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BMW R1200RS Sport SE


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I have been racking up a lot of miles on the Tracer, using it for commuting and business trips as well as touring. I did lots of rationalising and decided that buying a second bike would be a pragmatic choice, giving me an excellent bike in the Tracer for everyday use and maybe something a little more sophisticated when touring or just riding for fun. Queue a lot of perusing of magazines & websites. Test rode the MT10. Not for me. A friend has a BMW R1200R which has been remarkably reliable in the last year. I prefer the looks of the RS though so last month visited a dealer and was thrown the key to a bike with 3000 miles on it. It was their ex-demo bike and had been prepped for the used showroom and they were going to let me get it dirty again as the actual demo bike was already out. 
75 miles later, I had a long chat with Rob the sales guy as I really liked the bike. A very tempting deal offered on an SE Sport if I complete by the end of the month as they are aiming for a Quarter 3 target. Time to go home to have a think. This is the demo bike.
A few queries established the numbers were very favourable, with a new bike being a better deal than a used bike from some other dealers, plus I would be supporting a local business, which is always my preference. 
Order placed and I took delivery last weekend. 300 miles on the clock now, mostly one trip across Wales on some great roads to have sausage & chips in Aberaeron Harbour. 
So, as someone has said, the Tracer and R1200RS are put into the same sport touring class in the taxonomy of motorcycles. They don't have many other things in common. Tyres are the same size and the engines run on 95 RON petrol/gas. I've added Grip Puppies to both bikes as they both have slim handlebar grips. 
The RS costs 50% more than the Tracer, if you get the same discount as I did. For that extra £4000 you get a screen that works and a seat that is still comfortable after a 250 mile ride. You get quite possibly the best brakes I have ever used: servo assisted Brembo jobs that seem to be intuitive to the level of urgency you need. The engine, being a 1200cc boxer twin is obviously very good, masses of torque and 45bhp more than my last boxer, the R1150GS. Even with the stock exhaust, it make a lovely growl. The gearbox is very good: I thought the quickshift might be a gimmick but I'm starting to appreciate the value of clutchless downshifts. Proper cruise control as standard, works well. Tyre pressure monitors and keyless ignition are gimmicks that I would not miss. Hydraulic clutch is very light.
The two areas where the BMW does score over the Yamaha are the fuel injection and suspension. The Bosch system Fi system is perfect. Better than any other Fi system I have used on a bike (BMW R1150GS, Super Tenere, FJR1300, MT10, Tracer, Z1000SX, Vstrom DL650, Tmax, Caponord, Triumph 955i are the ones I can remember). It is very good at low revs where many other bikes struggle. With fancy, dynamic, electronic suspension you would hope it would perform better and it does. There is also a steering damper as standard. I was a little worried that after ditching the Telelever system (water cooled bike has a radiator that gets in the way of a monoshock front end) that the BMW would be a step backwards but no worries, it works very well over surfaces where the Tracer gets into a horrible mess (one sweeping bend past a farm entrance gets the Tracer into apoplexy but today on the RS it was minor wobble). 
On the road, the excellent fuel injection, monster torque, stonking brakes and posh suspension translate into a very nice riding experience. 
What's missing: unlike the Tracer, there is no accessory socket in the cockpit. They fit one on the side of the bike, under your right thigh. This is great for powering my heated clothing, though. BMW provides a wired cradle for their satnav but it costs twice the price of the generic Garmin unit (although this does not have the software for integrating with the bike systems). Headlights are H7 bulbs rather than LED which wa sa surprise. You do get LED daytime running lights. 
Would I classify the Tracer & RS as similar bikes? Not really, and that is why I have both. 
The Tracer is a very capable bike that can be used every day for commuting or ridden thousands of miles across Europe and beyond. The ergonomics are more relaxed as you sit more upright, giving a commanding view, and the pegs are positioned more like an adventure type bike. You have to put up with the crude suspension and need to slip the clutch a lot at low revs due to the iffy fuel mapping. 
You could use the RS for commuting. The low speed fuelling make it very docile around town. The lower, more canted forward riding position does not give you the same commanding view over traffic as the Tracer. The RS is an expensive bike to use for a commuter with a lot of gadgets and posh components that are useless or pointless for urban use. On fun rides or touring in the Alps the RS will put a bigger smile on your face. Blipping down the box using the quickshift is great fun, the suspension just works and those brakes are awesome. Combine that with a torquey engine with perfect fuelling and grins are aplenty. I deliberately insured the RS for SD&P (social, domestic & pleasure) only, no commuting so I can't ride the RS to work. 
I'm fortunate that I have a level of income where I can buy the Tracer outright and make the finance payments on the BMW. If I only had the means to run one bike then it would be the Tracer as it would be adequate as an all rounder.  The RS is a luxury: I don't need it but I like having it. I would not use a bike like the RS as an everyday ride in all weathers unless I was in a very different financial position. 
My tiny garage:
First outing into Wales: this was near New Radnor
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  • 4 months later...
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5 months on, I've covered over 1800 miles on the R1200RS this winter, riding in temperatures down to -2C over New Year visiting relatives. I've mainly used the Tracer for commuting but a change of role means I need the car more often for work, so the miles are not creeping up so quickly. I decided to take the Tracer out for a longer run this afternoon. It was a very pleasant ride, more of a bimble than a balls out thrash as the roads were very wet in places. I mostly dodged the storms but saw loads of rainbows and streams of water on the rural roads. Quite simply, the Tracer is my second favourite bike in the garage. The BMW seat is better, the steering is better and of course, it has top of the range, electronically controlled suspension so the ride is more comfortable. The Tracer engine is excellent. The best thing about the bike. The Tracer engine is not a match for the R1200 in terms of torque so the traction out of corners is not so good. Combine the torque of the boxer twin with the 20 extra bhp and you have a motor that is quite intoxicating in its application!
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