top of page
  • Robert Farago

BMW R 1250 RT Motorycle Review

The author goes a few rounds with BMW's Boxer

The BMW R 1250 RT’s Boxer engine sounds like a modified lawnmower. A German-built modified lawnmower, sure. Distinctive in its own special way. But a deal killer for your author. Click on the video below and make up your own mind.

I start my review at the end for those of you for whom a motorcycle review is less pertinent than the weather in Kazakhstan. If you bail here, I understand. But it’d be a shame.

Motorcycling is the most fun you can have with your clothes on - unless you ride naked (professional rider, closed course). And BMW makes some of the most, uh, Germanic motorcycles money can buy. Natürlich.

Which is why it’s a bit seltsam that the sound coming out of the R 1250 RT’s pipes lacks sturm und drang. It was disappointing enough to make me hop back on my Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster and RTB, Beemer-less.

The reason I was motorcycle shopping: I’m looking for a touring motorcycle for a ride up to Tennessee, Rhode Island and Maine; across to Canada, up to British Columbia, down to California and back to Austin. And points in between.

My naked (windscreen and fairingless) Bonnie is a bar bike. A bar bike is to touring what a Labrador retriever is to home defense.

My spring fling won’t be my first motorcycling meander. Back in the day, I spent nearly a year wending my way through Europe, the UK and Scandinavia. Footloose and fancy free, those were some of the best days of my life.

The bike between my legs was the BMW K100 RT, a touring motorcycle nicknamed “The Flying Brick.”

Weighing in at 600 pounds, motivated by a low-slung, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected four-cylinder 1000cc engine, the Brick was smooth as silk with plenty o’ grunt. The big ass Beemer never gave me a minute’s trouble, over thousands of miles.

The fairing provided excellent wind protection. Electronic aids? We don’t need no stinkin’ electronic aids! Fun? Spend that much time on any motorcycle and you can throw it around like INSERT SEXIST METAPHOR HERE.

Admittedly, I dropped BMW’s behemoth the first time I came to a traffic light, and struggled mightily to right the ship. But I soon got the measure of the beast, I was carving corners and cruising die autobahn at triple-digit speeds.

To motorvate my eventual Wandering Jew series, I’m looking for the same again, only safer, faster, better-handling and more comfortable. Modern.

The BMW R 1250 RT is all that and a bag of chips. It comes complete with radar cruise control, ABS anti-lock brakes, traction control, automatic suspension adjustment, electronic fuel injection, throttle-by-wire and adaptive headlights.

Unless you’re an old fat white guy trying to draw attention to yourself as you cruise past Gen X’ers on Austin’s Sixth Street, a stereo on a motorcycle is like tits on a bull.

On the positive side, the R 1250 RT’s beatbox is more than merely adequate for roadside dirty dancing, should you be inhabited by the ghost of Patrick Swayze. Or Baby.

A 10.25” color TFT high-resolution split-screen sits center stage, telling you everything you wanted to know about the bike’s condition but were afraid to ask at a 45 degree lean angle.

Everything except what’s on your phone’s map app. BMW nav app über alles! What’s German for d’oh?

With its 1,254 cc two-cylinder air and liquid-cooled Boxer engine mounted down low, tipping the scales at a 615 lbs. fully-loaded, the BMW K 1250 RT handles better than you’d ever imagine. Even if you’ve done stupid shit on sport bikes.

In terms of get-up-and-go, the R 1250 RT’s power plant is equipped with ShiftCam technology, curing Ye Olde Boxer’s curious power delivery. Maximum power (136 horsepower) arrives at 7,750 rpm. Torque (105 lb-ft) maxes out a bit earlier, at 6,250 rpm.

Blessed with twin four-piston radial brake calipers, the R 1250 RT’s stoppers are strong enough to eject a breath mint.

Comfort wise, the riding position is a bit odd; it forces your legs into a decidedly bent-knee posture. Unless you’re a NBA basketball player or a skier who’s blown out your knees, it’s no biggie.

The remote-lockable, easy-on easy-off panniers are as capacious as a brace of carry-ons, and there’s plenty of room outback to mount more motorcycling misegos.

Wind protection is where the bike begins to lose the plot.

At its maximum height setting, the top of the adjustable screen is at my eye level. (I’m 5’11” and shrinking.) Beemer’s boffins forgot to create a lip at the edge of the screen to channel the wind up and over my cranium.

I don’t mind wasting away in Margaritaville, but I can only take so much buffeting. Cured by a taller replacement screen. Side gusts? Not inconsiderable. Cured by outboard wind deflectors. Aftermarket that!

Back to that engine noise…

Some people love the BMW Boxer’s auditory output. And some people love Celine Dion. For me, a motorcycle’s sound should have, uh, balls.

Don’t get me wrong: the BMW R 1250 RT’s Boxer engine is hardly a castrato. But it sure ain’t singing my song. A song I’d have to hear for hours a day, for days and weeks at a time.

So, no sale. What then?

BMW makes bigger, badder, pricier cruise missiles with kick ass, ballsy-sounding engines. And a wild card: a Boxer-powered Harley-a-like that’s so ridiculous I’m sorely tempted to buy one, engine sound and all.

Especially as no one else is doing so.

All these Bimmers weigh as much as any two Sumo wrestlers you can name (e.g., Hakuho Sho and Asashoryu Akinori). I’d like a touring bike I can use around town when I get home. They ain’t it.

Speaking of the OFWG’s favorite motorcycle brand, Harley’s shark-nosed Road Glide is a butt-ugly-from-the-front cushy AF transcontinental expresses, albeit in a steam train kinda way. Same goes for the better-built Indian tourers on both fronts. Literally.

These American iron horses sound great, but handle like a Sea-Do. Which is not to say they don’t handle. Still, flinging them about is irrefutably less-dynamic than piloting a bike weighing less than 855 pounds (there’s a reason it’s called a “Glide”).

More than that, the twins’ burble-and-roar soundtrack and chrome-laden style tells the world that you’re a Harley or Indian guy. Am I? Not Harley. I mean not hardly.

Which leaves the Honda Goldwing - a bike long associated with coronary-courting born-again bikers and their significant others. Reverse gear? Snort.

Since 2018, Honda’s redesigned Goldwing has gained a rep as an actual motorcycle, capable of overcoming the most common complaint thrown in its owners’ direction: why didn’t you just buy a car?

I’ll arrange a test drive – er, ride and report back. Meanwhile, I can say without reservation (nothing to do with the aforementioned Indians) that the BMW R 1250 RT is a superb motorcycle.

It’s a high-tech tourer with all the mod-cons, including a modified Boxer engine that dates back to 1923. Whose soundtrack is beloved by some, but not all.


bottom of page