25 Years of BMW K-Series.
The Inline-Engine BMW.
Just how much development margin and what a great
potential this new concept offers in the K-Series
is subsequently borne out not only by the new K 1200
R High-Performance Roadster based on the new sports
model, but also by the K 1200 GT High Performance
Increasing engine size on these models and introducing
new, innovative solutions, BMW Motorrad is now opening
up another, defi nitely equally successful chapter
in the history of the Company’s K models.
K 100 (1983–1990).
The K 100 launched in 1983 – exactly six decades
after the launch of the very fi rst BMW motorcycle
with its Boxer engine – is BMW’s fi rst
production model with a four-cylinder power unit.
But instead of following the usual Japanese concept
with the straight-four engine fi tted crosswise, BMW
once again takes a new and unusual approach: Featuring
liquid-cooling and not air-cooling like most other
production motorcycles, the four-cylinder power unit
is fitted fl at in longitudinal direction as a load-bearing
element in the tubular steel
spaceframe, with the transmission of power from the
gearbox to the rear wheel remaining in a technology
so typical and well-proven at BMW: through a drive
The K 100 is one of the fi rst production motorcycles
in the world to feature fuel injection (Bosch LE-Jetronic)
supplying the fuel/air mixture to the 987-cc four-cylinder
with two valve-operated cup tappets per cylinder.
Two other innovations in the production of BMW series
machines are the two overhead camshafts as well as
the Monolever single-swing arm on these dynamic 1000-cc
BMW’s first-ever four-cylinder is upgraded
in 1987, a free-standing headlight taking the place
of the former headlight/instrument unit, a black-painted
engine and painted rims as well as a dynamically style
combination marking the most important differences.
As before, engine output is 90 hp at 8,000 rpm.
K 100 RS (1983–1989).
Introducing the K 100 RS, BMW adds a sports model
to the existing range with the same engine and suspension
technology, but now featuring a carefully designed
aerodynamic fairing. The handlebar fi tted lower down
provides a more sporting seat position, the fairing
carefully developed in the wind tunnel, together with
its adjustable wind defl ector and the direction indicators
integrated in the rear mirrors, combining a sporting
look for high speeds with all the grand touring comfort
so typical of a BMW.
The Two-Valve Models as of 1983.
For a long time the K 100 RS remains the ideal synthesis
of sportiness and touring comfort and, with a production
run of more than 34,000 units, becomes the best-selling
model in the first generation of the K-Series.
BMW offers the K 100 RS as well as the other four-cylinder
models in the K-Series as of 1988 with ABS as a special
feature, thus taking on the leading role in introducing
this technology in the motorcycle world.
K 100 RT (1984–1989).
In 1984 BMW Motorrad launches the ultimate Grand
Touring Machine, the K 100 RT based on the K 100 RS.
Featuring the same engine and suspension technology
as the RS, this new model combines a sporting and
dynamic style of riding with perfect protection from
wind and weather on long distances provided by the
higher and wider full fairing. The comfortable seating
position enjoyed by both the rider and pillion as
well as a wide range of BMW options and special equipment
comprising, for example, baggage cases, a tank rucksack
or heated handles, quickly make the K 100 RT the benchmark
in its segment.
K 100 LT (1986–1991).
In 1986 BMW launches a luxury version of the successful
K 100 RT, the new K 100 LT. The response to this Grand
Touring machine also featuring a generously upholstered
comfort seat, a radio, topcase and special paintwork
is so overwhelming that the K 100 LT soon outsells
the K 100 RT “basic” model in the market.
The new machine leaves virtually nothing to be desired
in terms of comfort and features, making this Luxury
Tourer the role model for a whole new generation of
extravagant touring machines.
K 75 C/K 75 (1985 – 1996).
Two years after the launch of the K-Series with
its four-cylinder power unit, BMW broadens the new
product line through the introduction of the K 75
C with a straight-three engine. While the suspension
and running gear is based almost entirely on the innovative
technology of the large four-cylinder, the 740-cc
power unit is a brand-new construction nevertheless
following the basic layout of the four-cylinder very
Again fitted lengthwise and in flat arrangement
as a load-bearing element in the spaceframe, this
liquid-cooled three-cylinder with 67 millimetres/2.63“
cylinder bore and 70 millimetres/2.76“ stroke
comes with the same basic specfications as the larger
The drive shaft positioned beneath the crankshaft
gives the three-cylinder particular smoothness and
refinement also thanks to the balance weights used
on the shaft. Developing maximum output of 75 hp on
total weight with a full tank of 227 kg/501 lb, the
K 75 C stands out above all as a particularly agile
motorcycle for country roads, without requiring the
rider to give up the grand touring comfort so typical
of a BMW.
