Tidying the tail of the K1200R

Starting Point

When you get your hands on a new K1200R you'll see that the tail isn't the prettiest in the world. Sure the shape is there, but it's hidden under a bunch of practicalities and legalities. You are served with: Big grabrails, big indicators, a big sturdy license plate holder and the lock for the seat. It all has to go. The result should be that the licence plate is tucked up as far as it can go under the tail, and small indicators that don't spoil the looks.

Showing the K1200R's tail in its original configuration., Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

This is how it all started - from the rear view...

Showing the K1200R's tail in its original configuration from the side., Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

And the view from the side.

First attempt

I don't like using the Dremel in anger and prefer to take it a bit at a time. Therefore I started small and kept going till I was happy. First thing that came off was the grab rails. I don't take pillions very often and when I do I think it's better if they hold on to me instead so I know what they're up to. Off with the grab rails! Unfortunately they leave four big ugly holes in the tail unit. Not very nice. I'm hoping that one day I'll figure out a nice way to plug these holes, a way that wouldn't involve too much money. But for now, I'm reasonably happy with the holes in place.
The next thing to go was the actual plate holder. This part is where the actual plate is bolted to the bike. I wanted to move the plate upwards, so it was quite natural to remove this part. And it was easily done too. With the Dremel tool it didn't take very long. The next problem was how to affix the plate in a good way. I came up with using two aluminium bars that would attach to the back of the remaining lip and onto the back of the plate. A bit of measuring, bending and drilling later, I had the plate in position. But I wasn't happy with this. The plate hadn't moved upwards very much and it had also moved backwards (towards the end of the bike). I also noticed that the plate is very big right now. Things need to progress.

Showing the original K1200R undertray., Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

The Prime Suspect - the massive undertray and licence plate holder.

The K1200R licence plate hanger removed from the tail unit., Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

This is how the tail unit looked like without the licence plate hanger.

Displaying the aluminium brackets that hold the licence plate., Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

Here you can see the brackets holding the plate in position (before cutting the bolts). The actual position isn't that much higher up, and in fact a bit further back.

K1200R tail with modified licence plate holder viewed from the side., Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

Version 1 viewed from the side. The result is much tidier than the starting point, but it's still not what I was looking for.

The Second Attempt

This was the point of no return. To achieve what I wanted I had to cut deep, and that meant I couldn't get it back without buying a whole new plate holder/tail-unit. After some proper looking and pondering I decided to go ahead with it. This stage meant I had to cut it all off, flush with the bottom of the undertray. It also meant that the lock for the seat would be exposed and thus had to be covered up again somehow. Luckily this part was flat so it would be easy to fix it. I started by cutting everything off with the Dremel, easy peasy. I then proceeded to drill the holes that will hold the aluminum bars that in turn hold the plate. The aluminium bars were, at this point, still flat. I would bend them when everything was in place so that I'd get the right angle on the plate. I then proceeded to fix the cover for the lock. I used a DVD case that seemed to have just the right little end to it. I cut it with my scissors and then I used a bit of glue to glue it into place. Fits like a glove!

Cutting the BMK K1200R tail unit., Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

This is how I cut for version 2. I got rid of as much as I could. No going back anymore. The unit is facing forward, the top bit being at the front of the bike. At the bottom of the image you can see the BMW roundel from the back.

Making a cover for the lock mechanism for the K1200R tail unit., Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

I used a piece of a DVD case cut to shape to cover up the hole left by removing the licence plate hanger. Here it is ready to be glued on.

Aluminium bars fitted to hold the licence plate of the K1200R., Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

Here you can see the aluminum bars fitted along with the lock and its cover. Indicator holes are just on the side of where the bars are mounted.

Viewing the K1200R tidy undertray from the underside., Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

The view from the back.


Next thing that needed to be fixed was the smaller indicators. I opted for the "Micro Arrow" ones that come in all sorts of brands including Motrax, Oxford etc. They're about £15 for a pair, and fairly good quality. Drilling the holes for them was easy. As the mounting points weren't really 90 degrees to how I wanted the indicators to stick out, I used the dremel to sand down the indicator stalk's rubber a bit. The result is that the indicators now sit snuggly, almost under, the tail unit and very close to the plate. Connecting the indicators proved a bit of a chore as they came with round connectors and the BMW has got small flat ones. I couldn't find any small connectors in the local Halfrauds, so I bought a set of normal ones, and used the Dremel (what would I do without it?!) to cut them down to the right size. Now the indicators are connected to the bike without any damage to the original wiring.

Fitting Micro Arrow findicators to the K1200R., Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

This is where I mounted the Micro Arrow indicators. As you can see they needed a bit of trimming to fit straight.

Cut down indicator connectors., Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

Here are the connectors that I had to cut to size with the Dremel.

The Plate

As I mentioned before I thought the original plate now looked out of place, so for the first time I ordered a new "show plate" from Craig's Plates. This plate is 1 inch smaller in both height and width, hoping that the long arm of the law won't mind too much. The letters are very close to legal size meaning that it shouldn't obscure any electronic plate recognition software and such. I also added a slogan and the European Union country sign, hoping that I wouldn't have to affix a GB-sticker to the bike when travelling abroad. I carefully drilled the four holes in the plate to match the aluminium bracket. I then used the Dremel to cut the bolts flush with the nuts on the back.

One more thing - The Tail Light

There's one more thing that annoyed me with the rear end of the bike; The tail light. That light is too big, and it goes all the way up to the rear seat. On top of that they've shaped it with a groove in the middle. I personally think that a baboon sat as model for the shape and colour of it. My solution was to paint over the top of it with matt black. Aaah... much better.

Version 2 of the "Tidy Tail" viewd from the side., Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

The finished tail from the side. Notice the black on the tail light too. Since the picture was taken I've also got the rear pillion pegs and hangers powder coated in black.

The Result

I'm personally very pleased with the result. I think this is somewhat close to what the designers had in mind before they were pestered with legal and practical requirements. I also think that the bike now looks about 20kg lighter than what it used to look. Much happier this way.
The perfectionist in me says that I should have powdercoated the aluminium bars that hold the plate in black, and that I should have used some fancy-pants nuts and bolts to mount it. Well worth the effort I reckon.

K1200R without an ugly licence plate hanger, and with tiny Micro Arrow indicators., Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

There you go - all fitted and tidy.

BMW K1200R from the side., Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

There she is; Much sleeker without all that "rubbish" at the back.