​​BMW R1250RSThe Gentleman’s Sport Bike

​​BMW R1250RS by BMW Motorrad East Rand

The Gentleman’s Sport Bike

Words: Séan Hendley and Donovan Fourie
Pics: Deon van der Linde & Black Rock Studios

We have never claimed to be any challenge for the Binder boys when it comes to riding sports and superbikes, nor have we ever fancied ourselves as master track carvers in any sort of league. However, we are able to hold our own along a mountain pass or a track day and we do enjoy comfortable bikes. This is where, in our humble opinion BMW has got things very nicely balanced with their RS bikes over the years. Back in the day, they were ridden in anger in “The Boxer Cup” race series and that was a huge and hugely competitive class for many years. Contemplating a day out from the office for a quick whip around ET, we were dead keen on a R1250RS. A quick phone around and we scragged a low mileage used unit from Rodney and the team at BMW Motorrad East Rand.

BMW R1250RSThe Gentleman’s Sport Bike

There was a bit of a tussle in the office that ended in a coin flip to determine who was going to get to collect and ride it back to the office. ‘The Boss’ won and grinned like a Cheshire cat all the way across town and then took great delight in regaling us with how lekker his ride back to the office was later. The next morning some hard choices had to be made, the RS was in the company of some of our favourite machines, much promising of gentlemanly conduct had to be ‘pinkie’ sworn on before we rolled out into the surprisingly mild, late Gauteng autumn morning. Rides like these are always exciting, a bunch of good mates warming up in the early morning sun with a steaming cuppa coffee, planning the route, the stops, how best to deal with toll gates and contemplating the merits of each bike. By now the anticipation was unbearable, the last dregs of each mug were unceremoniously tossed, riding gear donned, bikes warmed and then we aimed east into the rising sun.

The R1250RS:

Well, first of all – it is comfortable, with just the right balance of touring ergonomics and sport-oriented riding with an easily and quickly adjustable windshield. Then, this particular model was kitted to the hilt, with every possible conceivable luxury and assistance systems from the BMW catalogue loaded onto it. The unit we rode was fitted with a Remus exhaust, so it burbled and barked quite lusciously. With around 27,000km’s on the clock it was basically just run in, so the 1,254cc, twin ‘shift-cam’, boxer twin motor had definitely not lost any of its 136 horses, (100kw), or any of the 143 NM of torque and blipping the throttle exacted immediate reaction from it, the 243 kg kerb weight just melts away under the power and the low centre of gravity. If you want more detailed technical info on the R1250RS, CLICK HERE.

The Route and The Ride:

We rolled out of the office in Bredell, Kempton Park sharply at 07 hours 36 mins and 43.074secs, turned east towards Petite before hooking left towards Bapsfontein and onto Bronkhorstspruit where we joined the N4 East freeway. Riding through the countryside, fields ready for harvesting slowly became coal country and we clocked our first toll gate at Emalahleni, which is quite close to Witbank. R75.00 per motorcycle does sting quite a bit, (we were a total of 4 bikes with the photographer, so that was a little R300.00 exercise). A quick pit stop at ALZU to refuel the bikes, drain bladders and grab a cappuccino each before the roads started developing a couple of kinks before the next tollgate at eNtokozweni or Machadadorp in the old language. This one really hurts, R118.00 per motorcycle with no realistic option to go around it, (R472.00 for all four of us and sadly we would have to repeat both a few hours later, making it a total of R1,544.00 just in toll fees for the day. Yup! We hear you! We are in the wrong trade!)

Once through the toll gate we hit a left through Schoemanskloof, mainly because we were heading for a meeting at Indabushe in Schoemanskloof but, ultimately because the road through Watervalboven is incredibly busy and not that lekker to ride anyway. Schoemanskloof on the other hand is riding heaven and one of the most gorgeous parts of our beautiful country. We did our thing at Indabushe, a place that welcomes bikers of any ilk with open arms, check our wander around the place HERE

From there we boomed through Schoemanskloof, which is mostly new tar with some minor road works happening here and there, but not terribly intrusive at all. We then merged with the road from ‘Boven before hooking a left at the Sudwala Caves turn off for a couple of laps along the Sudwalaskraal pass, also in surprising good condition, and fairly quiet with some fantastic turns that seem to have you cranked over for an eternity at a time, as some of the bend seem to completely circumnavigate each mountain before flipping you over to circumnavigate the next one. We spent more time than seemed polite playing on this pass and eventually when the shadows got really long, we wandered back down to Indabushe to collect our excess kit and headed back down the N4 and home again by somewhere between 19H00 and 20H00. A good 12 hours in the saddle enjoying some fantastic motorcycles on some of the best riding roads on our doorstep.

BMW R1250RSThe Gentleman’s Sport Bike

What’s 12 hours in the saddle of a BMW R 1250 RS really like:

Séan spent a fair whack of the time riding the 1250RS and had this to say:

I have to give due credit to the team at Motorrad East Rand, with just over 27,000km’s on the bike and just over 28,000km’s when we returned it, it really does seem like a lot more motorcycle than the R169,000.00 price tag would suggest for this 2020 model.

Glenn is the one who raves about BMW’s latest shift-cam engine – and he is quite correct. That design, in my opinion, has given the boxer engine a whole new lease on life. Back in 2020, I rode a 1250 RS down to Durban to go visit customers for a few days before riding it back to JHB a week later. And on that trip, I took a “shortcut” through Clarens and the Golden Gate National Park in the Eastern Free State, before dropping down Oliviershoek Pass and re-joining the freeway just past Nottingham road. The trip home was a blast, straight up the N3 North back to Joeys’. I loved the ride then and if anything, I love it even more 4 years later.

