How to ride the R1200rt - BMW Luxury Touring Community
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post #1 of 31 Old Nov 16th, 2019, 2:14 am Thread Starter
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Hi, new owner with a 2006 R1200rt

I'm looking for advice on differentiating between the quirks of riding these machines to peculiarities on the older 47k mile bike I have just purchased. My previous bikes have always been St1300 Honda's which are super smooth if a little heavy


1) I find the clutch fairly vague when pulling away around town.......it appears I'm fighting stalling the engine versus too many revs and it never seems to just naturally find a sweet spot and pull away

2) When turning into side roads it appears the engine is labouring when using 2nd gear, I imagine the revs are between idle and 2krpm and road speed is 10-20mph at this point. Are you required to use first gear or am unnecessarily worrying about labouring a large 2 cylinder motorcycle


I have only owned the bike for two weeks so it may be a case of getting used to her
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post #2 of 31 Old Nov 16th, 2019, 5:46 am
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Re: How to ride the R1200rt

Definitely a case of getting used to it. The hydraulic clutch removes some of the feel a cable operated one provides, but you can get "hand memory" developed and that improved my "clutchwork" a fair bit. Isn't the clutch hydraulic on the ST as well?

My '05 likes to be above 3000 to start pulling without lugging. I usually shift around 4k rpm and the revs drop about 1k, seems to be quite happy (the bike) in that range. I ride two up most of the time. 2k rpm is definitely on the gutless side, unless you chip it. Some people seem to think slipping the clutch is the way to go, I personally disagree with that line of thought, so I just try to consciously keep it in the 3 to 4k range as much as practicable. I use first gear but mostly just to get going from standing still.
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post #3 of 31 Old Nov 16th, 2019, 8:30 am
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Re: How to ride the R1200rt

I agree with what's been said above. The bike has tall gearing and what I could get away with on my 96 Magna I find more challenging for the RT; more specifically, second gear slow corners. For the most part I'll drop to first to get the torque feel I want. I have installed an AF-XIED on my 16 RT which does make a very noticeable difference in low RPM feel ... I can smoothly pull away at much lower RPM's without the risk of stalling. The clutch feel is a mixed bag ... take up is much farther out when the bike is cold than when warmed up but you get used to that fairly quickly and pretty much compensate for it automatically. I really don't even think about it anymore.

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post #4 of 31 Old Nov 16th, 2019, 8:35 am
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Re: How to ride the R1200rt

My '05 Hexhead was my favorite- and many ways more enjoyable then the '14 Wethead I followed it with.

It is a different bike than the one you had previously and part of that is that BMW is a different breed. It can be far different from the Oriental DNA/breeds.

Miles and rides will cure most of your issues as will growing familiar with the feel, sounds and comfort of the new bike.
(also check out the "BMW Sport Touring" site...) there are entire forum sections devoted to the year-group of your bike...)
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post #5 of 31 Old Nov 16th, 2019, 8:40 am
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Re: How to ride the R1200rt

Generally, the RT likes to be ridden at the higher rpm range. For instance, I would never do a slow turn at 10 - 15 mph in 2nd gear! Always in 1st. Typically, except for the very slow maneuvering, keep the rpm above 3k.
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post #6 of 31 Old Nov 16th, 2019, 11:33 pm
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Re: How to ride the R1200rt

Like said earlier, the engine likes higher revs
I find that the sweet spot on mine is between 4&5k


Many people call the 5k mark :"The shift indicator"


YMMV
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post #7 of 31 Old Nov 17th, 2019, 12:48 am
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Re: How to ride the R1200rt

In the hills you would be surprised how quick an RT is when you ride at 5 or 6 k rpm.
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post #8 of 31 Old Nov 17th, 2019, 3:28 am
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Re: How to ride the R1200rt

Yup, my old bike I kept down in lower RPMs, I've noticed the RT does not like it at all. Kind of a hard habit to break as I've always ridden that way but the RT defiantly performs better in higher RPM ranges. I dunno if its all in my head, but it also seems to get much better gas mileage when ridden at the higher RPMs vs low. I've owned mine for almost a year, ride it daily during the week and I still suck at keeping the motor happy when starting from a stop. I either lug it, or give it too much for whatever reason. I think the one time I tried to break hill assist off via motion I stalled it out lol
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post #9 of 31 Old Nov 17th, 2019, 6:55 am
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Re: How to ride the R1200rt

