BMW Motorcycles is a story of endurance and innovation through history. Having started in the early twentieth century as an aircraft engine manufacturer, BMW made its first motorbike in 1923: the R32. The bike came with a flat twin boxer engine, which is still used by BMW in addition to a variety of other engine configurations. All BMW motorcycles are manufactured in the Berlin site in Germany, although some engines are produced in Taiwan, China, and Austria.
The majority of the current BMW motorcycles were designed by the company's main designer between 1993 and 2012: David Robb. Edgar Heinrich is currently responsible for that role. With that in mind, here are our picks for the top ten BMW motorcycles of all time.
2005 BMW K1200S
The K1200S made headlines when it was launched in 2005, representing a radical diversion for the German manufacturer. It was powered by an in-line four 163bhp engine, also found in the touring K1200GT and the naked K1200R. This was the first all new engine BMW had produced in half a century, leading to a bold new level for the company. The K1200S is a big, fast sports tourer, designed for the Autobahn. It featured striking looks and cool tricks like electronic suspension. Every part of the bike has left enthusiasts in awe, from the power, finish, and all day comfort to the suspension, brakes, and styling.
2008 BMW K1300S
After continuous refinement of the K1200S engine, BMW unleashed the K1300S. In addition to the reworked engine, the bike came with a capacity boost that gave it enough power and torque to accelerate the already ultra-fast S lineup to stratospheric speeds while enhancing fuel consumption at the same time. Improved electronic suspension, traction control, refined ABS, and a more balanced front end at high velocity make this K-S generation a smashing hyper-tourer. This combination allows it to outperform liter-bikes while being able to carry a luggage across countries, with the Duo-lever suspension, good ergonomics and wind protection adding to its capability.
2006-2009 BMW K1200GT
This GT tourer addition was an upgrade of the previous flat-4 engined predecessor: the K1200. While the appearance is less contemporary than that of the K-S, the new BMW came with enhanced build quality, performance, comfort, and all-round capability, giving buyers more features and power for their money. The GT was also equipped with a willing engine, a 50-55mpg fuel economy, adjustable heated seats, protection from the elements, and excellent ride quality. The bike itself it huge and heavy, and replacement parts are costly if not catered for in the warranty.
2005 BMW R1200RT
The R1200RT was introduced as an R1150RT predecessor, with a new twin 1170cc boxer engine that gave it up to 15% more power, 20 kilograms less weight, and the heaviest styling revisions the model had ever received for almost a decade. This combination made it a powerful light touring package, and was enhanced even further with a better DOHC engine and a light touch of electronic trickery. Those who have ridden it praise it for its capable handling, comfortable seats, and high riding position.
2006 BMW F800ST
Running on a twin Rotax-created parallel engine, the ST is one of the most popular BMW motorcycles among sport-touring riders. The engine is counterbalanced, making it smoother than standard parallel twins while producing bags of torque. The bike has been praised for its strong performance, impressive fuel economy (up to 85mpg!), onboard ABS and computer, and heated grips. The only limitation is that this bike is ideally meant for shorter riders, as the fairing is slightly inadequate for taller riders.
1999-2008 BMW K1200LT
Produced between 1999 and 2008, the K1200LT was meant to win races, featuring a determined ability to maneuver through continents, competing in the levels of the Honda Goldwing. Weighing 390kgs, this giant is powered by a sleek 4-cylinder 115hp mill and comes with impressive perks such as optional CD changer, adjustable seats, and automatic centerstand operation. Owners are excited about its high quality luxury, good wind protection, all-day seats, smooth engine, and its ability to accommodate flowing tarmac.
2005 BMW K1200R
When it was unveiled to the world in 2005, the K1200R was the most powerful naked bike in the world, producing a staggering 163 bhp. With a brutal acceleration and ludicrously different styling (steeply inclined forward engine, Duolever suspension, bug-eyed headlights), the K1200R set out to get rid of the "luxo barge" reputation the lineup had established over the years. The bike offered good wind protection, rock-style stability, and brilliant motor while maintaining the same comforts that are synonymous with BMW. It is adored for its ability to tour and scratch with equal ease.
1999 BMW R1100S
Despite its pug-nosed face, the R1100S has managed to garner quite an impressive audience. Although not as comfy as a tourer nor as fast as a sports bike, it combines both aspects well enough to produce quite a good performance. It also comes with generous equipment, build quality, comfort, and stability, and is considered the perfect rear-world sports bike. The only setback is that its heft and weight can take some getting used to. The 6-speed gearbox, 98bhp boxer twin, and 1085cc power are sleek, and the S' road handling is astonishingly good. It has an fuel economy of between 30mpg and 60mpg.
2008/2009 BMW S1000RR
The 2008/9 BMW S1000RR is most definitely one of our favorites on this list. As soon as BMW launched the WSB-homologated bike, it was received with such great interest that the initial 1,000 samples were snatched up quickly to prompt another full-scale commercial production in 2010. The engine was a hard-accelerating 193bh 14,000rpm that combined with a range of electronic trickery such as high-quality traction control that caught the Japanese BIG 4 off-guard.
Almost instantly, the bike made BMW the leading liter-bike manufacturer in the world. The 2nd gen S1000RR released in 2012 incorporated features that gave it a faster-action throttle, better traction control, and steering geometry. The center of attention is its incredible power delivery, in addition to its excellent build quality, comfortable ergonomics, and sharp handling.
Written by Garrett Parker
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