Don Eilenberger's '07 R1200R Roadster

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R1200R - Bordentown, overlooking the Delaware River and Crosswicks Creek (09-07-08)

I broke one of Eilenberger's Laws..

Never ride a bike you can't afford. In this case - it wasn't really breaking the law since I sorta figured I really could afford a new bike - if I also could afford a bunch of new furniture for the house.

I'll let a posting I made to the RS forum explain what happened:

I went and rode an R1200R.

Not the usual dealer test ride of 10 minutes around the block and now "buy it" - but a real GOOD test ride. About 65 miles (which more than doubled the miles on the bike) and about 90 minutes. Mostly back roads traversed at a reasonable speed. The ride was SERIOUS fun - and I found I really didn't want to get off the bike.

Now I'm in a quandary. I *love* the hex-head motor. It has gobs of torque at any RPM, and no vibes at any reasonable speed - it's almost as smooth as a K75 motor (which is the gold standard for smooth.) I knew the engine was there - but unlike my RS - the subtle vibration NEVER bothered me... it was just enough to tell me when to shift (up or down). I really didn't need the tach at all - but I did NEED the gear indicator - the engine is really that good... you can ask for power at any RPM and it's THERE. Gobs and gobs of power. The loss of about 125lbs vs my RS is also noticeable - the bike feels very nimble. The brakes are amazingly good - they put the whizzy brakes in the "why'd they bother" category. They feel just as powerful if not moreso, and are very linear and predictable.

The reason for the quandary - I can't find a model that rings my chimes. The Roadster is a very sweet ride - but optioned up (ABS, centerstand, on-board-computer, heated grips, tiny windshield) - it's approaching $15.5k. That puts it into the serious bike money - and while it's a really great bike - it's not a long-distance touring bike without another $1,500 worth of stuff (like bags, tank bag, a bigger windshield and mounts, more lights, and all the other good stuff.)

So I thought - and I'd thought of it before - an ST. Then I went to BMW's website and the photos just scared the crap outta me again. I can't get my head around the front end of the bike. The rest of it - fine (well - the back end isn't great - but it's passable..)

Damn, damn, damn.

On the way home - back on my RS - I found myself thinking about what I liked on the RS. The weather protection is much better. I'm not being blown off it when doing 70-80MPH. I like the ride since I put Wilbers suspension on it (it is superior to even brand new R1200R suspension..) The handling is good, perhaps not "nimble" - but fun and very predictable. I even find the whizzy brakes just fine (but not actually as good OR powerful as the non-whizzy ABS brakes they now are using..)

I like everything on it but the engine. And what I dislike is the buzz.

I've gotten the RS buzz down to what is probably as good as I'm gonna get it. I found a loose fairing braket bolt a week ago - that made a big difference, and then I found the rubber bar isolation wasn't isolating. Had to loosen it, and recenter the bushings and now it is - that also made a really noticeable difference. I put in the Autolite plugs - which might have made a tiny difference - but not a big difference. It still buzzes and my hands hurt after riding it a few hours.

Damn, damn. damn.

Dunno what to do. I really want an RS with the hexhead engine, but that's not gonna happen.

Hmmm... not gonna sleep well tonight for sure.. I shouldn't have broken my rule.

I'd suggest that no one here make the same mistake I did. Do not go for a test ride (Hey kid! Try somma this crack.. you'll love it..)

Well - this was followed by some soul searching. Thing I realized - I wasn't enjoying riding the RS anymore. The vibration just was too much for me - it took all the fun out of riding it. And I couldn't figure out how to reduce it to an acceptable level.

I got a lot of replies - some trying to convince me (1) I could reduce the vibration - and I know I couldn't (2) I really needed to just tough it out (3) or I needed some other bike:


Originally Posted by R1100RSpurist
unless you want to play racer boy, I really think the R1200GS is the gem of the hex heads. Good looks, excellent all around performance and comfortable ergos, i just love the practicality of it. but as with all new BMWs price is the hard part to swallow.
The GS isn't really an answer to those of us with under (by a lot) 30" inseams. If you have a longer inseam it may well be the perfect bike. I know lots of people who really love'm.. but in most cases, it sorta reminds me of a Hummer truck.. a lot of potential, that is rarely if ever used by most owners (I can say that in an RS forum right? I know in a GS forum people would be all over me..) And as you mentioned - price certainly comes into the equation.

