Best Sport-Touring Motorcycle of 2014

Sport-Touring Motorcycle of the Year Winner:

BMW R1200RT

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by Tom Roderick

BMW has been on an absolute tear for a number of years. Recent previous MOBO winners include the S1000RR/HP4, K1600GT/GTL and the iconic R1200GS. This year the R1200RT returns to its winning ways by claiming Best Sport-Tourer honors. It was during the R1200RT’s press launch where BMW also introduced this year’s winning technology, Hill Start Control. But this is just one example of the numerous upgrades the RT received this year. Other examples include: Shift Assist Pro (which includes clutchless downshifting), Dynamic ESA, Ride Mode Pro, On-Board Computer Pro, GPS Preparation, and a large TFT color display.

Compared to BMW’s own K1600GT, the RT’s precision-cooled Boxer-Twin generates 35 and 37 less horsepower and foot-pounds of torque, respectively, to the GT’s wonderful inline-Six. However, the RT gets a claimed eight more miles per gallon, rides on a wheelbase that’s a massive 7.6 inches shorter, rolls on a narrower 180/55 rear tire (190/55 GT), has a one-inch shorter seat height and weighs a substantial 128 pounds less than the GT. So, when it comes to emphasizing the sport in sport-touring it’s hard to argue with the RT’s specs.

The RT is both nimble and stable, making for a great companion on twisty mountain roads or long, deserted straightaways. As one of the lighter sport-touring bikes available today, (604 pounds with its 6.6-gallon tank full), the RT navigates long sweepers and tight switchbacks with equal aplomb. A new continuous tubular-steel bridge-type frame was designed to increase rigidity and road feel. This new frame, says BMW, in combination with the more compact Boxer engine, lowers the bike’s center of gravity. The in-motion result is the illusion of the RT feeling far more petite than its actual size. At $20,850 for an RT with the Premium Package (that includes most of the aforementioned technology) this is a pricey sport-tourer, but a sport-tourer we deem worth every penny.

It should be noted that while the ESA-equipped RT has suffered a recall due to a rear shock issue in which the shaft of the damper may be inadequately strong. BMW’s response to the problem has been generous, offering a bike loan plus $1,000 of accessories or apparel, or alternately, a $2,500 payment as an apology while your bike is fixed. Brian Bell from Irv Seaver Motorcycles tells us new shocks are on their way and should be arriving in the next week or two. And if your RT doesn’t have ESA, there’s nothing to worry about.

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