MCN Review of the K1200GT
From last weeks MCN (the UK Motorcycle Magazine):
NOT ANOTHER BMW TOURER?
WELL yes, and no. It is new, but is a direct replacement for the old K1200GT -a sporty tourer powered by an outdated transverse- mounted engine. This latest version has the inline four-cylinder lump first used in 2005 with the 167bhp sports weaponK1200S, and later naked streetfighter K1200R. BMW claim 152bhp at the crankshaft here- comprehensively weeing on other GTs in the class such as Yamaha's FJR and Ronda Pan European.
SO WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
THE GT is a halfway house bike between the costly (£13,735 for the base model) luxury liner the K1200LT and the cheaper (£10,895) Boxer- twin powered R1200RT. In a nutshell, the GT is pitched as a fast, agile and comfortable mile-muncher, I know it's hard to believe that a bike that weighs 249kg dry -or 282kg with its 24-litre tank brimmed -can be described as agile, but it is, And yes, it is quick.
THAT IS UNBELIEVABLE
NO, seriously. , Once you start rolling, boots placed on the rubber-topped pegs, the GT turns into a different animal. Not quite a racing snake, obviously, but on fast A-roads and twisty B- roads it doesn't take anymore effort through the bars than, say, a naked middleweight to lay it on its side. Pick the pace up and you'd expect tight comers and hectic braking to turn the GT's mass inside out. You' d be very wrong, and also very surprised at how easy it is to barrel into a comer, brake, lean and then wind the power on to tear off down the road. Overtaking is just as easy; indicate, turn the throttle and wave bye- bye to Herr Cutt in his tin box.
On smooth surfaces the standard suspension is perfect. Only deteriorated road surfaces upset the standard rear shock (adjustable for rebound damping and preload). The floaty sensation from the rear was easily sorted by dialling in more rebound damping. The WP front shock of the Duolever system (a rigid fork works the shock via a linkage) has no adjustment and really doesn't need it. The Brembo braking set-up works a treat on dry smooth surfaces, too. But on damp roads, the ABS cutting in is felt as a definite surge, caused by the GT's bulk. On most ABS-equipped bikes all you get is a pulsing at the bars.
What the K1200GT does need is the £525 Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA) option as standard, Small electric motors adjust the rear shock's rebound damping and front shock's compression damping to three pre-set levels (comfort -soft; normal- firmer for everyday use; sport -stiff for chasing race-reps. Three levels of rear spring tension (solo, solo with luggage, two-up) can also be called upon at the press of the bar-mounted ESA button. It may sound complicated but in reality suspension adjustment has never been easier. The sport mode gives the bike a whole heap more feel to the rider when he's making the best use of decent roads
IS IT TOO SPORTY THEN?
NOT at all. With around 130bhp making its way through the shaft drive and Bridgestone BT -020 rear tyre, this power is felt as smooth traction -like pouring Guinness. Wind the throttle on and the speedo needle wangs its way past the numbers quickly and surely. Driving out of corners is a matter of twisting the throttle and smiling broadly at the way it pulls cleanly even from as low as 3500rom. At 6500mm the engine is beginning to pump hard and you can hear the engine note and airbox resonate to harsher levels, while faint vibes can just about be felt through the bars. Attitude is not usually a word attributed to BMW bikes, but then BMW never had an engine that was so adaptable and powerful at the same time.
YOU'RE NOT TELLING ME IT'S FUN?
INDEED I am. It's immediately likeable as within a mile you know it's capable of doing exactly what it's supposed to do; Let me elaborate. The standard-fit electronically height adjustable screen in its lowest position allows vital cooling air in slow traffic and sets you up for head down joy out on the open roads. Fully upright it pushes windblast on to the upper part of your lid, and you can see over the top of it - taller screens like on the K1200LT are an irritant, especially when cluttered with bug c debris or heavy rain. Lean forward if you want to enter a plexiglass nirvana of peace and quiet. The balanced feel of the bike and precise steering are aided by the perfectly-positioned height-adjustable bars -it takes two minutes to move them up or down by 4Omm. This helps put more weight over the bars, or simply helps the shorties among us feel more at home. The rider's seat can be lowered from S40mm to S20mm by a simple cam mechanism -I'm only 5ft Sin and could comfortably balance the bike at junctions and traffic lights.
SO IT'S SPORTY, BUT IS IT COMFY?
ONLY after 130 miles did my leather-clad butt start to ache -Cordura would be a better bet for big mileage. With the optional (£110) on-board computer showing fuel consumption of 47.4mpg at 6S.Smph then theoretically 250 miles could be had from a full tank. But no-one sits at this speed for so long. Stops, starts, comers and acceleration make their mark, but even so 200 miles is achievable.
That big 24-litre tank size isn't even that noticeable. The tank itself is narrow so your legs are not splayed outwards and into fresh air. The seat is narrow, but there's still room to move around -and for mirrors that are on stalks they are as effective for visibility as a 42-inch plasma LCD TV for luggage-lugging the stock panniers can easily hold a weekend's worth of clothes and sundries and luggage capacity can be upped from 64litres to 113 litres with the optional 49-litre top-box (price to be set). Add to this the usual array of BMW accessories -,heated grips and seats (yep, two of 'em, pillions get treated to the same level of luxury) and you have a bloody good touring machine- just like BMW said it would be.
BMW's reputation for producing quality touring bikes remains as safe as ever. But that's not to say there isn't a fault to be found with the K1200GT. There is one and that's ~ hefty £11,955 asking price; and that figure only gets you the poverty-spec bike. Niceties like heated grips, cruise control, ESA etc come for a substantial extra wedge. Needless to say the K1200GT will sell c on the BMW badge it carries alone. But I can't help thinking that sales would be higher still if the price was cut to draw in even more folk to the expanding world of BM.
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Last edited by eljeffe; Mar 27th, 2006 at 8:11 am.