BMW R12 in test (Baujahr 2024)

What can the new cruiser do with the good old air/oil-cooled boxer?

BMW R12 im TestPhotos:
Since its introduction at the end of 2023, the BMW R12 has been somewhat overshadowed by the R12 nineT. Maybe because it is a little worse equipped, but maybe also because it is more of a cruiser than a roadster. We grabbed a test bike of the R12 and cruised around. Here is our driving report.

Bobber, cruiser or roadster or what?

With the R12 nineT for € 17,410, which is also new, the classification is still quite simple: This is a retro roadster. But the R12 presented here without nineT ? Certainly a retro roadster somewhere, but even more like a cruiser with bobber borrowings. Anyway, we agree on cruisers because of the look and especially because of the rear fender and the solo seat. By the way, our test bike was equipped with the pillion package, hence the seat with pillion seat and passenger footrests. The R12 is available in three colors: black, red and silver. The black version is standard, the red one costs 620 euros extra and the option 719 in "Avus Silver" with milling package and special exhaust system costs a hefty 2,165 euros extra. Leave the money and take the black one, she's the coolest anyway.
Farben BMW R12Three times R12, three times beautiful. We would take the little black dress.
Dimensions and seat test
Not quite as typical for cruisers is the position of the footrests on the R12. Just like the R18 models, these have to be placed in the middle due to the wide boxer cylinders. Casually stretching out your legs far forward is therefore reserved for the US V2 cruisers.
Nevertheless, you somehow also sit casually on the R12: slightly bent over in Quasimodo style, which sounds bad, but feels good. The handlebars are offset towards the rider and the seat height of only 754 mm makes it easy for virtually every rider to get their feet safely on the ground. We noticed that the R12 is quite easy to manoeuvre despite its weight. The overall impression when you get on it: Cool and big bike. The view to the rear is good, so we can start.

Abmessungen BMW R12
That's what it's like to sit on the BMW R12.

360-degree tour of the BMW R12

CockpitLamoen vorneLampen hinten

Technology of the BMW R12

In terms of cockpit, the R12 comes as standard with a beautiful analogue round instrument with an additional LC display. There is also an optional digital display, but we don't want to go into more detail about it here, because in our opinion the analog watch fits much better here.

The standard equipment of the R12 is not bad: There are the two riding modes "Rock" and "Roll" (standard and rain), Keyless Ride, cornering ABS, engine drag control and dynamic traction control. Heated grips, QuickShifter, cruise control and Hill Start Control are also available as options. All together costs 1,010 euros in the comfort package and is probably ordered by 99% of buyers.

The cornering light is also optional, but we think it is dispensable. The series has full LED including daytime running lights and LED turn signals. At the rear, the rear and brake lights are integrated into the turn signals, which we don't think is so great, because you can hardly see the turn signals when braking.

You can further upgrade the R12 with wire wheels, tire pressure monitoring system, connected ride, pillion package, etc. - but please always keep an eye on your account balance!


