The road to the 2002 k1200rs
I have been an avid motorcycle rider (in my opinion) for the past 5 years putting on an average 15,000km per year. This year (June 4th) I recently moved from the cruiser style motorcycle and into a much different k series motorcycle. I bought a 2002 k1200rs with 75,000km for $4,600. Since then, I have put on over 11,000 km on the bike, and I wanted to share my review for those interested. I recently returned from a 7500km trip through Iowa, Nebraska, south Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and put this bike through the wringer...Here is my review.
Going from a cruiser style to a more aggressive forward leaning motorcycle, I found that my legs immediately cramped forcing me to stand up to relieve the discomfort. This fortunately was only a one time problem and my body soon accustomed itself to that riding position.
My wrists and hands have taken a little more time to get used to that style of riding. For the first month or so I suffered from numb hands, tingling fingers, and much discomfort. I can say however, that with time (riding many hours) you do learn how to hold the bike with your legs relieving the riding pressure on these areas on the hands and wrists. The cruise control really helps, but I will go into my love of that feature in detail later.
My motorcycle came with an aftermarket sergeant seat, and on two occasions on my western trip I put close to 2000km per day on that seat and what a wonderfully made product. A little discomfort towards the end of the day, but honestly when you ride that long all day and finish your last 110km on BLM (Bureau of Land Managment) roads that really require the likes of a dual sport or 4x4, I was quite happy with the product.
Power, Feel, Rid-ability:
All I can say is what a gift. Going from a 1100cc honda shadow to that of a k1200rs, what a difference in power, feel....need I say everything? This bike on start does make a honda motorcycle rider nervous with its tell tale (box of rocks) idle sound. Admittedly I had to research this noise to make sure it was "normal". This noise however, like that of a finely tuned muscle car of the 60s goes away at the point of acceleration. This "box of rocks" sound transforms into that of a finely tuned performance machine. The power transfer from the k series motor to the transmission seemed uniformly even and smooth. There wasn't a "delay" in power even at low rpms. The power seems to be there from the start. I even did a test and at 65kmph (30 mph) I put the bike in 6th gear and accelerated moderately. To my surprise, the bike did not "lug" but rather pulled away at a very even rate. Coming from a much more laid back riding position, and really never being able to or feeling comfortable doing, accelerating a fast rate, this bike however, has the power there to do it. At 4,000 rpms, this bike takes off, with a low growl, this bike can put you back in your seat, accelerating through 3rd gear in town at a moderate rate would likely have your revoked in most cities...Surprisingly this speed is not felt by the driver, as the bike has relevantly little vibration or "road noise" as I like to call it.
The six speed transmission is wonderful. Each gear engages smoothly transforming the power evenly through all gears with no "lag" in power at any point. I ride both by myself, 2 up, and loaded down with 2 weeks of camping and outdoor supplies and I never noticed a difference in power in any situation. This is in contrast to my cruiser style motorcycle which felt the added weight of those items and let the rider know by decreasing the acceleration at the pavement.
What amazing ride. This bike just goes. In a straight line, through twisties, on sand, gravel, two track roads, it does it all. I do admit, after my last trip through the rockies the likes of a 1200gs are more suited for that style of riding, however, this bike took 6 inches of sand, 3inch road rock, and some pretty precarious situations with ease.
When I first bought the bike it needed new tires pretty badly, It was hard to get the bike to lean off the flat spot warn into the tire from the previous rider (I think they were mez. z4s). I put a set of the new BMW recommended Metzler Z6 tires (cost around $420 installed). This made the bike much more fun to ride coming off its "center" much easier when you pushed in through turns.
I like the grip these tires have on the road, they really seem to hold to the road through all types of riding conditions. Weather it be wet pavement, dry pavement, gravel or sand, between the ABS and these tires this bike both "goes" and "stops" with ease.
I do however, already notice wear in the tires at about 8,800kms (4000 miles) I see flat spots forming on both the front and rear tire, and feel as though I may already be past the halfway pt for these tires...Thinking about a minimum of a set per summer/year scares my wallet a little.
All I can say is wonderful upgrade from a throttle lock. This bike accelerates up and down 7% grade mountains without lagging even at 150 kmph (70mph) in sixth gear. The cruise holds the bike the to the speed that was set. I found at some grades you did find the bike struggling to hold back or accelerate. This was felt by the rider (very slightly), but doesn't leave one uncomfortable in the slightest. Driving interstate speeds, in town traffic, or on twisties....set it and forget it, and the BMW drives you there. The cruise also allows one to let go of the controls and temporarily use the other hand. I know many may scoff, but on trip I drove 10 miles without putting my hands on the handles. With the right balance and cruise, this bike goes in a straight line without question. My previous bike I could let go of the controls up to about 45 kmph ( 20mph) without them starting to shake violently. The BMW, doesn't seem to matter the speed, no shake, wobble...anything.
Moving from a standard, non servo assisted motorcycle to that of a more advanced system, I found myself re-learning how to brake. The first time I gripped that front break I found myself hoping I could survive fling over the handles, thankfully that was not the case, and soon I began describing the breaks as being so good that if they put them on a drag racer they wouldn't need parachutes....This bike stops so fast it isn't even funny. My wife has to remind me that just because we have them, doesn't mean we need to use them... If one needs to stop in a straight line I find myself only using the front break as it automatically applies the right pressure to the rear break. Around turns or twisties, one needs to be careful to apply only the back break, as the bike may "stand up" abruptly using the servo assisted feature. (I have not experienced this, just can tell with an less experienced rider it may be an issue). At slow speeds, especially riding 2 up, the bike tends to "jerk" violently even with the slightest front break pressure, as the bike stops immediately, it takes some time and finesse to learn how to reduce this shock.
