I’ll be trustworthy; the explanation you’re seeing this 1995 street take a look at 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. Motorbike.com was solely a yr previous when this take a look at debuted. It’s enjoyable studying via these irreverent days of the positioning mixed with the bikes of the period. It’s attention-grabbing to notice how the OG’s of MO have been coping with among the similar points we take care of at present: accepting emissions compromises whereas equally bemoaning how a lot they sap efficiency. Then there are the same old 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 means: The Bavarian Motor Works would have been joyful for the boxers to only fade away, like previous boxers do, in a sequence of inarticulate grunts leaving the reminiscences of fights fought and punches taken. Then the BMW motorbike line might all be primarily based on the three- and four-cylinder Ok-bikes, which use a lot automotive expertise as to be functionally similar with BMW’s greater automotive engines.
However the boxers wouldn’t die with no combat. Although the previous air-cooled two-valve motors are gone now, the R sequence continues, one cylinder protruding all sides, albeit with vastly improved energy and a veritable tour de pressure 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 operating gear within the enterprise: Second technology ABS brakes, catalytic converter and gasoline injection implies that BMW’s engines are within the forefront of recent motorbike 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 obtainable. Riders with a sufficiently big credit standing to purchase one among 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 Motorbike On-line), with an engine tuned for extra top-end energy than the bare bike, on the expense of just a little midrange. The 1085cc engine is used because the body, and the entrance and rear suspension connect to it through 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 attempting to maneuver the bike backwards up a slope, you may’t push down on the forks and rebound it up. There is no such thing as a rebound: the suspension doesn’t work that means. Which suggests, throughout 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 just a little on the squishy facet for a critical sport bike, and in accordance with BMW riders, they solely get looser with time. BMW aficionados will counter that the RS isn’t a critical sport bike, they usually’re proper. Environment friendly because the engine is, the transmission is a legal responsibility. Although 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 vary as ever.
As an alternative 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 get pleasure from them within the smoothest means doable. Be warned that, when the rear shock is jacked up excessive sufficient for first rate floor clearance, the cylinder heads drag. In any other case, if you happen to’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 pay attention to what, precisely, you’re dragging (if you happen to do). You’ll by no means stick with an knowledgeable on a sportbike on the twisties, however you’ll most likely cross him/her 10 miles up the street on the espresso stand — due to the great ergonomics the Beemer is snug sufficient to journey till it’s a must to cease for fuel. Certainly, the RS is sweet for the lengthy haul, so long as you put on earplugs to eradicate the wind roar from the small fairing’s display screen. Whereas it might lack sportbike transmission and suspension, the beemer’s sticky Bridgestone Battlax BT50 tires (each of which have been half worn out by the two,500-mile mark on our motorbike) give nice grip. A number of totally different tire mixtures can be found for individuals who don’t need to exchange 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 it’s a must to pit for fuel depends upon how onerous you yank the throttle: With a cautious proper wrist, 200 miles is feasible. A severely ungentle proper wrist can typically deliver on the gasoline warning mild earlier than going 100 miles. In equity to BMW, we should always say that there’s a lengthy option to go from warning mild 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 could go. The non-obligatory 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 forestall detonation below onerous 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, paying homage to BMW’s greatest parents. Footpegs don’t stick out at ninety levels, as an alternative, they observe the pure waddle of the human kind and level barely backwards. Sit in your motorbike, no matter it’s, and also you’ll see that your ft need to try this, too. The switchgear takes some time to get used to. BMW have a swap system all their very own, with flip sign buttons on every handlebar, canceled by a separate swap that you simply push up to actuate. In contrast to earlier fashions, flip indicators 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 may be room below the fairing for loud pair of Italian horns.
Floor clearance, all the time a boxer drawback (comes from having one cylinder protruding all sides), continues to be on the low facet for ultra-serious sport driving, and despite the fact that you’ll need to be attempting maniacally onerous 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 car parking zone tipover — too simply. Seems the sidestand, all the time a BMW failing prior to now, continues to be not proper. Park on the fallacious 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 issues 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 need to 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 once a symptom of poor operating however these days simply exhibits how lean engines run. You possibly can really feel that lean operating 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 via 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 if you do want it, the bike will pull up neatly on any street floor.
The R1100RS’s styling is glossy. A shark-like look, redolent of Nineteen 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 embody the million-mile odometer and the California-proof filler cap. Motorbike journal junkies will keep in mind the nifty sidestand fairing that was once 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. Motive? maybe to keep away from anybody truly 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 incontrovertible fact that most likely saves the rider not less than 5 minutes per day in explaining time. And this can be a bike that can be utilized each day. It gives turnkey reliability and stone dependable beginning and operating, and servicing that for probably the most half could 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 top: 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 inform you 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. After all, it could’t succeed in any respect of those roles the best way a single-purpose bike can. However if you happen to’ve ever tried to carve corners with a Gold Wing or decide up groceries with a GSXR, perhaps you’ll admire 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 remedy 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 neglect, spend some additional dough on BMW’s non-obligatory 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 via its paces in metropolis driving, canyon carving, and freeway droning, I wasn’t so certain anymore. Don’t get me fallacious, the RS is a really succesful bike, however it felt too large for me bodily, and it wasn’t as a lot enjoyable to journey because the R1100R. I don’t consider there may be 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 offer it 4 stars.