Pros: Performance, quality, reliability, styling and design, fairing's wind protection, Heated grips, transmission/shaft drive, comfort.
Cons: Slight surging 2,500 to 3,500 rpm. Mild vibration. Too new to say more!
With this purchase I have returned to motorcycles after an 8-year absence. I have previously owned a 1969 BSA 250; a 1974 Honda Elsinore 250; a 1974 Ducati 750 GT; a 1981 Suzuki 1100 GS. I have tended to keep my bikes for many years and maintain them well.
The R-1150-RS was purchased because it seemed to have a good combination of both performance and wind protection, which would allow comfortable day-long rides, yet perform well enough to keep up with (sort of) the Ducati's of my brother and his friends. I preferred this model to the R-1150-RT version for its lighter weight and sporty capabilities. It was also cheaper.
The reputation BMW has as a reliable bike capable of many thousands of miles also was appealing. I expected much of the maintenance (- valve adjustment, etc.) could be done for the most part by a reasonably mechanically competent owner.
The quality of the components and the fit and finish also helped me to decide. Overall the bike has a beautiful design that has the elements of mechanical elegance combined with stylish functionality.
The model I bought was actually a new 2002 model carried over by this dealer (McBride Cycle, Toronto, Ontario). He actually had 4 to choose from: - 2 silver; 2 Blue - with the choice of either ABS or non-ABS. I selected a silver Non-ABS. There where end-of season pricing discounts and I assume distributor incentives to move out the inventory. I was able to purchase this bike in the end of Oct, 2003 for $14,000.00 Cdn. This was a savings of $4,700.00 of the $18,700.00 Cdn. list price!!!!! I could not, and did not, past up this deal!
Should I have bought the ABS model? Time will tell. I have read comments on the net that some users are not fond of the "boost" that the system adds to the brake power. They say there is less feel and control. They do seem to say that they work well stopping at the limit of braking, or when traction is not great.
How does it perform? I have just put on 500 km. so the motor is too new to have run above 4,000 rpm yet. There is a bit of vibration depending on rpm, but that seems to be getting better as the miles accumulate and is not unpleasant. It also seems to surge slightly between 2,500 and 3,500 rpm, but not enough to be bothersome. I am surprised that with modern fuel injection that this is an issue, but apparently there are other bikes besides BMW that also have similar problems with this. The engine does pull well between 3,000 and 4,000 rpm. It also is quite smooth at 3,000 rpm in 6th. gear, which works out to about 100 km/hr.
Apparently the newer 2003 models are starting to be fitted with 2 plug heads, which I hear helps the surging. I also notice the European RS models have "full fairings", while I believe all bikes brought into the US and Canada have "half fairings" that end just above the base of each cylinder.
The fairing's windscreen is adjustable so that it can pivot up to block more wind by adjusting the nob at the top of the instrument cluster. The instruments are easy to read and with well lit indicator lights. The turn signal and neutral lights are large and readily visible in bright daylight. The RS also come with an oil temp gauge, a fuel level gauge, a gear indicator and a clock mounted on the fairing to the right of the main instruments. Not having had these on my previous bikes, the info they provide is appreciated.
The R-1150-RS puts out 95 hp., which is 10 more than the base R-1150-R bike which I was considering buying initially. I assume the extra is from tweaking the cam; fuel management; and/or possibly the heads?
I have not had a chance to experiment with suspension settings, but the ride seems stable and comfortable at all speeds as it is set-up now. The Telelever and Paralever seem to work well. Shaft drive is also a pleasant change from messy chains that require periodic lubing and adjusting.
The bike is too new to really have much more to say about it. When I was looking at other models I found most were "racer replicas", that had great performance and handling, but poor ergonomics and little wind protection. The ones that were set up more for touring tended to be full "tourers", in that they had full fairings, luggage, radios, heavier engines, etc., etc. and lacked much of the performance I was used to. The R-1150-RS seemed to be a good combination of performance and touring comfort, with the added reputation for reliability and quality that goes with the BMW name.