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Difference between '02 & 04 R1150RT


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The early 2002's had very sensitive linked brakes. Sometime during the 2002 model year, the sensitivity of the brakes was reduced somewhat. The brakes on the later 2002's and all the 2003 and 2004 models are the same.


The 2002 and 2003 engines were the same. For 2004 BMW changed the cylinder heads to twin spark (two spark plugs per cylinder instead of only one). This supposedly has helped to eliminate or at least minimize surging. BMW has never said that the reason for the change to twin spark was to reduce surging (they have never admitted there was any surging problem whatsoever). Surging can usually be minimized or even eliminated by meticulous tune-ups on most 2002 and 2003 models.


I have a 2003 and only experience some very minor surging between 3000-4000 RPM. It goes away entirely above 4000 RPM. Some on this board will advise you to always ride above 400RPM where possible.


Lastly, the 2002 and 2003 models came with a radio prep package from the factory. On the 2004 models, this was eliminated. I purchased the factory radio when I bought my bike. It is basically worthless above 40 MPH, so that should not be an issue.


If you must have a radio or must listen to music there are better options than the factory radio.

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tom collins

as one with an 04 who has ridden earlier versions, i think the dual plugging also smoothed out the lower rev range power delivery somewhat. no surge. the prices seem pretty down on all the 1150s, get an 04 for not much more $.


tom collins

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I am looking to buy a R1150RT, want to know the improvements on a '04 R1150RT.




Caliber, the later twin spark engines definitely operate with less surging.. Most early single spark 1150 engines do surge somewhat but it seems to bother people to different extents.. I think part of the difference is as you ride the bike with more confidence you tend to ride right through the surging ranges quickly.. Or stay out of the surging operating ranges..


There seems to be a pretty fair price difference between the early single spark 1150RT’s & the later twin spark 1150RT’s.. Just for information,, the early 1150RT’s can be made to operate pretty surge free with the simple addition of an aftermarket fuel controller like the Techlusion.. For only a couple of hundred dollars the early 1150RT’s can run about as good as the later twin spark bikes.. I have an 02 1150RT with a fuel controller on it & that engine is as surge free as my Harley & GoldWing.. Pretty seamless & smooth operating engine.. A little vibration at certain operating RPM’s but all the 1150 non balanced engines are like that.. Probably the twin spark would the best bike but if you find an early single spark low mileage bike you like at a good price it CAN be made to not surge with a fuel controller & a little work to adjust it to your engine & riding style..



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I have the 2004. It has been a great bike. The twin spark definetly makes for an overall smoother machine. I know the brakes on the 04 aren't as sensitive as earlier models but depending on what you have been used to riding they can take some getting used to. I came from a Honda Nighthawk 750. The brakes on the RT were VERY sensitive in comparison and I have come very close to dropping the bike during low speed maneuvering. Now that I'm used to it, no problem at all. All in all I'd say it's a great bike. I have been very happy with mine!

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It's a small point not a lot of people bring up but on the '02 you can fit the Euro Switch for the headlight, on the '04 you cannot.

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