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Originally Posted by PadG View Post
Generally, the RT likes to be ridden at the higher rpm range. For instance, I would never do a slow turn at 10 - 15 mph in 2nd gear! Always in 1st. Typically, except for the very slow maneuvering, keep the rpm above 3k.
I learn this and many other things from the real bmw guru's

the mechanics for the HPN 900 RR (Very little bmw about them but the parameters and architecture are pretty much the same) Dakar bikes..

keep it as close to red line as you can and that is totally okay to hit/bounce the rev limited, my bikes don't even lose oil, no nasty deposits, valves are under spec every time plus the silly drive shaft/clutch splines never wear out because they are always "Peg it" instead of the tepid "I want to go fast, but I'm scared of it"

the engine can take it, in fact they like it and perform fast at the upper end of the rpms..

Just don't "Dump" of feather the clutch and it will last you a long time..
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post #10 of 31 Old Nov 17th, 2019, 7:35 am
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I'm fairly new to BMW motorcycles, having ridden only a 16 RT and 19 GS for a combined 5 months and 15k miles. I've owned 15 different street bikes over the past 20 years. I believe the R12## platform is the first I've owned with a useful first gear. Slow speed maneuvers were always in second gear until the R12##, now in first frequently and I like it. If you want to corner in second, pick up the pace, the bike will enjoy it
I also like that I can use cruise control at 10 mph in first gear. Not that I do often but some of the bikes I've owned won't allow cruise control engagement below 3rd or even 4th gear.
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post #11 of 31 Old Nov 17th, 2019, 1:15 pm
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Re: How to ride the R1200rt

I'm new to BMW's as well (compared to most others on here anyways) and I had the same first impressions when I bought my '13 early last year (my first ever BMW). There two big differences I noticed: the dry clutch is different, and 2) the bike has very tall gearing, especially first, compared to all my previous bikes.

It makes useful power starting at 2,500 to 3,000 rpm in the lower gears and for 5th and 6th you need to be above 4k for acceleration but cruising is ok down to around 3,500. I don't understand the idea of bouncing it off the limiter, or that abusing it will somehow make it last longer, but otherwise I agree with everything else stated above.

The drive chain on this bike is different than others and there is a short learning curve but put a couple of thousand miles on it and you will, like I did, love it more than any other bike you've ever had.

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post #12 of 31 Old Nov 17th, 2019, 9:02 pm
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Re: How to ride the R1200rt

Perhaps a little off topic but still has to ride the RT after coming from an LT... are you to sit as far forward on the RT so that your thighs are hugging the gas tank? Iíve read that some, including I, have experienced hip and shoulder pain that was non existent on the laid back LT. They then decide that the RT is not for them but I believe it must be me still trying to get used to the new girl and her ergonomics...

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post #13 of 31 Old Nov 17th, 2019, 9:50 pm
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Re: How to ride the R1200rt

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Originally Posted by mr1150gs View Post
Perhaps a little off topic but still has to ride the RT after coming from an LT... are you to sit as far forward on the RT so that your thighs are hugging the gas tank? Iíve read that some, including I, have experienced hip and shoulder pain that was non existent on the laid back LT. They then decide that the RT is not for them but I believe it must be me still trying to get used to the new girl and her ergonomics...
I put bar risers and peg lower's on mine. Problem solved.
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post #14 of 31 Old Nov 18th, 2019, 12:41 pm
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Re: How to ride the R1200rt

Quote:
Originally Posted by RTTourerMarc View Post
Hi, new owner with a 2006 R1200rt

I'm looking for advice on differentiating between the quirks of riding these machines to peculiarities on the older 47k mile bike I have just purchased. My previous bikes have always been St1300 Honda's which are super smooth if a little heavy


1) I find the clutch fairly vague when pulling away around town.......it appears I'm fighting stalling the engine versus too many revs and it never seems to just naturally find a sweet spot and pull away

2) When turning into side roads it appears the engine is labouring when using 2nd gear, I imagine the revs are between idle and 2krpm and road speed is 10-20mph at this point. Are you required to use first gear or am unnecessarily worrying about labouring a large 2 cylinder motorcycle


I have only owned the bike for two weeks so it may be a case of getting used to her
I have only owned the bike for two weeks so it may be a case of getting used to her[/QUOTE]

Coming from an honda st1300 v-4 to the rt twin myself. I can say that the st is a torque monster and can practically start from a stop in any gear, smooth as glass. The rt is rpm sensitive and needs to get above 2000 to move. Also you cannot lug the rt like you can a st1300, it will start bucking and resisting that low rpm input. Rt just like the st at about 4000 rpm the bike will get up and move.

