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BMW K1300R

Buyer guide: BMW K 1300 R

by Guy 'Guido' Allen, Mar 2021

BMW K1300R

Munich Muscle

BMW’s first pukka ratbag bike is worth a punt

Over a period of several years, Muggins had been through that corner around 1100 times on/in various transports of delight. And none of them had featured a cop. So the one time I got a flash of adrenaline and heeled the K 1300 R through the turn in a fit of enthusiasm, the world turned blue and red. Fan-bloody-tastic. That little exercise saw me walking for a month or so. It was almost worth it…

Never mind, it just helped to cement the then freshly-released K 1300 R in the memory as a huge amount of fun. In my view, this was BMW’s first-ever muscle bike that was worthy of the title. Yes, I know there was an earlier 1200 version, but it lacked the animal edge of the thirteen.

BMW K1300R

Okay, so what’s under the paint? The 2009 media release had this to say about the model: “The K 1300 R Power Roadster is a high-performance riding machine offering a perfect blend of performance, riding safety and technical features carried over from the K 1300 S. So while the drivetrain and running gear are carried over from the K 1300 S, they have been modified in this case to meet the particular requirements of a large-capacity naked bike.

“The most significant and outstanding considerations in developing the K 1300 R were indeed to offer the rider supreme riding pleasure combined with equally outstanding safety on the road as well as the most sophisticated design features and an extroverted, masculine look.”

At the heart of the monster is BMW’s laid-forward inline four – it’s second-gen multi platform and a far less stodgy effort than the original longitudinal K-series design. For once a manufacturer avoided the temptation to heavily detune the performance engine in the premium machine (the K 1300 S in this case) just because it was being bolted into a naked bike. Here we’re talking a claimed 173 horses (yep, that’s a lot) versus 175 for the S.

Impressively, that power was not only up around 10 over the 1200, but was developed a little lower in the rev range. Torque was also up and, to complete the whole ‘omygawd’ experience at the right wrist, the gearing was lowered a little.

BMW K1300R

The result? Bike magazine in the UK got a 2.81sec 0-100km/h time out of it, just beating a Suzuki B-king.

Backing up the engine is a conventional six-speed transmission feeding through a wet multi-plate clutch. No complaints there, while the Paralever rear end is well-tried, causes no handling complaints, and is a welcome low-maintenance feature.

The odd body work over the front end hid or protected a late version of the marque's Duolever alternative (aka Hossack) to a conventional fork, essentially a twin wishbone set-up with a single shock. Though it 'talked' to the rider a little differently to a fork, It worked well in this application.

(Just as an aside, age and mileage will eventually be something to consider with a Duolever, as there are a number of pivots/bearings which may require a freshen-up.)

On the long, long, list of options on these machines was an electronic shifter. It worked on the upshifts only and was a super-slick operation that required no throttle or clutch input from the rider. I’d have it any day.

BMW K1300R

Since we’ve got into electronics, it’s worth mentioning that you’ll find these machines in a wild array of spec. The very first ones had ABS as optional, but that feature was later made standard. Non-ABS bikes will be rare. Performance of the brakes was good and there was a semi-linked feature from day one. That means you get a bit of rear brake when you use the front, but rear only if you use the foot pedal.

You could also opt for traction control and electronic suspension adjustment. The latter may seem like a gimmick, but wasn’t, offering a limited number of options that could be dialed in on the fly, that actually worked. Suspension rates were well-chosen, offering decent comfort while keeping the not inconsiderable weight under control.

Sadly the cruise control available on the GT version wasn’t on this model, though heated handgrips were standard.

More gadgets? Well, you could also order an on-board trip computer, tyre pressure monitor and an onboard theft alarm.

BMW launched this machine as part of a package of three that included the S sports-tourer and the GT tourer, all very capable machines. For the local event, we got to ride them on the road and around Phillip Island circuit. I subsequently got to keep an R for a week or two.

Just to confuse the story even further, you could also order an SE variant. This had the trip computer as standard, a sports screen, plus a different wheel package with a wider rear tyre.

