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Thread: K1200RS general impressions? ('04)

  1. #1
    Kindly curmudgeon W7lej1's Avatar
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    K1200RS general impressions? ('04)

    Hey Folks,

    Some insights please. I own an airhead and an RT - I can occasionally recognize a K1200 on sight, that's about all I know. I have a friend who is an experienced rider, he is looking to get another bike after a hiatus. He is interested in riding around town, day trips, and occasional runs of about 400 mi to some family property across the state with his wife on the pillion. He has spotted an '04 (?) K1200RS, 22k miles. Any general impressions, pros, cons, etc. on that bike that you would be willing to share with me and my friend? Thanks in advance!

    Marty
    Marty in Spokane Valley, WA

    '79 R65 - the rolling running project bike
    '08 R12RT - "new scoot"

  2. #2
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    Pros
    It's the smoothest BMW I have ridden.
    Good power
    Good wind protection
    Roomy enough for 2up
    Electronic cruise control

    Cons
    It's heavy
    Lee
    2016 R1200RS
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes: 2011 K1300S, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

  3. #3
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    Here's a good forum for the K1200RS.

    http://www.i-bmw.com/index.php?
    Lee
    2016 R1200RS
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes: 2011 K1300S, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

  4. #4
    Thick As A Brick r184's Avatar
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    Been flying a '02 K1200RS for 10+ years, have really enjoyed the bike. It's taken me (I ride solo, no passengers) through most of the western U.S. , with a number of high mileage days. Lots of power and loves to cruise at 70-80 mph. But you'll have less range than an RT, likes to drink gas. It's easy to twist that throttle of little more than needed, because well... it's fun. And the factory seat is OK for short trips, but you'll need something aftermarket for a long travel days.

    But they are also a pain to work on, if you do your own maintenance. Lots of plastic that you have to take off, oil and air filters are a difficult to get to.
    Last edited by r184; 03-09-2018 at 12:05 AM.

  5. #5
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    Marty,

    Here's a bunch of "impressions" ;)

    Wanda and I are on our third K1200RS. We bought our past 1998 with 46,000 miles on her and traded her in with 110,000 miles. We bought our past 2004 new and traded her in with 69,000 miles on the odo. Our current K1200RS is a 2002 that we bought with 62,000 on her and she now has 91,000.

    There's a lot of good, unfortunately there is some bad.

    The o ring on the clutch hub will rot and allow excessive oil from the crank case to enter the clutch hub. The repair is to pull the entire rear end with transmission off and replace the o ring. It is a major job but can be done by the back yard mechanic. I did it.

    While doing the clutch, its a good idea to replace the clutch slave cylinder. If it leaks it can pollute the transmission input shaft. Transmission oil smells different that engine oil and you will be able to tell if either is leaking once the clutch is exposed.

    A bike that old will need some of its rubber bits replaced. The brake lines for sure if they are still the OEMs.

    Look at the breather hose that goes from the crank case to the back of the throttle bodies. When it rots the top of the engine will slowly fill with grunk - a technical term for dirt and oil.

    Whizzy Brakes - Servo Assisted Brakes. They require vigilant maintenance. Again, a back yard mechanic, with a couple of tools, can do it. Takes some time and gets easier each time. Speed Bleeders really help. Before you buy the bike have the brakes system checked or ask to see all the maintenance records. They really need to be serviced annually.

    As another has said, most of the body work has to come off to do a full service. But really that's just a bunch of screws, easy.

    Its not a CAN Bus bike so hooking up farkels is easy. Compared to new bikes, the dash doesn't have all the options and stuff. Basic tach and speedo with a single trip meter; and a bunch of warning lights for the Servo Brake system. The K1200RSs do have electronic cruise control.

    Wanda and I tried a BMW comfort seat, but still ended up with a Russell DayLong on all three. The bike is low enough (for me) that the Russell didn't put me on my toes.

