When I first came to Motorcycles of Charlotte, I had never ridden a BMW R 1200 GS before. And to be honest, it was intimidating. These bikes are huge. And the GS Adventure version, what we call the “GSA” is even more so. I had never even really looked at one up close before… and initially my impression was that “it’s a water buffalo”. I had no interest in even throwing a leg over a water buffalo, let alone take one out for a ride.
BMW’s S1000RR is one terrifying bike.
This is the most terrifying bike I’ve ever ridden. Never before have I been hurdled to triple digit speeds so suddenly and so effortlessly. The engine drones at an almost constant tone as the velocity increases to relativistic speeds and being so smooth and so stable, you don’t realize how fast your going.
Two things comes into play then, and do so with great abruptness… First, is the brakes. They are utterly fantastic, and backed up by an ABS system that not only works, but set the Gold Standard. Next, is the handling. It’s like a scalpel. These two factors are very important when riding a machine that has 200 Horsepower and weighs less than an Infantryman’s Ruck Sack. Because that power is going to get you into trouble, and with these brakes and handling, you not only somehow pull it off… but look like a super hero doing it.
This is one fucking terrifying machine. And I’ve been riding some insanely fast machines lately… But this bike… This thing is next level. I’m going to let Yammie Noob explain just what this feels like:
This is, without a doubt… the fastest motorcycle I’ve ever ridden. Now, here’s the thing about it. This bike is like a Nimbus 2000 with Rockets. It’s not just blindingly fast, but it’s telepathically precision guided. The bike is so good – that the bike disappears when you ride it… it’s just you and your will.
And that’s the problem… It will do everything you ask of it. It will go as fast as you can think. How is that a problem? Sounds like it’s perfect! It is… It is perfect… and that’s the problem. There is no barrier between You, the good Dr. Jeckyll… and the monstrous speed demon inside you, the Mr. Hyde. There is no filter. You get on this machine… and it all feels so bloody good… it feels magical… and the next thing you know you are addicted to the speed and power. Next thing you know, you are spending your money for Track Day passes and Knee Sliders and dipping into your Savings to pay for it all more and more.
This bike was a Classic the moment it was uncrated. Everything about it is just so good looking. It’s just beautiful. But the beauty isn’t just skin deep… not at all.
What makes it so good is the engines… The heart and soul of any bike. The Scrambler uses BMW’s R1200 boxer engine… the well known Oil-Air Cooled version. This engine really is world class. BMW’s put it in Adventure Bikes, Touring Bikes, Sport Bikes, Roadsters… they’ve pretty much put this engine into every kind of bike they’ve made…. and now they’ve put it into the Scrambler.
The Scrambler isn’t just a more rugged version of the R Nine T. It’s quite different. We’ve got a different suspension, different forks up front, different tires, different brakes, and a different rack angle on those front forks. This gives the Scrambler a completely different feel than the regular R Nine T. The R Nine T feels sharper and quicker handling, where the Scrambler feels more composed and stable, even on dirt roads. But dirt roads is not this bike’s natural habitat. This bike is an Urban/Suburban type machine that wont throw a fit if you ride over some dirt.
Did I mention how cool and good looking this bike is? It radiates cool factor like few bikes do… It attracts a lot of attention too. From all the boys and girls. I was sitting at a red light in Pineville, NC on this bike, and a car full of young ladies pulled up next to me. After a moment one of the girls starting yelling something at me. I don’t know what all she said, but it ended with “put a baby in me!” I’m not really sure all what that means… but the gist I got was that she liked the bike.
But really… Who cares about what other people think about your bike? A motorcycle is a very personal thing… it’s a very emotional thing. Because there other other practical options for personal transportation out there…. and motorcycles are not about practical and they are not about Personal Transportation.
