Endurance test interim report BMW K 1200 S
The serious side of life
After BMW’s new power bike shone in many tests, the ultimate test is now waiting: 50,000 kilometers in the service of the editorial team. An interim balance at halftime.
It was not an easy birth. Breech position, a midwife would say. Hardly was the yellow-black-silver one K 1200 S namely rolled the first few meters in the editorial order, it was already in the workshop. The clutch had to be replaced because of improper chattering before the Bavarian woman could finally start her life properly in Swabia. Then it got serious.
But what does that mean here "serious": Like a freshly baked father gives his offspring in the delivery room "what a great guy" crashed against, editor Rolf Henniges was enthusiastic about the BMW offspring after the maiden voyage. "A great motorcycle", he wrote the K in the studbook. But he wouldn’t be a MOTORCYCLE tester with heart and soul if he hadn’t noticed a small flaw. Only one sentence later, he certifies that the rear brake is poorly controllable.
A judgment that will be confirmed immediately. And from someone who should know. The boss himself insisted on it and drove the K both over the dreaded home route over the Pragsattel and at lightning speed over 1000 kilometers to Oschersleben and back. "Good weather protection, good remaining range indicator, weak rear brake", he brings the matter to the point.
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Endurance test interim report BMW K 1200 S
The serious side of life
Start of test
Let’s start the endurance test.
In the following three months, the endurance test-K reeled off 10,000 kilometers at the express speed without any technical problems. However, with very different comments. Depending on whether the 1200 was in cross-country traffic or in everyday life in the city, it either earned a lot of praise for the excellent ergonomics, regardless of body size, the powerful motor, the great stability and the ESA chassis that can be adjusted at the push of a button? or wholehearted criticism for the still jerky and stiff clutch, the sometimes pithy vibrations in the middle speed range, the poorly metered brake, the wobbly slow driving behavior and last but not least for the transmission.
"So loud that passers-by turn around", noted one of the embarrassed K-drivers, because the involuntarily listening environment does not blame the responsible BMW engineers for this mishap, but the innocent driver. "Transmission works best in the morning after a cold night of minus five degrees, when the oil drowns the caustic knocks and noises in its viscosity", another colleague muses with resignation.
Still, a little tip for driving: Like on the racetrack, press the gear lever with your foot "preload", just briefly twitch the throttle hand, and "pflop", the next speed step is precisely and, above all, practically noiseless. The seismographically relevant vibrations that engaging first gear at the traffic light usually generate cannot be avoided in this way. On the other hand, undesirable chassis reactions that can be attributed to the tires do. At 13,200 kilometers, something happened that reinforced even notorious doubters in their belief in the miraculous work of black gold. Fleet manager Gerry Wagner added a set of Michelin Pilot Power to the first Bridgestone BT 014 tires after a total of two rear and one front tires. An event that did not go unnoticed. "What tires can do with such a motorcycle! Please do not use anything other than the Pilot Power." This comment is representative of the unanimous opinion of the entire driver base, who felt very comfortable on the Michelin-powered 1200 and in particular credited the French tire with improved handling and more transparent feedback. With the result that Gerry listened to the request and has not pulled on another tire since then.
MOTORRAD gets to the bottom of things.
Instead, the first serious defect appeared at around 15,000 kilometers. The BMW suffered from creeping incontinence of the coolant reservoir, but no leak could be seen. The BMW workshop finally got to the bottom of the matter and found a leaky oil seal on the water pump, which allowed coolant to get into the engine oil. Fortunately, this damage was discovered in time.
It took much longer to track down the cause of a genetic defect that had existed practically from the start. We are talking about the inadequate rear wheel brake, which over time left more and more to be desired in terms of effectiveness and controllability. Even the BMW workshop had no advice after an extensive brake check; the fault was discovered by chance. The return spring of the brake lever had worked its way into the soft aluminum and wedged it so that it was hardly possible to operate the brake. K 1200 S owners who also have problems with the rear brake should therefore keep an eye on their retaining plate and the brake lever.
And on the timing chain tensioner, when a mechanical sound carpet of the worst kind covers the big K after every start. Even if the authorized specialist workshop says that this is normal: Don’t believe it, after replacing the timing chain tensioner and pretensioning the spring to the maximum permitted three millimeters, the problem was significantly alleviated. On the other hand, when reaching halftime at 25,000 kilometers, other difficulties arose. So the left turn signal switch acknowledged the service, and the clutch grabs increasingly stronger and is increasingly difficult to dose. Oil consumption, on the other hand, a constant topic in earlier BMW endurance tests, has not yet been a topic. Just 0.8 liters were topped up over a distance of around 27,000 kilometers.
The workshop replaced the ball joint bearings of the Duolever with modified ones, which are now installed in all K models and, in the case of problematic slow driving behavior, are also retrofitted by BMW in older models. Just like the hollow screw of the hand brake pump, which BMW replaced on 90,000 motorcycles in order to prevent pressure peaks in the brake hydraulics, which could lead to ABS failure during driver training courses and their special conditions. The remaining 23,000 kilometers will show where the MOTORRAD endurance test will lead.
Conclusion: The BMW is a great tourer with special weaknesses.
Box Schwers, Tester
Oh, two souls live in my chest: On the one hand, I find the long-distance comfort, the engine power and the ESA chassis of the K 1200 S absolutely inspiring, on the other hand, I would like the Japanese standard in many places. The gearbox, the play in the drivetrain and the occasional bitch of ABS and brake booster ?? both were sometimes not ready for use, especially during the driving tests? Munich should still drive out the big K..