    Getting to the plugs and valves is pretty easy. The valves once settled in may never need adjustment. Our 1998, after seriously over heating on the 405 in California, needed an adjustment; and our current 2002 has need an adjustment. Note that our 2002 had 6 owners in its first 10 years and the last two or three really abused it. The 2004 never needed an adjustment.

    I always use 40 mpg when calculating when and where we need to gas up. The tank is 5.2 gallons so theoretically a 200 mile stint is possible. I always try to fill up at about 150 or less. We have gotten gas mileage in the mid to low 30s when riding into a tough head wind.

    Some of the K1200RS owners claim their bikes don't use oil. Our '98 drank oil. The 2004 sipped oil. The 2002 sips a bit. If over filled, and each bike seems to have a specific level it likes, ours will use oil till it gets to that level. It will smoke up the garage on start up if tilted over on the side stand over night. Keeps the bugs out ;)

    In our desert climate the bike can get pretty hot when motoring around town. You have to trust in your cooling system. I notice after so many bugs have collected in the radiators that the bike will tend to run a bit warmer at normal speeds. Time to pull the radiators off and clean them out. Again, just a bunch of screws and clamps. Easy to refill compared to the newer bikes that need a suction tool.

    Our K1200RSs have had no problems with their rear drives. The pivot pins on the other hand can be troublesome. This is not necessarily a job for the back yard mechanic. I buggered up two rear forks (the swing arm) before I got it right. I also found the after market pivot pins can be just as troublesome. I am one of a population of two that has had a rear pivot pin (after market) shear off that I know of.

    The Whizzy brakes are awesome. One finger on the front lever and you will come to a stop...right now! Be ready to have the ABS cut in if you really put the grip on 'em. That said, if the pump fails the price to replace it will be about half the value of the bike. There are ways to remove the servo brakes, but you will lose the ABS if I understood the tech correctly. I haven't had any problems...knock on wood. Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance...

    If you travel two up, you may find the rear trunk (the same setup as the older 650) and one of the side bags a bit small. Though it takes some planning, Wanda and I did many multi-thousand mile trips hauling camping gear. We used Helen Two Wheels stuff...the good.

    The bricks are kind of heavy. They don't "flick" very well in the twisties. The shocks are not that good, most serious owners replaced the OEMs with Ohlins. Really does change the bike.

    Now the good...

    Smooth as silk when properly serviced. I can do 90 in 4th with little vibes...smooth in all gears.

    The Ohlins transform the bike into a very competent road bike.

    The brick engine has lots of low end torque and will do the ton easily...one or two up.

    She weighs in at about 540, not so bad, and holds up nicely to heavy winds. Her size is only noticed at slow speeds. The GVW limit is good enough for the two of us, 3-4 days of clothes and camping gear.

    With the Russell seat we are very comfortable, plenty of room.

    The charging system has enough juice to power aux lights, both of our heated gear and the battery. Must have that heated gear.

    I like our K12RS. She's easy to ride, relatively easy to maintain and I like the looks of her. We call her Rotti.

    K1200RS11.jpg

  6. #6
    Registered User GTRider's Avatar
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    Lee and Deryle have covered the question well, I would add only a couple of comments. One, if it is ever necessary to be working in the area of the clutch slave cylinder take a few minutes to pull the cylinder and drill a 3mm hole on the lower side (bottom half) of the recess the slave fits into. This will prevent a leaky slave cylinder from taking out the front seal on the transmission.

    Secondly, it is a good idea at 24k services to pull out the rear half of the driveshaft to clean and lube the center splines with a moly paste. Those splines are the only length take-up on the shaft and if they seize it places additional loading on the u-joints. Make sure to mark both halves before separating the shaft, to make sure the shaft is in proper phase on reassembly.

    These are great bikes! My GT with the sidecar has over 90k miles, half of that pulling sidecar and two people with camping gear, and will still break a ton while doing so. One with only 24k should be in great shape and a lot of fun.