No… a bike is about transporting your soul. It’s about how it makes you feel inside when you look at it, and when you ride it. And this is where the BMW Scrambler excels. It’s a small bike packed with a big 1200 Boxer. It rumbles with authority and you can feel the torque with just a slight rev of the engine. The machine feels like a caged lion at a stop light. It wants to rev and it wants to leap out and charge. Yet when the light turns, the Scrambler steps out smartly, but without any unwanted surges. It remains well behaved and centered. Even through the curves the Scrambler just goes where it’s pointed, with no unnecessary drama. It doesn’t tip in as quick as the standard R Nine T, it’s not lazy… it’s not twitchy. It’s just a good, solid motorcycle. One of the best on the market. One that can make you smile riding or standing still. Few bikes make me grin like the Scrambler does. This is a bike you want to own after just a few moments in the saddle with it. She’s gorgeous, she’s smart, she’s got the whole package.
The BMW S1000XR. Lucifer’s own Bike, right here. The Ducati Multistrada is a naughty bike… This? This bike is straight up EVIL.
Satan, Darth Maul, and Handsome Jack all ride one of these.
See, the Ducati and BMW both claim 160 horse power. In actual dyno testing, the Duck gave out something like 135… and the XR put down a smoking 153, if I remember correctly. That might not sound like a whole lotta difference… But it’s the way they put down the power.
The Duck feels more like a truck by comparison… and this… This feels like a freaking F-22 Raptor. And the RPM range doesn’t stop climbing and the thrust doesn’t relent. This bike is epic fast. And better yet, you can flick this bike like it was a butterfly knife.
Okay, now give it the same ergonomic geometry of a GS Adventure Bike, and a comfortable seat. So yes, you can sit tall in the saddle, with one hand on the reigns, relaxed like Napoleon on his horse, while doing Warp Factor 10 like a Sir.
BMW calls this an ADV bike. You can luggage it out with BMW’s excellent hard cases… But really, this is a Sport Touring Bike for those that want to sit up more. Whatever you want to call it, the title probably fits this machine in one aspect or another.
Last word on this bike: Dynamic Mode is the Hot Sauce. Work your way up to it.
Also – This is what every Motorcycle Police in the USA should be riding. This is THE COP BIKE.
This is the battle of the ages. Or more specifically, the battle of the adventures. Adventure Motorcycles has grown from about 4% of the market about 5 years ago, to a full 10% of the market today. This makes ADV bikes, the fastest growing segment. Since the genesis of Adventure bikes, BMW has been leader. They practically invented it.
The king of the Adventure Bikes is the R1200GS.
As of this moment, I’m riding a white 2015 GS with the new liquid cooled engine, which is the same exact mill that is in the R1200R that I recently tested. This is a great engine. World Class. And honestly, one of the best engines in Motorbikes – period. It has plenty of power, plenty of torque, and is very compliant and composed. The blue GS in the photo above is a 2012 model, which is using the tried and true old Air Cooled version, which is the same as what you would get in the R Nine T bike… which people are loving.
Now, the #1 Contender to the King of Adventure is the Triumph Explorer. There are others out there that want that title, namely the KTM Adventure, Ducati’s Multistrada, Harley’s… no… Not Harley. Harley doesn’t have anything in this segment. But pretty much everyone else does, and they all want a piece of this action. But for Full Sized, Full Power Adventure, in my humble opinion, the Triumph Explorer is the only real challenger for the Crown.
The Explorer is powered by Triumphs 1200 Triple. This gives the Explorer 1/3 more pistons… but really what it gives you is a much smoother power delivery. From a rolling start to a pinned throttle, the Triumph surges forward with a sense of power and speed of biblical proportions. In just the span of a few heart beats, you are absolutely flying.
BMW owners always speak of the lower center of gravity thanks to that boxer engine. And that’s true. But this really only matters at crawling speeds. Once you are rolling and you have your landing gear up and locked on the pegs, this doesn’t matter at all, and the Explorer feels just as composed. I think the Explorer handles beautifully and turns in like a dream. Every bit as good as the GS. In fact, I liked the way the Explorer handled long sweeps and transitions to opposite lean angles better than the BMW. But that’s just my opinion, and could very well be my impression based on difference the tires could be giving instead of just the bikes. Well… Whatever the Explorer is rolling on, is the tire every bike of this sort should be working with. Because it’s fantastic.
