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BMW’s Venerable Boxer Lives On With More Displacement, More Power and Quieter Exhaust


BMW tells us nine new models are coming next year, and we should be seeing them this Fall. Among those, according to spy shots and  information leaks, will be larger displacement versions of the bikes utilizing the liquid-cooled boxer engine (i.e., not the air/oil-cooled R nineT models).

According to a UK website, the big GS models are definitely getting a new 1,254cc boxer (up from 1,170cc) making 134 peak horsepower (up from 123). The new engine is also rumored to feature variable valve timing, although this is not confirmed.

Given the Euro 5 regulations coming into effect in 2020, the new engine also will be significantly quieter (dropping from 92dB to 88dB). Expect to see this same engine in a new R1250RT, as well.

MD will have full coverage of the new model launches, as usual, so stay tuned.


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65 Comments

  1. viktor92 says:

    Never ride a boxer BMW, but the engine has the best sound of any twin cylinder that I’ve heard

  2. Doug Zink says:

    Very exciting news from the premier bike maker in the world.

  3. ABQ says:

    I wish that BMW would make their bikes with a lower seat height, and a brake peddle that I could press with the heel of my boot. Some large pegs, large shifters, large brake peddles would be a plus. But we really need a lower seat height. And how about a factory made trike? You own a car company after all. Make a trike with this engine.

  4. Mike says:

    Would love to see a 750cc boxer lineup. Give me something lighter but with the same character.

  5. rob says:

    BMW quit making their best bikes years ago, prob before some of you guys were born

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Totally disagree. They make their best bikes now. By far.

    • frank says:

      talking about the K?😉

      • todd says:

        I do like the venerable K75S over the latest renditions of the K bikes (handling, comfort, size, mileage, reliability) and never really got into the nature of the oil head boxer. I have been meaning to try the R1100S (for some time now, obviously) only because I like the looks and hope that BMW did something to change the character of the engine in that bike. I want to like the F800ST/GT but I don’t like getting off the bike in order to fill the gas (which I do every few days every week) and the expensive to replace often belt makes me want to do a chain conversion from the 800R. I don’t care for the extra vibration they added nor the expensive overly wide tires that wear out so quickly. Oh, and I’m disappointed that BMW has made the panniers so much smaller. You can no longer fit a laptop or much of your gear when you park. There are so many other reasons why I’m also leery of the latest BMWs so yeah, the best days are gone.

        • Eddy G says:

          Is getting off the bike to put gas in it that bad?

          More to the point, the drive belts for the S/ST models in the F800 line are a lot cheaper now that aftermarket ones are available. And, they last a lot longer than the short service life that is quoted by BMW. I’ve got over 100,000 miles on an F800ST and it’s been a good all around bike. I added a tailcase that fits a laptop, etc to take care of that issue.

  6. John says:

    Oh good, a new BMW engine, a new BMW GS. That means more of the current GS1200 will be for sale, fully farkeled, broken in and ready for me to buy.

  7. MGNorge says:

    My that motor has a long history!

  8. Daniel Dociu says:

    I have 53K on my 2013 1200 GS. It’s my 6th GS, so I might be biased. It runs better than when it was new (shifts smoother). They all had a few flaws and design quirks but nothing that will leave you stranded, ever. never had final drive failure (I do change the oil in it though). I took it in for service every 12k (primarily to have the owner’s book stamped, for resale), but valves were always within spec. Dealer support is much better than Ducati or KTM which is why I’m sticking with BMW, despite the bike being under-powered on paper. I was the first one to put down a deposit for the new “19 1250Gs, cant wait.Yes they are pricey, but i ride evry day, year around, it’s my only hobby (scotch doesn’t qualify, does it?).

    • Max says:

      Underpowered? The ones I’ve ridden made good power throughout their rev bands and 123 or 134 or whatever is way more than sufficient for any situation on a public road and way too much for 99.999% of situations.

    • Jim says:

      Both my R1100GS and R1100RT stranded me when their hall sensors broke.

    • Vrooom says:

      Had the final drive fail on my ’06 K1200GT and leave me stranded at about 45K on the clock, after changing the fluid every other oil change for it’s life.