The Roadster - as Darryl pointed out - with a not horrible amount of work can be outfitted to serve most anyones purpose. Some GS handguards take care of hand protection in bad weather, and C-Bailey makes a bigger windscreen for it. Only question I would have is since the screen is bar/fork mounted - how it works in crosswinds and quartering winds. It wouldn't have the knee-level wind/rain/cold protection the RS or ST has, and dunno quite how to get around that.

The tank isn't a huge concern since I'm ready to stretch WAY before I would run it dry.

Like I said - quandary. What to do.. what to do..

Some people also suggested I try finding a new R1200ST - the bike that replaced the RS.. that wasn't really a bike I could get myself in lust after. I finally finished mulling it through and made my decision:


Depending on a second test ride - done on the highway to make sure it doesn't buzz at 70-80MPH, it's a done deal. I decided to go with the Roadster, with the tall-BMW shield for it (at least until I decide if that shield isn't tall enough - there are other options.)

The thing that decided me - was I realized I wasn't enjoying rides on the RS.. I actually canceled out on a 2-day club ride to an area I wanted to ride in because I didn't want to do it on the RS.

I think the combination of arthritis and the riding position along with the vibration the RS has just made it too damn unpleasant after a few hours of riding. So.. time to move on to something a bit more for a "mature" (AKA Old) rider. While I don't like the sit-up-and-beg riding position, the Roadster gave me a very slight lean forward, which seemed fine. And the seat didn't hurt after 90 minutes - which is 60 minutes more than any other stock BMW seat has ever done for me (bony butt problem combined with arthritis again.)

I debated over what was more valuable to me - all the good stuff the RS can do (weather protection, more packing space, and mine is all accessorized) and the riding pleasure I got riding the Roadster. In the end - it wasn't even a real contest. I could continue trying to bend the 60+ year old body on a bike better suited for someone a bit younger, or continue trying to make the bike fit the body, or just move on and get riding. I decided to move on.. and the warden gave her blessing (after some fireworks..)

So - Friday - 2nd test ride of the Roadster - and Saturday the swap if it works out OK.

Thanks all for the thoughts/suggestions.. you helped me work my way out of the quandary.
Don Eilenberger
Spring Lk Heights, NJ
BMWs: '07 R1200R Roadster, '04 R1150RS (gone), '02 M3Ci, '03 525iT
^^^^ Keeps keyrings simple.. ^^^^

By now you figured out what the outcome of the 2nd test ride was..  the bike was wonderful at 80MPH - very acceptable on vibration level. Needed a little more wind-blast protection than is provided by the "Sport" shield it came with - but it was infinitely better than the RS I'd ridden to the test ride on.

So - I bought one. I ended up with the black with optional white pinstripe offering from BMW, with ABS, Sport Shield, OBC, heated grips, centerstand, bag mounts and I bought a set of bags for it.

Hmmm.... look what followed me home.. who'da thunk it?

Of course the first thing to do when a new bike arrives is to start Farkleizing it. So.. being no slouch in this department, I made a mental list of what I'd want on the bike, and started thinking about how to achieve it.

Mounting my GPS (currently a Garmin 2720) was a priority. I knew from past experience that I find it safest to use and easiest to read if it's mounted centered on the bike, right under the instrument pod. Luckily - BMW has a mount for mounting their Navigator series GPS's.. that for the Roadster uses a mount that fastens to the top of the handlebar clamps. Being thrifty (cheap) by nature - when of almost identical design was offered to me by a club member - for free - I grabbed it. It required a very minor modification of the mounting holes to match the slightly smaller bolt spacing of the R clamps - and it was mounted on the bike and quickly wired in:

The GS GPS bracket adapted to the Roadster.

In case you're wondering - the white thing on the back of it is the cap for the power plug on the GPS - it lives there when the GPS isn't on the bike. I didn't use the power feed BMW provides for GPS use since that is a switched feed, and with a GPS without an internal battery that means the ignition must be on to use the GPS if the bike isn't running. I opted instead to wire directly (with fuse) to the battery under the seat.

I also found that the R11xxRS tankbag fit better on the Roadster than it did on the RS.. so it was quickly moved over to the Roadster:

RS Tankbag on a Roadster. Also - little bullseye mirrors add a wide-field view to the stock mirrors.

