RT Comparo – 2014 R1200RT ‘Wethead’ vs 2010 R1200RT ‘Camhead’

2014 R1200RTW vs 2010 R1200RT.  Photo from 2014 Fall Tour

2014 R1200RTW (R) vs 2010 R1200RT (L). Photo from last year’s Fall Tour

A few days ago I rode to Wetaskiwin with a good friend, Robyn, who owns a pristine 2010 BMW R1200RT.

We swapped bikes for the short, 45 minute ride.  He took my 2014 R1200RT ‘Wethead’ and I rode his last generation 2010 R1200RT ‘Camhead.’

Before buying my RT in September, 2014 I had not ridden an RT since selling my 2004 R1150RT.  So I’ve missed the evolution of the series.  My old twin-spark R1150RT had been superseded by the ‘Hexhead’ engine, then the ‘Camhead’ boxer twin, so riding Robyn’s bike was a revelation.  But not for the reasons you might think.

Robyn has modified his R1200RT for long-distance touring duty.  Specifically, he’s tailored the rider’s ‘triangle’ to suit his physique, with handlebar risers, a lowering kit for the footpegs moving them down and forward slightly, and a saddle from Rich’s Custom Seats.  Apart from a set of Clearwater running lights, Robyn’s RT’s engine, exhaust and suspension are OEM stock.

What we discovered

Our short ride on each others bikes was a revelation.  Robyn’s RT feels immediately comfortable.  First, the Rich’s saddle is broad and applies even pressure across my skinny little butt.  The riser-equipped handlebars allow a more upright (and comfortable, to me) riding position, and the lowered footpegs give more legroom between the saddle and pegs, plus a slightly more foot-forward position.  (To me, my 2014 RT’s handlebar position feels sportier – certainly more forward and lower – than the R1150RT and more like a Honda ST1300.)  In fact, Robyn’s RT reminded me very much of my 2007 Honda GL1800A Gold Wing with its upright, ‘open’ riding position.   Very nice indeed.

On the road, the 2010 RT feels incredibly solid; it’s chassis and steering feels heavier and a tad slower than the 2014’s.  I really like the ‘weightier’ feeling; it reminds me of the feeling I get when driving a big, late model Mercedes-Benz.

Power-wise, we didn’t have an opportunity to wring the bikes out, but a couple of overtaking maneuvers on the 2-lane #2A highway easily showed the ‘old’ RT has plenty of power, right where you need it.  Roll on the throttle in 6th gear from 100 kph and the RT emits a nice growl and the bike responds strongly; there’s no waiting for the power to kick in.  It’s there right where you need it.

Oddly, when we shared our observations, I noted that the modified 2010 R1200RT really reminded me of how my 1992 Honda ST1100A – one of my favourite bikes I’ve owned – felt; big, solid, and comfortable.

Robyn observed that by comparison, my 2014 R1200RT felt much lighter than his 2010, and it reminded him of a Honda ST1300 he had ridden recently.

Hmm, two BMW riders saying the unfamiliar RTs they’ve just ridden remind them of Honda ST1100/1300s.  I am not sure what to make of that.

Finally, I did not discern much difference in wind protection between the two RTs.  Our test ride took place on a warm, sunny day.  Robyn and I both run with our respective windshields adjusted so we look over the ‘screen.  I’d happily ride in the rain or cold on either bike.

Robyn’s modifications have me looking at the possibility of fitting handlebar risers and footpeg relocation kit for the 2014 R1200RT.

As for which RT is ‘better’ than the other, from a technology perspective, the ‘new’ 2014/2015 RT with liquid-cooling makes more power, and, according to BMW, is more fuel-efficient.

But the last generation R1200RT ‘Camhead’ is still a very, very good long distance touring machine.  After riding the 2010 ‘Camhead’ (and if I owned one) would I feel compelled to trade it in on the ‘newer, lower, longer, wider’ (tongue-in-cheek) more technologically-advanced liquid-cooled RT?  No.

 

1 Comment

  1. Jim DeLuca says:

    Hi there just came across this article via a google search . I own a 2012 R1200Rt and have been thinking about trading it in on a new “wet head”. Your article was very insightful , thank you.

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