BMW R100rt vs. BMW R1100rt: what are their similarities and differences?

The BMW R100RT vs. BMW R1100RT battle is often between fantastic performance and building over classic looks and rich history.

BMW R100RT was an alteration of the BMW R100RS to be the first touring version of any sports bike the company ever produced. Little know this, but before the BMW R100RT, you had to buy a motorcycle and pimp it with aftermarket fairing. The BMW R1100RT came in much later after decades of various alterations to the R100RT series resulting in a more agile and better-performing beast.

This article will focus on the BMW R100RT vs. BMW R1100RT key differences in design, build, reliability, performance, life-span, and price.



BMW R100RT History

In the last few years of the 1970s, BMW was struggling in keeping up with the Japanese manufacturers who were constantly innovating and coming up with excellent sports bikes, whereas BMW was still crawling behind. The company began to restructure itself, and management was changed to usher in a new age of bikes.
Owing to the success of the widely popular R100RS, which was the first faired sports bike, the company commissioned the new management to create a touring version of the R100RS. This bold move allowed BMW to curve itself into a unique niche in the market that had not existed before. The creation of the BMW R100Rt in 978 made it the first-ever touring bike, a title that is often mistaken to belong to the Suzuki GS850 and the Moto Guzzi Spada.


The differences between the R100RT and R100RS, apart from the hundreds of dollars price difference, are the more elaborate fairing, height of the windscreen, the hue of its cast wheels, and its Krauser-BMW saddlebags.
The original R100RT came with the big-valve engine used in the R100RS. A massive fairing (massive was this fairing that the bike came with small circular ventilator valves for regulating the cooling breeze) and wider handlebars. The power it produced was plenty at the time but low according to today’s standards. Its top speed was knocked down by the huge fairing used to about 10 mph as compared to the R100RS.

BMW R100RT Engine

The machine consisted of a 980 cc four-stroke engine with a two-cylinder horizontally opposed boxer and two valves per cylinder. It reached a top speed of 126 mph, but later alteration models bumped it up a bit. The bike boasted a maximum power of 70 horsepower / 51 KW at 7000 rpm and maximum torque of 56 lb-ft / 76 Nm at 6000 rpm.
The bike was air-cooled, used a five-speed manual transmission, die-cast aluminum wheels, dual exhaust, little luggage rack, half-fairing with an adjustable windscreen, dual front disc brakes a central stand.

R100RT went through several alterations resulting in the production modified series during its life-span. These alterations were minor, meant to make the bike more agile and comfortable for long riding periods. They include;
1981 R100RT
1982 R100RT
1983 R100RT
1984 R100RT
1995 R100RT



The R1100RT line-up was built between 1996 and 2001 in the BMW Berlin plant in Spandau. This model was the successor of the R100RT and was made alongside other sister models of equivalent overall design such as the R1100GS, R1100R, and R1100RS.

As a successor, several changes were made to make it better than the BMW R100RT, these included;
– Massive changes to the full fairing.
– An increase in maximum power was produced from 70 horsepower to 90 horsepower.
– The capacity of the bike was increased from 980 cc to 1085 cc.
– The compression ratio was increased from 9.5:1 to 10.7:1.
– The top speed achieved by the R1100RT was 131.11 mph as compared to 126 mph for the R100RT.
– An anti-locking braking system.
– A regulated 3-way catalytic converter.
The R1100RT was a better performer than the R100RT. The 1100RT was later decommissioned and replaced by the R1150RT.

Specification table

 BMW r100rtBMW r1100rt
Production Year1978 - 19961996 – 2001
Engine4 stroke, 2 cylinder horizontally opposed boxer, two valves per cylinder4 stroke, 2 cylinders horizontally opposed boxer, four valves per cylinder
Capacity980 cc1085 cc
Maximum Power70 horsepower / 51 KW at 7000 rpm90 horsepower / 67.1 kW at 7250 rpm
Maximumspeed126 mph / 203 kph131.11 mph / 211 kph
Maximum torque56 lb-ft / 76 Nm at 6000 rpm69 lb-ft / 95 Nm at 5500 rpm
Transmission5 speed, sequential manual transmission5 speed, sequential manual transmission
ClutchDry single plate with spring diaphragmDry single plate operated by cable
Final driveShaftShaft
Wheelbase1465 mm / 57.67 inches1485 mm / 58.5 inches
Front Brake2 x 260 mm diameter discs with 2 piston calipers2 x 305 mm diameter discs with 4 piston calipers