The Triumph’s power plant stomps a mudhole in the BMW’s. It just does. It feels far more energetic and willing to be naughty than the more librarian BMW. But where the BMW shines is in the avionics. The Electronic Sorcery in the BMW is more sorted, better layed out and executed. With the BMW I was able to play with the system and quickly came to an understanding of how it all worked. With the Triumphs’s package, I had to RTFM and asked to be shown how to do it. This wasn’t Ogre being a knuckle dragger… this is the Triumph’s system being flat out poorly designed and executed.
Example 1: Traction Control. On the BMW, you select Rain Mode, Road Mode, Dynamic Mode, or your own User Defined Modes. Done. Easy as that. Find the mode you want, select it, and it will be in that mode until you decide you need something different. On the Triumph, you have Mode 1. Mode 2… WTF? Where’s the TTC Decoder Ring? What’s Mode 1 do? What’s Mode 2? What’s TTC? What is all this?
Example 2: You finally set it to the mode you want, after consulting a Customer Service Department in India, and you go for a little ride. You stop for a gas up or a cool beverage and go to turn the bike on again. All the sudden that Traction Control Mode has gone back to Default Settings and all that previous effort has been lost.
Example 3: Keyless Ignition can be found on the BMW GS series. This is not found on the Triumph. This is 2016, and soon to be 2017… and Triumph still hasn’t given us Keyless Ignition. Keyless is the future. Keep the Key Fob in your pocket, and your fine. This is a small detail no one cares about – until you’ve used it. And it’s like the first time you got to use Blu-Tooth. You don’t want to go back to anything else.
Because of these 3 examples, it’s easy to conclude that the BMW might be the winner. And for some… it is. But for me… the Bike its self is what’s important and I think the Triumph, though simple and less high tech…. has the much better engine. It’s the engine that pulls you out of the danger zone and forward unto dawn… not the Menu Layout. Between riding the two bikes, I had a much better experience on the Triumph. I really liked both, don’t get me wrong. Both bikes are truly World Beaters… I just liked the Explorer better.
For me, the winner is the Triumph Explorer.
2016 BMW R1200R. Just a simple standard motorcycle, done very well. Just a wonderful motorcycle. Let me tell you why…
Very comfortable, with an easy upright position, mid, to slightly rear sets on the foot controls that is comfortable but just back enough to be sporty. The seat is good for several hours in the saddle at a time without causing any pain in the buttocks. The mirrors are actually usable, and stay put and stable at speed.
But really, this bike is all about that engine. That classic BMW Boxer 1200. It’s rolling on 125 horses that are packing 92 pounds of torque. And that is a lot of power in what is really a small-ish bike. What’s great about it though is the way BMW has made all that power very accessible and controllable. There are three riding modes for the traction control and suspension. Rain, Road, and Dynamic. Dynamic is the fun mode. Like all BMW’s now, ABS is standard of course.
But there’s more to the engine than just numbers. The engine can be lugged, and you can just put put put around at low speeds… and if you want to go fast… This bike is fully FAST capable.
The brakes are very good. With the ABS system that works as well as this one does. Highway Speed to Full Stop under Death Grip Brake Stomp happens very suddenly, but with no drama, no skittering and nothing unexpected. The bike just comes to a well controlled stop.
The suspension is excellent. It takes in all irregularities and small bumps and turn them into distant miles behind you. The bike is very composed when the tarmac is less than perfect. Even in turns, under acceleration.
The R1200R is all about Competence. The bike just does everything well, without being flashy. It has no flair that might draw unwanted attention or get you accused of being a showboat. The R1200R is subtle in being awesome. It’s so subtle in fact that it garners very little attention in the motorcycle press. And in the showroom it’s one that is often overlooked and passed by, by those who’s eyes are caught by the more flashy of bikes. It might be the Big Brother to the R Nine T series, which might look more trendy and hip. Especially the R Nine T Scrambler… which is just amazing looking. But the R1200R should be the one you look at first. The R1200R has the better tech, and while it’s a similar 1200 Boxer to the Nine T series, this version is tuned to higher output thanks to the liquid cooling. Which makes it far more versatile for long range riding, more spirited riding, and lower maintenance.