    Best,
    DG
    DGerber
    1983 R80ST -- 1988 R100GS "Bee"-- 2004 K1200GT w/Hannigan S/C -- 2010 K1300GT
    BMWMOA#52184, AMA#271542, IBA#138

  7. #7
    Kindly curmudgeon W7lej1's Avatar
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    Thank You all!!

    I had given my friend the "link" to this site and thread, and he has been lurking and reading. (I'll recruit him to join MOA after he gets his bike.) He is very appreciative of all of the insights and info. (me also.)

    Marty
    Marty in Spokane Valley, WA

    '79 R65 - the rolling running project bike
    '08 R12RT - "new scoot"

  8. #8
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by W7lej1 View Post
    . (I'll recruit him to join MOA after he gets his bike.)
    Marty
    No need to wait
    I joined in 1983 to learn about BMWs before buying a 1984 R100RT.
    Lee
    2016 R1200RS
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes: 2011 K1300S, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

  9. #9
    Kindly curmudgeon W7lej1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee View Post
    No need to wait
    I joined in 1983 to learn about BMWs before buying a 1984 R100RT.
    Oh, I'm planting seeds...

    Marty
    Marty in Spokane Valley, WA

    '79 R65 - the rolling running project bike
    '08 R12RT - "new scoot"

  10. #10
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by W7lej1 View Post
    Oh, I'm planting seeds...

    Marty
    Lee
    2016 R1200RS
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes: 2011 K1300S, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

  11. #11
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    Overall. this is a quick way to get down the road, lots of road. Compared to your RT, you'll be doing more gas stops. Smaller tank, higher fuel consumption - there it is. The power curve, relative to the RT, will spoil you rotten. Instead of having to keep the motor wound up and shifting a lot, get the RS rolling and don't plan to do a lot of shifting. Unless you want to get aggressive. The RS has torque that will tempt you to pull out tree stumps. Don't do it. There's no good place to attach the rope to. ;)

    The bike is heavy but its real problem is the center of gravity is up high (odd, considering the motor is down where your feet are). A full tank of gas will make this more obvious. The lock to lock handlebar swing is somewhat limited. That's good news when twisting down the road. Not so much in a parking lot. You'll learn to cope. Once you're rolling, you won't care.

    Getting the bike on the center stand isn't really that hard. I've had bikes were I didn't even bother, it was that hard. The side stand has good amount of lean - never forget a pad when parking on hot paving. Never, ever, never, never park the bike nose downhill unless you leave it in gear. Forget to leave bike in gear and you will be faced with a garage drop. Count on it. The bike will try to sneak forward, the side stand will eventually fold, and the bike will drop. Depending on the grade, 5 minutes, 10 tops, is enough to drop the bike.

    Two more warnings and then on to the good stuff.

    First, the RS (and GT) have servo brakes with ABS. Some people like them, some people hate them. Servo brakes grab like it already happened. They can be feathered on and off, but anyone not used to servo brakes will have a learning curve. The ABS works as it should. Try to skid and the brakes will do their "we're trying to save your butt" thing. But... all of this depends on a hydraulic/electric thing called the modulator. Most of the time, it does its job. Pull in the brakes, you'll hear the motor on the modulator whine. This is good. The bad news is some modulators lose the motor. This is bad. Some modulators will have seal problems. This is bad. Losing the modulator leaves you with minimal braking (think of power brakes with motor off only not as grippy). This is very bad. There are two options with modulators. You can have your dealer install the BMW part. The modulator alone will cost you, give or take, $2000. This is bad. You can have your modulator rebuilt by a company that rebuilds ABS modulators from a number of vehicles and manufacturers. Send them your modulator, they will send back a rebuilt modulator. It will cost under $750. This is good. But... your BMW dealer will not install it because they can warranty it. This is bad. There are non-dealers who will install the rebuilt modulator. Your choice. All of this is only by way of full disclosure. I opted to let my dealer replace my modulator. It's a measure of how much I love this bike that I spent that sort of money.

