The big boxer in a pure naked chassis: Does the BMW R 1250 R achieve the perfect blend of high-tech and super-simplicity? Snaggy finds out…
What we like:
- Magnificent front-end
- ESA is now perfect
- Stunning build quality
Room for improvement:
- Is it sexy enough?
- Single seat as standard?
- Quickshifter is pretty crook
Think about the times you have made your smartest decisions. Yeah, gives you a bit of a warm glow huh.
Don’t get comfy.
Now think about that piece of advice that you totally ignored. Yeah, that one that had you just bloody listened, you could have avoided throwing your life into swirling chaos – the one, at the thought of which, you almost let out a little yelp at night, in your depressing room. Relax, you are not alone, we all have them.
Okay, what the hell is this all leading to? Well, I’m wondering, after spending a week with the 2023 R 1250 R, if owning this bike could well be just about the smartest thing I, and by extension perhaps your good self, could do.
Now, being cluey isn’t always aligned with being cool – look no further than that propeller-hatted oddity Elon Musk for confirmation there.
And that right there might be the rub. Is the most austere looking Boxer model in the range gonna cut it when you are preening and posing? Just like we all do. Own up.
Lucky I’m here huh?
Let’s see if the R 1250 R will allow us to come up with a satisfying blend of big brains and a healthy ego. It really isn’t a dirty word, after all.
Priced at $24,045 rideaway in base guise (add a few grand for the range-topping Triple Black here), first up, the thing is typical of bike design of the moment. Flowing lines? Forget it. Bits and bobs, surfaces, textures. Are these motorcycles designed by committee?
“Stand back and the whole comes off as kinda handsome but focus in on particular areas and it looks like the World Jenga Championship green room.”
This here unit is kinda tricked up, in fact the bike you are looking at is the Triple Black with the Option 719 accessory pack. Yep, chocka-block with the good gear, this ’un.
Now, I need your attention. Buckle up and concentrate, this is the nerdy bit, but you need to know.
Standard at this Triple Black spec are cruise control, BMW Motorrad Integral ABS, ABS Pro, ASC, Riding Modes, TFT Display with Connectivity, Dynamic Brake Light, LED Headlight and Taillight, Comfort Turn Indicator, Hill Start Control, and a USB Port.
The optional Comfort Package delivers keyless ignition, chrome exhaust headers, a Design Option silencer, heated grips and tyre pressure monitoring.
Further Options above standard include the Dynamic Package giving BMW’s MSR Brake Control, Dynamic ESA, Gear Shift Assist Pro, Riding Modes Pro, and an adaptive headlight. While optional, our test unit came fitted with the Dynamic Package.
Toss in the tank cover, engine spoiler, and solo seat stuff fitted to the Triple Black, and you start to understand that it is quite a feat for the bike to look so minimal but be jam-packed with all that really COOL STUFF.
There is three rider modes and things like lean-angle sensitive traction control and cornering ABS, can be tailored via the bike’s high-def TFT dash.
Yep, this bike is as technologically advanced as the more ostentatious models in the Beemer range, but it comes off as a naked minimalist. Now, that is kinda Triple Black Magic I reckon, and it’s the primary reason I bloody love this bike, cosseting and helping me, from the time I punch the keyless starter, to my whimsical wandering back into Chez Snag, sweaty, weary and sated, many motorcycle-hours later.
Grouse stuff all that.
All that techno-smartery is nicely complemented by the Option 719 gear that brings flash milled cylinder head covers and spark coil cover, oil filler plug, and front engine cover. The Option 719 Shadow II billet pack includes adjustable rider footrests, a milled footbrake lever and clutch lever, as well as multi-adjustable handbrake and clutch levers. The milled mirrors, with their pure aluminium look, are dead-set gorgeous. I would simply have to tick the box for the Option 719 gear. Simple as that.
This thing is loaded with stuff that will make you fast and efficient. The additional Dynamic and Dynamic Pro riding modes fitted to our test bike over the standard Triple Black offers included Dynamic engine brake control – preventing rear wheel from slipping or skidding, and the Shift Assistant Pro is an up/down quickshifter.
On that front, I have to say the quick shifting setup is not smooth. It’s fine if you are up it for the rent, especially in up mode, but down is decidedly clunky and stiff – almost always. So much so, that I used the clutch with low rev changes, rather than having to hit the lever with a force akin to an angry Riverdancer. That one is a bit of a fail for mine, and one of the few things of any significance I found to complain about. Disappointing.
