RT 1200 vs K 1300GT - K-Bikes.com - Excellence in Motion
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old Aug 5th, 2010, 8:47 pm Thread Starter
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RT 1200 vs K 1300GT

I am considering purchasing one of these bikes new. Can anyone give me the pros and cons. I want something sporty, fun to ride. Not like a full blown sport bike. I have read many stories about final drives failing. I have Kawasaki zx1400, ducati 1198s and harley cruiser. Thanks!
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old Aug 5th, 2010, 9:58 pm
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"The RT handles far better than the GT. The GT handles really nice, but on the RT, going through the twisties, it was like the bike knew where it was supposed to go without me doing anything. It just runs like its on rails. It just falls right into the precise line you want, just when you want it to.

The GT was as obedient to steering input as you could ask for, but unlike the RT, it didn't seem to anticipate. The RT handled like it was reading your mind, not just obeying your inputs. I think I could ride the RT or the GT equally fast in the twisties, because the RT is a step better in handling. I just wonder where in the RT BMW installs the demon that reads the road ahead of you and prepares the bike to turn.

The GT has a superbly smooth engine. It responds instantly to throttle input with no hesitation. Twist, zoom, "Oh, look, we're doing 110 miles per hour." The RT responds much slower, and the Boxer engine has far more vibration. It also has tons of torque in every gear. If you're stopped at a light, leaning on one leg, and you blip the RT's throttle, the bike stands up straight as the torque hits. It's really noticeable. Still, with the RT, you can sneak up on 110MPH without really trying either. Just not as fast as the GT. The RT engine growls, the GT engine screams.

But I now understand what the RT guys are talking about when the speak of the "character" of the boxer twin. It growls and vibrates at low RPM, and burbles happily at freeway speeds. Kick it down to fifth on the highway, twist the throttle, and it passes smoothly. Shift back up into 6th, and it'll just cruise along at 90MPH without a complaint.

The GT sucks in the comfort department. The narrow seat just jams itself up your crotch. It's every bit as comfortable as sitting on a split-rail fence. Well, that's probably not a totally fair comparison. The GT doesn't leave splinters. But other than that, it's the same. The pegs are also too high for real comfort. It's not different enough from the RT to notice it just sitting in the showroom, but after 45 minutes on each, the seat and higher pegs begin to irk you noticeably. The RT is Cadillac comfortable. With the GT, you sit perched on top of the bike, like a canary riding the shoulder of an insane pirate. With the RT, you feel like you're inside bike, luxuriously cosseted in a comfy, smooth saddle that gently massages your bum.

Other than sheer acceleration, the RT just struck me as a superior motorcycle in almost every other way.

Except the rear-view mirrors. Great mirrors on the GT; in the perfect position. The RT, on the other hand, has the mirrors set low, giving you a perfect view of the ends of the handlebars. Perhaps the BMW engineers wanted to be sure you could check your gloves frequently, so you would notice if a bug hit your knuckle armor, causing an unsightly soil on the leather. Or perhaps to check and see if a flying stone struck your bar ends, leaving behind a nasty scratch on the perfect black enamel. Because other than that, the rear-view mirrors on the RT are essentially useless.

But, frankly, that's a fairly minor quibble.

I went into the test rides today, firmly convinced that I wanted a K1300GT. I rode the RT mainly as a favor to the sales guy who said I really owed it to myself to compare the two bikes. I came back from the RT test ride with a huge grin on my face, utterly surprised to like everything about the bike. I came back from the GT test ride thinking I'd rather have my FJR. I am still a little bit amazed at how much I like the RT, and how underwhelming the GT actually was to ride. Other than sheer acceleration, the RT has everything I want, and the GT...doesn't have anything the RT doesn't. Between the two, I think I want the R1200RT."


Not my epistolary diatribe, but I pretty much agree with Dale Frank's evaluation between the two. On straights, the GT wins. If you like canyons and mountains, the RT does a superb job. I find I have to fight the K a bit more in the mountains - aside from it stalling mid-turn which suddenly alerts you to how heavy the thing is. It just isn't as flickable and on a very round-profile tires where it becomes sort of sluggish. A lot of weight seems focused to the front on the K over the R which seems more balanced.

I'm thinking of moving back to the RT (had one before the K1200GT) for better twisties handling, more pillion comfort (less wind), and maintenance that I can do without dismantling too much of the bike just to adjust the valves. I'm not to pleased with their cam/gear design either (the K's weak link that can cost you $,$$$s. Ask Robert.).

They've been refining that boxer-engined bike for nearly two decades and that boxer very rarely will give you problems (other than the early Hall switches that burned up and failed). The K's have been temperamental in their fueling. Final drives between the two may have gotten 'a bit' better overall as polls haven't shown them failing as much as the older R1100 era units or the older LT models.

