K12GT or R12RT...and what years to avoid? - K-Bikes.com - Excellence in Motion
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old May 13th, 2011, 11:07 pm Thread Starter
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K12GT or R12RT...and what years to avoid?

Greetings!
I'm looking at getting back into riding later this year. I previously rode a Honda VTX1800C and had some friends that were on K bikes. I was rather envious at the time, but couldn't afford to trade up.
I've been reading a lot about the changes over the last 5+ years that I haven't been on two wheels, and was pretty sure I wanted a K12GT (which was what I was drooling over in '05), but reading about the updated R12RT has made me not so sure. It seems like a pretty nice ride.

I have a couple concerns to sort out: dealer accessibility, reliability, model years to avoid, and normal parts/maintenance costs (I will do whatever wrenching I can on my own). From where I am in NW Florida, google says the closest dealer is 200+ miles away. Which kind of puts a crimp in getting any warranty work done. I could always make the trip for major surgery but that would probably be it.

I've been skimming through the forum but haven't found a whole lot on year comparisons, especially between the K and R bikes (yep, I know this is a K site). So I'm really just trying to get a good feel for what major differences there are between 1st and 2nd gen GTs, as well as RT evolution over the last 5-8 years, objective differences between the two (such as "if you want to do X, the GT does this, the RT doesn't"). And most importantly, which years had the gremlins or over-complex systems, etc.

I would be riding to work as often as possible (pretty long riding season in FL - 11.9 months I think), which is a whopping 4 mile drive. Long rides would be ideal, but probably not as often as I'd like (maybe monthly). The rest would be around town, etc. Two-up riding would need to be comfortable, but my wife probably won't be able to ride with me too often. I was an extremely aggressive rider on a cruiser, so I'm not sure if that means I'd be normal on a sport-tourer, or still on the aggressive side (I liked twisties and speed).

Wow, lots of questions for a first post! I have tried to find as many answers as possible on my own, so please don't flame me for any seemingly dumb questions...

Thanks for any input!
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old May 14th, 2011, 12:48 am
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Personally, I'd go for the RT.

Bullet-proof boxer motor. Better wind protection, especially for the pillion. Far easier to maintain if you like to wrench without messing with coolant and 16 valve shims. Not as top heavy as the GT. Easier to bleed the ABS on the R1200RT too than the electric-assisted K1200GT (early models <2007). The RT cylinder heads, if you put the guards on them, will protect your legs and fairing much better than the GT in the event of a tip-over too. Lots of accessories made for it too. Seems to corner far better in the twisties too (lower CG and that "torque-to-the-right" on throttle up thing the boxers are noted for).

My beef with the boxer would be the dry clutch where the tranny seals often get hard and then leak oil onto the clutch plate causing slippage. Seems to pop up every 5 years or so as the tranny sits right on top of the catalytic and gets baked from heat and then the 5-6 seals in the tranny leak once they harden (BMW doesn't use very good heat-resistant seals when I did mine.). Been there, but at least the bike folds in half to work on the thing. The final drive issues seem to have settled down a lot on the 1200's too. The GT was to get rid of the slippage issues but many have squeaks on the K bike and some have changed out the entire clutch pack and basket which is about $1,200 in parts. So much for oil-bathed BMW K-bike clutches.

I wouldn't go near a water-cooled boxer when it appears as BMW will probably screw that design up for a decade until they get it sorted out (historically, they are very slow to get their design foo-paws fixed). Harley has some coolant leak issues on their water-cooled "Porsche" V-Rods that makes oil leaks miniscule in the grand scheme of things and even our local H-D dealer doesn't push them. He has none now and seems happy with that. However, he sells a lot of the $42,000 CVO's too and got some award recently. If you love coolant leaks like a puking Honda CBR in traffic or a V-Rod, then go for one.

Good luck with your decision.


Mack (who has a RT in the past and has compared the maintenance costs between the 2-cylinder and 4-cylinder and the GT loses big time. Okay, static from the mouth on the GT pillion seat too about more wind turbulence over the RT.).
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old May 14th, 2011, 4:49 am
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If you're in no particular hurry to get to where you want to go, buy the R bike.
If you want to get from point A to Z in the time the R bike will go from point A to B, buy the 2nd generation GT.

"No problem is so big or so complicated that it can't be run away from"

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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old May 14th, 2011, 7:15 am
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I have had both on more than one occassion for the simple reason that although they will do virtually the same things, they each have a unique character.

Out of the box, I find the RT to be perhaps the most comfortable well balanced bike ever made. The wind protection and ergonomics are simply incredible. Power wise, the DOHC boxer is nicely sorted out, but now and then I wished for a bit more power...nothing that ever gave me fits though.

Where the RT really shines as far as I am concerned is in it's handling. The lighter the bike, the more I seem to like it, and the RT jut intuitively falls into corners.

The GT out of the box needed some add ons to get it where I feel it is a serious long distance bike. Dropping the pegs and raising the bars, Russell seat, Aeroflow, etc. It is quite comfortable now with great protection.

Where the GT shines is in the engine category. The 13GT is a rocket among sport touring bikes. It is smooth, has an abundance of power anywhere in the RPM range. Handling wise it's close to the RT, but a bit more lazy in the tight stuff...nothing that bothers me really. However, when you roll on the throttle on corner exit you are catapulted out, whereas the RT builds respectable speed, but nothing like the GT.