I keep harping on about my size, because generally most things these days seem to be biassed against the bigger person, and at 2 metres tall and 115 kg, I can never be considered petite. The R1250RS just fits me properly, I got to spend the majority of the time on it running up and down Abel Erasmus pass and road it a good 200 kays back down the freeway to Kempton Park and never once did I lack for space, cramp up or even develop a sore butt from long hours in the saddle, 300/350 kays were no chore at all and the 700 kays either way to Durban a few years ago was exactly the same…. or maybe I am just tougher than the average 50 something-year-old.

Banging through the passes, hanging off the bike through never ending left handers, flipping over though equally never-ending right handers and then flick-flacking through a bunch of shorter corners to then boom down long straights through the mountain forestry to the next set of parabolicas and flick-flacks then onto the next and the next and the next…., and turning around and doing it all again…. and again… and again… and again…. Each time getting a little bit faster, a little bit lower, a little bit more courageous … until the ever increasingly lengthening shadows and an annoying fuel warning message across the screen forced sanity to prevail. I really did try to convince my riding mates to stay overnight so we could carry on playing the next morning, and nearly got it right. Tails up, we were about to chat to the guys at Indabushe when, as if on cue, our phones started ringing and our respective better halves started checking in … tails between our legs we all wandered off for ‘the chat’ before heading back home.

The ride down the freeway was just as much fun, we made a few detours for photo stops here and there before I locked in the cruise control, adjusted the windshield, dialled the heated grips in and settled down for the ride back home. I am possibly a bit grateful that you can’t live stream movies to the dash, I was so comfortable and snug that I might have put on a movie and zoned out for the trip back. Long distance touring on the RS is the way to go, you’re comfy for the long straight continent crossing stuff but then you get to scrape and scratch through the passes when the roads get all twisted and squiggly. 

What didn’t I like:

The fact that I had to give it back… and the fact that all of us who rode it can’t come up with one complaint about it.

BMW R1250RSThe Gentleman’s Sport Bike
Back in 2020 Séan rode a R1250RS to Durban and back and loved every minute of the ride (pics by Black Rock)
BMW R1250RSThe Gentleman’s Sport Bike
And he was only too keen do swing a leg over a R1250RS again and go booming around ET (pics by Deon van der Linde)

Our mate Donovan Fourie from The Bike Show joined us for the day and this is what he had to say about the Beemer:

When people start the term “R1250…’ the letters that usually follow without thought are”GS “. Yet, sitting on the BMW shelf are items with “R”, “RT” and “RS”, fine merchandise mostly overlooked by the South African public. 

Granted, a large portion of these buyers wish to venture beyond the tarred track, and therefore a GS is what beckons. But there’s a fair dollop of people who buy adventure bikes that never see a dirt road. After riding the Transalp through the sinuous passes, there is some sympathy for these individuals. The days of adventure machines being not much more than road-legal dirt bikes are long gone. This new generation corners with agility and sure-footedness their ancestors could only dream of, even when adorned with off-road tyres. It’s remarkable. And this is after having travelled the length of the N12 freeway in sublime comfort.

These miracles dwelled in our minds undaunted until we climbed aboard the RS and gave it a whirl up the mountain…

Earlier in the day, our trip up the grey N12 freeway continued and the mind drifted. This sort of thing happens to the mind after sitting idly for long enough. Every biker who has ever undertaken a long trip knows the scenario – it’s not a controlled drift but rather a wander. The brain thinks of things to do, ideas to take up, recalls memories and perhaps strays into the surreal, such as how shepherds stay awake when doing a stock count.

This mind-drift happens only when all is well, such as when you’re sitting comfortably on a motorcycle with no qualms, no aches, no pains. Like when sitting on the RS. It can happily gobble up the grey freeway miles all day until we get to the mountains…

The adventure bike was brilliant, but there’s a reason the word “sport” appears in the description “sports-tourer”. That day, we had ridden the Indian Scout and Honda Transalp up the pass and both performed admirably.

BMW R1250RSThe Gentleman’s Sport Bike
The R1250RS was another level. It’s not a superbike but in some ways, it is better.... (Pics: Deon van der Linde/Insta360SS)

The R1250RS was another level.

It’s not a superbike but in some ways, it is better. A superbike in the hands of a good rider will remain unmatched, but the RS is nearly as capable and has the upside of being far easier to ride. It is heavier than its superbike brethren to steer but sits like a freight train in the corners steamrolling anything in its path.

The 1250 motor is already legendary in the GS but it now turns its attention to the RS where it remains a tower of torque and usability. Choose a gear, any gear, and let it stay there until you hit the ocean. The torque not only keeps the speedometer climbing but does so while keeping the back wheel stuck to the tar.

Why do South Africans ignore all the other options beyond GS? It’s a mystery that remains ever more baffling.

And there you have it, another bit of gushing, glowing feedback from someone who also gets to ride the latest and greatest on the market these days. This bike is a forgotten hidden gem, surprisingly excellent at  everything and bad at nothing…. It’s only fault is that it somehow does appeal to the ego of the South African motorcyclist. We reckon that if we all put our egos and peer pressure aside and were honest with ourselves this bike would sell in greater volumes than it does currently.

If you’re in the market for a well-priced, perfect condition pre-owned motorcycle, BMW Motorrad East Rand have lots of bikes equally as good as this one on their showroom floor just waiting for a new home.

BMW R1250RSThe Gentleman’s Sport Bike
And the sun sets on another glorious day in the saddle.... (pics Deon van der Linde)

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