Overview Comparison:

Design comparison

BMW R100RT came with a 3.25 H-19 front tire and 4.00 H-18 rear tire, while the R1100RT went with a 120/70-ZR17 front tire and 160/60-ZR18 rear tire. In the R1100RT, deceleration and eventual stoppage were done by 2 x 305 mm diameter discs with 4 piston calipers on the front brake and a single 276 mm disc and 2 piston calipers on the rear brake. This is larger compared to those in the R100Rt, which used 2 x 260 mm diameter discs with 2 piston calipers on the front brake and Simplex 299 mm diameter drum on the rear brake.

Another difference came in the type of suspension used. The R1100RT featured a front suspension equipped with a Telelever and a rear suspension packed with a Paralever. The R100RT, on the other hand, came with a telescopic fork front suspension and dual adjustable shocks for the rear suspension. The fuel tank capacity of the R100RT was 6.3 gallons / 24 liters compared to the 6.1 gallons / 23 liters on the successor.

A significant specification for bikes is the weight. The R1100RT is the heavier one considering all the components are added and the added features’ weight. It weighs around 622 lbs / 256 kg, a significant weight compared to the 515 lbs. / 234 kg on the R100RT.

The R1100RT was so compact and agile that it just begged you to ride it by just looking at it. It featured a low center of gravity and short wheelbase (58.5 inches) close enough to its predecessor, which had a wheelbase of 57.67 inches.

Standard features for the R1100RT included a steel frame, sizeable adjustable windscreen, dual seat, die-cast aluminum wheels, on top of which BMW added a digital and analog instrument cluster.

Main Differences

The main differences start showing up in the engine composition and performance, the R1100RT being the better performer. It comes with a maximum power of 90 horsepower, 20 more than the 70-horsepower produced by the R100RT. R1100RT engine capacity is at 1085 cc, a significant increase of 105 cc. It also has a compression ratio of 10.7:1 by ditching the 9.5:1.
The superior engine resulted in top speeds of 131.11 mph, which is not a big difference compared to the 126 mph on its predecessor.
Due to the environmental regulations and emissions concerns in the late 1970s and 1980s, the R1100RT adopted a more environmentally friendly design that used a regulated 3-way catalytic converter. On top of that, it featured an anti-locking braking system.

Price Comparison

BMW has been known for a long time as a luxury company that builds high-end machines. This usually translates to higher prices. The R series collection of bikes is no exception; when they came out, these two models were priced higher than what other competitors such as Suzuki and Honda were offering.
When R1100RT came out, it was priced at $15 000, which was $3 000 higher than its nearest competitor. Today, you can buy a used R1100RT at an average price of $3 000 to $ 10 000. R100RT comes in higher at an average cost of $5 000 to $ 11 000.

Any Similar?

These two models are very reliable, and their build quality is top-notch, which is expected from a manufacturer such as BMW. The bikes are very durable and have withstood the test of time. They both have a touring design which makes them very attractive to those country-wide riders, allowing them to sit comfortably for hours without any worries of getting fatigued.
Apart from having an air-cooling system, they provide enough luggage space for carrying the trip essentials but still leaving enough room for a passenger. The five-speed, sequential manual transmission used in both bikes is a BMW standard applied to many of its models, such as the K Series.


The emergence of the BMW K series put a massive dent in the old boxers used in most of the R series, like the R100RT; despite that, these bikes remain one of the most cherished BMW fandom bikes. The touring design’s introduction makes the R100RT a legendary and historical motorcycle, whereas the raw performance and build upgrades on the R1100RT bring the best of both worlds.
Apart from price, the deciding factor on which you should buy will boil down to performance (in which case you should get the R1100RT as it is a better performer) and classic looks on top of the rich history R100RT provides. The R100RT is the better choice for collectors and bike enthusiasts, but if you are looking for a well-performing German machine that will still do the job decades later, then choose the R1100RT.

One Response

  1. Peter
    April 3, 2021

Leave a Comment