic the BMW K1200 RS costs £9,345 (OTR). The ABS equipped version costs £10,095, while the SE version (which includes ABS, heated grips, a luggage grid, pannier fastenings and a 5.5 inch rear wheel) costs £10,395.

Power play

The power plant of the K1200 RS is the biggest and most powerful motorcycle engine in BMW’s history. The liquid-cooled, in-line, four-cylinder fuel-injected engine delivers a maximum output of 96kW (130 bhp) at only 8,750 rpm. Maximum torque has been increased by 10 per cent (over the previous model) and now develops 100 Nm (74 lb-ft) from 3,500 rpm, reaching its peak at 6,700 rpm where it is outputting 117 Nm (86 lb-ft).

The engine uses the ram charge effect to draw air into the intake system. This is essential for genuine power and performance and ensures an optimum supply of air and fuel to the cylinders. This is controlled by the third generation of Digital Motor Electronics, the Motronic MA 2.4. Still something of a rarity on motorcycles, the sophisticated control system is the ideal way of implementing such important requirements as the reduction of fuel consumption and exhaust emissions, and the use of a fully controlled, three-way catalytic converter (standard on all BMW motorcycles worldwide).

The right gear

The K1200 RS was the first BMW to use six-speed transmission and this is continued in an improved version. The new gearbox has optimised noise control and is much quieter than before. This has been achieved in a number of ways; the Paralever rear-wheel swingarm is now fitted to the central frame and not the gearbox housing; the gearbox is more compact and its noise-emitting surfaces are far smaller. As a result, service intervals for the gearbox have been doubled from 20,000 to 40,000 km.

Sixth gear has been conceived to make the most of the K12's power characteristics, improve fuel economy and to suit all the roles the K1200 RS will be used for. For example, roll-on acceleration in sixth gear is excellent and is not a compromise overdrive as configured on many other machines.

Power is transmitted through a hydraulic clutch (for consistent and even operation) and reaches the back wheel via BMW's renowned and ultra-reliable drive shaft.

Riding the roads

The BMW K1200 RS is at its best when ridden in an environment suited to its power advantages, aerodynamics, stability, road holding and weather protection in other words, the open road.

On a K1200 RS, touring is not boring. It is however, comfortable, stable and effortless. The key is stability and like all good motorcycles this starts at the front. BMW's unique front wheel guidance system was introduced in 1993 (on the R1100 RS) and still remains the most significant development, for many decades, in front wheel suspension. With minimal dive under heavy braking the Telelever also provides impeccable tracking and sure, precise steering.

At the rear, BMW's equally unique Paralever ensures optimum guidance of the rear wheel. Acting as a double swingarm it substantially reduces the change of load response of the drive shaft thereby enabling optimum tracking of the rear wheel at all times.

The rear suspension has 150mm (5.91) of spring travel and can be adjusted hydraulically for preload and damping by means of a hand wheel.

In the frame

Because of the extra power delivery of the K1200 RS, BMW designers decided to find a more substantial way of ensuring frame rigidity than the previous technique of using the engine as a load-bearing member. The result is a cast-aluminium frame fitting snugly around the engine, resting on special mounting points to avoid vibrations. The new frame forms a torsionally-stiff backbone between the Telelever and Paralever swingarm. At the front the Telelever longitudinal arm rests on a swivel bearing point where steel bars support the blocks on the front engine mounts.

Welded out of four sections, the die-cast aluminium frame is a free-form casting” featuring reinforcement baffles that form a honeycomb structure, maintaining maximum rigidity and compact dimensions.

Wheels of evolution

Lighter 17-inch cast aluminium wheels feature a delicate design of immense strength by using a five-double-spoke configuration. The front incorporates BMW's new and innovative EVO front wheel brake which is used in conjunction with a semi-integrated version of Integral ABS - a system preferred by sports riders.

This derivative of BMW's third generation anti-lock braking system allows experienced users more control of the rear brake useful in urban environments and to settle the machine's suspension when sports riding. Applying the front brake lever causes the ABS to act on both front and rear wheel brakes simultaneously. However, sole use of the foot brake lever causes the ABS to act only on the rear wheel brake.

The new EVO front brake is a significant advance in motorcycle brake technology and is fitted as standard to the K1200 RS making it, arguably, the safest sports touring motorcycle available.

EVO front braking requires approximately half the manual pressure to achieve the same stopping power as a conventional system. Braking is further improved by equipping the K1200 RS with two large front discs and sintered brake pads. This combination produces an increase in braking forces of between 15 and 20 per cent.

Rock steady

Previous models of the K1200 RS have always enjoyed superlative stability and excellent weather protection, but for 2002 the upper section of the fairing and the windshield have been completely redesigned.