BMW K1300R

This is one of the uglier motorcycles BMW has ever designed, which is saying something as I swear there’s an ongoing bet in the company to see who can get away with the most out-there styling exercise. Funny thing is, though, I reckon this is one of those cases where looks only a mother could love kind of works. It gives the R a purposeful air, which it can back up in spades.

Though a big and heavy motorcycle (which actually works in its favour over a long haul) the R is a serious performance bike. Good braking and suspension allow you to bundle it into a corner pretty effectively, with a medium tip-in speed and very predictable manners. Acceleration is super strong. Riding one is a big happy experience.

There were some reliability issues at first. The combined kill/starter switch wasn’t up to scratch on early examples and was generally replaced under warranty. Also, the cable from the battery to starter motor wasn’t quite up to the job and was replaced with a heavier gauge item.

Beyond that you will hear some niggles around mid-range noise and vibration – fairly high frequency in the 3500-4000rpm range. I can’t say it ever bothered me, but you will hear some chatter on the web about it. It’s one of things that people obsess over and I’m not hearing of any serious consequences.

This is one of those machines which you buy now to enjoy, with maybe a thought towards hanging on to it. Used values on motorcycles follow a well-known pattern: they plummet from new, eventually bottom out and, in some cases, start to rise. At the moment the R values are still on the downhill run and it will be some time before they become a collectible. Nevertheless I’m confident they eventually will.

In the meantime, you will have a motorcycle that is enormous fun to ride and should prove to be robust. Just watch out for those cops…


What about the K1200 R?
Much of what we’ve said here also applies to the earlier 1200, built 2005-2008. The reason we’ve concentrated on the 1300 is it’s the ultimate expression of the concept and better delivers on the whole ‘muscle bike’ promise.

The differences on the later machine include more power and torque, shorter gearing and altered frame geometry compared to the 1200.

Which isn’t to say you should ignore the earlier bike. Many will appreciate the somewhat gentler manners and they offer decent value. About $8-9k will get a very good one.

Good/bad K 1300 R

Heaps of fun
Lots of safety nets

Not so good
Bye-bye licence
Complex design

You want fries with that?
BMW offered a baffling array of add-ons and options to the K 1300 R and the upmarket SE variant. Here they are for the standard bike, from the 2009 media pack.

BMW K 1300 R
Standard Equipment:
Heated Grips
LED indicators
Factory Options:
Traction package (TPC, ABS, ASC)
Integral ABS (switchable)
Electronic Suspension Adjustment II (ESA)
Gearshift Assistant
Sports package
(incl. Sports wheels, OBC, Sports windshield)
Anti theft alarm system
Automatic Stability Control (ASC)
Tyre Pressure Control (TPC)
Sports wheels
On board Computer
Sports windshield (tinted)
Luggage grid
Comfort seat (not with low seat)
Low seat (approx 790mm - std 820mm)

BMW K 1300 R


TYPE: Liquid-cooled, four-valves-per-cylinder, inline four angled forward at 55 degrees
CAPACITY: 1298cc

BORE & STROKE: 80 x 64.3mm


FUEL SYSTEM: Digital fuel injection


TYPE: Six-speed, constant-mesh, 

FINAL DRIVE: Paralever shaft


FRAME TYPE: Alloy bridge with engine as a stressed member
FRONT SUSPENSION: Duolever with central strut, 155mm travel
REAR SUSPENSION: Paralever with integral shaft, single strut, 135mm travel
FRONT BRAKE: 320mm disc with four-piston caliper, integral ABS
REAR BRAKE: 265mm disc with two-piston caliper, integral ABS


DRY/WET WEIGHT: 217/243kg

SEAT HEIGHT: 820/790mm


FRONT: 17 x 3.5-inch cast alloy with 120/70 ZR17 tyre
REAR: 17 x 5.5-inch cast alloy with 180/55 ZR17 tyre (190/55 ZR17 on SE)


POWER: 127kW @ 9250
TORQUE: 140Nm (29.5lb-ft) at 8250rpm

PRICE: new – Au$21,990 ride away; used – mid-teens for a good one
WARRANTY: 24 months, unlimited kilometres

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