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Hi Everyone,

I got my (almost new) K1300 GT three weeks ago and feel moved to write summarising the main differences between this and the K1200 GT as I see them.

First, a little history: I've been riding 35 years mostly in and around the city of London, UK. For virtually my entire riding career, I'd owned several Kawasaki GT550s. For those of you who don't know this model, the GT550 is a pretty average low to mid-power bike that does nothing spectacularly well, except for one thing: it goes and goes. It is extremely reliable. All I ever did to them was change oil every 1000 miles and have them serviced every 6000. The only times I ever broke down were due to punctures.

Anyway, as I was approaching my 50th birthday, I decided I deserved something a little more modern and powerful. I'd always liked the look of the K1200GT and in November 2009, I bought a used one: two years old with 6,700 miles on the clock.

What a fantastic machine! I couldn't believe how well it handles and how manoeuvrable it is at low speeds, especially as it weighs so much. The power is extremely seductive, the ride very comfortable, wonderful brakes and the ESA is a revelation; easily the most useful of all the optional extras the bike had (heated seats, grips, onboard computer, large screen). There was, however, one problem: the gearchange was appalling. I read someone else on this forum describe the gearchange on the K1200GT as 'agricultural', and I'd say that was a fair assessment. I quickly discovered that all K12s 'clunk' to a certain degree, that it didn't do any damage, etc., but it REALLY annoyed me to read that the K1300 had a modified gearchange that had 'improved the problem' and that the gearbox on the K16000 was 'the best that BMW have ever made', because a bike of the calibre (and expense) of the K1200 simply should not have such a basic inherent problem in the first place.

If I'd used the K1200GT as a touring mile-muncher (which is what, I suppose, it's principally developed to do), then this wouldn't be so much of a problem for me, but because I do most of my riding in town, the clunk was driving me mad. Add to that the slight final drive 'lag' in evidence as the drive is taken up, resulted in getting one 'clunk' as I changed gear, then another 'clunk' as I opened the throttle and the drive slack taken up.

The problem gradually worsened and I had the entire clutch assembly replaced under warranty. The gearchange significantly improved, but gradually deteriorated over six weeks.

I decided enough was enough. The bike had to go. Replacement candidates? Honda Pan European - instability issues at 90MPH. BMW twins - too rough, even with the revised heads. BMW K1600 - too big, and that wide, exposed crankcase looked expensive if the bike was dropped... So, I test rode the K1300GT and felt the gearchange was better enough to warrant the expense of selling my K12.

The K1300GT I bought was 18 months old with just 2500 miles on the clock. Did I need the extra options this one had over the K12 (Xenon headlight, cruise control, TPC and ASC)? Of course not, but I wanted them just the same!

Now to the point of this whole article. After spending nearly 2 years and 9000 town miles on the K12, I feel in a good position to relate the main differences between it and the K1300. There are several, and they are significant:

• The gearchange is much-improved. Not perfect, but more bearable. Is it just because the bike is so new? Time will tell.
• No more final drive 'lag'. Praise be!
• How can 8BHP make such a difference to a 151BHP motorcycle? Well, I guess its where on the rev range that extra BHP exists. The increase in torque really improves the low-speed acceleration, and makes the bike much more responsive at lower speeds.
• The irritating whine of the electrical brake 'servo' has now gone.
• The handle grips are smaller in diameter and more comfortable.
• The brakes do not seem as powerful as those on the K12, but have more 'feel'; they are more responsive.
• The switchgear and layout is much better than that on the K12.

In summary, the move from the K12 to the K1300 GT has been worth it for me. I have questioned whether I am saying this to try and talk myself into rationalising the extra expense in taking a hit in selling-on the K12, and then paying top money for a little-used K1300 because they aren't being made anymore and have become 'sought-after'? Have I become spoilt? I mean, just over two years ago I was thrashing about on a 53BHP Kawasaki!!

I hope readers find this write-up useful if they are considering whether to go for a K12 or K13. In summary, if you can afford the extra dosh, go for the K1300GT.

I would welcome other members opinions on the two bikes.
 

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With every new model there are wispers about improvement of the agricultural BMW transmission (the R1150 is better than the 1100, the R1200 is better than the 1150, the K1300 is better than the K1200, and on and on) but in my experience most all BMW transmissions are clunky and I'm almost beginning to believe always will be clunky (I haven't ridden the K1600 yet, although I hear it's 'improved'... ;) ) In the K1300 the only significant change I know of is to the shift linkage (which can be upgraded on the 1200), but beyond that I think any innate differences in smoothness are more a matter of production variation than anything else. This effect is also quite noticible in the R series as well in that some samples of the same model are better or worse than others. But if you got a good (or at least better) one on your new bike then that's what matters.

The difference in braking isn't really a 1200/1300 thing, rather the difference between whizzy/servo brakes and the more conventional system used from 2007 on (including two model years of the K1200.) Your description of the newer brakes as being less sensitive but with better feel is pretty much in line with how most people feel about the change (significantly for the better IMO.)

The 8 hp is at the top of the rev range so I doubt you're really noticing that (unless you're an animal out there :D) nor do I think the few ft. lbs. of torque stand out that much. What you may be noticing is better fueling at low rpm ranges which many have noted in the 1300 vs. 1200.

Regarding the 'much better' switchgear in the 1300, uhhh, I'm not going to go there. ;)

You'll get a lot of opinions but you don't need to justify or rationalize your purchase, if the difference is worth it to you that's all that counts.
 