    Second, and far cheaper: BMW, in their infinite, bean-counting stupidity, opted to use plastic quick release fittings for the fuel tank lines (feed and return). They are called quick disconnects or QD's. There are two types of plastic QD's. The ones that have failed, and the ones that will fail. Period. The problem is over time the material has problems with being soaked in gas. The male ...um... snout has a groove cut in it. The snout will eventually break off at that point. The QD is no longer sealed, gas runs out of the open hose. If the motor isn't running, the loss won't be too bad. If the motor's running and the return line opens up and the gas pours onto the hot motor... you're in the market for a new motorcycle. BMW recognized this (sorta) and, for a while, authorized dealers to replace the plastic QD's with metal QD's (both are really off the shelf items not from BMW). There was no recall issued and many owners didn't know about the replacement plan. The replacement plan is no longer available. Shame on BMW.

    OK - now what? Places like Pirate's Lair, Beemer Boneyard, etc. sell metal QD's at a reasonable price. Install them and never worry again. How do you know what QD's you have, without pulling the tupperware? Part of the motor sticks out through an opening toward the bottom of the right side panel. Look into the opening, using a bright flashlight. There will be a black fuel hose with either a maybe inch or inch and a quarter long fitting in the middle of the fuel line, visible in the opening. If it's silvery and metal, life is good. If it's white plastic, not so much. Unfortunately, I know of a couple of idiots who replaced a broken QD with a metal QD and then left the other, plastic, QD in place. I assume they check fuel levels with lit matches, too. That said, maybe it's better to look in that little hole and then get paranoid enough to pull the tupperware anyway, 'cause you can only see one of the two QD's. It's your bike, do what you think is best.

    I'm 6'1", about 190#, and old enough to collect social security. I have zero problem with the stock ergos. Whether it's an extended "around the block" or a couple of days on the road. I've ridden bikes with all manner of comfy saddles and hated all of them. I was locked in place and moving weight around when cornering was almost impossible. It's your bike, that's my experience. If sitting up is a must, look for a K1200GT - they're around but they're scarce. They're the RS with different ergos. Peg droppers leave the pegs dragging on the road if you're going to push the RS. Bar raisers will bring up the CG (see above about high CG to begin with) and lose some of the feel and feedback from the front end. It's your bike, that's my experience.

    Lighting off the motor is easy-peasy. Pull in the clutch, hit the starter, and let the clutch out if you're in neutral. Not much to it. However, 1) you'll see a winking brake light warning, and 2) you'll hear the sound of rocks rolling around in the motor area. Neither is a problem. The winking light is the ABS saying it hasn't figured out if the wheel sensors are present (the things that tell how fast the wheels are spinning). Roll the bike 10-15' and, if the light goes out, life is good.

    Somewhere in the transmission there's a shaft that BMW didn't see fit to shim up just right. It rattles around when the bike is in neutral, less when in gear and the clutch is disengaged, and not at all while you're riding. The noise is ugly. Ignore it.

    The clutch and brake levers have the usual 4 settings from "way in" to "way out" - adjust to suit. There is no adjustment for the throttle - no rain mode, etc. It's stiff. Until you ride the bike for a couple of hundred miles, you may think it's a deal-breaker. And then you'll get used to it, and find it very scary to way over-control the soft, squishy fly-by-wire throttle on later bikes. Stay off later bikes and there's no problem. :D On long hauls, I have no problem with setting the cruise control and waving to riders, coming the other way, with my right hand. It messes with their heads - it's fun.

    You can twist the throttle hard and expect to hang on hard. Once the motor gets really wound up, you're going to go places in a big hurry. Or you can give the throttle a friendly twist and only move along nicely. It's your pick, the bike will do either without complaint.

    So far, you know about the servo brakes and the possibility with the modulator. I forgot to mention, the brakes are not linked in at least the later RS'. You know about the QD's. You know the bike takes less effort, needs less gear jammin' than the RT. You know about parking. You know the bike isn't great in parking lots, at least when paddle-footing. You know the bikes funny noises at stop lights, etc. You know about the winky lights at startup (BTW, if they come back in the middle of a ride, think about options to have that checked). You know the motor has lots of torque, starting at the low end and staying with you. You know (or should) the ergos were pretty well thought out.

