R1200S vs. R1100S – New vs. Old

r1200s_img_0728Softly, softly… that’s the way those other magazines used to describe the power delivery of the old BMW R1100S.  It wasn’t so much that the power/torque figures were bad, it’s just that the bike was a little lardy, and, come to think of it, maybe just a smidge underpowered for this modern age.

So, is the R1100S’s replacement still “softly, softly”?  Nope, not a chance.

Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way with first by comparing basic stats of each model.  And remember, before reading this please adopt your best fight announcer’s voice.

In this corner the R1200S with an air/oil cooled 2 cylinder, boxer engine at 4 valves per cylinder, and the contender, the R1100S, with the same configuration!  The young upstart sports a bore/stroke of 101mm x 73mm while in the defender’s corner the fighting R1100S comes in with 99mm x 70.5mm.  A bigger bore and stroke, that can only mean trouble for the R1100S.

Then ladies and gentlemen there is the capacity; the R1200S lands a blow at 1,170cc vs. the R1100S’s 1085cc.   Well that explains the name change.  Oh, it’s a one-two statistical slam; the R1200S comes in with a serious punch as 122hp vs. the R1100S’s weak right at 98hp.  That’s a 10% increase in output, good… very good!  The R1100 is on the ropes!  It’s looking soft and showing it’s age, weighing in at 229kg fully fueled road ready in comparison to it’s sleeker challenger, the R1200S coming in at 213kg.

So what does this all really mean?  In a nutshell, one big ass grin and a much more focused, fun to ride, purposeful Beemer!

Please bear in mind I used to actually own one of these bikes, way back when…and other than weight and power I actually had few complaints.

BMW folk in general can be a bit uptight regarding changes to their respective models, especially when fuel load and comfort (i.e. ergos) get impacted.  But in my humble, very humble, opinion this was one makeover that accomplished exactly what it should.

The gearbox; after having ridden many newer (06) BMW’s I can honestly say that this is the best of the bunch, almost approaching Japanese smoothness. The suspension; poised, composed, it holds a line and is quite neutral without being too heavy in the esses.   This bike really merits a more thorough going over.  Torquey, strong, very linear feel to the powerband, this one will raise its wheel in anger.

Some very nice overall finish details – no screws hold the windscreen to the front cowl, nice paint and well finished frame and foot pegs (both passenger and rider).  It also sports a very cool looking multi-led rear brake light, which is very bright and visible. And a much narrower, less portly appearance to the bike, both when you’re on the R1200S or just admiring it.

Unfortunately we only had the bike for a short time.  It was a brief but fulfilling motorbike love-in, that only whet the appetite for a more prolonged visit.  It was not however long enough to create converts.

Now, I know what most of you are thinking… He’s already owned an R1100S before; he is already one of the converted.   Yes, I did own one before and on the whole I do tend to favour bikes with some character such as the R1100S, Ducati 998, etc…etc… But I am a realist as well. The specs on paper may still not impress most even after the recent diet and exercise program but we have to (nay should) remember that bikes are more than their respective on-paper specs.  Here’s to hoping that we get another crack and a lengthier test session under our belt.

– Written by Giovanni Di Marino with Photos by Kevin Miklossy

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