Both bikes are very fast. Rt you will find yourself shifting more often to keep in that sweet spot above 2500 rpm.
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post #15 of 31 Old Nov 18th, 2019, 1:58 pm
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Re: How to ride the R1200rt

Quote:
Originally Posted by RTTourerMarc View Post
Hi, new owner with a 2006 R1200rt

I'm looking for advice on differentiating between the quirks of riding these machines to peculiarities on the older 47k mile bike I have just purchased. My previous bikes have always been St1300 Honda's which are super smooth if a little heavy


1) I find the clutch fairly vague when pulling away around town.......it appears I'm fighting stalling the engine versus too many revs and it never seems to just naturally find a sweet spot and pull away

2) When turning into side roads it appears the engine is labouring when using 2nd gear, I imagine the revs are between idle and 2krpm and road speed is 10-20mph at this point. Are you required to use first gear or am unnecessarily worrying about labouring a large 2 cylinder motorcycle


I have only owned the bike for two weeks so it may be a case of getting used to her
I had a 2005 RT for a couple of years (before buying my 2016 when I moved cross country).

You'll get used to the clutch. The dry clutch is an interesting animal, and its different than the feel of a wet clutch.

In terms of slow speed turns, don't be affraid to put it into first... it will tolerate second gear, but if you're more comfortable using first, then do it.


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post #16 of 31 Old Nov 18th, 2019, 8:34 pm
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If your wanting more bottom end install lennies cam gears. The woke up my 05.
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post #17 of 31 Old Nov 19th, 2019, 11:32 pm
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Re: How to ride the R1200rt

Just remember the clutch is dry just like a car. Get the bike moving from a stop and dump it. Don't drag it out. As far as RPM's go, just ride it like you stole it. I shift at 5-6k. I find it weird that most heavy iron riders are in 3 gear before they are through an intersection.

I did have an issue on my '11 at low rpm's because the throttle bodies were way out of sync. Had to take it to a dealer to get it back in rhythm.

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post #18 of 31 Old Nov 22nd, 2019, 3:28 pm
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Re: How to ride the R1200rt

I have an RT1200RT, and like one of the posters on this thread, I had a Honda ST1300 previously, which had replaced an ST1100. I would occasionally stall the motor when leaving from a stop. Didn't think that it was a clutch issue, but that it was a flat spot off of idle.

I keep magazine tests of sport-touring bikes. In 2014, in the U.S. magazine Motorcycle Consumer News, they showed a chart of the engine's powerband, but it only displayed rpms from around 2,500 rpm to above redline. The test of the R1250RT showed rpms from just below 2,000 upwards to redline. You can see a very steep decline in power as revs dropped below 2,000, which made it seem possible that there could be a very little power off of idle.

When I went into the dealer for a while-you-wait 6,000 mile service, about 1.5 years ago, I had the chance to speak to a law enforcement officer who was also waiting for his R1200RT to be serviced. He said that him and another officer compared acceleration of the ST1300 and the R1200RT police machines. He said that the ST1300 would be faster from a start, but that the RT would catch up. That also seems to confirm that power on the RT could be low at low rpms.
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post #19 of 31 Old Nov 24th, 2019, 1:16 pm
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Re: How to ride the R1200rt

Quote:
Originally Posted by RTTourerMarc View Post
Hi, new owner with a 2006 R1200rt

I'm looking for advice on differentiating between the quirks of riding these machines to peculiarities on the older 47k mile bike I have just purchased. My previous bikes have always been St1300 Honda's which are super smooth if a little heavy


1) I find the clutch fairly vague when pulling away around town.......it appears I'm fighting stalling the engine versus too many revs and it never seems to just naturally find a sweet spot and pull away

2) When turning into side roads it appears the engine is labouring when using 2nd gear, I imagine the revs are between idle and 2krpm and road speed is 10-20mph at this point. Are you required to use first gear or am unnecessarily worrying about labouring a large 2 cylinder motorcycle


