I promised a more comprehensive review, so here it goes.
First off, let me say, WHAT A BIKE!!! This bike outclasses all three of my previous BMWs (K1200LT, '01 K1200RS, and '02 K1200RS). This bike is such a level above the previous generation LT/RS/GT that it isn't even comparable. Between the power and handling, there is no way to have a fair comparison. Aside from styling and seat, it beats any previous BMW K1200 in every category.
Okay, enough of the standard "this bike is the best motorcycle I have ever ridden in 35 years of riding".
The 1000 mile trip to and from the mountains:
This bike is quite the tourer on the freeway. This motorcycle loves 80-90 MPH. Makes for light work of those long stretches across the western US. 70 MPH seemed to be a chore. I was just in a place on the power band where the buzz was at its worst. And I mean it is a very narrow band. 50 RPM one way or the other and it's gone. 68 or 72 MPH felt fine. It seems like as the bike breaks in, this buzz is going away, but it's still noticeable.
I think my butt finally broke in the seat, as I found it acceptible over the 600 mile ride. Note that I said acceptible, not comfortable. I'll probably be looking for an aftermarket seat. And since I am so tall, the stock high screen just isn't working for me. In the lower position, the wind blast hits me in the neck. In the high position, the buffeting is annoying. The electric control makes it nice to move to that "perfect" position, but I think it will take an after market screen to fix this issue. I'll be talking to Tom at Cee Bailey's next week.
We broke the trip out over an afternoon and the following morning. But the return trip was 660 miles, about 500 on the freeway. 10 hours and 36 minutes in the saddle. No issues. As long as you stay out of 4900 RPM, it's great. It's no LT in terms of comfort, but it sure makes up for it in every other category.
986 miles in the mountains:
This bike was built to ride the twisties. The ESA and Hossack suspension make for an awesome combination. The bike takes the corners like it was on rails. Mountain roads with sharp corners and steep transitions are what this motorcycle craves. The rear tire is scuffed from edge to edge, and I have yet to touch down the footpegs. Through the tightest of turns and the fastest of sweepers, you feel like you are part of the bike, not just a rider of the bike. Decreasing radius turns were not a problem. Provide more input into the turn, and the bike responds crisply and immediately. The bike transitions effortlessly in any series of s-turns. In fact, effortless is the word that best describes how this bike rides. You give it input in terms of steering or throttle, and it just does it. The bike almost feels like it is anticipating your every move.
This bike really shined on the road between Red River and Questa. 13 miles of perfectly cambered sweepers. Leading out the group on Friday, I was able to go almost the entire 13 miles uninterrupted by other vehicles. I've ridden that same stretch of road on the LT, and it's easy to get in over your head. No such feeling on the new GT. Same goes for NM 502 between the Espanola cutoff and the Y-split to White Rock. There are a series of uphill s-curves. The new GT takes these corners with such ease that it just begs you to test your limits. The Metzeler Z6 tires are so sticky, even the tar snakes couldn't deter the agressive lean angles in these turns.
NM 4 from White Rock to Jemez Springs allowed the GT to show its truest colors. Power delivery was perfect for passing those series of slower vehicles and climbing those steep uphill switchbacks. NM 4 provides everything from winding sharp corners to well cambered sweepers. Coming across the "top of 4" and into the Valle Grande, I announced on the radio to the rest of the group, "welcome to the Valle Grande International Speedway". You come out of a set of s-turns into a 3 mile gentle left curve. Let's just say that an undisclosed speed was attained, but it wasn't until I checked the GPS later that I found out what it really was. It sure didn't feel that fast at all -- it was rock solid at all speeds. No vibrations, no wobbles, no instability, nothing that inspired anything but confidence. I could go on with stories of NM 518, 94, 434, 120, and 442. 986 miles of mountain, canyon, and river roads provided nothing but riding bliss.
I tried various pre-load settings on the ESA. One up, One up with luggage, Two up. The pre-load must be set while standing still. Once in motion, you can shift between comfort, normal, and sport on the fly. You'll know when you forget to change from comfort to sport in the twisties, or sport to comfort on that rough stretch of road. Very nice feature. I found that at my weight, the one-up with luggage seemed to work out very well. The one-up only setting seemed to feel kinda mushy. The two-up setting felt a little stiff. And sounding like goldilocks, the one-up with luggage setting was just right.
Other things I noticed:
Windshield - only in the lower to middle positions was the airflow bearable. In these settings, it sent the air right down at my neck, but anything higher caused buffeting that was too annoying to tolerate. An aftermarket shield will fix that.
Heated Grips and Seat - when we hit the 28 degree mark yesterday morning, the heated grips and seat were a godsend. They heat up very quickly and in the high setting were almost too hot. The low setting made it very comfortable once the temps were above 35.
Tankbag - BMW finally makes a functional and useful tankbag. Even though the sealing mechanism for the map pocket is a little weird, it is very functional. Basically, you roll up the end to the velcro and seal it down. I am sure it is quite waterproof. Also, BMW has made the interior of the tankbag water resistant. It's hard to explain, but it's like they placed the waterproof liner inside the tankbag instead of the Chicane method of sewing in an integrated raincover.
Luggage - the system cases are right off the R1200RT. The new system is so much better than before. Taking the luggage off and on the bike is a breeze. No mistaking the fit and risk melting your luggage. The indicator for open/closed is idiotproof (and trust me, I've messed up my share of older system cases).
Seat Adjustment - the seat adjustment is quite easy. No guessing if you have the slot aligned (like the old RS/GT). You can move from high to low in a matter of seconds. Release the pillion seat, move off the driver seat, slide the bar to the high or low position, and reinstall the driver and pillion seat. I rode out to NM in the high position, and returned in the low position. I am 6'3" and found the seat much more comfortable in the low position. I don't get it either, but it worked out that way.
Top case - the 49 liter topcase is HUGE. I think it holds more than the LT topcase. The mechanism is just as simple as the new system cases. Easy on/easy off. And as advertised, the topcase will hold two full face helmets -- even a Schuberth.
Horn - you'd think on a bike this big, someone would put a horn that makes a more macho sound than the european "meep meep". I just ordered a Stebel horn from Pirate, so we'll see how that turns out.
Well, that's it for now. The next trips are Arkansas in June, AZ/UT/CO in July, and CCR in GA this August. If I'm lucky, I should have about 15K on the bike by the end of the summer. I'll keep y'all informed on how the bike performs for the long run.