Just one year after the launch of the K 75, the
customer is given the choice of a new alternative,
the K 75 C with its cockpit fairing fitted firmly
to the handlebar. Now the headlight and instruments
are now longer integrated in the cockpit fairing,
but rather stand out freely on the machine, with the
rear drum brake in combination with the 18-inch rear
wheel being replaced as of 1990 by a disc brake and
a 17-inch rear wheel.
The engine finished in black and the dynamically
designed fuel tank/seat combination serve to further
upgrade the K 75. Accounting for approximately 28,000
units, the two “basic” versions of the
K 75 become the most
successful representatives of their model series.
K 75 S (1985–1995).
Introducing the K 75 S, BMW adds a sporting sister
model to the K 75 C. While the suspension and drivetrain
are based on the innovative technology of the K 75
C, the slender semi-shell bearing fitted firmly to
the frame clearly reveals the sporting character of
the motorcycle right from the beginning.
The K 75 S therefore also comes with a firmer spring/damper
set-up featuring shorter spring travel and a 17-inch
rear wheel with a disc brake instead of the full-hub
drum brake on the basic model.
The K 75 S Special launched in 1986 boasts an engine
spoiler introduced as a standard feature in 1988.
As of 1990 the K 75 S, like all other three-cylinders,
is likewise available with ABS. And starting in the
1991 model year, three-spoke light-alloy wheels take
the place of the eight-spoke cast wheels used so far.
K 75 RT (1989–1996).
In 1989 BMW carries over the successful concept
of the K 100 RT to the three-cylinder model series,
thus creating the K 75 RT. On this new model the sophisticated
aerodynamic full fairing offers outstanding protection
from wind and weather on long distances, while the
wide range of optional extras and special equipment
so typical of BMW leaves nothing to be desired also
on the Tourer with its three-cylinder power unit.
On 18 March 1991 a K 75 RT comes off the production
lines at BMW as the one-millionth model built by BMW
Introducing two special models, the K 75 RT Ultima
and the K 75 Ultima, each in special paintwork, with
ABS, a catalytic converter and case holders, BMW finally
ceases production of the three-cylinder model series
in summer 1996 after a total production volume of
the K 75 amounting to 68, 011 units.
In 1988 the K1 sets another milestone in the history
of the BMW K-Series. Apart from its brand-new design
and aerodynamics concept remaining unique in the motorcycle
world to this day, the K1 is BMW’s first production
motorcycle with four-valve technology, small valve
angles, and extremely advanced design of the combustion
The greater cylinder charge achieved in this way
is reflected by the extra power of the engine, the
K1 developing maximum output of 100 hp at 8,000 rpm
– more than any other BMW before.
Featuring new Bosch Motronic fuel injection, 17-inch
wheels and ABS, the K1 also sets new highlights in
technology, one example being the Paralever double-joint
rear wheel swing arm introduced a year before on the
R 100 GS and effectively preventing drive forces from
the drive shaft and any undesired effects of this
kind on the rear-wheel suspension.
The K1 is also the world’s first production
machine to feature a fully-controlled three-way catalytic
converter, making a significant contribution to environmental
protection and subsequently introduced step-by-step
on all BMW motorcycles as of 1991.
Production of the K1 ends in 1993 with the special
K 100 RS (1989–1992).
The innovative four-valve technology introduced
on the K1 with its engine output of 100 hp makes its
way back into the market in 1989 in the highly successful
K 100 RS. While the combination of the fuel tank and
seat as well as the fairing with direction indicators
integrated in the rear-view mirrors corresponds to
the former model, the new K 100 RS, like the K1, benefits
form new 17-inch wheels, larger brakes, and the Paralever
single-swing arm at the rear.
K 1100 LT (1991–1999).