On the slab the GT catches crosswinds more so than the RT at least that's how I feel. The upside to the GT on slab is power everywhere to overtake with total ease.

They both will satisfy as sporty long distance machines. However, if you have an affinity for smoothness and abundant power....the GT is the clear choice.

I love the RT, but I think it needs another 20hp and some of the features of the new 16GT before I consider it again.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old May 14th, 2011, 8:58 am Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the quick input!
Reliability and wrench-ability are pretty important since I don't have easy access to a dealer. Sounds like the RT has a leg up in that area. (I'd be willing to tackle a clutch every 5 years)

For the RT: are there specific years to avoid or try to find? (same question for the GT)
I saw some stuff about final drives, rear oil seals, etc. But couldn't tell if it was related to specific years or just general problems.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old May 14th, 2011, 6:18 pm
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With modern BMW's, trips to the dealer can be unavoidable if there are electronic problems. Being 200 miles from the nearest dealer would concern me greatly given some of the issues reported.

That said, it appears the R-bikes are somewhat easier to self-service and have not had the switchgear, stalling and other glitches at the same level as reported for the K's. Valve-train reliability also appears better. The first year (2005) R1200RT's did not have FD drain plugs and were supposed to be life-time lubed. This setup was changed in subsequent years. Given your comments and requirements I would recommend a 2006 or newer RT.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old May 14th, 2011, 8:51 pm
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Buy the newest you can afford. In general I'd try to avoid the first year of either the 1200 or 1300 (06 or 09), but really, with a smart owner any of these years should be OK by now, as well as can be expected.

A quick rundown on the 1200 vs 1300, the 1300 of course has more HP, although I feel my 1200 has as much power as I'd ever need.
Other than that, the fairings of course look different, personally I like the looks of the 1200 fairing better, has that sort of a dagger or saber looking indent, the 1300 has the "Buick Ventiport" opening on the side instead, which is actually a functioning vent I guess BMW thought the extra 100cc's warranted. But looks out of place to me, on a GT.

The switches were freshened up on the 1300. Most noticeably the turn signals went to the one turn signal switch (universal jap bike/generic style), the 1200 has the 3 button style that BMW used for a couple decades. The reservoirs for the brake and clutch also went to the "Pee cup" style vs the smooth, integrated reservoirs on the 1200. To may of us the 1300 almost seemed like a step backwards, others thought it was an improvement over the 1200GT. I definitely would take the extra cc's, but other than that I feel the 1200 is a better bike.
The later 1200GTs and all 1300s are more likely to have additional options like the tire pressure monitor and Xenon headlight. My mid '07 has neither of these, although I added an aftermarket Xenon kit.

Oh and try to find a dark graphite one, they are a bit faster than any of the other colors. Trust me.

"No problem is so big or so complicated that it can't be run away from"

Dark Graphite: Making bikes faster for over 40 years.

Last edited by GillyWI; May 15th, 2011 at 4:54 am. Reason: Was going to edit out that dark graphite bikes are faster, but we all know they really ARE.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old May 16th, 2011, 9:29 pm Thread Starter
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Hmm...Looks like I really need to find a couple and sit on them before I buy one. I'm still a little concerned about the lack of local dealerships...
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old May 16th, 2011, 10:28 pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toyaddict
Hmm...Looks like I really need to find a couple and sit on them before I buy one. I'm still a little concerned about the lack of local dealerships...
Distance to the dealer can be a very real concern. It does not sound too bad it you have to do it once a year. However, if the dealer doesn't fix it right and/or parts are not in stock, the number of trips can multiply like rabbits. I lived "only" 80 miles from the nearest BMW dealer and using up vacations days to go back and forth was frustrating. That's why I recommended the reportedly less trouble-prone RT in your situation -- but of course you should get what excites you.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old May 17th, 2011, 12:17 am
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I've had an RT, but the earlier 1150RT version. It was a fine machine - until that is, I was totally spoiled after riding a friends K1200 S. I was ruined for life. I researched the K1200 GT and wasn't willing to go with the K1300 based on the price (a year ago). I was looking at an 06 - 08 K1200GT. The big difference in my opinion between the 06 and 07 GT was that the 07 stopped using the electric brake system, which my previous 04 RT had. They were fantastic brakes, but too touching and cause me to drop my bike once. But more than that, it was a $2000 replacement item if it failed - and that was just for the part. I figured, why the hell do you need power brakes on a motorcycle when good use of hydraulics does the trick just as good. So I ended up getting an 07 K1200 GT and its the most fun bike I've ever owned. The power band on the K motor is unmistakable and it would be hard to get back on an RT. And personally speaking, I think the lines on the K12/ K13GT are much nicer. I ride with a lot of guys on various types of bike and the GT really turns heads. The only thing that I miss however, is having a radio and speakers. I have since added a J&M handlebar mounted system which does the trick.

Phil

--------------------
Boston Bagger (in Florida)
--------------------
2008 BMW K1200GT (Grey)
2007 BMW K1200GT (Silver) (Totaled by other)
2004 BMW R1150RT (Silver Ghost)
2001 Harley ElectraGlide STD. (Black)
1999 Honda Shadow 750 ACE (Olive Green / Cream)
1971 Yamaha 360 Enduro RT-1 (Black)
1968 Yamaha 125 / 175 Enduro AT-1 (White)
1963 Honda 250 Scrambler
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