A few weeks ago, BMW started shipping its new cruiser motorcycle, the R18, a terrific new bike that you can read more about soon as we will be doing a review series on this new highway ride.
This is not the first time BMW has created a cruiser motorcycle, with an earlier model called the R1200C that launched in 1998 and was featured in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies. It was BMW’s take on how they could design an American-style cruiser, and it had landmark technology in a retro/modern package. Production for the 1200C ended in 2004, and finding clean examples of this bike seems to be getting harder.
The Pick of the Day is from the first model year, a 1998 BMW R1200C finished in Night Black with white pinstriping. This is a one-owner garage-kept example that has covered only about 15,000 miles from new, according to the Morgantown, Pennsylvania, dealer advertising the motorcycle on ClassicCars.com.
The BMW has had no accident nor tip-over damage, the dealer says, and while there are a few minor scratches from use, it is in overall excellent condition. The cruiser is fitted with factory leather-covered saddlebags, rare factory crash bars and an even harder-to-find factory windshield.
Another unique feature is that the rear pillon seat, when not in use by a passenger, is designed to flip up to become the solo rider’s backrest.
The R1200C was an interesting mix of old and new. It features the remarkable BMW Telelever front suspension combined with the older Monolever rear suspension. This is in many ways a perfect combination as the Telelever front is effectively an A-arm front suspension, like you might find on a car, that while still compliant, virtually eliminates any kind of fork dive under braking.
The Monolever rear is the same suspension that BMW used on the old Airhead R100GS and incorporates a link to eliminate the front end lifting up and down in acceleration and deceleration. Vintage BMW bikes tend to do this because of the effect that the driveshaft has on the chassis.
From a styling standpoint, the R1200C is like nothing else on two wheels. The mix of a modern BMW front suspension, with the retro looks of the tank and seat along with the opposed-twin engine, make the 1200C its own unique bike. There are just as many people out there who love the styling as there are those who loath it; I happen to like its unique look.
On the road, the R1200C is a very pleasant ride, with tons of torque mixed with handling ability well beyond any other big cruiser bike designed before or since. If you are riding on a twisty road with a pack of Harleys and Indians, you will soon leave them in your rear-view mirror, as the R1200C is simply a better turning bike with much steeper lean angles.
The same goes for braking as the BMW has twin front disks with Brembo calipers, something you are unlikely find on the average Harley.
Another interesting bit is that the R1200C even with stock pipes sounds remarkably like a vintage motorcycle, with a sound more similar to an old Triumph Bonneville’s than that of a 1990s BMW.
Prices for the R1200C have been low for a while, but with the introduction of the new R18, it seems as if this bike is getting a lot more interest and prices are on the rise.
This R1200 is offered for $6,700, which compared with new price of $19,870 for the R18 looks to be a real bargain. Sure, they are different and the new bike’s styling is less polarizing, but this R1200C offers quite a lot for the money and is something altogether different from the typical cruiser.
And if simply standing out in the crowd is your goal, this bike easily accomplishes that.
To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.