When planning the six-hour commute home from Cycle World's Southern California headquarters to my residence located in the heart of the Sierra Nevada mountains, I grossly mistimed my departure. Although mired in miserable rush-hour traffic on the outset, my assigned test motorcycle helped alleviate the pain.

A simple fact of modern life: Trudging along in the fast lane is so much better when seated in the lap of luxury.

2019 BMW R 1250 RT right side
As tested, our 2019 BMW R 1250 RT has a price tag of $26,794 before tax and license.Jeff Allen

To my good fortune, our 2019 BMW R 1250 RT testbike came loaded with factory options. While the Option 719 Sparkling Storm Metallic paint/pinstripes ($1,800) and elegant brown leather heated saddle ($250) are superfluous add-ons to the RT’s $18,645 base price, the bike’s $5,150 Select Package is a worthwhile addition. Most units you will find in US dealership will be equipped with this package; in fact, a base model will require a special order to procure. This puts the actual MSRP at $23,795 before the special paint and seat. Highlights of this premium collection of upgrades include IMU-based (lean sensing) Dynamic Traction Control; Next-Gen Dynamic ESA suspension with auto leveling (via variable spring rate) and auto damping adjustment; keyless ignition; fob controlled bag locks; auto-blip Shift Assist; Dynamic Ride Mode; auto Hill Start Control; and a suite of additional creature comforts that make pleasant work of any super-slab slog.

$250 optional heated seat
Our test 2019 R 1250 RT was equipped with a $250 optional heated seat.Jeff Allen

This former Cycle World Ten Best Sport-Touring selection now features BMW's ShiftCam (variable intake valve timing) and has received a 84cc displacement increase. On the Cycle World dyno the new 1,254cc air-/liquid-cooled boxer produced 122 peak hp and, relative to its predecessor, roughly 10 pound-feet of additional torque across the entire rev range.

On the road the flat twin’s liquid-smooth delivery and tractor-like bottom-end grunt easily pulls a mid to tall gear while cruising at low rpm in town or filtering through the urban freeway’s ebb and flow. Its combination of feathery hydraulic clutch actuation and clutchless shifts up and down the six-speed box further eases the workload when dealing with stop-and-go traffic. What’s more, the RT’s roomy saddle and open riding position kept me feeling fresh for the long home stretch once I had put the metropolis in the mirrors.

Comfort ride
Leaving the city behind, the R 1250 RT has the comfort that affords the rider many miles in one sitting.Jeff Allen

With cruise control set at 75 mph and open road ahead, the engine settled into a 4,000-rpm milky purr with light engine vibes felt through its heat-adjustable grips. A thumb rocker on the left bar operates the motorized windscreen, and when raised to its highest position the optically pure screen provides a pocket of calm air and spared my head and shoulders from a spring harvest of juicy bug splatter as I transited California’s Central Valley farmland.

2019 BMW R 1250 RT windscreen
The windscreen is motorized and infinitely adjustable.Jeff Allen

Also located inboard the left grip is a menu select button and BMW’s clever Multi-Controller scroll wheel that are used in combination to access dash menus and myriad features including audio and navigation system control. The nicely integrated in-dash BMW Navigator VI GPS unit ($949) provides a wealth of map functionality, one of my favorites being an option to choose between quickest or curvy routes. Despite the crystal clear Sirius Satellite Radio reception, the fairing-mount speakers lose out to road noise at freeway speed. I tried pairing a Cardo Bluetooth headset to the bike without success, later learning that BMW-specific headgear is required.

BMW R 1250 RT switchgear
Much control of the R 1250 RT’s functions and features is done with the left thumb.Jeff Allen

Live performance rocks my boat, and to this end the ESA-equipped RT boogied a variety of my favorite local back roads with impressive handling composure and sporting capability that stands out in its weight class. The new auto-leveling feature works wonders maintaining proper chassis attitude resulting in steadfast handling stability whether I rode solo, two-up, or had the spacious detachable saddlebags empty or full. For the majority of riding situations I found the lightly damped ESA Road setting to my liking for its added bump compliance and ride comfort. This proved the case even when smoothly hustling along a curvy stretch at a good clip. If the chassis begins feeling a bit too bouncy and loosey-goosey, a couple of quick button presses toggles ESA into Dynamic damping, effecting an immediate change for a much firmer ride offering increased tire contact patch feedback and greater control of chassis pitch motion.