  9. arrowrod says:

    I’m 77. How much do these wonder weapons weigh? I dropped my 919 (2002 Honda 919), on its side and couldn’t pick it up.

    • tuskerdu says:

      a lot – recently sold my 2002 r1150gs, partially for that reason.

    • ben says:

      If bike weight is becoming an issue, try some of the newer lightweight twins. I have a CB500X that is lowered for the little woman to ride. I added a 16 tooth front sprocket (+ 1 tooth) for better highway cruising and it is a fine little lightweight bike that can easily run interstate speeds while being very easy to handle

  10. Litho says:

    Ever since I started riding, the mere thought of lane-splitting with this engine has terrified me to no end. I know it’s simply an exaggeration, but my brain just can’t get around that.

    • Kevin says:

      I lane split every day on a 1200 RT-P, with the crash bars hanging out wider than the engine. Everything’s relative! You get used to it.

  11. Tony E says:

    Careful what you wish for or BMW may close there Chinese production plants

  12. PR says:

    Oh fine, so what? Beemers are intriguing but I’ve never wanted to own one–or pay for the maintenance.

    • Bob K says:

      They’re easy to work on for the most part, but yeah, parts are expensive. I paid 1000 for a cast front wheel (no discs) and coil sticks were near 90 a piece. I know it’s more than that 7 years later. I spent a weekend by myself doing the clutch once. That was a PITA, needing to separate the rear from the tranny. Only did that once. Paid to have it done on the other bike. Those were the only things that ever needed my attention over a combined 270k miles. Well, new headlight bulbs and tires….

  13. WSHart says:

    Hey BMW!

    How about reliable drive shafts? How about either hydraulic valve lifters or valve checks in the neighborhood of 50,000 miles? Or more. How about engines that don’t require premium to run “well”?

    Bring My Wallet indeed.

    Oh, and BMW? Please don’t follow Honda’s “lead” by using smaller fuel tanks (and luggage) to claim overall weight loss. Not even if you claim a “20% increase in fuel economy”. Having said what needs to be said, I wish them well with these nine “new” models. To tell the truth, they won’t be new if they feature the same ol’ BS.

    • Provologna says:

      Anecdotal: my 2000 R1150GS was flawless till 37k miles when I sold it.

    • Ryan H Craig says:

      I’m willing to cut the BMW boxers some slack on valve clearance check intervals, given how easy they are to access for that kind of work.

      • Bob K says:

        Agreed. Valve checks and balancing TBs is dirt simple on Boxers.
        .
        In order to justify putting hydraulic lifters in these things, you need to relocate the camshafts for a longer pushrod. Keeping the cam-in-head keeps a lot of slack out and makes for more accurate valve timing.
        .
        2 BMWs and never had any issue with a driveshaft or final drive assembly. 110,000 on the R1100GS and 160k on the R1100S. Pretty low HP bikes but I’ve still been hard on both.
        .
        Premium to run well? The newer bikes (R1200 and up) should be ok with regular for simply commuting and pleasure riding and touring. They detect knock and adjust the ignition timing. Even my R1100S did that. And I mostly ran regular in it, probably 98-99% of it’s life. It’s only when you really constantly rev the thing close to the limit (track days and dragging around), and the volumetric efficiency is near it’s best values, that the dynamic compression ratio increases and requires premium fuel to keep detonation at bay.

        • todd says:

          Most bikes never really need their valves adjusted, it’s just a way to get you back into the dealership every so often. The only bikes I’ve owned that required any adjustment were old BmW airheads that were designed to run on leaded gas. I put around 12-15,000 miles a year on bikes for the last 27 years and have only ever replaced two shims because they were getting on the tight side of specs.

          What I find pretty unacceptable is needing to buy new tires a couple times a year!

          • Vrooom says:

            Not my experience. I’ve had to adjust valves on dozens of bikes, most with shims, a few with a locknut adjustment. Literally Ducatis, Aprilias, Suzukis, Kawasakis, Hondas, etc. You are a lucky man. I do the adjustments myself, so the dealer doesn’t get to see me.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            Same here. Turn lots of locknuts, lifted a lot of cams.

      • WSHart says:

        Would you buy a car that needed it’s valves checked/adjusted as often as this BMW’s will? Even if access to said valves was as “easy”?