This is how it drives

The sound of the R12 is a real feast for the ears for us. Only the air/oil-cooled boxer sounds so wonderfully potty, and in our opinion the newer water boxers can't keep up. If you don't believe it: Soundcheck at the top right.
By the way, BMW says about the R12: "You don't have to dream of California. This exciting cruiser brings this unique nonchalance right to your doorstep." Is that true? Let's give it a try, so let's hit the slopes. Does the R12 drive as casually as it looks and as BMW claims?
Yes, it does. As soon as we start up, the Lufti boxer greets us with the pleasant shaking back and forth like from the 60s. The engine is clearly the determining factor for the R12. Everything else works wonderfully, but besides the powerful advance, it seems rather incidental. Although the R12 has "only" 95 hp in the data sheet, it goes off like Schmidt's cat. The power is also more of a minor matter here, it's the torque that counts! And there is plenty of 110 Nm of that at 6,000 rpm. If there is anyone else who has never ridden a machine with this engine: Please do us and yourself a favor and give it a try.
R12 Motor
The air-cooled boxer with unfortunately no longer quite so nice valve covers. Anyway, still a grenade!
On the chassis side, there is nothing to complain about with the R12 either. The R12 drives exactly as you would expect it to. Thanks to the long wheelbase of 1.52 m, it is stable on the plate and does not let anything upset it. The non-adjustable Marzocchi upside-down fork with a 45mm stanchion diameter offers a travel of only 90 mm. The directly articulated monoshock at the rear can be adjusted hydraulically by handwheel in rebound and spring preload, and the spring travel is also only 90 mm.
In veritable potholes, there is also a noticeable blow to the neck, but in normal road conditions, the R12 behaves very comfortably. It is even quite light for a cruiser weighing 227 kilograms. The bulging tires (19 inches at the front, 16 inches at the rear) support the pleasant driving experience, but also ensure that the R12 will not go down in the history books as the new cornering predator from Bavaria. However, it doesn't want to do that at all, because its natural habitat is not the race, but the country road - and rather in casual gentle gear.
Bremsen vorne
Also casual: radially mounted Brembo Monobloc 4-piston fixed calipers with cornering ABS. Brakes great!
If you want to let it burn, rev the engine up to a maximum of 6,000 rpm, after which the thrust decreases. This is also one of the differences to the R12 nineT, which delivers more power on top. But honestly, who wants to torture this beautiful engine like that? If you have done that and a red light appears in the distance, you will be happy about the excellent brakes. At the front, radially mounted Brembo 4-piston Monobloc fixed calipers bite into 310 double discs. Of course, this motorcycle brakes well! And not only is the absolute deceleration right, but the modulation and braking power are also convincing. In addition, there is the well-known BMW Integral Pro brake system, so everything is roger here as well.
Is there nothing to complain about this bike at all? Yes, of course. The footrests were often in my way when standing and the QuickShifter, which was included on our very well-equipped test machine, is still too jerky for me. Please don't come back to me with "You probably didn't understand the function of a QuickShifter..." - yes, I did. And I've ridden a lot of QuickShifters, which can be shifted much smoother. However, the BMW boxer models (also on the GS) stutter even if you stick to the QA rules. To be honest, I would leave out the "Shift Assistant Pro" - as BMW calls it. Saves money and besides, a cruiser doesn't need it either. After all, I want to cruise with it and not set lap records.
BMW gives a three-year warranty on the R12. The service is due every 10,000 or once a year. The following bikes come to mind as competitors: Indian Scout (Bobber), Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster, Honda CMX 1100 Rebel and Harley Davidson Nightster Special. Click on the following link for a comparison.

>>> data comparison BMW R12 vs. Cruiser under 100 hp <<<



The BMW R12 delivers what it promises: casual cruising with the steam of the good old Lufti boxer. You don't notice the difference in performance to the nineT, the box goes off like a fox. It brakes great, feels mature and safe and conveys a lot of driving pleasure. It is not a "real" cruiser á la Harley due to the footrest position, but it brings the rider down and tempts him to glide casually. Wonderful.
The test machine was provided to us by Bergmann & Söhne in Pinneberg for this test. The R12 will be there as a demonstrator and is happy to have test drivers. If you want to make a direct comparison with the also new R12 nineT - it is also there as a demonstrator. So, off we go to Pinneberg, book two test drives. Bring full of desire!

Price/availability/colours/years of manufacture

  • Price: 14.460€
  • Availability: since 03/2024
  • Colors: red, black, silver

Zubehör für die

  • Moneta
  • Polo
  • Amazon

Pro & Kontra

  • magnificent engine with steam
  • potty boxer sound
  • very good quality impression
  • very good brakes
  • chilled cruising along is just as possible as sporty acceleration
  • QuickShifter stutters
  • Footrests get in the way when stationary
  • Turn signal integration in the rear light
Von unserem Team geprüft:


14.460 €


2,200 mm
1,110 mm
430 kg
Ab. Weight
227 kg
754 mm
1,520 mm

Driving Performance & Range

Tank contents
14 l
5.1 l
275 km
203 km/h

Motor & Power Transmission

Engine design
Air/oil-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke boxer engine with two overhead camshafts
Number of cylinders
1,170 cc
101 mm
73 mm
95 hp
110 NM
Number of gears

Suspension & Brakes

Lattice tube frame
Suspension front
Upside-down fork, diameter 45 mm
90 mm
Strut rear
directly articulated, displacement-dependent damped central shock absorber, adjustable spring base, adjustable rebound damping
90 mm
Suspension rear
Aluminum cast single-arm swingarm
Brakes in front
Dual disc brake, floating discs, 4-piston monobloc radial caliper
310 mm
Tyres at the front
100/90 R19
Brakes rear
Single disc brake, 2-piston floating caliper
Rear tyres
150/80 R16
BMW Motorrad Integral ABS Pro (Semi-Integral)