What I love about this feature, the bike stops, sand, gravel, wet/dry roads. I did a test and at 45/65 kmph (20/30 mph) on your typical paved (dry) and gravel road. I applied the front break only quite hard in hopes of locking up the breaks (and seeing how the bike reacts to hard breaks) prior to incident if that ever would take place. The bike stops without skid. You can see the front tire pulse on the sandy or gravel roads, however, the bike stops quickly without locking. What a wonderful/safe experience.
Just love this, cold mornings and evenings in the mountains can be uncomfortable while riding w/o full gloves. No worry, turn on the heated grips and one feels the heat transfer through ones hands and up into the arms, subsequently relieving any distress.
The locking saddle bags are wonderful. The go on and come off with the turn of the key. They fit quite a lot of goods, whether you are running to the grocery store, picking up a six pack, camping/traveling, these bags fit all your needs. Plus with the locking feature storing goods is not such a scare.
The windshield has two settings, one for a "race position" and the other for two up riding. I find I only ride with it in the upward position. I feel like I ride in a "bubble" that keeps the air flowing freely around me. Open up your full face helmet and you will soon realize the difference between the windshields of a cruiser and a sport touring bike. Cruisers "bust" through the air essentially telling the elements they are coming through no matter what. This protects the rider more from bugs and rocks and "elements" however, caused in my case, a buffeting affect. The BMW is designed to cut through the wind and puts the rider in a "pocket" of air. I found the bike takes to windy conditions and faster riding much better then the other style, however, overall, I prefer the pocket more than the less ergonomically designed cruiser. Although not all the windscreen, I found in intense rain the rider is much more protected on the BMW then the cruiser. Especially ones feet.
11,000km (5000 miles) Problems thus far: Is this what one should expect???
Before I start on the problems I have experienced thus far, I want to start by saying this by far, hands down, is the best motorcycle I have ever ridden, even with these problems I love this bike more then any other I have owned hands down.
I will start by saying I started with 77,000km (35,000miles) with receipt of all synthetic oil change within a few miles. I am now at 88,000km (40,000 miles).
very very hard at first. My hand would fall asleep and it sounded as if there were "rocks" in the lines when one used it when the bike was turned off. Right before my trip I was looking to lubricate my lines and with only slight touching pressure the throttle return cable snapped in my hand. Of course, this would happen days before a large trip, and leaving me no option to fix it prior. With the abs and my throttle helper, I actually felt as if the throttle is easier w/o the lower cable, either way I just ordered both cables and will put them on shortly.
The Friday before I left for my trip I was testing my radio I mounted and I quickly found myself wondering why my right leg was so wet.. To my surprise gas was shooting 2feet from the side of the bike. I was a house away and quickly coasted into my yard. Thank the motorcycle gods I wasn't on my trip. I quickly became a victim of the BMW plastic quick connects failing. No time to order, i went to the nearest auto store picked up a set of inline, no quick connects and some hose clamps, and made my own fix for the trip. Although there is need to cap the ends, I did not want to be a human fire ball.. I will be purchasing some stainless quick connects and replacing them when I replace the throttle cables as both require me to remove the side panels (which one learns about the shear number of screws required to remove these pieces. With a little practice, and a few motorcycle issues, one learns how to take apart this bike quickly.
My trip out west took me on hundreds of miles of washboard stricken roads. I inherently put a lot of stress on my lighting units. At the end of a long day ride I realized my high beam had gone out ( the previous owner installed a accessory flashing modulator and I noticed the light was not flashing. No big deal, I still had my low beams right??? A few thousand miles later I didn't. On my last hundred or so miles of my trip back to Des Moines, with the darkness foreboding on the horizon, I made it home with the likes of the tiny parking light up front.
I spent an hour or so troubleshooting today and this is what I fixed. The high beam bulb was good, but not working, the low beam bulb was obviously shot. I picked up a new low beam bulb, installed, low beam worked. I checked power with a volt meter at the connector at both the low beam pt (white/yellow wire) and the high beam power (white) and I did not have volts at the high beam wire. I checked the output of the modulator no power. I noticed that the wire was blackened and crispy. I checked connections, grounds, nothing worked. I disconnected, returned bike to stock, and the headlight worked perfect. I think a case of a bad after market accessory
***A few minor defects in a seamlessly well built motorcycle.
This was my first review of a motorcycle, but the shear enjoyment of this motorcycle has led me to wanting to share this information with those that care to read. This motorcycle has been an absolute blast to drive/ride/experience. It has changed the way I view riding and touring. It is a joy to ride,powerful/snappy/quick/agile at every corner. This heavy bike leaves one wondering where the weight goes once the bike is in motion. This bike puts on interstate miles with ease, often making me ask how I could put miles on that quickly. It eats up twisties asking the rider to give it more power to tear through the road. Feel yourself coming in too fast, push hard down on the handlebar the bike corners like a dream.
Given the aforementioned mechanical issues with the bike as of now, they are of little to no concern to me given the overall enjoyment this bike has given me so far. I wish tires lasted longer, I wish I wasn't almost a human flame, I for a little while, wished weekend "warrior" Harley riders would get over themselves and wave to a fellow rider (even be it a BMW) but I guess some things will never change. But overall, this bike has hit every wish that I have for a bike, and surpassed even my wildest dreams of what a motorcycle could do. I love this bike and cannot wait to put on more miles.
I included a picture of my bike. I made a great locking trunk attachment, that although looks precarious, withstood 3500 miles across the country without once needing adjustment, tightening, etc.
I hope you enjoyed my first ever product review... Great bike, worth recording.