I have only owned the bike for two
weeks so it may be a case of getting used to her
Came from a Honda as well (cable-clutch), found the RT to be vague at engagement / disengagement at first too. Also felt, and still do, the bike feels like it labors from a stop. A 2k rev will get er going well. I let it out at a medium rate from a stop, and very quickly between shifts, it seems to respond well and smoothly to that. The bike is made to be ridden with authority, IMO. I will say I believe the issue from a stop is caused by the gear ratio - the RT cop bikes with a lower first gear, and my R1200R with a lower first gear don't have that issue. They're both way easier to start from a stop. Both may be a result of lower FINAL DRIVE ratio rather than transmission differences, but the result is easier around town usage, and highway revs in top gear are higher on those 2 bikes. The civilian RT will really fly on the highway all day long. I keep the rpms at 3k or above almost always, and shift at 5-6k. The power really comes on around 5k, keep it there in traffic for quick maneuvers if needed. It can sing at 5k all day without issue. Just my 2 cents.

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post #20 of 31 Old Nov 24th, 2019, 2:52 pm
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Re: How to ride the R1200rt

The down side to that is that most relate gear/engine sound to speed. I remember the first time I road the RT I was in 3rd gear right around 5k and looked down and I was doing 90 lol Interesting enough the bike really does not feel that fast, even if you get on the throttle it does not have that feeling that comes along with hauling butt. However if you look down you notice you are doing over 100 in a few seconds. The bike is just so smooth when you get on it that you don't even notice.

Merged onto the freeway a few weeks ago, got into the #1 at 100mph then backed off the throttle to match speed like I normally do. Noticed a car behind me caught up to me SUPER fast given my speed.. Then noticed bar lights on the roof..... Luckily it was a city cop and not CHP, otherwise I would had been screwed!!!!
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post #21 of 31 Old Nov 25th, 2019, 10:12 pm
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Re: How to ride the R1200rt

Compared to the Honda, this point about power in a slow speed turn encountered when decelerating from a main road is the biggest spot where I feel the RT's performance comes in second-place.

Downshifting into 1st is unappealing when hustling down from high speed. Alternatively, there's no possibility of staying in 2nd and booking it fast through the turn if there's gravel/sand/crap in the path.

So I've landed on slipping/feathering the clutch a bit with the bike in 2nd. It's only a split-second at most, and avoids an upshift from 1st in the exit.

If the turn approaches as one is accelerating down the main road, obviously that's coming from a start in 1st. In that case I just ride 1st longer into the turn and look to upshift in or after the exit.

Call me lazy -- but it works.
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post #22 of 31 Old Nov 25th, 2019, 11:49 pm
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Re: How to ride the R1200rt

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Compared to the Honda, this point about power in a slow speed turn encountered when decelerating from a main road is the biggest spot where I feel the RT's performance comes in second-place.

Downshifting into 1st is unappealing when hustling down from high speed. Alternatively, there's no possibility of staying in 2nd and booking it fast through the turn if there's gravel/sand/crap in the path.

So I've landed on slipping/feathering the clutch a bit with the bike in 2nd. It's only a split-second at most, and avoids an upshift from 1st in the exit.

If the turn approaches as one is accelerating down the main road, obviously that's coming from a start in 1st. In that case I just ride 1st longer into the turn and look to upshift in or after the exit.

Call me lazy -- but it works.
In these situations I smooth out the big drop from 2nd to 1st by pulling in the clutch and blipping the throttle right before I drop the gear. This is akin to double-clutching and makes that drop a non-issue.

I didn't like having to do it at first, with my inner monolog grumbling about how I didn't have to do this so much with my FJR, but I guess over a few months (really the whole first year) I learned to just do it and, since repetition makes muscle-memory, realized one day that I didn't notice it anymore. It is possible for an old dog to learn new tricks after all.

I've taken this to the point now where I can come all the way down from highway speed by only downshifting with this technique that and no longer require any real clutch-slip between each downshift.

With some practice, and a willingness to consciously try to modify your technique, this will stop being an issue. Key is to stop trying to will the Beemer's dry clutch and tall first gear into behaving like a wet one. It is what it is, it's different, adapt.

PS - Maples, just to be clear since intentions don't always come across online accurately. I quoted you but am not criticising you. I just used your post as a segway into a description of the technique I taught myself.

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post #23 of 31 Old Nov 26th, 2019, 12:39 am
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Re: How to ride the R1200rt

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In these situations I smooth out the big drop from 2nd to 1st by pulling in the clutch and blipping the throttle right before I drop the gear. This is akin to double-clutching and makes that drop a non-issue.