Werner Koch, editor
Drive, drive, drive ?? There is almost nothing better for the marathon tour than the K 1200 S. Sit on it and feel good. And that for hours. In addition to the super comfort, there is also a lot of pressure in the boiler. In addition, with the right rubbers, the K is an astonishingly jagged corner wetter. In view of these touring qualities, the numerous quirks in the engine and drive are almost lost. The only thing missing is a 50 liter tank.
Rolf Henniges, editor
The K 1200 S is quick to judge: throttle response and load change reactions unsatisfactory, the transmission half a disaster. There are also annoying vibrations. Not that one cannot come to terms with the Bavarian attempt to build a powerful motorcycle. No. One can guarantee. But just because of the hooked, hard-breaking corridors I would put them back in the yard of the dealer. Apart from these elementary quarrels, the K is a great touring bike.
There are motorcycles where you already know after the first few meters what you would like to try out in order to make the motorcycle better. The BMW K 1200 S is not one of them. Take the chassis, for example: With the ESA chassis, which is subject to a surcharge, the Bavarian has a unique feature in the motorcycle world. Instead of laboriously converting the struts, all you have to do is press a button to switch from comfort to sport, from empty to full load. And the ergonomic conditions actually cover all requirements. Nevertheless, MOTORRAD has of course tried a lot. The Rizoma Superbike handlebars and the MRA spoiler screen were particularly popular, while the Remus PowerCone exhaust and the Wunderlich footrest system quickly disappeared.
Brake / clutch lever "VarioLever"
The temptation of the adjustable brake / clutch lever "VarioLever" from Wunderlich (79 euros) is the promise to improve the controllability of the brake-assisted braking system of the K 1200 S by shortening the lever. But it doesn’t really work. On the other hand, the levers weren’t exactly convenient in one or the other driver’s hand, so that MOTORRAD sacrificed the fine finish of the function and upgraded it back to the original lever.
Superbike handlebars and triple tree
The desire for customization and the unsightly original fork bridge were the trigger for the conversion. The uncomplicated assembly of the "Power Sportego", the fine finish and the handling of this multiple adjustable combination (Wunderlich, fork bridge 399 euros, handlebars 89 euros) were convincing, so that we spent many thousands of kilometers with it. Especially in the city and on the country road, you have the K on the wide handlebars well under control.
Touring screen MRA-Vario
The desire for better wind protection is almost inevitable in a motorway sweeper like the K 1200 S. A wish that MRA reliably satisfies in most cases for 119.90 euros. So this time with the Vario touring screen, which has an additional spoiler that can be adjusted seven times, which can be adapted to individual needs and which provides excellent wind protection even with the high superbike handlebars.
Rizoma rest system SportVario
Basically, there is nothing wrong with the standard footrest system of the K 1200 S. Except maybe that they are very good in terms of finish and choice of materials "functional" fails. But this is precisely where the Rizoma rest system lacks "SportVario (399 euros, Wunderlich). Since the retaining plate protrudes further outwards, the driver has to spread his legs unnecessarily wide. At the same time, the side stand is very difficult to reach.
If you don’t like the standard stovepipe of the K 1200 S, you will find a wide range of replacements on the accessory market. With the Remus PowerCone made of titanium (Phoenix Motorrad-Tuning, 345 euros), MOTORRAD ordered a very slim, easy-to-assemble replacement. The obligatory power measurement did not take place, however, because the visually pleasing pipe was so loud that no one wanted to drive around with it with a clear conscience.
K 1200-S owners can be happy: You are not spoiled for choice given the four approved pairings. Just as little as in terms of dimension. At the front, the BMW rolls in the usual 120/70 format, while a fat 190/50 slipper is used at the rear. With the exception of the only touring tire in the quartet, the Michelin Pilot Road, the orientation is clearly sporty. When recommending tires, only performance was taken into account, not wear behavior. Experience shows, however, that a touring tire has a significantly longer service life than a sports tire. The Pilot Road can therefore be a real alternative.
Bridgestone BT 014
The first tire is not necessarily the first choice. Slightly more sluggish to handle than the Sportec M1 or Michelin Pilot Power, when the Bridgestone is inclined, light pressure on the handlebars is necessary to keep the K 1200 S on course. In addition, there is a noticeable righting moment when braking in an inclined position and a not exactly transparent feedback. Overall, a good-natured tire with good, but by no means outstanding, grip for all everyday situations.
Metzeler Sportec M1
The Sportec M1 shines on the BMW with good handiness, but it also needs pressure on the handlebars in an inclined position, otherwise the front wheel will noticeably collapse. The hard carcass is also noticeable when driving over bumps in an inclined position. And when braking in corners is a clear one
To record the erection moment. In return, the Sportec provides precise feedback and good grip even if the footrests are already dragging on the ground.
Michelin Pilot Power
The Pilot Power impresses in every respect on the big BMW. Not only is it wonderfully handy and extremely easy to turn in, it also provides precise feedback. In addition, there is a low righting moment when braking in an inclined position. You can feel the soft carcass when driving over bumps. A very sporty tire that is also clearly one of the best in the rain that money and good words can buy.
$ (text: b: Michelin Pilot Road)
The Pilot Road behaves very neutrally over the entire lean angle range, but is a bit more unwieldy than the pure sports tires. When driving over bumps, it has very good inherent damping. The feeling for the front wheel is a little worse in extreme lean angles. Nevertheless, the Pilot Road also offers enough grip for most everyday situations, even if not on the level of sports tires. When braking in an inclined position, it stands up easily.
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