The road to the 2002 k1200rs - - Excellence in Motion
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2012, 1:07 am Thread Starter
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Location: des moines, ia, USA
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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.

First impressions:

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.

General Riding:
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.


Cruise Control:
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.

Heated Grips:
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.

Saddle Bags:
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.

Gas Disconnects:
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.

Headlight (high/Lo)
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.

Overall: .

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.
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2012, 7:29 am
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Montreal, QC, Canada
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I also have a K1200RS (2002) and after having put more than 80,000 miles on it (since new) I agree with many of your observations. I will not comment on each of them because opinions are like... you know what I mean ;-)

BUT I MUST WARN you and everyone reading this that you rear case attachement can be very dangerous if too much weight is put into it. The rear aluminium rack under you rear case AND the end part of the rear sub-frame (black tubing) were NOT designed for this kind of stress.

If I was you, I would limit the total weight (rear top case + contents) to 30 lbs. On flat highways with no bumps, putting more weight might not be a problem. On other "real-life" roads, the stress will accumulate at every bump and eventually something will give up...

Ride safe and enjoy the K1200RS.

John (Montreal, CANADA)
K1200RS (2002 IceBlue/Red - 96,000 miles)
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2012, 9:44 am Thread Starter
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I bet I had maybe 50 lbs in the case. It was mostly meant to keep my 4 piece fly rod, tent, foam sleeping pad, and computer safe while parked. I kept anything heavy on the passenger seat...But I digress...

Is there anything that I need to check change/etc at the 40,000 mile mark. I am kinda a do-it-your self kinda guy, and so far this bike has allowed me to do that, however, it is much more of an advanced bike then a v-twin honda engine.

Thoughts from the community...? I am hooked on BMW however, I am thinking of getting a small dual sport for getting my feet wet in the off road community...This would be however, my second bike...Well...3rd...
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2012, 12:01 pm
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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.
You like doing lots of miles and slackening off the springs on the throttle rail may be what you need (read up on the Gunsmoke procedure). I did mine 3 days after getting the bike as I did not get on with the Gorilla grip needed. You need to be a little more careful how slack you go because you have the extra cruise cable tension. I don't have cruise but I can now hold the throttle at 70mph with the palm of my hands and do finger excercises.

I had some 'scratchiness' in my throttle which turned out to be the plastic guide channel getting a little chewed up. I smoothed mine out with a scalpel taking off the nicks, then lubed with ptfe grease. Smooth as silk now. Bike is a '97 and I have never changed the throttle cable - I think lightening the springs and keeping it lubed gives long life.

For long trips, consider doing a low beam HID mod. You will appreciate the extra light and can forget about replacing lamps.

Thanks for sharing your opinions, you are amongst friends!

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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2012, 12:06 pm
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great review! I've had my 2002 k1200rs for about 3weeks now (27k miles) and have same feelings as you..... Love it! I put 150 miles on it Sunday through the Rocky Mountains, constant changing weather conditions and when I got home, wanted to go out and ride again. I don't have the same issues as you adjusting to the riding position as my SV650 was about the same, but I'm hoping the numbing in my wrist and hands starts getting better.

I plan to change fluids this weekend and hit the road again, if your every out this way again let me know, I'll take you on the roads that only us locals know.

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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2012, 9:18 pm
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As you've discovered, the original quick disconnects come in two forms: those that have failed and those that will. Congrats on surviving a failure without ugly consequences.

On lighting, I agree the "out of the box" lighting is simply inadequate at speeds much above 40-45 MPH. While Sylvania Silverstar halogen bulbs are a step up, they still don't really get it done. The only effective solution is to go with an HID kit. I used the kit from DDM Tuning and the results are... "you own the night". I also replaced the high beam with a DDM Tuning HID kit. In terms of lighting up the road, again, this lamp gets it done but... the installation is a bit of challenge (plan on a lot time with a Dremel tool and lots of "cut and try") and the lamp takes a few seconds (~5 sec.?) to come up to full brightness (forget flipping the brights at someone).

