BMW R1150R

BMW Motorcycle History – Part 2


R1150 R

A proper re-work of the original 1100 R from 1995, the aesthetic updates made the 1150 R a naked with some real class, ditching the bizarre Hyena-like bottom-down, head-up stance of its forerunner to something more aesthetically pleasing. The new EVO brakes were much improved, the motor updated with twin-spark cylinder heads, which helped push power up by five to 85bhp and the price was good, too.


R1100 S Boxercup Replica

BMW R1150RBMW took the successful 1100 S machine, took some of the bits that made the bike go around corners in the MotoGP support races and gave it a funky lick of paint. Another important landmark, as BMW successfully played on the marketing of MotoGP to take a step nearer to their goal of building a pukka, full-on sportsbike…


R1150 R Rockster

As the name suggests, this machine followed the basic chassis and engine of the 1150 R, but the looks stemmed from a concept bike on BMW’s stand at the 2002 Intermot show. Enough people liked it for the bike to become a reality, which is strange, really! The Rockster may not have moved the game on technologically, but we guess at least it showed the Germans were game to be a little more adventurous with both aesthetics and paint schemes.


R1200 GS

2004 BMW R1200 GSBMW’s work on sportier and sportier machines helped refine the mighty GS still further. The 1200GS lost a huge 30 kilos from the older model, while the 1170cc motor saw an increase in power to 100bhp. It became the best-selling bike in the UK in 2006. Eventually the GS got another upgrade in 2008, with more power (up by five bhp), a better gearbox as well as the inclusion of ESA. And, as mentioned in part one, today (2019) we now have the 1250 GS version… time marches on!


R1200 ST

The 1200 ST proved just how awful BMWs can look. Yup, even in the early 2000s BMW could still get it very wrong – and just look at the C1 and C2 scooters of the time, too!


K1200 S

Much lauded with 167bhp, the new four-cylinder inline motor was a big improvement in performance over the older 1200 four-pot Brick, although it was vibey and there were question marks over the gearbox, it was a further move forward to something sporty and tour-ish. It was replaced in 2008 by the even better K1300 S, which added 136cc and a power hike to 175bhp. Better still was the much improved looks, with updated bodywork, exhaust and paint-schemes. The 1300 S is a very good machine…

K1200 R

Funky to look at and fun to ride: who would have thought BMW could have made a naked bike with 167bhp on tap that looked like this? Like the 1300 S, for 2008 the bike was breathed-on to produce the 1300 R, with subtle improvements all round to make it a much better bike than the original.

HP2 Enduro

BMW HP2 EnduroThe most powerful production enduro bike made at the time, the looks were a bit Marmite-ish (we feel the headlamp looks like a bolt-on after-thought) but  at the time there was no getting away from the kudos of an 105bhp off-roader, even if the prices was just under £12,000. For road riders it was also later released with road wheels too, for an extra £1000.



HP2 Megamoto

A Supermoto for the BMW riders out there, this beast had Marzocchi inverted conventional forks to replace the Telelever system while an Akrapovic exhaust gave 113bhp, but at almost £13,000 it was pretty salty price-wise! Hence we’ve edged it into the ‘Lemon’ category!


HP2 Sport

At the time the HP2 Sport was perhaps the ultimate expression of Boxer-twin sportsbikes. The motor gave you 128bhp, a quickshifter (back then this was hailed as a first for a production sportsbike) a 2D trick dash-board, Brembo brakes and Ohlins suspension.

K1300  GT

BMW K1300 GTThankfully, 11 years after the relatively dull K1200 RS came out, the later 1300cc motors showed what a good BMW four-cylinder engine could feel like. Of course the 1300cc motor was derived from the 1200cc motor from 2004, put across-the-frame in the traditional Jap/multi style and not the old laid-down ‘Brick’ as the old, post-1997 RS was. With the launch of the 1300 S and 1300 R in 2008 also came the GT and what a fine machine it was. Big, powerful (160bhp claimed) it had all the bells and whistles, an electric screen and (most importantly) the ability to cross continents with ease: sadly gone from the range now, replaced by the 1600cc six-cylinder range.


F 800 R

2009 BMW F800RA 798cc liquid-cooled parallel twin, this modest machine has a great big dollop of character. The R model is the funky roadster which is capable of more than what you’d think at first glance and the basic architecture and motor is flexible enough to have spawned a number of variations on the theme, including the F800 GS (adventure bike, chain drive) the F800 S (sporty bike 2006-2010, belt-drive) and F800 ST (sporty-touring bike, belt-drive, replaced by the faired 800 GT from 2013.)  For us, the best fun can be had on the F800 R, which has chain-drive.


A real game-changer for BMW at least: here was their first big crack at the litre superbike class. Unveiled in 2008, it was built to tap into the-then lucrative big-bore sports class and race in World Superbikes. The machine had ABS, traction control, a 999cc DOHC, liquid-cooled four-cylinder motor making 199bhp and a wet weight of just 204 kilos. Looks were shark-like, with louvres cut in the side of the fairing and BMW’s quirky ‘monocle’ twin-headlight set-up. Following the world-wide credit crunch, updates were rationalised but saw incremental improvements to the bike’s power output and some weight loss, especially so with the HP4 models, from 2013-on. More importantly as time moved on a host of electronic rider aids were added or improved and the introduction of the HP4 Race in 2017 was the ultimate in corporate willy-waving. With 215bhp, race-shift gearbox pattern, switchable race ABS, lashings of carbon fibre and no lights or road paraphernalia – this is a race/track only machine and was priced in the stratosphere – around £60,000…

For 2019 the basic ‘new’ S1000RR finally gives a proper update from the mildly-changed looks of the original RR from a decade ago. So, in comes completely new aesthetics, with ‘balanced’ head-lights, an all-new motor (but still 999cc) with power of the base model now up to around 204bhp and weight is down too.

While BMW has won a few TTs and national races it has still to secure the World Superbike championship… We shall see if the S1000RR ever does.


So there you have it… that’s our top 20 or so (yeah, we like to go on a bit) along with a few howlers along the way. It’s fair to say that BMW has had their fair share of machines with cutting-edge tech on board, such as ABS, fuel-injection, advanced suspension (think Telelever, Paralever, Duolever as well as the electronic systems of later machines) but our pick of BMW’s best technological decision was ditching that god-awful ‘three-button’ indicator system: left switch made the left indicator work, right for right and there was also a right-hand switch you pressed ‘up’ for cancel… Daft, too much of a pain in the arse and – thankfully – dumped in the mid-noughties for a traditional system!