I’ll be sincere; the rationale you’re seeing this 1995 road test of the BMW R1100RS is basically as a result of I’m stunned our servers haven’t misplaced this story from MO’s very early days. Bike.com was solely a 12 months previous when this take a look at debuted. It’s enjoyable studying by way of these irreverent days of the positioning mixed with the bikes of the period. It’s fascinating to notice how the OG’s of MO had been coping with a few of the similar points we take care of immediately: accepting emissions compromises whereas equally bemoaning how a lot they sap efficiency. Then there are the standard BMW quirks which seemingly haven’t modified. Talking of not altering, take a look at that Aerostich swimsuit!
Blue Beemer on the Backroads
Images by Andy Saunders and Mike Franklin
The BMW line of boxer motors — two-cylinder engines the place the pistons swing backwards and forwards like a boxer’s fists — goes again greater than 70 years now, an unbreakable BMW custom. It wasn’t meant to be that manner: The Bavarian Motor Works would have been completely satisfied for the boxers to only fade away, like previous boxers do, in a collection of inarticulate grunts leaving the recollections of fights fought and punches taken. Then the BMW bike line may all be based mostly on the three- and four-cylinder Okay-bikes, which use a lot automotive expertise as to be functionally similar with BMW’s greater automotive engines.
However the boxers wouldn’t die and not using a battle. Although the previous air-cooled two-valve motors are gone now, the R collection continues, one cylinder protruding either side, albeit with vastly improved energy and a veritable tour de power of expertise. With greater than a nod to the automotive facet of BMW’s enterprise, the Bavarian agency outfitted the brand new boxer household with probably the most superior working gear within the enterprise: Second era ABS brakes, catalytic converter and gasoline injection implies that BMW’s engines are within the forefront of recent bike expertise.
Improved energy and higher environmental safety are merchandise of this new expertise, and the RS is the new rod of the twin-cylinder vary with a claimed 90hp out there. Riders with a large enough credit standing to purchase one in every of these $14,000 (with ABS) bikes are additionally hoping that BMW’s legendary reliability and sturdiness are additionally alongside for the journey. The RS shares the identical “frameless” building because the R1100R (beforehand reviewed in Bike On-line), with an engine tuned for extra top-end energy than the bare bike, on the expense of a little bit midrange. The 1085cc engine is used because the body, and the entrance and rear suspension connect to it by way of a entrance Telelever wishbone and rear single-sided Paralever swinging arm.
The one time you discover that this suspension isn’t the previous telescopic kind is when going backwards. When making an attempt to maneuver the bike backwards up a slope, you possibly can’t push down on the forks and rebound it up. There isn’t any rebound: the suspension doesn’t work that manner. Which implies, in the course of the 99.9% of the time that you simply spend going forwards, that brake dive is all however eradicated.
On the RS, the non-adjustable entrance suspension unit’s damping settings are a little bit on the squishy facet for a severe sport bike, and in accordance with BMW riders, they solely get looser with time. BMW aficionados will counter that the RS isn’t a severe sport bike, they usually’re proper. Environment friendly because the engine is, the transmission is a legal responsibility. Despite the fact that drive shaft squat is countered by the paralever system on the rear, the boxer’s gearbox continues to be as clunky, noisy and sluggish to alter as ever.
As a substitute of a sportbike, the RS is a motorbike to take off for a weekend, or a month, for a blue backroads journey, the place the intent isn’t to blitz the corners however to take pleasure in them within the smoothest manner doable. Be warned that, when the rear shock is jacked up excessive sufficient for respectable floor clearance, the cylinder heads drag. In any other case, when you’ve set the shock up with minimal preload, the centerstand touches down first. Sadly, they sound about the identical while grinding away at most lean so concentrate on what, precisely, you’re dragging (when you do). You’ll by no means stick with an skilled on a sportbike on the twisties, however you’ll in all probability move him/her 10 miles up the street on the espresso stand — due to the nice ergonomics the Beemer is snug sufficient to journey till you need to cease for fuel. Certainly, the RS is sweet for the lengthy haul, so long as you put on earplugs to remove the wind roar from the small fairing’s display screen. Whereas it could lack sportbike transmission and suspension, the beemer’s sticky Bridgestone Battlax BT50 tires (each of which had been half worn out by the two,500-mile mark on our bike) give nice grip. A number of completely different tire mixtures can be found for many who don’t wish to change the black bits that always. Simply be looking out for big potholes on the RS: The three-spoke wheels are apparently pretty straightforward to bend, and at over $700 every, costly to switch.