I'm accused by one of our local club members of "crapping up the bike" by putting stickers on the rear of the bags... so here - for him - is the last photo available of the Roadster before I start crapping it up:

What else has gotten done?


A headlight modulator has been added. I feel naked riding a bike without one - the difference in people seeing the bike is startlingly clear in an A-B (with and without - over the same route, same time of day) comparison. People DO take note of the modulating light. The one I'm using is from Kisan Technologies and the one I'm using is the P115W-A2. This one has the advantage of being mounted inside the headlight shell, and requiring no new holes to be drilled to get the light detector outside the shell. The small drain hole in the bottom of the shell was enlarged just big enough for the connector to feed through, and then the sensor was routed up to the handlebars and tie-wrapped off on the wiring and line going to the clutch side controls. This makes it an invisible modification - the best kind in my opinion.

One note - the modulator causes the ZFE (central body electronics) module to think the high-beam bulb is intermittently burned out when it's modulating. This causes the "warning" icon on the instrument cluster to flash in sync with the modulation. This is OK with me - since it gives me an indication the modulator IS modulating. What isn't OK - is the error message that appears in the digital display - flashing at the same rate as the headlight is modulated - and alternating with the odometer reading. According to the tech support people at Kisan - this can be eliminated by updating the ZFE firmware to version 8 or greater. When I checked mine - it appears to have version 7 installed. I hope to get that update done this Saturday (05/19/07) during the 600 mile service.

Update on this (6/26/08) - the ZFE had the latest firmware installed (cost me $40 to find this out) - so no joy there. I've been in touch with Kisan's tech support who has been trying to modify the current draw characteristics of the modulator so it won't trigger the error code in the ZFE. So far - no joy there either.

If a flashing light and a flashing warning message would drive you crazy - at this point in time, I don't know of a modulator that can be used with the R1200 hexhead bikes.

UPDATE - 07/09/07 - A fix has been found for the headlight modulator problem - details can be found HERE

I moved my WarmNSafe Heattroller over to this bike. Mine is the SMSAE model - surface mount, SAE connector. I hid the electronics under the seat, and ran the control unit to the small plastic panel on the left side of the bike that covers the top of the left throttle-body. There is room at the very rear corner of this panel to install the controller, by drilling two small holes. Removal of it won't leave an eyesore on the bike, plus the position falls "readily to hand" when it needs adjustment.

HeatTroller (LED isn't visible in photo - it's below the knob.)

Rear lighting is always a concern, since I've been struck once from the rear when stopped for a light, and had a number of near misses. I've found the stock BMW brake light to be only marginally effective in gaining the attention of the cell-phone talking, latte' sipping idiots who pass for drivers. I contacted a friend - Klaus Huneuke of Run-N-Lites, and asked what he could do to help. The bike is now outfitted with some beta-test LED turnsignal/brake-light modules for the rear turnsignals, and with a LiteBlazer. This provides a flashing light on initial brake application that is quite effective in stopping the people behind you in their tracks. The light then changes to a solid on light - so it is a legal device.

Brake Light Enhancement
(and right bag "crapped up" with NJSBMWR club sticker on it)

GS-Handguards: Cold hands when riding in the rain can be a real danger. Cold hands when riding in the cold - can be a real danger. As good as the BMW heated grips are - they're even better when combined with some wind/rain protection. The BMW GS bikes come with this sort of protection. Luckily - it's a very straightforward installation.

Handguards - and the BMW "Touring" Shield

If you click on the photo above - or HERE - you'll be taken to a page with more details on installing the GS handguards.

Update as of 06/12/07

Back from a very nice ride to the 2007 RA Rally in Asheville North Carolina. Left on 06/01 - returned on 6/11 - first stop was the Square Route Rally (BMWBMW) where I was surprised by being awarded the BMW-MOA Ambassador Award.

Further crapping up of the bike has occurred..

Blue Ridge Parkway

 The 16" high Cee-Baileys windscreen (seen in the Blue-Ridge photo above) worked well for me. It allowed enough air to get to my helmet so I had good airflow, and enough air to get to the arm-pit vents on my AeroStitch Roadcrafter so I had good body ventilation. I might try one 2" taller eventually since I found ducking down 2" with the 16" one put me in a slightly quieter zone.  Recommended item - you need to buy the BMW "Touring Shield" mount to use the Cee-Bailey shield, but the shield itself is less than 1/2 the cost of the BMW Touring Shield.