    What's left? Because the bike is heavier than some bikes, taking it through twisties will need a slight bit of extra effort to do them properly. Once you know the bike, though, you won't notice that extra bit of effort. Get on the Interstate and pick your speed, the bike will just keep making miles until it's time for a pit stop.

    What would (did) I do differently? Add an air horn. The stock lamb's bleat horn is ...um... not commanding of attention. ÷hlin shocks are your friend. Dialed in correctly (for height and weight - with your road gear, whatever that may be), they add a friendly layer of confidence and comfort. Some people use Wilber shocks. My RS came with ÷hlins, they work for me, so that's what I recommend. Finally, the stock lighting is inadequate. Very inadequate. Adding driving lights is nice but, at least in PA and I suspect 'most anywhere in the US, they should only be on with the high beam light. Invest in a good for-real HID installation. Forget trick bulbs - BTDT didn't see much difference. I got my lights from DDM Tuning. I also have them in our '90 VW Vanagon. They work, the price is right. On the RS, the installation isn't quite plug and play - the low beam pretty much is except for using a hole cutter to drill a 1 1/16" hole (check me on that, use the DDM dust cover diameter measured inside the groove - makes sense when you see it). The actual wiring plugs into the existing headlight wiring. If this seems a little scary, use the Anonymous Book to find someone to help you. Remember, the stock headlight is simply not bright enough to ride well after dark. Honest.

    The high beam lamp is a PITA to fit but it can be done. With it in place, you'll be very happy to see where you're going at night. Be a very considerate person and aim the lights so you're not blinding the car coming the other way. Think of it as self-preservation.

    Finally, I added a "turn your brake light into an LED light show" kit to the brake light. I think it works. I haven't been rear-ended yet. And that's the end of the main bike mods. I did add fittings for a Garmin Zumo 660 GPS and my cell phone, but that doesn't really count.

    LED lighting? I only wish it worked. There's not enough space to handle LED units with fans on the back end. I've seen a couple of LED lamps that used copper braid, in place of a fan, as a heat sink. The lamps I saw weren't the right lamps for RS. So much for that idea.

    Am I happy with the bike? Very much so. My '03 has a book value of short of $4K, if that much. As I said before, when the ABS modulator went, I had it replaced for over half the book value of the bike. I love the bike that much. Nothing else I've ridden, through a '17 K16000, lights my lights the way the RS does. 'Nuff said.
    Some people are wise. Some people are otherwise.

  12. #12
    Registered User kychris02's Avatar
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    bags

    ... another issue I have had... the plastic rails that mount the saddlebags, over time will allow for sagging. The muffler side bag gets too close to the heat and ultimately burns through the bag. Just about all the K1200RS riders I talked to at the last rally have dealt with this. The experts on this site showed me how to install a metal heat shield on the bottom side of the bag... but the damage is done. Those luggage mounts should have been made more sturdy. Also.... due to the unique position and design I have yet to find an after market set of bags that work on these bikes. If anyone has options for replacements... please share.

    In all I have loved the bike. Sooo smooth and powerful. I am a big 6'3 245... and this 1200 has no problem with my downforce. I have ridden mine 40K miles over 10 seasons and been vigilant on the semi-annual brake service ($500) at a local shop. bike has 50K now and still on the factory clutch. That job will be more $$ than the bike is worth when it happens...

  13. #13
    Registered User
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    I have a 00KRS. The bike has 125 k on it and it runs very well.
    I expect to complete my 300k with this bike.
    I also expect to sell it this fall.
    Iím older and have lost a inch of me.
    Itís the best bike that I have owned.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Thomas Sells
    00 K1200RS, 03 F650GS & a 06 Ural Patrol

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