Test ride them both. Do some low speed stuff between the two and think about the handling between them. Make a couple of close-quarter U-turns. If you haul a pillion, she won't be too fond of the wind blast of the GT vs. the RT either. Been there already. Then the acceleration of the K over the R can be another matter for discussion at times.

If you want speed, just buy the S1000RR and get it out of your system. Bike is a real adrenalin hoot! (if the cops don't get involved. ). I've noticed kids in the cycle stores that look for your weird stuff you buy seem to perk up when they find you have a S1000RR. They see some old man in front of them and the think "He must ride a Harley, Gold Wing, or BMW." The S1000RR seems to get me better service from the youngsters. Just a weird observation that happened today as well and now "I promised that I have to take it to their shop and show the kid the bike now." BMW really opened up a can of worms on younger folk with the S. Then I can flash them my wallet full of speeding tickets and I'm suddenly their crazy old hero.

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old Aug 5th, 2010, 10:00 pm
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Originally Posted by Wideopen
I am considering purchasing one of these bikes new. Can anyone give me the pros and cons. I want something sporty, fun to ride. Not like a full blown sport bike. I have read many stories about final drives failing. I have Kawasaki zx1400, ducati 1198s and harley cruiser. Thanks!
Both bikes will fit your description with the K-bikes much faster and smoother, but the R-bikes with better wind protection and comfort, at least for some riders. Use the search and view much info discussing and comparing the two models. Also, i-bmw.com and bmwsporttouring.com have had extensive discussions regarding the pros and cons, graphs show the difference in ergonomics, etc.

Final drives have been a problem for both models, at least with some people. Others go 100,000+ miles with no problems.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old Aug 5th, 2010, 11:15 pm
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Apples and oranges

....apples and oranges my friend....apples and oranges. Both great. Both different. But as far as the RT being superior in the twisties....I would beg to differ. The RT trys hard, but there's no way (riders being equal) that the RT will ever see anything accept the back of the K. Especially 2 up.

...I just know there will be opinions on this one.

...try before you buy, and enjoy the ride!

07 crystal gray met
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old Aug 6th, 2010, 10:30 am
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Originally Posted by Wideopen
I am considering purchasing one of these bikes new. Can anyone give me the pros and cons. I want something sporty, fun to ride. Not like a full blown sport bike. I have read many stories about final drives failing. I have Kawasaki zx1400, ducati 1198s and harley cruiser. Thanks!
I have been coveting the K13GT for several years. Well, first the K12, then the K13, but hesitating because of of an experience with a 1998 R12C I bought new that year. Really, that was more about me than anything else, as it was just the wrong bike for what I wanted to do, which was distance riding. I got a 1999 H-D Ultra Classic, and I'm on my third one now, but I digress.

I finally got tired of paying $20K+ for the H-D, then having to buy a new seat, have engine work done and upgrade the suspension just to get a usable bike for anything other than straight-line highway riding. I'm not trashing the Harley, it just is what it is. Again, more about me, as I became more interested in the sport end of touring.

So, off to our local BMW dealer we go this spring, determined to finally test drive the K13. Before going, I started researching, including on this forum. Everything I found and read told me that the R12RT was the better bike for what I wanted to do, which is usually a full day, at least, of riding to get to the mountains and then several days of riding twisty roads and otherwise enjoying life. This is interspersed with, usually, at least one long trip every year, sometimes more. By long, I mean going from where I live, just outside DC, to Key West, which we did this March. Overall, that sucked, but another story. Last year we went to Nova Scotia and PEI. A couple of years ago we went cross-country. You get the picture. By we, I mean my lovely bride and I. She rides her own bike, which figures into this story at the end.

We go to the dealer, me now expecting to walk away with the RT. First, I take the RT for a short test ride. Nice, but nothing great. Next, she takes the RT and I take a GT. Wow, this is a real motorcycle! I come back with a smile and convince her that she really needs to try the GT, which she was reluctant to do. She liked the RT just fine. Off we go, this time her on the GT and me on the RT again. When we got back, she says the GT is definitely the way to go. She, by the way, also rides (rode) an Ultra Classic. You see where this is going?

We buy the GT, a 2010 model, with all the bells and whistles. I now continue to ride my Ultra Classic while she rides the K13GT. She is very happy, me not so much. Her comments are that the GT feels like a part of her, which she was always fighting the H-D. Truly, I think it's about the weight of the bike more than anything. She's not a little girl, about 5'9" and 145 lbs. and fairly strong, but she just likes the way the GT responds to her. We have been on one trip, so far, to the mountains in western NC with it and she hasn't changed her opinion.

