My K1200S test ride. - K-Bikes.com - Excellence in Motion
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 26th, 2005, 6:06 pm Thread Starter
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Smile My K1200S test ride.

I posted this on another Forum and just wanted to share my K1200S experience here too.

I've got a fever for the Dark-Side.
I've always been an admirer of the K series bikes. Last weekend a friend of mine (yes I have a friend) and I swapped bikes for a couple of hours. I rode his new K1200S and he rode my R1200GS. He loved my GS but then again; who doesnít love the R12GS?
Itís the K1200S Iím here to talk about today. Overall opinion: WOW! Now Iíve ridden all kinds of bikes including the K1200GT but this was my first run on the K12S. At first the bike felt quite awkward. I wasnít feeling as though I was going to enjoy it as much as I thought I would. It felt front-end heavy and took some work to make it go where I wanted it to go. Once I settled in however it started to feel natural and I quickly became accustomed to the feel.

The first part of the ride was slab at about 80mph. Rock steady with no wind buffeting at all. The faring provides very smooth airflow over and around my 5í8Ē frame. Suspension soaks up the bumps and tracks down the road like itís on a rail. 80mph feels more like 40mph. The power is intoxicating! Roll on the throttle in just about any gear and what ever was in front of you is now behind. After a year and a half on the GS itís hard to describe just how powerful the KS is. More than anyone will ever need.

Off the highway and onto a tight twisty road. Again the bike took some getting used to. Not nearly as nimble or athletic as the GS. I found myself falling into each turn too soon followed by slight over-corrections to get back in line. Again just a matter of shaking off the GS rider in me. The KS is a bit more work in the tight stuff but nothing I didnít enjoy.

Off to the mountain sweepers. Forget it,.. this bike was built for this and it shows! Awesome, awesome, awesome! Once I relaxed, it became a matter of thinking what I wanted to do and it happened. I road the KS through the sweepers faster than I ever ride my GS on this kind of road yet it didnít feel as fast. The bike just glides along the road smooth and solid in a way that inspires confidence. Lean over into a turn, get your line, gently apply power and feel it pull you out of the turn like a rocket. Warning: Once you are comfortable on the K1200S and you find the right road, you will go fast so be prepared for whatís around the next bend!

I also had the chance to open it up a bit on a long stretch of strait road. The road was grassland on each side and visibility was clear for a little over 3 miles. If there was going to be a time to see a little of what this thing will do, this was it. Riding 200 yards behind my GS at 60mph, I poured on the power in 4th gear, blasted by the GS, speed shifted into 5th, glanced down a second to two later and the needle was at 150 and climbing. I was running out of clear road quickly so I rolled off and back down to reality. WOW! My old Ninja 900 never came even close to that.

High speed disclaimer: Donítí get me wrong. I donít condone my excessive triple digit speed on a public road. In retrospect, 150mph on a public road (even for a second or two) is always asking for trouble and you're just lucky if it doesn't find you.
Hypocrisy aside and for what itís worth, it was calculated madness. It wasnít as if I just had Demons in my head saying "GO FAST, PUNK OUT THE GS!" I just wanted to sample what the K can do and the opportunity presented it self. I have experience with powerful bikes, the BMW is rock solid, the road was clean, the area deserted, and I had clear visibility for miles. Suppose I could try to justify it any way I want but in the end it just appears that I was ďseduced by the Dark Side.Ē I was ďmore machine than man, twisted and evil.Ē It was quite a rush but please folks, donít try this at home.

I wanted to ride that bike all day. Funny thing is, when I got back on my GS it felt very strange to me. The two bikes are Sooooo different! Not to worry, within a few miles my GS was part of me again and we enjoyed the remainder of the day together.

