If your liquid-cooled BMW R 1200 RT tips over, contact with terra firma gets expensive. The valve covers and panniers stick out, and damage from parts gouged or broken due to impact quickly runs into four figures. Ouch. Engine bars that protect the jugs are common on boxer-equipped Beemers, but bars to protect the panniers are also available.
BMW parts and accessories supplier Wunderlich America offers pannier protection bars plus a large assortment of made-in-Germany products specifically designed to protect the new generation RT. This review covers three that focus on the panniers: Rear Protection Bars, Case Protection Set and Bag Reflector Set.
Rear Protection Bars are manufactured from precision-formed, seamless steel tubing. Installed, they’re slightly wider than the panniers to help prevent the panniers from striking the ground in a tip-over. Pannier operation and removal/installation is not affected. Rider and passenger retain a full range of movement. The bars provide great leverage for lifting the bike onto the centerstand, helpful if your RT is laden for a trip. They’re also a sturdy lashing point and handy for mounting a camera.
Installation was straightforward, which is good as the instructions provided by fabricator Hepco & Becker include one illustration that’s reversed and another that’s upside down. You’ll figure it out. Hint: tighten and torque the adapter plate bolts before attaching the bars.
Though not a “quick release” design, removing each bar involves just three bolts once the adapter plate is bolted behind the footrest sub-frame. If you’re taking a ride without the panniers, you can remove the bars in a few minutes so they aren’t sticking out in the breeze with no panniers to protect.
Rear Protection Bars are available in silver or black powdercoat or chrome plated. All mounting hardware is included.
Wunderlich America’s Case Protection Set includes precut, clear 3M film sheets that protect the panniers’ painted surfaces from scratches and scuffs. The kit includes three pieces for each pannier, a spray bottle for soap solution that helps you position the panels, and a squeegee to remove air bubbles. The supplied directions were in German, but a call to Wunderlich America had English instructions in my email straightaway. It’s not hard to install these film sheets, but for best results heed that grandmotherly lesson, “Patience is a virtue.” Once in place they’re so close to invisible I couldn’t get them to show up in photographs.
Another way to protect panniers is with improved conspicuity. Wunderlich America’s Bag Reflector Set includes a pair of peel-and-stick 3M Scotchlite adhesive film panels, precut to fit the pannier’s black inboard rear panel. The Scotchlite panels are also black so they’re nearly invisible until light shines on them. Then they reflect bright white, increasing the distance your bike can be seen at night from vehicles behind you. Yes, you could use those red and white reflector strips that go on semi-trailers, but these Wunderlich reflectors stay invisible until needed, retaining the RT’s elegant look, in case that matters to you.
For more information: Visit wunderlichamerica.com.
(This Gearlab review was published in the June 2015 issue of Rider magazine.)