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BMW R 1100 RT 1997



  • BMW


  • R 1100 RT


  • 1997


90.00 HP (65.7 kW)) @ 7250 RPM

Top speed: 

200.0 km/h (124.3 mph)

Cooling system: 




Engine type: 

Two cylinder boxer, four-stroke

Front brakes: 

Dual disc

Rear brakes: 

Single disc

Dry weight: 

256.0 kg (564.4 pounds)

Power/weight ratio: 

0.3516 HP/kg




1085.00 ccm (66.21 cubic inches)


95.00 Nm (9.7 kgf-m or 70.1 ft.lbs) @ 5500 RPM

Valves per cylinder: 




Seat height: 

780 mm (30.7 inches) If adjustable, lowest setting.

Alternate seat height: 

820 mm (32.3 inches) If adjustable, highest setting.
1997. Were we ever that young? Halcyon days. It was a technological marvel of a year: the NASA Pathfinder landed on Mars; the Nintendo 64 was released to the ecstasy of many a schoolboy, unless you’d already invested many a Christmas and Birthday ‘big present’ in a Sega MegaDrive, then subsequently cried yourself to sleep during most of the latter 90s; and finally humankind succumbed to computers as Deep Blue defeated Kasparov in chess. In homage to man becoming infinitesimally insignificant to our machine overlords, BMW celebrated with the boat-sized ED-209* replica: the 1100 cc 1997 RT.

The RT came in a variety of shades, the grey of which was reminiscent in form and hue to a battleship. It was just the sheer amount of the motorcycle you got for your Deutsch Marks: those zany Germans went for a bold, radical design of making a motorcycle out of 203% fairing. If a dark green RT passed on you on the motorway, you’d feel you were being overtaken by a tree. Weighing in at a whopping 256kg, the five-speed boxer engine could still hit 211kph thanks to the massive power increase (44 to 66kW) over its predecessor, the R100RT. Not to get too technical, but the new model became an extremely comfortable tourer, inheriting the telelever suspension from the 100RT, where braking forces are transferred horizontally to minimising "fork dive", and had paralever suspension too on the shaft drive (presumably made of mahogany), keeping it from movement when braking. In essence, it’s a very forgiving and comfy motorcycle. By the way, just to reiterate a point, it’s worth mentioning that the quarter-tonnage included an empty twenty-five litre tank: if you wanted to add any oil or fuel to the thing, which would be a perfectly reasonable request, it would kick-in almost another thirty kilograms.

Naturally there were sister models to the RT, most notably the R, RS and infamous GS first launched in 1993, all with the same engine but with different tuning, chassis and trim. The Barcalounger version remains unconfirmed. Yet the RT was, and remains, an excellent tourer, with heated grips, ABS and plastic hard-case panniers that flattered to deceive: suffering the inverse-Tardis effect, you’d pack half a bratwurst and a sonic screwdriver only to watch all the space disappear. The six-year run from 1996 to just past the millennium did produce a long-lasting, quality motorcycle that can be plucked from obscurity for as little as a few thousand dollars, albeit one with moon-and-back miles. One of the best threads on the motorcycle can be found here, which echoes the sentiment of the above with the additional caveat that the bike had issues with brakes, wiring and gearbox. And telelever arm. And the shaft drive. And the headlight made from the beleaguered spirit of a very tired glow-worm. Still, it’s upright position and being surrounded by all that fairing made the rider feel mighty commandeering, which you’d expect really given you’re in a roving treehouse.
* the resemblance is uncanny!

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