The K1200R at the Nürburgring


I've ridden several bikes on the Nürburgring, mainly my trusty ol' GSX-R100 of 2001 pedigree. The weirdedst bike is probably my BMW R1200GS that I did several trips on. Other joys include Suzuki GSX-R600, Kawasaki ZXR400, Yamaha YZF-R6 and Triumph Daytona 600. That said, I do have some frame of reference when it comes to how a bike behaves on the 'Ring. Therefore it was with great anticipation I headed off on the first trip of 2006. K1200R's brother, the K1200S, is already something that's been spoken about in the Nürburgring context; It set a "fastest lap" before introduced, and that lap was very impressive in many aspects. I was most chuffed about the way the bike held the line through corners.

The Configuration

My K1200R is one without ABS, but with ESA (electronic suspension adjustment). It's got the sport wheels and a few other gubbins that aren't that important for performance. I've also got the Evoluzione Race Air Filters fitted, and normally a Laser DuoTech end can. Sadly I had to refit the original exhaust (in all its 7kg glory) due to the noise limits. Next trip will be done with the DuoTech in a the quiet mode. The filters transform the engine from a snarling beast to a snarling beast just about to overdose on the latest designer junk. I used the Continental Sport Attack tyres on it and more about those in a bit.

A short word about touring

This was also the first long trip I did on the K1200R, and to my surprise it was much better in some aspects, and terrible in some other aspects. The surprising part was that it was so easy to ride and I felt quite refreshed even after several hours in the saddle without a break. The "Sport shield" windscreen also does a good enough job. The fuel economy was also very nice, seeing me past Brussels from Calais without stopping. However, the negative side is pretty much focused on the nasty vibrations generated around 75 - 90mph. The effect of that is that my right hand side mirror is completely blurred, and the left hand side isn't that bad. The really bad thing though is that my hands go numb and even caused the start of two big blisters. Not very good. But that's just booooring; onto the fun stuff.


BMW K1200R on the Nurburgring, Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

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This still makes me grin a lot. During a few laps I made a concerted effort to accelerate as hard as I could out of the corners and oh what smile that put on my face. The K1200R engine is magnifficent, and applying the Evoluzione filters makes me run out of superlatives. At one point I was followed by a friend in his 968 Club Sport and he was apparently telling his passenger "Now he's going to disappear" when exiting selected corners such as Adenauer Forst, Ex-Muhle etc. Aah that power! The engine is still a bit rough when it comes to performing a smooth off-on-throttle maneouvre. A racer would probably complain about loosing seconds, but I'm not that bothered.
The noise from the engine is also unbelieeevable!


BMW K1200R on the Nurburgring, Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

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The DuoLever forks are great. I really like the way you can use the brakes even when decked over quite a bit without loosing the feel of the front. Mid corner the bike is very steady and I had no problems with it whatsoever. Under braking the bike was very stable too. No complaints.
The only thing that annoys me a bit is that the ESA shocks aren't adjustable at all apart from the three settings (comfort, normal and sport). I think the shocks are set to have too hard compression damping and that leads to the bumps transferring up to the bars. This could probably be fixed by softening the compression damping a bit. Unfortunately I know no way of fixing that without loosing the wonderful ESA. There are a few corners that have a nasty bump, and a bit softer suspension in these situations would steady the bike quite a lot.
There's also a strange feeling sometimes when experiencing a compression whilst cranked over; if you hit a slight recession in the road, say for example that you're crossing over some worn tracks whilst cranked over, the bike seems to want to stand up in a slight unnerving fashion. Nothing bad, it just wiggles in a way I've not really experienced another bike doing.


Thanks to the absense of the ABS system these brakes are plain vanilla brakes; No ABS or Servo, just like on any other performance bike, excellent! The feeling on the lever is good and the stopping power is also very good. When you put your fingers on the lever the brakes tell you that they're present. The brakes aren't as good as, say the Ducati 999R brakes. There's obviously more weight to hurl to a standstill than a skinny sports bike which means that although the brakes are good, they're no match for the latest crop of superbike brakes.


As mentioned before, this trip was made on the Continental Sport Attack tyres. On the motorway and around town the tyres were just as good as any other quality tyre I've ridden on. Only when it came to pushing the bike could I notice that these tyres weren't really working for me on this bike. I haven't been able to pinpoint what the issue is, and frankly I can't feel that there's a problem. Sadly the stopwatch doesn't lie, and the story it told me was that I was considerably slower than on the GSX-R1000 (if you think that's an unfair comparison remember the GSX-R was from 2001, with less power, and less weight. The K-R has got about 10 - 15 bhp more power, 200cc more torque and about 40kg more weight). Surely times on the GSX-R would be faster in the beginning, but not this much. I also felt that it was much more difficult to get my knee down on this bike than on the GSX-R and surprisingly on the GS! I didn't play very much with the tyre pressures, but I very much suspect that my pressures weren't completely right. I'll get back to you when I have the complete story.

BMW K1200R on the Nurburgring, Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

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And there you have it

The K1200R is quite a competent Nürburgring-toy even if it's really a fish out of water. It has got plenty of power and torque to play on the Ring. The suspension is good, but a bit on the harsh side. The brakes are really up spirited riding like this. Sadly I couldn't really get that 100% comfortable feeling on this trip. Was it the weather? Was it the new (read: different) bike, or was it the tyres..? I don't really know, so I'm going to have to go back there and find out. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it.