Update - 06/26/07 - I tried the Cee-Baileys 20" windscreen. Too tall for this short rider, probably ideal for someone with a longer torso than I have (and the normal or tall seat.) I was looking just over the top edge of it - and I didn't like that. A 20 minute ride with it on and it came off again. If anyone wants to trade this 20" one (new condition) for a 18" Cee-Bailey screen, I'll pay shipping both ways.

Cee-Bailey also provided a set of saddle-bag liners - cost was around $80 (a fraction of BMW's price for them), and these fit well and worked just great. Highly recommended - good value for the $$.

I also added a neat bike cover - a KwiKover which worked wonderfully. It's a fully elastic cover, which stores in a bag mounted to the bike. It can be deployed or put away in about 15 seconds. The ease of use means I used it a lot. Besides protecting the bike against bird-poop (the reason I got it) - it also puts things like my GPS, tank-bag, and helmet (set on the seat) out of sight, which greatly reduces their attractiveness to someone who might think of stealing them. Great product - worked great and a real favorite.

Update 06-26-07 - the KwiKover continues to be one of my favorite modifications to the bike. It gets used every time I ride the bike and stop anywhere. The convenience of putting the cover on/off means I *do* use it. It protects not only the bike, but all the accessories under the cover. I HIGHLY recommend this product.

One problem I did have - the headlight got a crack in it on the initial ride to Square-Route on Friday. Dunno where this happened since I tend to be anal about not following vehicles closely - especially if it's a truck that might drop some crap on the road or toss rocks up.  I contacted Morton's BMW on Friday afternoon - and Pat arranged for a replacement which was delivered to me at Don Graling's house Sunday by Steve Anderson of Mortons. What wonderful service! If you live in the area - or are even just passing through - I'd recommend Mortons as being worth a visit.

Update -6-26-07 - I tried, several times to install a layer of plastic protective film on the Roadster headlight. I suspect I'm just not skilled enough and each time it looked awful. There was a chap at the RA rally who would install it - but at a cost of $50, which is about half the cost of a new headlight. The cost/value ratio didn't appeal to me so I passed on it. I asked Cee-Bailey about a plastic cover for the Roadster light - and to my surprise - the President of the company replied, and said it was something they were thinking about - and now that they were asked for one - they'd go ahead and try go get a mold made so they can make them. I haven't heard of them being available - yet - but expect they will be shortly. I'll update this when/if they become available.

Auxiliary lighting (update 07/19/2007):

I've always been a fan of auxiliary lighting - front and back of the bike. The back was covered early on - the front took more time since I had to decide what to do - and how to do it..

Click here or on the photo below for more information on how I did it..

Update on auxiliary lighting (09/06/2008) - replaced the old classic BMW switch I'd used with one from the '08 GS Adventure driving light setup. The button for it now falls readily to thumb. Link Here

GPS Mount - Version-II  Sept 2007

I found the stock BMW GPS mount unuseable with any but the smallest tank bag - so I tried to think of an alternative mount. I was inspired by one I saw on a friends GS/Adventure. Results are:

Click here for more details!

Update 04-04-08

Did an oil change earlier this week - and grabbed a sample to send off to Brookstone Labs for analysis. The analysis was good news:

Click to enlarge..

Oil report 09-2009 30,000 mile service:

Click to enlarge..

Lots more updates to cover - will try to get around to them soon.. Problem has been I've been too busy riding the bike (32,000 miles on it 10-09.) Updates like:

  • Flash to Pass garage door opener

  • Sargent Seat

  • Custom butt heating pad

  • PilotRoad-2 tires (on second set as of 6/10 - wonderful tires!)

  • Zadi-RTM Tire Pressure Monitor

  • Modified touring shield mount and different shields

  • Slightly modified GPS mount

  • New Kisan headlight modulator design

  • GS bash pan guard

  • And more stuff I've probably forgotten about (or changed from the first writeup

  • Also things that didn't work for me - barbacks and Kaoka throttle-lock

Well - still been too busy riding it to write up the above.. current miles are about 37,000 on 6/7/10.  Have some new oil reports from Blackstone. Included is a sample of unused oil, so people can see what the oil starts out like.

Oil report - unused BMW 15W-50 Synthetic:

Click to enlarge..

And an oil report on the 36,000 mile oil change:

Click to enlarge..

Looks like the engine is wearing quite nicely. It gets smoother with time.