I didn't like having to do it at first, with my inner monolog grumbling about how I didn't have to do this so much with my FJR, but I guess over a few months (really the whole first year) I learned to just do it and, since repetition makes muscle-memory, realized one day that I didn't notice it anymore. It is possible for an old dog to learn new tricks after all.

I've taken this to the point now where I can come all the way down from highway speed by only downshifting with this technique that and no longer require any real clutch-slip between each downshift.

With some practice, and a willingness to consciously try to modify your technique, this will stop being an issue. Key is to stop trying to will the Beemer's dry clutch and tall first gear into behaving like a wet one. It is what it is, it's different, adapt.

PS - Maples, just to be clear since intentions don't always come across online accurately. I quoted you but am not criticising you. I just used your post as a segway into a description of the technique I taught myself.
That could be an interesting approach and sounds like it might work -- I used that technique on Moto Guzzis with satisfying result.

FWIW I am riding a 2016 RT with Shift Assist Pro and it clutchlessly auto-blips from 2nd into 1st, but it's not silky in that particular gear change -- and that's what we're all looking for in those transitions, right?
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post #24 of 31 Old Nov 26th, 2019, 8:52 am
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Re: How to ride the R1200rt

Rev-matching while down-shifting (blipping the throttle as you downshift, but fully in sync.) is the "proper" way to down-shift any motorcycles! Heck, back in the old days, we didn't even have a name to call the technique, since that's how one down-shift at all times! Do it correctly until it becomes your second nature and you will always have smooth manual down shifting, on any bikes, all the way to 1st. These days, if your RT is so equipped, the shift-assist pro does a pretty good job of the rev-matching, even if when manual shifting, my "blip" will always be more pronounced. The bottom line is that, if you have problems in shifting smoothly, all the way down to 1st, when you need to, then you need to hone up your technique and skills! No feathering of the clutch should be required at any times!!!

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post #25 of 31 Old Nov 26th, 2019, 11:29 am
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Re: How to ride the R1200rt

Since my '16RT does not have SAP I manually employ rev-matching with every downshift and it's second nature, smooth, all the way down to 1st. I slip the clutch a bit as required w/ ultra slow turns, u-turns, and along w/ modulating w/ the rear brake and counter weighting it works great having read about the technique early on. I do the majority of upshifts from 4-5-6 clutchless and have mastered smooth shifting there as well.

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post #26 of 31 Old Nov 26th, 2019, 11:35 pm
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Re: How to ride the R1200rt

FWIW my RT is with SAP, and I find the downshift into 1st is unappealing when hustling down from high speed (either using the SAP feature or blipping in a "traditional" downshift).

As to dry clutch bikes, I agree that doing the downshift into 1st with blipping is a much more protective approach for both bike and rider than riding the clutch. And the blip especially works well throughout slow speed maneuver for a big-bore engine, like a boxer or Moto Guzzi.
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post #27 of 31 Old Nov 27th, 2019, 8:13 am
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Re: How to ride the R1200rt

No doubt these RT's have a tall second gear. It's a big jump in RPM from second to first. No biggie once you get used to it. Dragging the rear brake a bit helps smooth out the downshift if using shift assist pro, if you're inclined to use it. I usually just give her a good blip, and it's no problem.
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post #28 of 31 Old Nov 27th, 2019, 10:38 am
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Rear brake drag for SAP 2 to 1—- yes, good point!
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post #29 of 31 Old Dec 5th, 2019, 1:43 am Thread Starter
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Just to update this thread after 500miles I'm starting to get used to the clutch and have started using 1st gear upto approximately 20-25mph and all is well

Never had to use a 1st so long before but hey it works
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post #30 of 31 Old Dec 5th, 2019, 5:33 am
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Re: How to ride the R1200rt

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Originally Posted by RTTourerMarc View Post
Just to update this thread after 500miles I'm starting to get used to the clutch and have started using 1st gear upto approximately 20-25mph and all is well

Never had to use a 1st so long before but hey it works
Weird. I'm barely ever in first gear apart from the first few feet.

2003 R1150RT & 2017 R1200RT
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post #31 of 31 Old Yesterday, 12:46 pm
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Re: How to ride the R1200rt

Coming from Goldwings to the RT I had similar issues with the tall gearing and dry clutch, 1 1/2 years in I have totally forgotten about the issues and just marvel at how I love to ride my 2012 RT.
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