R 1250 RT touring
The R 1250 RT leaves plenty of sport in the touring.Jeff Allen

By design the RT Telelever front suspension reduces front dive under hard braking, reserving ample fork travel to deal with the nastiest corner entry bumps. The addition of IMU-controlled cornering ABS has taken the RT to a whole new level of braking safety and control that had me nodding my head in amusement and amazement when exploring the system's capabilities.

Corner exits provide the chuckles as well with selectable ride-by-wire modes labeled Rain, Road, and Dynamic allowing on-the-fly selection of power/response characteristics with different traction control sensitivity assigned to each mode. Dynamic mode’s sharp response and full power delivery proved very controllable in dry grip conditions while Road mode was a good choice when hauling a passenger or riding in an urban setting.

on-the-fly response and traction control
Ride modes allow for on-the-fly selection of response and traction control.Jeff Allen

Living with the BMW R 1250 RT for several weeks has been like a vacation with a generous rich uncle. I've been spoiled by its superb blend of comfort, convenience, versatility, and sporting prowess. And like the last day of an epic holiday adventure, the trip south to return the RT left me feeling a bit sad knowing I would be going back to a life without such luxuries.

2019 BMW R 1250 RT country road
Comfort and sporty handling come together superbly in the 2019 BMW R 1250 RT.Jeff Allen

2019 BMW R 1250 RT Specifications

MSRP: $23,795
ENGINE: 1,254cc, air-/liquid-cooled, DOHC flat twin w/ BMW ShiftCam
BORE X STROKE: 102.5mm x 76mm
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE: 6-speed/shaft
HORSEPOWER: 121.8 hp @ 7,500 rpm (Cycle World Dyno)
TORQUE: 95.7 lb.-ft. @ 6,200 rpm (Cycle World Dyno)
FUEL SYSTEM: EFI w/ RBW
CLUTCH: Multi-plate wet clutch, hydraulic operation
FRAME: Two-section w/ load-bearing engine
FRONT SUSPENSION: 37mm BMW Telelever, central spring strut; 4.7-in. (120mm) travel
REAR SUSPENSION: BMW Paralever, WAD strut; 5.4-in. (136mm) travel
FRONT BRAKE: 4-piston fixed caliper, dual 320mm floating discs w/ BMW Motorrad Integral ABS
REAR BRAKE: 2-piston floating caliper, 276mm disc w/ BMW Motorrad Integral ABS
WHEELS, FRONT/REAR: Cast aluminum, 3.50 x 17 in. / 5.50 x 17 in.
TIRES, FRONT/REAR: 120/70ZR-17 / 180/55ZR-17
RAKE/TRAIL: 25.9°/4.6 in. (116mm)
WHEELBASE: 58.5 in. (1,485mm)
SEAT HEIGHT: 32.5 in. (826mm)
FUEL CAPACITY: 6.6 gal. (25L)
WEIGHT: 642 lb. (191kg)
BMW’s ShiftCam-equipped R 1250 RT
BMW’s ShiftCam-equipped R 1250 RT covers the quarter in 11.13 seconds at 120.5 mph.Jeff Allen

Cycle World 2019 BMW R 1250 RT Performance Data

1/4 Mile 11.13 sec. @ 120.50 mph
0-30 mph 1.32 sec.
0-60 mph 2.96 sec.
0-100 mph 6.80 sec.
40-60 mph (top gear) 2.94 sec.
60-80 mph (top gear) 3.08 sec.
60-0 mph 121.14 ft.
30-0 mph 30.38 ft.