130 miles on a saturday morning -- first impressions
Wanted to get a jump on the rain that was predicted for the day and spend some time with a few of my dealer's customers talking about the new K1200GT. I had a chance to do 130 miles on the many Farm to Market roads here in North Central Texas.
I'm following the run in schedule that BMW recommends, keeping the RPMs below 7000 and varying the RPMs and trying out different gears. Here are my initial impressions:
First, this motorcycle beats the previous generation RS/GT in nearly every class. Power, handling, suspension, ergonomics, bells & whistles, and functionality. The only place where I would say the old RS/GT still wins is styling and the feel of the stock seat. This is the bike I think BMW meant to make in 1998, but just hadn't quite figured it out yet.
Power: Gobs of it. I was asked to compare it to the K1200S. It's not the same at all. In fact, I think it feels more like a K1200R than the K1200S in terms of the power delivery (more torque at the expense of a few ponies).
Handling: Oh man oh man! This bike out handles the previous generation RS/GT is so many categories. Given equal riders on a very technical course (i.e., twisty with hills and sweepers), the new GT would leave the old RS/GT in the dust. The new GT is EFFORTLESS when making high speed turns. You provide input, and the bike just goes there.
Suspension: The handling characteristics are all about the Hossack-Lever suspension. I refuse to call it the Duo-Lever, because if it weren't for the foresight of a brilliant designer -- Norman Hossack. The ESA component of the overall suspension package really makes this bike. I spent some time taking a particular route, changing the ESA settings, and re-riding the route. I find that with my fat ass, the two-up/sport setting works best for me. I could probably go with the one-up with luggage/sport setting, but I'll stick with the two-up/sport setting for most brisk rides. Moving between the comfort and sport settings seemed to be the best for me. Comfort when traversing distances between fun roads. Sport for the fun roads. I did hit a tight corner in comfort mode and caught me a little off guard. Just enough of a pucker to get a hint of vinyl in the back of my throat. I turned around and did the same route in the sport mode, and all I can say is WOW!!! It's really that much of a difference.
More Notes on the Suspension: Some people have observed the lack of "feedback" with the Hossack-Lever suspension. But I think it's just a matter of getting used to it. When in sport mode, on a washboarded corner, I felt enough feedback to keep me confident through the turn. In comfort mode, you definitely have a lack of feedback. In addition, the rubber mounted grip assembly seems to also mask some of the feedback. Again, I think it's just a matter of getting used to it rather than considering it a deficiency.
Ergonomics: Great. I took delivery of the bike with the bars in the highest position. Feels just like the RT, not quite as tall as the LT. But comfortable. I moved between the middle and lowest settings. For me (being 6'3"), I will pick the middle setting. The setting of the bars makes a BIG difference in terms of how well the windshield protects you from the wind and buffeting. In the high position, I found the windshield quite INADEQUATE. However, drop into the middle and low settings, and it was much better. I feel that 3rd-party windshield makers will fix this problem. When has BMW made a decent windshield?
Ergonomics Continued: Also, the seat has a high and low setting. I didn't realize I was in the low setting for more than half of the ride, and I didn't notice. When I finally moved the seat up, it did feel better, and would make a long distance ride much more enjoyable. Speaking of the seat, it's too hard for my tastes. I am sure Sargent or someone else will have a seat coming out soon. That's the problem with seats. Some people will love them (like the stock seat on my LT) and others will hate them. The other guy who took delivery of his GT on Friday said he loves his seat, and he has 100 miles on me. The GT seat, to me, is too hard. I like firm, but I felt like I was sitting on the Ducati Multistrada's seat.
More Notes on the Ergonomics: READ YOUR OWNERS MANUAL IN REGARDS TO THE HANDLEBAR ADJUSTMENT -- IT WILL SAVE YOU TIME. It's so simple, you'll slap your head like the old "I coulda had a V-8" commercials. After my "duh" moment after adjusting them the first time, it takes about 1 minute to adjust the bars to whatever of the 6 possible positions available.
Bells & Whistles: The cruise control works just like the LT, RS/GT, and RT. Seamless and just works. Holds speed very well, even on hills in 6th gear. The electric windshield is great; however, I think how well it protects depends on how tall you are and where you have the bars set. ESA - AWESOME - need I say more? The computer and display provides you more information than you ever wanted to know. I find that the MPG and miles to empty screens the most useful for me.
Functionality: Aside from the bells & whistles, there are some really nice functional aspects of the K1200GT. The bags are perfect. The fit is nice, it's very difficult to install them improperly, and the locking/release mechanism is how the System Cases should have been for years. As I said before, the seat height adjustment is quite ingenious. Simple and effective. Between the windshield and the dash is a airfoil that helps provide effective airflow to the rider. Adjusting the windshield also adjusts the flow or air through the airfoil. The last functional element, while small, is a big help. The valve stems for the tires point to the side. Unlike in previous years, you either suffered through it, or installed side pointing valve stems. It's nice of BMW to think about the little details.
Again, my only complaints about the next-generation K1200GT is the styling and the seat comfort. In every other way, this bike outclasses it's predecessor and several other BMW bikes. I believe you will see many K1200LT, K1200RS/GT, and R1200RT owners moving to the K1200GT. I also believe that you will see many non-BMW riders look at the K1200GT as the entry into the line of BMW touring bikes. While I will get used to the looks over time, this bike has already sold me. The power delivery, features, suspension, handling, and functionality is second to no other motorcycle, BMW or otherwise.
Become a Supporting Member of K-Bikes.com
'06 K1200GT Crystal Grey
'04 Sprint RS Caspian Blue
"I can make a woman orgasm so hard she screams out random numbers. Those numbers end up being winning lottery numbers."