I was also the first to demo the maroon bike at Max BMW near Danbury.
- The engine and transmission were extremely smooth. Below about 4500 rpm, it was literally like an electric motor. Above that, there were slight ripples of subdued vibration, certainly much less than my 1300GT. The sound is more musical than the four-banger & makes a nice little growl whenever you pull away in first or give it gas. Throttle response was really good in both Dynamic and Road settings. I mostly stayed in Road, and didn't think the difference was dramatic. The throttle return spring is very light, which takes a minute or two to adjust to, but it's probably a plus on a long ride.
- Power really does go down well below 2000 rpm, so much so that I imagine that after a while it would become normal to ride at least 1000 rpm lower than I'm used on the 1300. I suspect this is why some reviewers have commented about a lack of grunt - they're riding around just off idle. At similar rpm's to the 1300, the bike has similar grunt, I thought.
- Shifting required much less attention to do well than the 1300, and the clunk going into 1st from neutral was small enough to easily live with. Pulling away in 1st likewise is perfectly smooth and can be done unconsciously once you get used to the engagement point (or adjust it to your liking).
- The riding position is the most comfortable of any bike I've ridden. The seat is really comfortable, giving very even support and good leg room. For something like an Iron Butt, this thing would be great. It does moves the sport/touring needle a meaningful bit toward touring compared to the 1300GT.
- This was a very gusty day. For me, the wind protection was more full-coverage than on the 1300, and the range of adjustment of the windshield was bigger as well. With the windshield fully raised, I was just able to see over it in the middle (the top is a shallow V shape), and there was almost complete silence. (6'0", 30" inseam). As Larry pointed out, it was almost vertical, but it seemed to work well. I mostly rode with it all the way down, which is also how I ride the 1300 unless it's raining.
- The bike was deceptively fast in a way the 1300GT is not, probably due to the smooth/quiet drivetrain, upright riding position and isolation from the wind. It would be very easy to do 70 in a 35 without realizing it.
- This bike did not have ESA, so no feedback along those lines. The ride was cushier than the 1300GT in comfort mode, but was better damped than comfort mode, if that makes sense.
- I didn't have time to learn the controls. I looked for the grip/seat heater buttons & didn't see them (they had already been turned on anyway). I hope they're not buried somewhere in a menu somewhere
- The bike must have a low center of gravity, because it felt no heavier than the K1300GT. It was easy to maneuver in the parking lot & do U-turns. The handling was different than the 1300's, very light and precise, but I think that like the seating it is is little more relaxed/touring oriented.
- The side stand was easy to operate, and for a change has an adequate footprint & leans the bike at an appropriate angle. No farkles needed. It didn't feel particularly stout, though I doubt we'll be hearing about side stand failures.
- My overall impression is that this bike is exceptionally well executed and will sell very well. However, it's a slightly different animal compared to the K1300GT, in the sense that it moves the bar a significant bit away from sport and toward touring. I suspect I would ride it differently, and maybe gravitate toward different roads and longer trips than my current bike.
Would I get more satisfaction out of it long term? Hard to say. For now, I'm keeping the old one, if for no other reason that it's only two years old, and I want to recover at least another year of depreciation. If I was more into long-distance riding, I would probably find it hard to wait. As it is, I hardy ever put more than 300 miles on it in a day.