In 1991 BMW presents yet another milestone in the
history of the K-Series through the introduction of
the K 1100 LT, the first BMW to displace more than
1,000 cc: an increase in cylinder bore from 67 to
70.5 millimetres (2.63 to 2.78”) gives the engine
105 cc more capacity, the upgraded K
A factor far more important on the road than the
increase in maximum output by 10 hp over the former
model is the signficant increase in torque. Offering
a lot more traction and pulling power, the K 1100
LT is even more superior on the road and for a long
time represents the topmost level in the Luxury Tourer
market. This is also borne out clearly by the fundamentally
upgraded suspension with its Paralever single-swing
arm effectively keeping out any undesired disturbance
from the drivetrain and thus ensuring even greater
comfort and riding smoothness.
Another important feature offered by the K 1100
LT for the first time is the electrically adjustable
windshield. Newly developed cases and a special topcase,
finally, round off the well-conceived range of touring
features again so typical of BMW.
Launching the K 1100 LT Highline in 1997, BMW Motorrad
introduces a special model highlighting the luxurious
claim of this supreme Tourer by sophisticated chrome
components and equally outstanding special paintwork.
K 1100 RS (1992–1996).
Just one year after introduction of the large four-cylinder
in the K 1100 LT, the same 100-hp power unit is featured
in the LT’s sporting sister model, the K 1100
RS. The newly designed fairing with its lower section
encompassing the engine ensures even better aerodynamic
qualities and once again optimises the protection
of wind and weather so typical of BMW.
A new Marzocchi telescopic fork as well as the firmer
suspension set-up gives this sporting all-rounder
even greater dynamic qualities.
A particularly sophisticated special model, the
K 1100 RS with its polished immersion tube, black-painted
tank and upper fairing, as well as distinctive elements
fi nished in silver such as the cooling air intake,
the lower section of the fairing and the rear fairing,
give this special model a very particular touch.
K 1200 RS (1996–2005).
The K 1200 RS launched in autumn 1996 takes yet
another step in terms of engine size and driving dynamics.
A new crankshaft now offering 75 instead of 70 millimetres
(2.95 instead of 2.75”) stroke increases engine
capacity by exactly 79 cc to 1,171 cc, with power
up from 100 to 130 hp at 8,750 rpm.
The new six-speed gearbox ensures even more dynamic
performance and the brand-new suspension clearly refl
ects the sporting style of this new top-end model.
For the first time the K 1200 RS features a light-alloy
bridge frame integrating the four-cylinder power unit
no longer as a load-bearing element, but rather as
a detached unit not conveying any vibration to the
The K 1200 RS is the first model in the K-Series
to feature the unique frontwheel Telelever originally
introduced on the R 1100 RS in 1993. Individual ergonomic
preferences, finally, are taken into account by the
option to adjust the handlebar, the windshield, the
footrests and the seat (for height).
K 1200 LT (1998–2008).
Two years after the introduction of the K 1200 RS,
BMW presents a particularly luxurious Tourer in the
guise of the K 1200 LT, leaving all conventional standards
and models far behind. Based on the suspension and
engine technology of the K 1200 RS, the K 1200 LT
also features a new light-alloy bridge frame as well
as an increase in capacity to 1,171 cc.
Offering maximum output of 98 hp at just 6,750 rpm
and peak torque of 115 Newton-metres (85 lb-ft) at
a low 4,750 rpm, the K 1200 LT is designed less for
peak performance than rather for supreme torque and
Hence, it only needs a five-speed gearbox for superior
touring in genuine style.
Apart from the full fairing offering perfect protection
from wind and weather, as well as cases integrated
in the overall design and layout of the machine and
a topcase offering a total capacity of 120 litres,
the K 1200 LT, with its HiFi player, on-board computer,
cruise control, heated handles and optionally heated
seat offers touring comfort of a standard never seen
This wide range of equipment explains the signficant
overall weight of 378 kg or 833 lb, which BMW also
takes into account by adding a reverse gear for practical
manoeuvring activated electrically by the starter
The K 1200 LT is further upgraded in the 2004 model
year, now benefiting from an even more powerful engine
with 116 hp and 120 Newton-metres (88 lb-ft) maximum
torque, an electrohydraulically activated main stand
and a rear spring element with travel-dependent damping.
To this day, the K 1200 Lt comes right at the top
of this market segment.
K 1200 GT (2002–2005).
