By Marissa Baecker
I have always preferred touring on a cruiser. A cruiser allows you to sit back, feel the sun, load your bike and have enough metal around you that you maintain some type of false sense of security when you are on the road. For me, there was nothing like that rumble of the engine below me as I rode the blacktop and listened to my mufflers tell me how fast I was going – until now. I am gal. I am allowed to change my mind and after riding 800 km on the 2012 BMW R1200RT, I will take this bike on a long, short or around-town haul any day of the week.
By nature, touring bikes tend to appear large and somewhat intimidating for women, who by genetics, are built smaller than most men. Men on the other hand, in my observation, the bigger the bike, the more power it has, the better it is.
I usually am quite comfortable on any 800 cc (or thereabouts) bike. With BMW’s GS models for instance, the 650 is too small, the 1200 is more than I need, but the 800 suits me fine. However, with the sport tour models, the F800ST was too small, the K1600GTL was much more than I would ever need but the R1200RT is perfect. Sounds like one of my childhood fairy tales.
You can build your own model online and choose one of three colours – Midnight Blue Metallic or Fluid Grey Metallic are standard – the two tone Light Magnesium Metallic/Magnesium Beige Metallic will cost you a little extra. Personally, looking at the two-tone version and I have flashbacks to the wood panel station wagons lined up at the drive-in in Saskatchewan back in the 70’s. Not particularly flattering in my opinion and certainly not worth extra coin.
The full front fairing houses dual headlights paired with dual sidelights giving the bike a symmetrical appearance. Housed between the two running lights is a single high beam. As the sun sets on your ride, you can adjust the beam angle to provide higher light for road signs or lower for more of the road conditions. A feature I used often – mostly because it was there and I could – but a great feature nonetheless.
An orientation of the on-board computer provided digital display of fuel, temperature, odometer, clock, gear indicator, fuel consumption and there are more features but once I found the trip meter and set it to zero, I was off.
The first feature discovered was the torque. A crank of the throttle to get across four lanes of traffic is not necessary. A simple twist will do to get this model to respond. Open the throttle a bit too far and you will launch yourself into a Looney Tunes skit racing beside Wile E. Coyote on his Acme rocket, as the Road Runner teases with a beep beep – followed by the snap of its feet as they turn into pinwheels and exits with a cloud of dust! Talk about torque.
At 6,000 rpm, the bike produces 120Nm of torque with a power output of 110 horsepower. While still laughing inside my helmet, the only words that came to my mind were “Giddyup.” My eyes must have been bugging through my visor because although the rider at the next light beside me couldn’t see my smile through my full-face helmet, he must have read my excitement somehow and gave me the thumbs up.
As I rode that hazardous menagerie of blacktop and pilon mayhem known as the Trans Canada Highway out of Vancouver, the luxury of the bike became prevalent. All those bumps, crevices, pot holes and changing terrain were unnoticeable as the bike absorbed everything. Smooth, comfortable riding comparable to an epidural during labour and watching the contractions on the monitor yet feeling no pain. Not quite the suspension bottoming out on the cruisers I am used to.
Climbing the Coquihalla highway was effortless. Other than a few sports cars, I was the only one maintaining my speed during our ascent. All the showboaters that blazed a trail by me in the flats were admiring my taillights up snowshed hill.
The air/oil cooled, four stroke, twin-cylinder boxer engine is shared with the 1200GS. The configuration of the engine beneath the 21-litre fuel tank brings the centre of gravity close to the rider making the bike agile and stable.
It now makes perfect sense why the RCMP motor officers in the Okanagan are riding this model. Open the throttle and the 1170 cc engine responds through the six-speed transmission allowing a maximum speed of 200 km/h in no time. Average fuel consumption of 4.1 litres of fuel per 100 km/h at an average 90 km/h make it economical to operate on a tight budget but let’s not forget those ABS brakes for any of those CHiPs moves that made Erik Estrada and the California Highway Patrol famous. Who says the force has no perks?
“Assign me to bike patrol please.”
When you reach higher elevations and the temperature is a little cooler, click that switch and you can warm your hands with the heated grips as well as your bottom with the heated seats. There will be no complaining from your passenger either as they have the heated seat option as well.
For those of you that don’t ride, take it from me that riding in the air wake of a truck, or a semi-truck, is like walking into a speed bag and having your head slapped around. All a rider wants to do is get past you and that funnel of wind you are producing.
BMW has solved this problem. After my first semi-truck decided to try and ride beside me no matter how much I accelerated (“No, I do not want to say hi just because you saw a ponytail out of my helmet!”), I remembered the electronic windshield and with a slight thumb exercise, vrrrrrrt up it went and the wind went right over me. I was so happy that I cordially waved to that trucker and he finally backed off.
An electronic windshield! Now what am I going to do? I’ve been spoiled. “Oh, I could get used to this,” was running through my head.
Get used to this bike was just what I did over the next few weeks. As I returned to Lower Mainland, I was caught in the long weekend urbanite retreat from wilderness to civilization. Everyone in a hurry to get home, tailgating, convoying, grouchy and tired. Not the ideal situation to be riding in but as I wasn’t in any hurry, I exited the highway for the back roads and a more spacious, peaceful ride.
As I rode the back of Abbotsford, taking in the scenery, I heard sirens but couldn’t see any emergency vehicles and the only vehicle behind me was a Ford 150 pick up. The siren sound dissipated briefly but when I heard it again, no question this time it was from behind me, I noticed that the F150 pick up had lights in its grill. Police in Abbotsford drive pick up trucks? They should move to the Okanagan and trade that Ford for an R1200RT BMW.
The officer said I was speeding. I politely disagreed. I was just riding.
MSRP for the BMW R1200RT as listed on www.bmw-motorrad.ca – $20,550.00 with a three year limited warranty.