On that trip I rented an R12RT, just to get a side by side comparison. We switched off several times. I remain convinced that he K13 is the better bike, for me. It needs better wind protection, some bar risers and a new seat, but so did the R12, in my opinion. Wind protection is a little better on the RT, but not great. I am 5'11" and tend to sit up very straight, so that might matter. There is no comparison at all in the power department, the K13 has it hands down. Cruising along on the R12 is fine, but it takes much more to get up there. We generally ride at about 80 to 85 mph on the highway.

I took the K13 to upstate NY in June and really enjoyed it. The seat is a torture device after a couple of hours, but I haven't found one yet that isn't. Again, that may just be me. I think motorcycles are more about individual fit than we may want to admit. As to working on them ourselves, I gave that up a long time ago. I carry a cell phone and a credit card, and pray that it will be a warranty repair. Most things that break are way too complex for my dumb ass to fix, so I don't plan to. So far that has work, although I do recognize the potential limitations.

The only thing I really miss when I'm on the GT is the radio. I work around that with my iPhone, so it's no real big deal. Now I'm just waiting for BMW to get that K16 in production so I can try it. I am hopeful that it will solve the few shortcomings of the K13 and I can finally get to ride it, assuming my lovely wife doesn't like it better! I guess at least then I can ride the K13?

Hope this helps a little and sorry if I was rambling. Good luck with your purchase, whichever way you decide to go.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old Aug 6th, 2010, 5:30 pm
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Well I had my RT for 6 years when I traded it for the GT, and could not be happier. I don't agree at all with the handling references made above. I have no problem with the GT in the twisties, and feel it handles better than the RT does, it should since the weight is over the front wheel. The two bikes are apples and oranges, but here were my complaints with the RT which lead me to trade it in for the GT. The boxer engine is outdated, I know they keep tweaking it, but bottom line it's an air cooled relic which predates WWII. The rotating assembly is very heavy and it takes time to bring the RPM up to where you have a usable torque curve without constantly shifting. In other words the RT engine lugged easily if you let the RPM's drop. The GT is nearly impossible to lug, the engine can pull the RPM's back up in almost any gear, much less shifting required on the GT. The engine is smoother, stronger, more responsive, and best of all water cooled. My RT regularly got close to overheating in heavy traffic, I definitely don't miss that. The RT does offer slightly more protection than the GT, and the RT has more comfortable ergonomics, pegs are definitely lower in the triangle. Two up the GT is much much much better. I hated to find myself on a step incline two up with the RT, with the GT it's not an issue pulling off a steep grade two up. Handling in my opinion goes to the GT. I've had both bikes on the Blueridge parkway, and tail of the dragon GT holds a line better, and just handles better. The GT might be slightly heavier, but I prefer it over the RT at slow speed maneuvers, maybe it's the wet clutch, or the incredibly strong engine, it's just easier to handle. Anyway they are both incredible touring bikes I just prefer the GT. Just to be fair my RT was a 2003 R 1150RT, not sure how I would like a R1200RT, but it doesn't seem all that much has changed.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old Aug 6th, 2010, 5:50 pm
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Whichever model you get take the time to make the right choice. It is outrageously expensive if you decide you made a mistake and try to swap for something else. I was offered $10,000 for my 09 K1300GT at one dealer and $14,000 at another in attempt to swap it for something else. Motorcycle resale values are awful and BMW's seem to be the worst.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old Aug 6th, 2010, 10:31 pm
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Originally Posted by Wideopen
I am considering purchasing one of these bikes new. Can anyone give me the pros and cons. I want something sporty, fun to ride. Not like a full blown sport bike. I have read many stories about final drives failing. I have Kawasaki zx1400, ducati 1198s and harley cruiser. Thanks!
They are both excellent motorcycles. The best thing to do is ride each of them to see which one calls to you.

I have a GT. I chose it for the 4 cylinder engine, smaller faring (more breeze in hot So. Cal. weather), and the heads-up high mirror position.

If I had an RT, I would like it almost as much. YMMV.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old Aug 23rd, 2010, 3:51 pm
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I am a new member who bought a k1300gt about 2 weeks ago. Love the site.

My experience was very similar to JBartlett's. I have owned four Harleys. Last bike was a 2003 Electra Glide Classic. I wanted something different. I have been eyeing the RT for a long time. I went to dealer to buy - but found it a bit bland. It worked so well that it was boring. I tried the GT and fell in love with it. It's not quite as comfortable - but I am addicted to the adrenaline rush.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old Nov 5th, 2010, 6:32 pm
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Went from an 06 RT to an 07 GT and went back to an RT.

The RT does handle nicer in the low speed corners, and also has better ergonomics and wind protection.

The new DOHC boxer is a dream. Other than having more power, I find the GT a bit inferior to the RT in every other category.

To be fair, my GT was an 07 and I'm sure I would have liked the K13 better.
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