I owned a R1200RT for five years and never was comfortable with the weight, top heavy feel and consequently the difficult low speed handling characteristics. If you have long legs and can flatfoot the RT, you may be OK, but the RT is not made for those of us who are cursed with short inseams. I put about 17,000 miles on the RT in the five years I owned it and dreaded any movement at low speed or when stopped, lest I invite a tipover.
In Feb 2010, I purchased a R1200R because I wanted a bike without the fairing which makes for great wind protection on the RT, but miserable riding in the hot and humid summers where I live, in North Carolina. I have logged about 8,500 miles on the R1200R in only 14 months.
The wow factor is certainly there with this bike. It is basically an RT without the fairing, and the extra weight. Although there is only about 80 pounds extra weight on the RT, it feels like 200 pounds because the R1200R is so much more nimble, quicker and easier to handle, especially at low speeds.
The R1200R can be used as a touring bike. I have a 24 inch Cee Baileys windshield installed on mine and I get plenty of wind protection. The side cases and top cases are the same as the RT, so you don't lose any luggage capacity with the R1200R.
Where the RT is more angular in shape and can be recognized as a BMW mainly by the kidney shaped front grill, the R1200R is more rounded like the old BMW roadsters. The R1200R looks like the heritage bikes from BMW. The round headlight, steel tank and tubular handle bars definitely show its ancestry.
You have been warned. Do not test ride this bike, unless you want to inflict serious damage to your checkbook! Many of us have fallen victim to the best kept secret that BMW has in its bike line. The R1200R is probably the best all around bike that BMW makes.
Visit the R1200R forum and you will find many stories about this bike from its satisfied owners.