Back in 2005 few would have predicted BMW would ever build a bike as crackers as the K1200R. It represented a real shift in design philosophy for the German brand, which usually builds more modest and sensible machines. But the potent, ruggedly styled roadster almost single-handedly lifted the sporting image of the brand, receiving nods of approval from press and buyers alike who loved its 163 BHP in-line four engine and surprisingly capable chassis. Its own race series – the Power Cup, which ran alongside European GP rounds – also helped to raise the profile of the model and the marque. The racers posted some highly impressive lap times, especially considering the bikes were so close to standard.
Since then, save some upgrades to the fuelling system to iron out occasional bugs found on some early bikes, the K1200R remained unchanged. It’s been a lot more popular in Europe than it has in the UK, where the R has largely been the choice of slightly older wannabe hooligans who’ve switched to the German badge for the first time. Most have modified their bikes in some way, with many choosing parts from the extensive range of aftermarket goodies or factory-fit options.
In 2009 the bike was changed significantly for the first time, featuring a host of new components including, most significantly, a larger 1300cc engine (actually just 36cc bigger) producing another 10 BHP and 9lb-ft of torque. Both bore and stroke were increased in size to achieve this, and together with revised cam profiles and timing, gave the motor a broader spread of power.
Maximum BHP was made at 1000 RPM lower in the rev range, and the 1200’s irritating mid-range harshness was smoothed out. Other minor modifications, including chassis geometry to speed up the steering, the second generation of electronically adjustable suspension (though only available as an option), and more sharply styled components such as the clocks and exhaust help to distinguish it from the first 1200. Very good though the BMW K1300R is, however, just like its forerunner it never sold well in the UK.
What It’s Like To Ride?
Essentially an upgrade of the K1200R, the bigger engine version is a bike that you warm to more and more with time. Not that there aren’t a number of virtues of the 2009 K1300R to enjoy from the off. The BMW’s engine is one of them, and is immediately impressive. Strong power and torque means once up and running you can quickly change up through the box without too many revs. Then you only really need to swap between the top two gear ratios to maintain just about any desired pace as readily and easily as you want.
2009 BMW K1300R really is extremely flexible, unhurried, and very relaxing to use. Should you spin the motor harder though, the difference in character is quite profound. Things really start to blur distinctly as soon as the rev counter gets to around 7000 RPM.When that happens there’s little doubt about the German firm’s claim that the in-line four makes a maximum of 173bhp. To be honest, there’s no real need to go into this zone, and revving the engine further towards its 11.000 RPM redline certainly requires plenty of clear road. Make no mistake this is an exceptionally powerful unit that can send the BMW to some silly speeds very quickly indeed.
Whoever designed the chassis deserves a pat on the back too, as the 2009 BMW K1300R deals very well with much that’s asked of it. There’s no doubt it’s a big, heavy and lengthy bike and it pays to think ahead, especially when you’re going faster. At times you can feel slightly restricted by its size And weight, and things such as tricky unfamiliar hairpin-laden back roads require a bit more thought and effort to negotiate smoothly. It’s certainly never what you’d call a handful though – unless, of course, you start to use the engine much more seriously. The trade off for any of the more leisurely handling manners is planted and precise steering and massive stability, which even at very high speed gives a reassuring feel. It seems as though nothing could budge it off line, and any thoughts of weaves or wobbles always seem a world away.
The 2009 BMW K1300R’s ride feels quite different thanks to the Duolever front end with its wishbone and single-shock arrangement. It behaves totally differently to normal telescopic forks, and gives an impression of real stiffness thanks to its lack of dive. Even so, as it rides the ruts and bumps so well, it’s clearly working effectively to absorb them. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it warrants a big thumbs up when you do.
It’s probably under heavy braking that it seems toact most alternatively. The BMW K1300R’s brakes are extremely sharp And powerful – something your biceps can testify to thanks to the great strain the deceleration puts the munder. But though those muscles are working hard to counter the G-forces Being placed upon them, there’s still virtually no dive from the front as there would be under normal stopping circumstances. It’s quite weird until you’re used to it.
One bonus our test bike featured, and an extra you’d be wise to look for on a used bike, is the ESA electronic suspension adjustment system. I’ve really grown to like the arrangement after having tried it on a lot of different BMWs.
Being able to alter the springing and damping to instantly suit a wide variety of circumstances is a highly convenient benefit. All you have to do to cater for things such as faster riding, a passenger, or rougher roads is push a bar-mounted button. It’s as simple as that, and with nine alternatives to choose from, there’s normally an appropriate setting to suit. Though I have to add, all of them are quite firm, underlining the sporty bias of the bike. On the subject of switchgear, the 2009 BMW K1300R was one of the very first BMWs to feature a conventional indicator rocker switch, and is all the better for it. I’d prefer it if you could feel it clicking into action a little more though.
Firm suspension or not, the bike still has a fairly high level of comfort. The riding position is best termed as sports tourer-like, but the bars and footrests are sited well enough for longer rides, and the broad seat’s good enough to give comfort between refills. Our test bike had a small screen fitted which helped to fend off the physical ravages of higher speed wind more effectively than you’d expect, and extended the time before a rest was required. Though once you’ve spent a few minutes strolling around the services after your 160-200 mile stint, you’ll feel good to go again.
The 2009 BMW K1300R may encourage some questions from others at petrol stops; it’s certainly a curious-looking beast and has a very solid, purposeful, almost industrial style that’s quite unlike that of any other bike ever made. I’m not sure I’d call it attractive, but it’s certainly striking. And as there aren’t many around, if you like to stand out, the BMWis well-worth considering.
2009 BMW K1300R Specifications and Used Price
Engine : 4-Stroke, Transverse Four-cylinder, DOHC 16-Valve, Liquid-Cooled
Bore x Stroke : 80 x 64.3 mm
Capacity : 1.298 cc
Compression Ratio : 13.0 : 1
Induction : Electronic Fuel Injection (BMS-K)
Transmission : 6-Speed, Chain-Drive
Power : 173 BHP @ 9.250 RPM (claimed)
Torque : 140 N.m @ 8.250 RPM (claimed)
Dimensions (LxWxH) : 2.228 x 856 x 1.095 mm
Wheelbase : 1.585 mm
Seat Height : 790-820 mm
Fuel Tank Capacity : 19 Litres
Weight : 217 kg (dry, claimed)
Frame : Alumunium Bridge Frame
Front Suspension : BMW Motorrad Duolever
Rear Suspension : Cast Alumunium Single-sided Swingarm
Front Brakes : Twin Floating 320mm Discs, with 4-Piston Caliper
Rear Brakes : 265mm Discs, with 2-piston Caliper
Front Tyre : 120/70 – ZR17
Rear Tyre : 180/55 – ZR17
Prices : £6000 – £11,000*
* Prices are for early models sold privately in average condition, to almost new, well cared-for examples available at dealers.
Dealer Servicing :
MINOR @6000 MILES / 12 MONTHS : £240
INTERIM @12,000 MILES : £30
MAJOR @18,000 MILES : £475
* Costs will vary depending on labour rates and condition of your bike.