What is superb is the brand’s Dynamic ESA. The suspension on this particular test bike is as good as it gets. Plush when you want it to be and stiff and racy when you are in the mood. Top marks there. I love ESA!
Now, the donk.
The 1254cc boxer engine is the now ubiquitous BMW ShiftCam lump with its variable camshaft control, good for 100kW at 7750rpm and the lovely torque number of 143Nm at 6250rpm. This manifests in useable smooth power right through the range and other than the love-it-or-hate it clockwise throw of the entire bike at standstill when blipped (I actually reckon that’s character, but it takes a little getting used to), the powerplant is superbly balanced and silky in its Neddy-Delivery to the bitumen. Supremely competent.
“Look, if you need more grunt than this thing has at hand, get a set of leathers and race boots and head to Europe. The race team will be waiting for you at the airport.”
Braking is managed by four-piston front calipers squeezing 320mm discs at the front, while a two-piston caliper and a 276mm disc is utilised at the rear. With a full 18-litre tank, the R 1250 R weighs in at 239 kilograms.
In a topsy turvy world (and, as you well know, it really is), the Triple Black is a single seater. No grabrail or nasty pillion pegs to deal with here. Of course, there is an optional setup for pegs and grabrail to be fitted, but sorry [insert undesirable pillion name here], you are sitting this one out. That really is a different approach to what I call a mainstream volume bike and it’s happened before, but not often.
This is BMW’s largest Roadster model and the seat height of 820mm can be further lowered with the optional low seat. It’s narrow at the seat sides, and I can get both feet flat on the ground at my puny and decidedly unattractive 178cm.
The ergos are spot-on; indeed, this is All-Day Comfortable (ADC – patent pending) with enough forward lean to allow for a sporty day showing your mates a clean pair of heels on their race-rep chiropractor feeders.
“I look like Mr Laid Back and a total purist, and I’m in charge of a technical thoroughbred.”
I don’t know how BMW keeps doing it, but the Bavarian mob have been blessed by the God of Ergonomics and this one is no exception. Seating position gets top Snaggy-marks. It really is that good.
The 6.5-inch TFT display, with its GPS unit and the BMW Motorrad Connected navigation app adds vehicle and maintenance monitoring and a robust trip computer, the multi-function display offers Bluetooth smartphone, headset and media connectivity. You need to spend a bit if time with it, but once you get the hang, it all works well and I especially loved the ‘Sport’ display option, which shows things like lean angle, (you find yourself trying to up the numbers a little too often there Agostini, so be aware), how much the Digital Traction Control is interfering, and braking inertia levels. I left it on that setting all the time and it definitely added a ‘Playstation’ feel to long trips. Might just be me…
As you might have cleverly gleaned, I like this bike. It’s just about perfect. It’s naked and there are drawbacks in that lack of wind and weather protection, but you knew that right? If you can cop a bit of road buffet and have good waterproofs, you’ll hit the nail smack-bang on the bonce with the R 1250 R. Just wear big boots. That quickshifter really is a swine of a thing.
Now, back to that decision-making tripe I started all this with. No longer do you have to add to the list of cringes and adopt the foetal position remembering some of the dumb stuff you decided over the years. At least when it comes to buying a bike. This one is a flippin’ pearler.
INFO MOTO scorecard: 2023 BMW R 1250 R
ENGINE: 9/10 – just about perfect in regard to meeting the design brief.
GEARBOX: 7/10 – nicely thought-out ratios, let down by clunky quickshifter.
CHASSIS: 9/10 – nice ergos, fabulous suspension. Front-end is godly.
BUILD QUALITY: 9/10 – Grouse. Tidy, primo componentry.
APPOINTMENTS: 8/10 – all the tech you’ll ever need.
PRICE: 8/10 – Reasonable, but no budget beater.
TOTAL: 50/60 – A smart choice for premium naked bike customers
Snag’s career in motoring journalism spans 29 years with stints at major bike mags Australian Road Rider, Motorcycle Trader and AMCN along with contributions to just about every other outlet worth a hill of beans. He was editor of Unique Cars magazine and hosts his legendary podcast ‘Snag Says’ when he gets off his date.