The K 1200 GT makes its debut in 2002 as an enhanced
variant of the K 1200 RS giving even greater emphasis
to touring comfort. Boasting 130 hp maximum output,
featuring a higher windshield and handlebar, optimised
seating comfort and a case system fitted as standard,
the K 1200 GT is even more of a genuine Gran Turismo,
redefining the synthesis of sporting riding dynamics
and supreme touring comfort in BMW’s usual style
and quality. The outstanding aerodynamic benefits
offered by the full fairing ensure not only optimum
protection from wind and weather, but also, in conjunction
with a powerful engine, guarantee high average speeds
on long distances.
K 1200 S (2004–2008).
The K 1200 S makes its entry into the market in
2004 as a radically new and highly innovative Sports
Machine standing out as a unique model within the
K-family. With its brand-new straight-four now fitted
crosswise and displacing 1,157 cc, the K 1200 S has
no predecessor and no role model in the history of
BMW Motorrad, but is rather brand-new in every respect.
The technical highlights of this 167-hp Sports Machine
are the very sloped angle of the cylinder bank tilted
55o to the front to provide a low centre of gravity
as well as innovative suspension technology with the
BMW EVO Paralever and the BMW Duolever at the front.
On the BMW Duolever, the square set-up of arms consisting
of two longitudinal arms pivoting within the frame
guides the wheel bearings and thus allows appropriate
The K 1200 S combines supreme riding precision and
agility with a standard of engine power and riding
performance that leaves nothing to be desired.
As an option BMW even offers ESA (Electronic Suspension
Adjustment) on the K 1200 S for the first time in
series production, electronically controlled suspension
operated at the touch of a button. This allows the
rider to adjust the suspension and damping individually
to his personal style and the load the machine is
K 1200 R (2004–2008).
Launching the high-performance K 1200 R Roadster,
BMW enters the segment of high-power Naked Bikes for
the first time in 2004. Based on the K 1200 S, the
new K 1200 R benefi ts from the straight-four engine
with dry sump lubrication as well as innovative suspension
technology with the BMW Duolever at the front and
the BMW EVO Paralever at the rear.
Developing 163 hp at 10, 250 rpm, the K 1200 R is
almost as powerful as the sports model with its special
fairing, immediately moving to the top in the Naked
The new Roadster also bears out its superior performance
through the special look of this new machine. Special
body elements around the tank and rear end as well
as the striking dual headlight with its surface finished
in matt chrome
Fitted with racing tyres, carbon trim and other
motorsport components, the K 1200 R hits the headlines
in the BMW Motorrad Power Cup held on the occasion
of the MotoGP races in 2005.
K 1200 GT (2006–2008).
Following the success of its predecessor of the
same name, the K 1200 GT opens up new dimension in
riding dynamics and long-distance touring in 2006,
combining maximum agility and dynamics in an overall
package equally well suited for superior touring.
To reach this objective the development engineers
at BMW Motorrad carry over the trendsetting suspension
and engine technology of the K 1200 S into this new
Sports Tourer, the innovative wheel guidance components
– the Duolever and the EVO Paralever at the
rear – making a signifi cant contribution to
the very dynamic riding qualities of the K 1200 GT.
The new machine is powered by BMW Motorrad’s
ultra-modern straight-four power unit fitted crosswise
in the machine and developing 152 hp in the GT version,
setting the benchmark in the Tourer segment at the
time. Indeed, no other manufacturer in the market
emphasises dynamic performance more than BMW with
the new K 1200 GT.
A comparison with the former model also reveals
the most significant improvements offered by the new
machine: the new K 1200 GT is more powerful (output
+ 17%), develops more torque (+ 11%), offers a longer
theoretical range (+ 17%) and, at the same time, is
lighter (– 6%), but is nevertheless able to
carry a higher load (+ 19%).
K 1200 R Sport (2007–2008).
With its semi-fairing bolted firmly on to the frame,
the headlight unit carried over from the R 1200 S
and its handlebar detached to prevent the transmission
of vibrations, the K 1200 R Sport from BMW Motorrad
is positioned between the naked K 1200 R and the fully-fairing
K 1200 S.
In the style of a genuine Naked Bike, the K 1200
R Sport offers a free view of the impressive suspension
and engine components. And at the same time the range
of practical use provided by the new machine is much
larger than before, signifi cantly better wind protection
allowing the rider to cover longer distances at a
high speed, while the upright seating position and
the wide handlebar guarantee maximum agility on sporting
country roads and tours.