For example, the windshield has been increased in height and width by a total of more than 20 per cent. As on past models the windshield may be set to two different positions the lower position features a flat angle while the upper position gives a steeper rake. This considerably improves rider weather protection and reduces wind pressure.

The side sections of the upper fairing have been redesigned and optimised for streamlining in BMW's advanced wind tunnel. Direction indicators have been relocated slightly higher and more inboard. This has produced a slimmer, more dynamic looking fairing but with better protection for the rider's hands and lower arms. Two water radiators have been integrated into a BMW kidney grille in the fairing.

Wind tunnel testing on natural forces that de-stabilise a motorcycle has enabled BMW to design one of the most aerodynamic motorcycles available. This accounts for a number of ride practicalities which require less rider input under adverse wind and weather conditions than other machines. The K1200 RS also has inherent stability in the kind of gusting, directional winds that buffet most motorcycles from side to side.

Ergonomically speaking… and seating

The K1200 RS is a dedicated road-going motorcycle and BMW has computer simulated seating and riding ergonomics to produce a machine that is configured for comfort and unparalled ease of operation. Adjustment of many components affecting rider input and operating efficiency is more comprehensive on the K12 than almost any other motorcycle currently available. For example, the handlebar retains its three-fold adjustment as do the brake and clutch operating levers. The windscreen can be positioned either high or low and both the gear change and footrest are adjustable to suit riders of differing stature. The seat has been redesigned to provide improved comfort over the previous model and is also two-position adjustable for height.

Other proven features of the K1200 RS remain unchanged. These include the free-form technology dual headlights, switch logic controls and instrument cockpit (although this is now finished in the machine colour).

And finally…

BMW, more than any other motorcycle manufacturer, has always catered to the after-sales needs of owners by producing a comprehensive array of accessories and extras. The K1200 RS owner is therefore able to equip and accessorise his machine to reflect needs and preferences.

Some of the items available include: system cases (and impact protectors), mounting frames, luggage rack and top cases (hard or soft), tank bags, cruise control, heated grips, deluxe dual seat, power sockets, 5.5 x 17 rear wheel and satellite navigation system.

Customers can call BMW's information line: 0800 777 155

Specifications for BMW K1200 RS.

  • Engine Cubic capacity - 1171 cc
  • Bore/stroke - 70.5/75 mm
  • Max output - 96/130 kW/bhp at 8750 rpm
  • Max torque - 117 Nm at 6750 rpm
  • Design - In-line
  • No of cylinders - 4
  • Compression ratio/fuel grade - 11.5/premium
  • Valve control - DOHC
  • Valves per cylinder - 4
  • Intake/outlet dia - 26.5/23 mm
  • Fuel supply - Motronic MA 2.4
  • Alternator - 840 W
  • Battery - 12/19 V/Ah
  • Headlight - H 7/55 W, H 3/55 W
  • Starter - 0.7 kW
  • Gearbox, Gear ratios - 1 - 3.86/2.75, 2 - 3.02/2.75, 3 - 2.39/2.75 , 4 - 1.96/2.75, 5 - 1.70/2.75, 6 - 1.51/2.75
  • Rear-wheel drive - BMW Paralever
  • Clutch - Single-plate dry clutch, dia 165 mm
  • Type of frame - Cast aluminium frame
  • Spring travel front/rear - 115/150 mm
  • Wheel castor - 124 mm
  • Wheelbase - 1555 mm
  • Steering assembly angle - 62.75°
  • Brakes; front - Dual-disc brake, dia 320 mm, rear - Single-disc brake, dia 285 mm
  • Wheels - Light-alloy; front - 3.50 x 17 MTH 2, rear - 5.00 x 17 MTH 2
  • Tyres; front - 120/70 - ZR 17, rear - 170/60 - ZR 17
  • Length - 2250 mm
  • Width with mirrors - 850 mm
  • Handlebar width - 680 mm
  • Seat height - 770/800 mm
  • Weight, unladen, with full fuel tank - 285 kg
  • Max permissible weight - 500 kg
  • Fuel tank - 20.5 ltr
  • Fuel consumption - 90 km/h (56 mph) - ltr/100 km, 120 km/h (75 mph) - ltr/100 km
  • Acceleration - 0-100 km/h (62 mph) - 3.7 sec
  • Top speed - 245 km/h
  • Price, OTR - £9,345 - K1200 RS, £10,095 -K1200 RS ABS, £10,395 - K1200 RS SE ABS
  • Colour options - Capri blue metallic, Alpine white / orient blue metallic, Piemont red metallic