- The Washington Times - Friday, July 27, 2001

Take all your preconceived ideas about what a touring motorcycle is supposed to be and let BMW throw it out the window.
Unlike the rolling couches, you've seen plodding ponderously down the road, the 2002 BMW R1150 RT is a sleek, modern, relatively light and even agile motorcycle.
For one used to smaller motorcycles or sport bikes, the R1150 RT's 579 pounds dry will seem mammoth. And even with practice, maneuvering the bike in parking lots or backing out of driveways can be challenging.
By comparison to other touring bikes, though, the R1150 RT is sprightly. The Kawasaki Voyager and Harley-Davidson Road King are both pushing 720 pounds, and Honda's Shadow A.C.E. Tourer tips the scales at 626.
Once you start letting the R1150 RT do the work, it rides smoothly and predictably. Supporting the bike at the front is a telelever suspension and in back is a paralever swingarm with shaft drive.
On the highway the bike is a dream. The highly evolved, wind-tunnel-designed bodywork keeps wind and buffeting to a minimum. An electronically adjustable windshield lets the rider decide how much air to flow over his head and shoulders.
By looks alone, the bike commands respect. Atlantic City, N.J., ordered 14 of the 2001 model for its police department. And buzzing down the highway on the test model, not a few cars pulled into the next lane to make way.
Because of the bike's total encasement in plastic, things can get pretty warm for the rider when stopped or stuck in slow traffic, but everyone gets hot sitting on the New Jersey Turnpike.
Conversely, you can sit bolt upright buzzing along at 120 mph barely feeling the breeze and cruising at 80 mph all day long would be no problem at all.
And a six-gallon tank, including the one-gallon reserve, means you can ride from New York City to Washington without stopping for gas.
At the heart of the beast is an 1130 cc, opposed-twin engine. The engine begins to make usable power at 4,000 rpm, and peaks at 7,250 rpm making 95 horsepower, five more horsepower than the 2001 model.
Like all big twins, it has a brutish quality to power delivery. But unlike other twins, once warmed up it ran without a hitch.
As for extras, the bike has plenty. Heated hand grips, spacious side bags, adjustable seat, hazard lights and luggage rack all come stock. The bike also has not-to-be-underrated dual air horns.
The passenger's seat is plush and the rider's seat is intended to be the height of comfort. But I, being long of leg and lacking any padding on my own posterior, have never found luxury seats to be particularly comfortable and this one was no exception.
The big development for 2002, though is the fully integrated anti-lock braking system. The system activates front and back brakes with either the hand lever or the brake pedal. A computer program changes the ABS response depending upon weight and distribution. And electrohydraulic servos boost braking power.
Some have complained that the integrated system is "grabby". I personally like aggressive front braking ability and found the system comfortably responsive.
The bike also, I lamentably discovered, can take a beating. At street speeds the review model was sideswiped by a midsized economy sedan and punted, with rider, down the road. The bike suffered damage from the initial impact and from sliding on its side for about 40 feet.
Despite being punted down the road by a vehicle four times its weight and size, though, the bike suffered only cosmetic damage. But for a turn signal torn off in the slide, the bike was ready to ride after being picked up from the pavement.
The bike lists at a reasonable $16,290, a price comparable to that for similarly sized touring bikes.

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