How usually you need to pit for fuel is dependent upon how laborious you yank the throttle: With a cautious proper wrist, 200 miles is feasible. A severely ungentle proper wrist can generally deliver on the gasoline warning gentle earlier than going 100 miles. In equity to BMW, we must always say that there’s a lengthy solution to go from warning gentle to an empty tank, however since there is no such thing as a reserve faucet, and the gasoline injection could also be clogged by detritus if the tank is run bone dry, we by no means tried to see precisely how lengthy it might go. The elective rider info console, mounted on the appropriate facet of the fairing, features a bar graph fuel gauge that’s much less helpful than the previous needle kind. The final bar is gone lengthy earlier than the gasoline stops swishing about within the tank, leaving us wishing for a plain-jane gasoline gauge. BMW specifies 89 octane gasoline because the minimal requirement, however 92 octane is a greater possibility to stop detonation beneath laborious acceleration since a knock sensor is just not a part of the Motronic gasoline injection bundle.
Rider consolation is catered to by a leaned-forward driving place, harking back to BMW’s greatest parents. Footpegs don’t stick out at ninety levels, as an alternative, they observe the pure waddle of the human type and level barely backwards. Sit in your bike, no matter it’s, and also you’ll see that your ft wish to do this, too. The switchgear takes some time to get used to. BMW have a change system all their very own, with flip sign buttons on every handlebar, canceled by a separate change that you simply push up to actuate. In contrast to earlier fashions, flip alerts aren’t self-cancelling. The horn, too, is a pale vestige of earlier BMW honkers: Hit (or, extra appropriately, painfully wedge up along with your thumb) the awkward, left side-mounted button and a duckish squawk outcomes. Fortunately, there’s room beneath the fairing for an excellent loud pair of Italian horns.
Floor clearance, at all times a boxer drawback (comes from having one cylinder protruding either side), continues to be on the low facet for ultra-serious sport driving, and regardless that you’ll must be making an attempt maniacally laborious to grind a cylinder on the road, we managed it. We additionally managed to plant a cylinder on the asphalt at zero mph in a parking zone tipover — too simply. Seems the sidestand, at all times a BMW failing prior to now, continues to be not proper. Park on the unsuitable gradient, or put only a bit an excessive amount of weight on the handlebars, and the bike ideas over the stand and onto the tarmac. Fortunately, the cylinder head sticking on the market prevents an excessive amount of floor contact, however scratched cylinder heads aren’t fairly, or low cost to switch. One other niggle considerations the saddlebags. Whereas they’re straightforward to mount and take away (and use the identical key because the ignition/steering lock), it appears you solely must breathe on them to mar their shiny end. The rumor from sellers is that wrinkly covers are again in for ’96.
As with each fashionable BMW, the single-skinned exhaust pipes flip blue instantly, which was a symptom of poor working however these days simply exhibits how lean engines run. You may really feel that lean working when the engine surges at low- to mid-rpm because the oxygen sensor within the pipe adjusts the combination to be as lean as doable. The pipes are related to the ambiance by way of a catalytic converter that cleans up the engine’s air pollution quotient even additional and makes you are feeling totally justified to drive within the carpool lane.
The second-generation ABS works with out drama to cease the bike on gravel or different poor street surfaces. As you drive away from a cease, the ‘chirp — chirp’ of the ABS solenoids arming themselves reminds you the system is on. In any other case, you by no means know the ABS is there till you want it. And whenever you do want it, the bike will pull up well on any street floor.
