Before the ubiquitous presence of long suspension adventure bikes as touring rigs came on the scene, most riders made do with a standard motorcycle to travel long distances. Slap a pair of panniers on either side of the seat and a fairing of sorts on the front, and you have a touring motorcycle, which is what the 2018 BMW Motorrad R 1200 RT, priced at RM127,900, is.

That BMW Motorrad does this well is not really a surprise. The autobahns in Germany are the type of roads the RT was designed for, going back to the R-series twins of the 60s.

As a long distance mile-muncher, the RT is meant to ferry the rider, a pillion and assorted luggage across massive distances in a day on paved roads. But, that is the obvious stuff, anyone looking at the R 1200 RT knows it’s a tourer and that is what it does.

So, what’s different about this paultan.org motorcycle review? What else can you do with a big RT aside from cruising down the highway, comfortably ensconced behind that electrically adjustable windscreen, listening to the puerile pap the DJ is spouting over the radio?

When BMW Motorrad Malaysia handed us the keys to the R 1200 RT, we had already heard good things about the bike from our industry colleagues Wahid and Norick. But, is a barn storming autobahn cruiser what is needed on Malaysian roads?

There comes a time in every rider’s riding career where comfort outweighs the ability to carve a corner. It is nice to sometimes end a ride by stepping off the bike feeling refreshed instead of looking like you’ve gone a full five rounds with Khabib Nurmagomedov.

As a gentleman’s express and the motorcycle world’s equivalent of a grand touring car, the R 1200 RT comes equipped with the conveniences expected of such a steed. The rider gets, for the outlay of RM127,900, a large fairing up front, electric windshield, built-in entertainment system and luggage.

Other pluses include heated grips and heated seat. While you might scoff at a heated seat in tropical weather, heated grips are a god-send in rainy conditions, something we have had cause to be grateful for both with the R 1200 RT and R 1200 RS we reviewed last year.

The thing about the R 1200 RT is, it is a massive machine with that huge front fairing. This makes navigating the RT through tight city traffic an exercise fraught with some worry, and lane-splitting needs to be done with a little caution.

What is nice about the RT is that its sheer size makes drivers take notice of you, and most tend to give a little leeway and let you through. Not always though, and when drawing up next to the driver, invariably it is because the driver has his or her nose buried in the mobile phone.

Coming back to the RT though, with its trademark BMW Motorrad boxer engine displacing 1,170 cc, there is much to like about it, despite its 276 kg wet weight. Getting on the RT and settling into that sofa-soft seat, hoisting the RT upright belies its weight.

The centre of gravity on the RT is carefully controlled, and you would be forgiven for thinking that RT weighs much less than it does. While the R bikes have not always been known for being lightweights – BMW Motorrad will direct you to its S-series inline-four cylinder bikes for that – the RT is capable enough to be hustled in the twisties and tight corners.

Setting off on the RT is keyless – the fob sitting in the pocket – and the rider will be aware of the effort required at the clutch, something we did not notice on the R and RS versions of the R 1200 mill. Since all three bikes use identical engines, we wonder if the clutch cylinder ratio was changed in the interim years between 2015 and 2018.

It did not matter as we soon got used to the lever effort, and it only started becoming a little intrusive during stop-and-go traffic. The gearbox itself on the RT was slightly clunky, with a long lever throw needed to get it into gear and prevent false neutrals.

If you’re a little small in the foot, wear proper boots if you need that little extra lever travel. The other thing the author noticed, being a little short in the inseam area, is the side stand is located a fair ways away, forward of the centre axis of the bike.

We got around the problem by wearing boots with pronounced sole patterns so we could “hook” the side stand up and quickly learned to park the RT away from rightward leaning slopes. Aside from that, most “normal-size” riders will be able to handle the RT, just be aware the bike is a lot wider than is apparent.