        Hell no. No one in their right mind would. So why would someone do just that with a motorcycle? It doesn’t make sense.

        • Ryan H Craig says:

          I wouldn’t buy a car that needed its valves checked/adjusted as often as just about any motorcycle. The number of motorcycle models on the market with self-adjusting valves is pretty slim, and mostly limited to relatively low performance models. So, the BMW needs it done maybe twice or even three times as often as my Yamaha (26,000 mile intervals, about as long as they come AFAIK), but unlike my Yamaha checking them won’t require removing the bodywork, gas tank, radiator, etc.

          Honestly, it would be the least of my concerns with buying a BMW motorcycle. I would be more concerned about losing a rear drive unit (a problem they have apparently licked now) or requiring major disassembly to lube the splines between the engine and transmission (if that’s what it was, and I don’t know if applies to the newer ones). Shaft drive systems are, of course, not zero maintenance, they just eliminate the need for the daily lubing (on long rides) and the mess.

        • Bob K says:

          Cars have the advantage of being able to have an engine of a physical dimension so that they can design-in all kinds of features that don’t require maintenance or at least build it to be more heavy duty.
          .
          If you were to design something so bullet proof for a bike, it would be too large and heavy for a bike, then you’d bitch about that.
          .
          Take your pick.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            Valvetrains in cars are often the same size as those in motorcycles. Valve sizes on a 2.5 liter I4 would be no bigger than the valves on this boxer- displacement per cylinder is roughly the same.

            Also, contrary to popular belief, many, probably most, autos use solid tappets, just like most motorcycles.

          • WSHart says:

            Actually, I cannot recall ever “bitching” about weight. I am, however, an adult who writes well enough to pose questions that are valid.

            There are cars that have solid lifters that go hundreds of thousands of miles without ever requiring a valve check, much less an adjustment. A GL1800 can do that.

            Motorcycles are not cost effective. Cars have tires that last tens of thousands of miles. Motorcycles have tires that last a few thousand miles (maybe). Cars no longer use tubes in their wheels. Some motorcycles still do. Many here constantly complain about the weight of a bike as though they were going to have to carry it around. Really.

            If one could buy a car that delivered 100 mpg would you want it equipped with a 1 gallon fuel tank so you could say it was lighter than XXXX?

            A child, when confronted with reason will resort to being…well, a child.

            I never “bitch”, but some children here do whine.

            For motorcycling to survive in civilized first world countries, it must be not only desirable (i.e., FUN!) but also affordable and by that I mean in every aspect.

            Bitch about that. 😉

  14. John Ashman says:

    An 800cc boxer would be cool, if it weren’t a dumbed down 1200cc boxer. Something small and light.

    • Kurt says:

      THAT would have me Bring My Wallet

    • Jean Roux says:

      I still have a 20 years old R 850R and it is absolutely reliable and performs like the day I got it.

      I live in Vancouver, it took me to the Yukon, Los Angeles, Arizona, Utah and cross-USA to New York back through Montreal and the Canadian Prairies/Rockies.

      Difficult to consider selling it even if my garage shelters a R 1200 Rt and another one in Chile.

      It is so nimble, I love it.

      As well as my two 1200 RTs……

  15. Hudson says:

    Glad I read the article. One may conclude from the headline and the associated photo, that BMW was upping the displacement on the air/oil cooled boxer.

  16. Gary says:

    It’ll have to be a damned good engine to persuade me to trade in my 2017 RT. It has the finest all-around engine I’ve ever experienced, and is the best bike I’ve ever owned.

    • Someguy says:

      Unless you have 30k burning a hole in a bank account you don’t need there’s no point in trading in a bike that new.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        The only “point” one needs is the desire to do so.

        But yeah, the current water-cooled boxer is one of the best all-around motorcycle engines out there in my opinion, and the RT may be the best touring bike. An incrementally better RT has less value when you’ve already got top shelf. Desire wouldn’t be enough reason for me either in that position.

        • Gary says:

          The RT is much more than a touring bike. That’s the most amazing thing. It is quite agile and maneuverable … and downright sporty.

  17. Jody says:

    Waiting for the updated R1200RT!