The R1100RS’s styling is smooth. A shark-like look, redolent of Thirties streamlining, carries the RS into the 1996 season. One of many few apparent adjustments from the primary RS, launched three years in the past, is the seat, which is now black as an alternative of off-white; and now the sunshine blue of the unique RS has mellowed to a somber, virtually navy shade. Conservative, virtually. Good touches embrace the million-mile odometer and the California-proof filler cap. Bike journal junkies will bear in mind the nifty sidestand fairing that was tacked onto Honda’s flagship VFR 750. A sidestand fairing? The Beemer has plastic panels of the identical doubtful utility mounted onto every entrance fork leg. Purpose? maybe to keep away from anybody really taking a look at these fork sliders and realising they go all the best way up-or nearly-to the fork tops. The fairing hides the unconventional entrance finish from public view, a indisputable fact that in all probability saves the rider not less than 5 minutes per day in explaining time. And this can be a bike that can be utilized day-after-day. It provides turnkey reliability and stone dependable beginning and working, and servicing that for probably the most half will be carried out by a mechanically inclined proprietor. It’s a sport-styled machine for the lengthy haul.
Producer: BMW Mannequin: R1100RS Value: $13,790 (with ABS) Engine: sohc, 8-valve, opposed-Twin Bore x stroke: 99.0 x 70.5mm Displacement: 1085cc Carburetion: Bosch Motronic EFI Transmission: 5-speed Wheelbase: 57.9 in. Seat peak: 30.7-32.2 in. Gasoline capability: 6.2 gal. Claimed dry weight: 491 lbs. Time to Distance: 60ft: 1.975 seconds 120ft: 5.133 seconds 1/eighth mile: 7.807 @ 92.934 mph 1/4 mile: 12.170 @ 110.995 mph Measured Energy: Torque: 67.3 ft-lbs @ 5500 rpm Horsepower: 81.3 @ 7000 rpm (As measured on the Graves Motorsports DynoJet dyno.)
1. Andy Saunders, Senior Editor ****
The jack of all trades, because the previous saying goes, is grasp of none. The BMWR1100RS needs to be a Sport Bike — the fairing and tucked-in driving place let you know that. It aspires to be a Touring Bike, with capacious saddlebags. And with that carrying capability, sufficient for a few baggage of groceries, it’s an On a regular basis Bike that you should utilize to run errands. In fact, it could actually’t succeed in any respect of those roles the best way a single-purpose bike can. However when you’ve ever tried to carve corners with a Gold Wing or decide up groceries with a GSXR, perhaps you’ll recognize just a bit compromise.
2. Brent Plummer, Editor ***1/2
Name me loopy, however I didn’t just like the RS almost as a lot because the R1100R. The motor is tuned for an excessive amount of high-end energy and has a horrible flat spot within the center (a brand new EFI controller chip ought to treatment that). And the bodywork was tacky — ours got here with a warped physique panel that was held to the bike at one level with Velcro ® and popped out on a regular basis. For my cash, I’d get the R1100R with out ABS and pocket the 4 or five-grand distinction (relying on what number of choices you get on the RS), purchase a clamp-on windshield for lengthy journeys, and spend the remainder of the cash on tenting or meals or one thing foolish. Oh, earlier than I overlook, spend some additional dough on BMW’s elective baggage, it’s superior.
3. Mike Franklin, Managing Editor ****
Till I rode the RS, I believed for certain that it was going to be a greater bike than the R1100R, extra sporty, extra highly effective, and higher suspension. After placing it by way of its paces in metropolis driving, canyon carving, and freeway droning, I wasn’t so certain anymore. Don’t get me unsuitable, the RS is a really succesful bike, but it surely felt too large for me bodily, and it wasn’t as a lot enjoyable to journey because the R1100R. I don’t imagine there’s any such factor as a unhealthy BMW, even when the switchgear is a bit awkward, and I applaud their use of expertise for the rider’s sake, not their advert division’s. It’s not my favourite Beemer, however I nonetheless have to present it 4 stars.