By now, BMW’s boxer needs no introduction. And since its debut in the R1250GS of 2019, the 1,254cc ShiftCam variant has perpetuated its reputation for the broad abundance of torque and smooth power delivery; not to forget that distinct sound.
In its latest Euro5 iteration, this powerplant makes 138PS (100kW), peaking at 7,750rpm, and 143Nm (106lb ft) of torque, which maxes out at 6,250rpm – 110Nm of that exists between 2,000rpm and 8,250rpm, while 120Nm is available from 3,500rpm. For those not familiar with the ShiftCam tech, it uses varying valve timing and valve lift on the intake side to make for “optimised swirl and thus more effective combustion”. The result is grunty low-down torque and smooth power across the rev range, as well as optimised fuel consumption. In the R1250RT, BMW claims 59.5mpg, while my 80-odd mile test ride on a mixture of roads returned 39.2mpg. However, the real life usage figure is likely to be somewhere between the two.
The torque is immense, with the front wheel itching to lift off with a heavy handful of throttle in low revs. Dynamic mode – part of the optional Riding Modes Pro package – is thrilling, implementing the most aggressive throttle map, with the engine drag torque control and traction control dialled back. These step in a little more frequently in Rain mode, which otherwise feels almost underpowered for the might of the bike. Eco is novel, introducing a green power bar on the dash to show you how economical your ride is (in my case not very!). However, anything feels weak compared to the potency of Dynamic.
In every mode, the ride by wire throttle is smooth and faultless, while the shaft drive is as efficient in putting the power to the rear wheel as ever. The long-ratio gearbox features shift assist as standard, however it’s choppy enough out of first gear to unsettle both you and the bike. Higher up, it feels much more natural, and is a convenient feature to save your clutch hand on longer rides. The engine is smooth at motorway speeds, sitting at 75mph in sixth gear at 4,000rpm. And it’s keen to accelerate way, way beyond. Due to its bulk, the R1250RT is a magnet for crosswinds but thanks to its low centre of gravity, holds its place well, with the exception of an occasional wiggle.
The RT is as comfortable on twisting B-roads as it is the motorway, flowing through bends with a grace that belies its size (there’s a reason that the chassis hasn’t been updated this time around). Its poise is prevalent at both high and low speeds, while the front wheel feels precise and planted and steering is incredible light and tight. Very rarely, a deep pothole took the BMW Telelever suspension by surprise, resulting in a firm jolt, but otherwise the unit was as reliable and proficient as ever. BMW’s ‘next generation’ ESA is optional, and uses sensors to detect compression, acceleration and deceleration, automatically adjusting the damping seamlessly to suit, while the automatic self-levelling function adjusts automatically to the onboard weight and its distribution. Two standard damping states exist under the Dynamic ESA – the softer, bouncy and altogether more forgiving Road mode (used in Eco, Rain and Road) and the tighter and firmer Dynamic option, perfect for when you really want to get a move on.
Linked brakes come under the now standard Full Integral ABS Pro, which also includes banking angle optimisation and dynamic brake force distribution. The result is no fork dive and immediate deceleration, with only the slightest of squirming hinting at the 1,485mm length of the wheelbase. Those brakes need to be beefy to stop the bulk of this bike, and the BMW-branded Hayes four-pot callipers on twin floating 320mm discs up front do the job very well. On a couple of occasions, I felt a strange popping sensation under application of the rear brake (a two-pot calliper on the 276mm disc), almost like a very gentle intervention of the ABS (it wasn’t).