When you are on a truly great bike, you can tell because the ride is about the ride and the bike becomes transparent. You don’t think about the bike anymore and all your attention is on the ride. And that’s what this bike does… It disappears when you get rolling and all you are thinking about is the road ahead. This is a beautiful thing.
BMW is most impressive with the engineering they’ve put into this machine. The quick shifter system, the switch gear, the GPS ready set up, the keyless ignition, the heated grips… And the simple menu system that only took a moment to figure out without having to pull out the manual. This bike makes my old ZX-11 look like it was from the Bronze Age.
The BMW F800GS. The littler brother to the big Beemers Obi Wan and his buddy Charlie rode around the world on. For me, the bigger 1200 is just a bit too big, where as the 800 seems “Just Right”.
I saw this bike in a parking lot in SLC while Gundoc and I grabbed a quick bite before we turned around and went back up to the range. I believe this to be the F800GS, but I could be wrong… But it’s the 800 that I’ve been studying. Autoblog has a good article on it, here.
“Why not just make your KTM into a bike like that?”
Because that’s not possible. My KTM is a single cylinder thumper for one, and the Beemer makes almost twice as much raw power. This makes it more suitable for longer range rides. Softer seat and a larger fuel tank are also better for a longer range ride. Also, the KTM has a habit of saying “Okay, let’s just run completely out of gas… right… now!” So some sort of fuel indication would be great, like on the BMW. A windscreen, heated grips, ABS, an actual trip computer. Things like that make for a more comfortable machine.
In the last few times I’ve watched motorcycle racing at M’s place, one bike was the consistent performer… This BMW. See, BMW is mostly known for their Adventure Touring bikes. Well, if you are into Sport Bikes, when you think of BMW, this is the machine that springs to mind. During the races is likes to takes a position up near the front… usually second place, right behind the Leader… right in his 6, like an Focke-Wulf FW-190 waiting for the right moment to shoot them down and take the lead and win the race. We’ve watched BMW do this to Honda and Aprilia. While the other bikes are visibly fighting, the BMW Rider looks like he’s just out for a cruise… totally relaxed… and then “Okay, you’ve had enough… Your done.” And the race is over. It’s able to do this because it’s hugely powerful and composed… and the BMW pilot is one scary motherfucker.
If I could have one bike, given to me for free… and it was the last motorcycle I could ever have and ride… I’d happily pick the S1000RR. Or even, this is the last vehicle you could ever own… Oh yeah… it would be this bike. Pure Teutonic Brutality. Engineered from the ground up Blitzkrieg everything.
Ounce for ounce, the Germans have never invented anything else so sinister or powerful. Or as beautiful. This is Heidi Klum and the Luftwaffe rolled into one. Look at the shark gill style vents. That’s a warning. It’s also serving a purpose… keeps that Sturmgewehr it uses as an engine cool, by pulling in air and blowing it out and away from the rider. Then there is the thing with the asymetrical headlights. That’s a one raised eyebrow saying that it isn’t going to put up with anyone’s shit.
Not from anyone.
2012 BMW S1000RR – American Specifications/Technical Details
US MSRP Price: $15,050 USD
I’ve posted about favorite car movies and chase scenes… But I’ve never brought up this one.
Now, I am not a huge fan of George Looney Clooney, but he does a great job in this film “The Peacemaker”. In this scene, we have a car chase up to the point that Clooney says “Screw This” and turns the table. He stops running and then uses his big Merc as a warhammer and demolishes the two little Bimmers that are chasing him. You almost feel sorry for the little guys. Almost.
Nicole Kidman spends a lot of time showing off how good her bottom looks in slacks. Eh, pretty good actually. The rest of the movie is fun, but not to be taken seriously. Nicole’s character is the least believable out of all of them. Oh, I also like the scene when Clooney jumps from chopper into the truck. That’s good stuff.
So, what is your favorite Carmageddon Moment?