Bottom line, the K1200S is a fantastic machine. Almost every system on the bike and the way it performs I would rate as fantastic. There are some minor gripes mostly geared to stuff that's correctable for a price. i.e. silly oversized muffler, and no center stand included on a 18K bike. The bikes many praises out shine any of the minor complaints I have at this time.
Motor and power: Fantastic. ESA: I like it a lot!, Faring and aerodynamics: excellent., Suspension and brakes: Awesome. Transmission: A lot of bike mags complain about this but I thought it was fine. What else can I say. The bike is great, I like it a lot and I must have one some day soon!!!



--------------------
Mark
San Diego, CA

Last edited by mark5lam; Oct 26th, 2005 at 9:36 pm.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 27th, 2005, 11:06 am
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Nce review on your test ride Mike. I too was waiting to see how the S was going to be like coming from RS's and a GT until I actually test rode one. That was all the convincing I needed. I liked the bike so much, I was prepared to buy the test model!
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 27th, 2005, 11:32 am
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Mark,

read your post on the "naming thread" a few minutes ago; just wanted to thank you for the taking the trouble to write this thorough review of the K-S from the perspective of a GS rider. My wife rides an R-ST, so I can see some of what you experience when changing from the GS to the K-S. Where the power drops down from the boxer, the K-S is just getting started; and no question at no and slow speeds, the ST w/o the damper is a doodle to steer compared to the K-S with it's long wheelbase and steering damper. You can almost nudge the bars on the ST standing still and the wheel will turn on it's own from side-to-side. The ST also shows much lighter steering up to 30 mph or so. Above that, they both seem to have great handling at speed.

In one test-ride you went about 30mph faster than I have in six months of riding my K-S. But I got a call the other day from a friend with a yellow/black K-S who got a ticket just outside my door on a main county road for 93 in a 50; ticket was punched for $385. And there's no negotiating with these county cops; they seem to think they're doing God's work. What makes it so aggravating is that my friend was simply passing another car and the K-S rush took him past 90 for a brief instant; under a lot more control than some four wheel vehicle passing at 60. Luckily, there are some non county paved roads where you can play with the K-S if so inclined. Logging roads owned by logging companies. And for many, there are track-day's to experiment with the K-S's capabilities.

Thanks again for the great report; and yes the esa is a fun little button to play with and does seem to make a difference when engaged on those mountain sweepers!

Miles
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 27th, 2005, 11:50 am Thread Starter
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Re: My K1200S test ride

Thanks for the replies guys. I could have written more detail but I think a lot of people skip over a long verbose post within a thread. Then again, maybe not.
Anyway,...I just enjoyed that bike so much that I think I'm gonna have to take a hammer to my thumb to get the "shit-eating grin" off my face.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 27th, 2005, 12:00 pm
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I absolutely agree; it is dangerous to ride an S or R unless you can buy one immediately or even sooner. Or you will test whether it's possible to die from sheer overwhelming motorcycle LUST. . . .

Hoooo YEAH!!!

-karl

01 F650GS (sold)
02 K1200RS Ice Blue (sold)
06 K1200S Granite Grey
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 27th, 2005, 12:30 pm Thread Starter
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Re: My K1200S test ride

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miles_Miller
Mark,
... slow speeds, the ST w/o the damper is a doodle to steer compared to the K-S with it's long wheelbase and steering damper. You can almost nudge the bars on the ST standing still and the wheel will turn on it's own from side-to-side. The ST also shows much lighter steering up to 30 mph or so. Above that, they both seem to have great handling at speed.
Miles
Miles,
What do you (or anyone for that matter) think of xlr8r's idea of removing the steering damper on his K1200S? He says it makes low speed handling much lighter and doesn't experience any negative effects.
I think his write up is here: http://www.k-bikes.com/forums/showthread.php?t=624

Sounds great to me but I think I'd be uneasy about the idea. Knowing how skeptical I am sometimes, I'm sure when I get my KS, I'd be reluctant to remove factory equipment that effects handling. I generally like to do my best to master riding any bike as it was designed. However, if we start seeing lots of posts about how great the bike is with out it, I may give it a try.
I just get the feeling that if the bike was truly better and just as safe without it, BMW wouldn't have installed it in the first place. As I recall, the K1200S didn't originally have a steering damper when it was launched and BMW added it later as a result of handling or weaving complaints. Then again, maybe it's just a legal liability issue as xlr8r proposes.
I don't know. Interesting topic though. What do you all think?
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 27th, 2005, 9:09 pm
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Mark,