Friday night a friend (on a R1200RT) and I rode some seriously backwoods roads and the HID's made running at 60 much easier (good lighting down the road and along the sides, too). On the rare occasion when a car came the other way, dipping the lights and coming back up (because, I assume, the high beam lamp was still hot) wasn't a problem.

DISCLAIMER: I have no connection with DDM Tuning save as a customer.

Not all who wander are lost. Which still leaves room for more than a few lost wanderers...

Red Flash - '03 K1200RS, lightly farkled
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2012, 9:47 pm
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Start with this thread for more on HID's in a KRS... Searching the forum for "DDM Tuning" will turn up a few more useful threads. The H7 how-to, in particular, should be a big help.

I forgot to mention one other headlight-related issue: the wiring. The wiring to the lights is under-sized but serviceable for 35 watt lamps. If you opt for 55 watt or higher, plan on re-wiring the lights, with heavier wire feeding the lamps and using the wiring from the high beam switch to only drive a relay controlling the lamps. But the really bad news is on the ground side. The brown ground or return wiring is, again, too small and the existing crimped connector was, I suspect, approved by the same dumkopf that approved those swell plastic quick disconnects.

Replace the brown ground wiring with heavier wire and either tie it to the frame (a notion some folks take an exception to) or go with even heavier wire (it's a longer run and the idea is to minimize voltage drop in the return) and go back to the battery's minus terminal. Your call - a frame ground works just fine for me.

Not all who wander are lost. Which still leaves room for more than a few lost wanderers...

Red Flash - '03 K1200RS, lightly farkled
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old Jul 31st, 2012, 2:44 am
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Welcome to the site Nosna. I also have an 02 RS (from new) same colour as yours too, and definitely the best colour After 10 years and 111,000 km's I still get a huge kick outa riding this bike. I've owned several Ducati's and a couple of HD's amongst the 18 rides I've owned, and I cannot think of another bike I would have instead of these. Another bike in the shed? Now ya talking Loose the trunk - yesterday

2002 K1200RS Owned from new. Pacific Blue, Ohlins. 183,000kmís
2016 K1300R Black, Remus hexacone. 6000kmís
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old Jul 31st, 2012, 8:05 am
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Gravel! 3" rocks! Now you are talking! How about a few inches of southern Alberta clay? Sure messy....!

I do quite a lot of that, just recently lots of single lane at mountain flank with switchbacks. No problems but I try not to look up.....or down sometimes. One of them roads came down less than a week after and buried a few houses killing 3 people.

Anyway, you may consider screening the belly pan and radiators, I picked lots of small gravel out of my radiators, not fun and very time consuming with a pointy tool. And also behind the water pump cover, there is quite a recess for dirt thrown by the wheel to accumulate. Fender extender does help but not perfect.

What else....powdercoat the centerstand/sidestand and swingarm, that's on the list for next winter.

If they use calcium chloride for dust abatment on them roads like ours, you really want to weatherproof all the wiring connectors, I found quite a few that were greening, no good that when it causes problems in the middle of nowhere.

Benelli 50cc at 14
Yamaha RD 200 at 16
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Honda CB 750 F at 18
Honda V45 Sabre at 24
BMW K100RS at 27
BMW R100GS at 34
BMW K1200RS at 53
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old Aug 3rd, 2012, 10:23 am Thread Starter
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Ok got it, trunk will come off... I just got married so I didn't have...well...access to the funds to put on a rear trunk. I think I will purchase a rear trunk and mount this winter....

A few questions for you seasoned riders. Although this bike is not designed really for touring 2-up, I would like to get my wife to ride on a few rides from time to time. I was wondering what people thought about pulling a trailer with the k1200rs? It would make it easier to convince my wife to ride along because I wouldn't need to "restrict" her packing quite so much. It would also provide useful when I take off on long trips during the summer months..

For those that have pulled trailers on the k1200rs or just in general, what do you notice about your ride with or without a trailer. Do you notice the extra weight? Does your rear tire wear out more quickly? Do you have to really lay off the twisties? Any general information would be nice. I know that getting a hitch for the k1200rs is difficult, but I did find one company that sells them..

Thanks for the imput

22-1983 kz750 -Sold
24-2000 1100 Shadow Sabre-Sold
27-2002 BMWk1200rs

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