    • Brian says:

      Usually the RT follows the next year. I’ll be looking forward too. I’m hoping they update the instrument display at the same time!

      • Jody says:

        That’s disappointing. The “spy” shots of the new RT with the 1250 and new dash display got me excited.

  18. Bryan says:

    I don’t know haw many are modified but I really wish they would all get repeated tickets for several hundreds of dollars each time. I really get tired of hearing them.

  19. Ryan H Craig says:

    The Euro 4 fascination with reducing sound levels is amusing from my point of view, given how many bikes (and cars, and trucks) in this country are modified to deliberately produce way more noise. Has anyone ever really complained about the noise level of a stock BMW? They sound like whisper-quiet lawnmowers as it is.

    • Stuki Moi says:

      If the Germans CAN make engines quieter, they get the EU to mandate that engines get quieter. Got to make it harder on those Chinese upstarts… What the Germans could already do 10 years ago, the Chinese can do in 5 years. The only way to maintain German level salaries and living standards, is to ensure demand is there for seriously hard to produce, cutting edge, stuff; that others find it hard to replicate.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        It would take the Chinese no time whatsoever to replicate anything from anywhere. I’ve seen them do it in the electromotive industry. Replicas so perfect that you could mix and match components between the Chinese stuff and the OEMs in big medium speed diesel engines.

        • Fastship says:

          The EU (under Approval and market surveillance) sort to apply “anti-tamper” legislation to prevent owners of bikes from modifying them in any way, fitting any aftermarket part and mandated that dealer’s service technicians report such offenses – yes it was an actual criminal offense.

          There were (are) to be exemptions of course in that only OEM type approved items could be fitted i.e. those made by such as BMW. This would (will) put countless small manufacturers in the EU out of business, people who made crash bars, luggage racks, brake levers, and on and on who lack the resources of BMW to type approve and lobby (bribe)…and the systemic unemployment and sclerotic growth rates that characterise the EU would increase. Of course BMW like it and in fact lobby for it.

          You may wonder why more and more US bikes have ABS? All EU bikes are mandated to have ABS, even low cost mopeds. The German company Bosch lobbied the EU to make it compulsory. Bosch are about the only company who makes ABS systems for bikes and it is a vital part of their business. The (unelected) commission complied and the price of bikes went up accordingly.

          Whistle blow?, Complain? The EU (actually European Court of Justice) also outlawed criticism of its own institutions citing ” the commission could restrict dissent in order to “protect the rights of others” and punish individuals who “damaged the institution’s image and reputation”. This of course, is what the BMW’s of this world count on; it’s a form of protectionism.

          And people wonder why we voted for BREXIT…

          • Brian says:

            The US also had laws restricting mufflers. Aftermarket are labeled “off-road use only”. The problem is that the law is never enforced.
            I’d love to see enforcement of existing noise ordinance laws. Hearing some idiot’s exhaust rumbling from 2 miles away while out in the “wilderness” is rediculous.

        • Someguy says:

          Depending on who’s paying the bills, you may get good parts or stuff that explodes after a short time.

        • Stuki Moi says:

          If they could replicate a 747, or an Intel chip, they would. Ditto BMW engines.

          Certain individual components, or even some sub assemblies, I’m sure can be made as good there as anywhere. But there are reasons why German workers can demand the salaries and perks they are getting, while still exporting to the rest of the world like noone else.

          These things are hard to make to the standard BMW makes them. Too many things need to be just right, too many people need to be very, very good at what they do, for it to be something that can be replicated overnight.

          A major reason why much of US industry is having difficulty keeping up, is that Americans have forgotten this. Been told to forget, even. as it benefits the current movers and shakers over here, to pretend that what matters, are childish, oversimplified hero worship of “investment”, “investors”, “laws”, “executives” and “leaders.” Rather than whole gobs of people being darned good at what they do, to the point where their output can’t be copied on the cheap anywhere.

    • TimC says:

      It’s not amusing at all, it’s getting too restrictive/ridiculous. Starting to add weight/complexity and even displacement to compensate, all for diminishing returns (since electric is basically artificially being thrust upon us prematurely by the same Government Forces).

      Ugh.