Settling down into that comfortable seat and believe us when we say it is comfortable, there is more than enough space to move the bum around and find that sweet spot for hours of cruising the highway. When we say hours, we mean it, as the 25-litre tank on the RT gave the author some 450-ish km of travel before going bone dry or rather, just enough to sputter into the petrol station forecourt.

However, when pressed to some high-speed cruise missile duty on the open highway is when the RT’s boxer engine comes into play. Sometime during the RT’s time with us, there was occasion to make a (very) fast trip from Kuala Lumpur to Penang inside 150 minutes and we made it, just over the deadline, though a mid-journey fuel stop was necessitated.

This was helped by the cruise control, which helped enormously with the fuel consumption. Running down the highway at speeds way above the limit, the wind protection on the RT was exemplary with the protective bubble provided by the windshield betraying no sense of buffet or back pressure.

Truth be told, though we did not feel suffocated in any way, there was enough of a still-air cocoon to make the use of a modular helmet somewhat necessary. Having the chin bar tucked back, the rider gets enough fresh air to not break a sweat, something we found we could not do with a full-face helmet.

We did find, as mentioned earlier, that the RT was quite capable when the road got tight and twisty. While it took a little bit of forward thinking and some muscle at the handlebars, the RT liked being chucked into corners and powering out again, using the smooth torque delivery of the boxer twin.

This is helped by the BMW Motorrad Dynamic ESA fitted to our review unit, which gives semi-active suspension and user settings for riding solo, loaded with luggage or two-up. Combined with the ride modes – Road and Rain – and automatic stability control, the RT is a rock solid platform no matter what the road conditions.

We are not just quoting press release hyperbole here, the RT will indeed handle its way in a suitably competent manner. Treating the RT like a sports bike and diving into corners late did nothing to upset its composure, with the throttle being whacked open on the exit giving enough power to lift the front end and making the author giggle inside his helmet.

Coming into the cockpit, the rider is confronted with a combination analogue and digital instrument panel with a blank spot above meant for the installation of the optional BMW Motorrad navigation module. A plethora of controls are found on both handlebar pods, giving the rider access to the various bike functions with user selections inside the onboard computer menu made via a rotating dial on the left pod with a nice touch being remote locking of the panniers.

For those who might be interested, the seat height on the R 1200 RT can be set between 805 mm and 825 mm and there is an option of a 760 mm/780 mm low seat from the Motorrad catalogue. In any case, the 168-cm tall author had no issues getting both feet on the ground with the seat set at 805 mm, and the taller setting meant single-footing it at stops.

LED lighting is found throughout the RT along with BMW’s trademark ‘angel eyes’. Riding the RT in the dead of night, on the highway, in the rain, we found the lighting to be more than adequate, the beams cutting a path through the darkness and giving ample warning of much slower traffic ahead.

Listening to the radio, once the memory presets were selected using the push-buttons on the left side of the fairing, station selection was done using the finger dial. For those needing the functions, the RT allows for the connection of a USB MP3 player or smartphone.

Luggage space in the two panniers was capacious and locking, unlocking and dismounting the panniers was easy with unlocking being done with a push button and dismounting needing the use of the key. Inside, an elastic band separator kept belongings inside the separate pannier halves and a full-face helmet could be stowed.

It was hard to find any faults with the R 1200 RT, aside from the sheer bulk of the front fairing. We do realise it is designed and shaped that way on purpose and thus won’t count it against the RT in any way.

So, who needs a BMW Motorrad R 1200 RT, priced at RM127,900? In terms of big sports tourers, local choices are limited to the now long in the tooth Kawasaki 1400GTR ABS and not much else, really, except the KTM Super Duke GT, but that machine plays to a very frenetic drummer.

Both the Honda Gold Wing and BMW’s K1600GT play in a different league and the rest of the crop are pretty much tourers with adventure styling. But, if you’re a rider who spends a lot of time riding the open highway or does a medium to long distance commute exceeding 100 km on a daily basis, the R 1200 RT is an ideal choice.