Well, you seem to be up on the history of the steering damper. We did have a whole round of discussions on the "stiff" low speed steering issue awhile back. It seems to have distilled around two probable causes. One being the damper and the other sticky ball joints in the new front suspension; or maybe both. (I also think it has something to do with the long wheel base and extra weight compared to the R12GS/ST.)

Some folks went for installation of new ball joints and seemed somewhat satisfied. And some went so far as to disconnect the dampers. Seems to me if you are handy in working around a motorcycle you can disconnect the damper, then reconnect it if you are not satsified with the result or are ready to take the bike in for service to the dealer. I'm not and never considered getting rid of it.

Also, I think K-S riders who tend to live in a situation that requires lots of low speed riding, need to park the bike frequently or ride alot in an urban environment suffer this issue more than I do living in a rural area. One thing I do when backing the bike out of a parking space and then turning the bars to change direction before engaging first and motoring off is to lift my butt a little off the seat and guide the bike around parking lots, gas stations, or restaurants. Didn't you feel the whole issue went away in the first minute of riding and was of little concern into that first turn?

As you can imagine there was a little bit of controversy over the effects of riding at high speeds, or giving the bike a lot of throttle. Some felt the damper served a useful function and provided an extra added degree of stability; others scoffed at the idea that it did anything except mollfy the corporate attorneys.

By the way, your last post was a hint that you might actually consider owning the K-S; reason enough for this much of an explanation. Maybe other who have done the damperecstomy can comment.

Miles
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 27th, 2005, 9:36 pm
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Miles,

I see your in Port Ludlow. That means you're only about 60 miles from me in Lakewood.

We should try to hook up if possible before there's no more riding season left. If you are interested, I would be happy to let you try my KS with no damper to see what you think.

It would probably be an interesting comparison for you riding them back-to-back.

Let's get together.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 27th, 2005, 11:53 pm Thread Starter
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Re: My K1200S test ride

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miles_Miller
... Didn't you feel the whole issue went away in the first minute of riding and was of little concern into that first turn?
Yes. When I first got on the bike it felt a bit front end heavy but I expected it to feel different than what I'd been used to after a year and a half on the GS. It really wasn't an issue for me after about 15 minutes on the bike. My feeling was that once your moving 20+mph, the bike handled wonderfully as expected. Slower than that in tight turns and it took a bit of concentration and effort to make a nice smooth turn but nothing that wouldn't get better with more experince on the bike. This is my assessment after just 2 hours worth of experience on the KS. I'm sure after having and riding one for a while, putting the bike where I want it, would become second nature.
That's how riding the R12GS is for me now. It felt a bit strange with those big wide bars and light front end when I first got it but now it's as if the machine and I are one. I don't have to think about controling the bike. I just think about what I want to do and where I want to go and it happens. I know the KS will do the same for me when we get to know each other better.

Worse case: I will end up using one of my friends favoriate quotes: "I absolutely love both these bikes. The K goes where I tell it, and the GS knows where I want to go."

Quote:
By the way, your last post was a hint that you might actually consider owning the K-S; reason enough for this much of an explanation.
Oh, most definitely. I'm sold on the bike. At this point, It's just a matter of coming up with the funds to purchase one. I'm looking in the used market as well as the new. There is also a small part of me that thinks I should wait to see what the new K-GT has to offer but if I purchased a K1200S tomorrow, I don't think I'd have any regrets about not waiting.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 27th, 2005, 11:55 pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miles_Miller
... Didn't you feel the whole issue went away in the first minute of riding and was of little concern into that first turn?
Thats my impression too. Once you get used to this 'new' Consept of Norman Hossack, the great fork...You wont trade it for the world.......
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