The BMW Montana From The Leather Bagged Cruiser Comparison

A closer look at a Beemer bagger

BMW Montana
The BMW had responsive steering, but unfortunately bumps did not bode too well with the suspension.Dean Groover

This article was originally published in the August 2001 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser.

Since its inception, BMW's R1200C has made waves in cruiserland. The non-standard styling has enamored many riders while the traditionalists have expressed disgust. Regardless, the touring member of the R1200 family continues to march to a different drummer.

Although this class is usually defined by soft bags, we’ve elected to include the Montana even though it has hard, locking bags. Why? Well, since the bags are covered with leather and offer a similar level of weather protection to traditional soft leather bags, we feel the Montana’s luggage resides closer to the leather set than true hard baggers. The storage space offered by these bags is relatively small. Unloading the bike is as simple as opening the bags and throwing a latch. The bags even feature handles. The spiffy chromed saddlebag stays adorn the fender when it’s uncovered.

BMW Montana
Although the R1200C wasn't equipped with soft bags, like the others in our comparison, it is still suits our storing needs.Dean Groover

The broad saddle is complemented by a roomy passenger perch. Not only is the pillion comfortable, but also it adds to the bike’s good looks with its chrome accents. As an additional feature, the brake light is reflected in the passenger seat’s chrome for conspicuity. With any other manufacturer, we’d say this was coincidence, but since it wears a BMW logo….

The Montana's windshield earned praise from riders who cursed BMW's accessory screen last year. The new item is shorter, wider and more classically styled. The fact that it offers better wind protection is a plus. Although we never tried them on this trip, the Montana also sports heated handgrips! Cruiser enthusiasts in chilly climes should take notice of this.

Riding the R1200 was a joy. The 1170cc engine was surprisingly peppy, winning the roll-on battles. Although one would think the 101 x 73mm bore and stroke would produce a nice exhaust note, the muffler effectively neuters the tones emanating from the engine. However, we don’t have any complaints about the brakes. The ABS controlled calipers grip 12.0-inch floating front rotors and an 11.2-inch rear disc. Stops were powerful and predictable.

BMW Montana
A closer look at the Beemer's 1170cc engine.Dean Groover

The Beemer’s handling was a good news/bad news proposition. The responsive steering begged for faster corner entries, while the suspension was willing to go along for the ride as long as the pavement was smooth. Bumps sent the Montana gyrating from excessive rebound.

The Montana’s performance helped it to tie for second place with the Victory Deluxe. Throw in an aftermarket shock, and the R1200 would claim the place—provided you’re not offended by non-traditional styling.

High Points
Responsive engine
Quick steering
Unique styling
Low Points
Small bags
Boingy rear suspension
Unique styling
First Change
Replace the rear shock
BMW Montana
Suggested base price: $15,990
Wet weight: 608 lb.
GVWR: 990 lb.
Seat height: 29.1 in.
Fuel capacity: 4.5 gal.
Fuel mileage: 42 to 46 mpg, 44.0 mpg avg.
Average range: 198 miles
Engine type: Air/oil-cooled, horizontally opposed twin
Final drive: Shaft, 2.54:1
Front suspension: BMW Telelever, 5.7 in. travel
Rear suspension: Single damper, 3.9 in. travel, adjustable for preload
Wheels: Wire spoke, 2.5 x 18.0 in. front, 4.0 x 15.0 in. rear
Quarter-mile acceleration: 13.72 sec, 95.1 mph