Text: Christian Neuhauser, Christa Neuhauser • Photography: Christian Neuhauser, Christa Neuhauser
There are only a few bikes out there that deserve the title "Roadster," but if one fits this category like a glove it's definitely BMW's R1150R. This standard sports many improvements and some cool new features when compared to its predecessor, the R1100R.
Standard bikes are becoming quite popular. The reason: They are less expensive, universal to use, and they still can be equipped with the accessories the owner prefers. But there is one very unique form of the standards that is built primarily with the essentials of motorcycle riding in mind. The main purpose is fun on twisting back roads, but they also have to look special. And although the automotive industry latched onto this expression much earlier, what we're talking about are roadsters. Just think of the British MGs, Triumph's TRs, and Austin Healys, but don't forget thoroughbreds like the Alfa Romeo Spider or Porsche's 356 Speedster.
Definition & Design
The motorcycle business took over this category much later, but there is actually only one brand using it in their model name, Bavaria's BMW, and their R1150R ('R' for Roadster) stands for purism and performance. The R1150R is the successor to the R1100R and features some radical improvements. First of all, the new design has a more aesthetically pleasing cross linkage for the telelever suspension in the front, a more aerodynamic front fender, and a different tank and tail section. BMW goes its own progressive way and still leads when it comes to design. Anyway, that was my thinking when I laid eyes on the bike we picked up from Jonas Musson, Fleet Motorcycle Specialist, at BMW headquarters in Westwood, New Jersey.
Engine & Transmission
The 1130cc engine, from the R1150GS, has a six-speed gearbox. This setup gives the bike more top-end power (85hp vs. 80hp) and more torque (10.0mkp/74ft.lbs. vs. 9.9mkp/73ft.lbs.) compared to the R1100R. Out on the road the bike feels more relaxed now when you try to push it hard. The gearbox is easier to shift than its predecessor's (surprisingly, it's even a lot better than the R1150GS we tested for the last issue) and offers better transitions between the gears. There are always some vibrations present but they're not bad at all and they give the Beemer its special character. Between 2500 rpm and 6500 rpm there is always enough power available to pull strong out of narrow turns. This is a wide range of usable power output that makes riding easy and enjoyable.
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For the complete article of the riding impression(s) and technical specifications, please purchase the Spring 2002 back issue.