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I own a 2008 K1200. After 3 summers of owning it I finally was able to take an extended trip of 7,100 miles in 19 days. This was California to the BMWMOA rallye in PA by way of Canada. Lots of heat and some rain. Backroads and interstate. Even dirt, where a road in No. Dakota was being replaced and the surface was MIA. In other words, about every condition possible to ride through.

The bike ran and performed flawlessly. Did not use a drop of oil. The roll on power for passing, as everyone here should know, is fantastic and is the best attribute of this bike IMHO. And, it handles the twisties good enough for my skill set.

This is a sport tourer and this exactly what this trip was. i was comfortable enough, as I defy any bike to feel fantastic after a 600 mile day.

My point which I thought about while on the trip. Would it be any better on the K1300 or the new 1600? Disclosure, I have not ridden either one. Conclusion, I cannot imagine it possibly being materially better to incur the cost of the upgrade. Where could the 1200 be outdone in the environment it was intended, long trips packing gear? A few more HP. Brakes that felt better. In a 600 mile day there really aren't enough shifts to worry about.
So, I really think when owners make the upgrade they want the latest and greatest and make these comparos to rationalize the added expense.

I would only replace the K1200 if it became unreliable or I wanted to abandon the sport tourer class. Thanks for reading.
 

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Ken, I appreciated your detailed post comparing a K12 to a K13GT. I am in the final decision-making stage on a 2009 K1300GT and have been reading everything I can find on the subject. I got all the issues and will check them out on this particular bike I am considering. I have been riding a 'classic' 2004 K1200GT for 4 years and 40k miles and have had an absolute ball with it, despite its known limitations.

I am wondering, now that you have a few months on your 'new' bike, how is the clunking gearbox issue you described? Still ok? I test rode this bike and noticed some clunking in the first several gears as well. BTW, the bike I am looking at has 1400 miles on it. That is not a typo - there are 4 digits there, not missing a zero. Yes, a 2009 (in-service date 12/09). So it still has a year of warranty left.

Another question as well. if you don't mind (others comment as well please). I had heard that the 1300 has a touchy throttle that made it difficult to shift smoothly. I found this as well on my short 20 minute test ride. I either over-revved or under-revved when shifting. Most noticeable in the lower gears of course. I also couldn't effectively match the rpm when decelerating. Is this just something you eventually learn or is the throttle so sensitive it will always be difficult and you just live with it?

All in all a very impressive machine and a nice step up from my pukey old classic GT. We have had some great rides but it is time for a change.

Thanks in advance for all who have taken their time to comment about their experiences in these forums.

Jerry
 

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The Slant/4 motor revs up a lot faster than the Flying Brick. That's partially due to a lighter flywheel, and partially due to a hell of a lot more horsepower. :D

You will get used to it in time, and then you'll be damn glad every time you roll on that throttle . . . :ricky
 

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Agreed, I believe riders who complain about the touchy throttle have not factored in that they are controlling over 150hp on a motorcycle. Hell yeah it's gonna be touchy, helloooooo!!! Might want to be a little careful with that throttle thingie over on the right handlebarrrrr.
As far as the transmission clunk, yeah it's a BMW, you only worry about it when it STOPS clunking. Sorta like the British bike oil leaks, you only worry about it when they stop leaking, it means they've run out.

Gilly
 

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Ah, that gearbox!

Great post, interesting comments.

I too could not believe the gearbox on the K12GT when I first rode one but, like others, I was wooed by the rest of the bike and bought one. After a while though I did think I had made a mistake as it seemed so bad. When I first had it serviced I asked for the dealer to take a good look at the gearbox and clutch and, whilst everything was OK, something in the selector linkage was tightened up which made a huge difference to 'feeling' what the box was doing.

After much googling and practice I've concluded the following:

  • You can only drop into first quietly when the engine is still cold and you hold the clutch in for ten seconds before shifting. Otherwise selecting first is always dreadful. Get used to it.
  • Preload preload preload - this is the great secret! With judicious preload and the tiniest dab of the clutch smooth, silent, changes are possible. Managed like this the box can sound and feel as smooth as silk - yes really!
  • However, overall the gearbox is still cr*p as it is only when you are completely in the zone and focussed on the changes that this is possible. If you are tired, cranky or just not in the mood it will turn back into soundling like a bucket of spanners dropped down a metal staircase!
The choice is therefore to recognise it takes great skill to master a K12GT box (and enjoy accepting the challenge) or just give up and ignore it (or change bikes). Personally I'm going with the former and love my bike more than ever - it's just a question of improving my skills!
 

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@dougunn - Best post response! Thank you! Great info for my next test ride probably this Thursday. As someone in another thread somewhere said the first test ride was mostly "gee wow" although I did try to pay attention to many of the things I read about, and I am not altogether new to this sport bike thing. But this next test ride I will do more stop and go, light to light type of riding to see if I can begin to control the clunking and smooth shifting. I have read before about pre-loading the shifter and have tried that on my classic GT. It is effective but as you said you need to be 'in the zone' to remember to do it. Somehow I just haven't been able to build the habit and learned to live with it.

I can feel the love of the bike from the many responders in this thread and others. I know there have been problems and most people don't post unless there is something to b!tch about so I take all that with a grain. But now it is my hard-earned money I am about to lay down so I want to know I am making the right decision.

Thanks again to all who responded!


Jerry
 

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JerryinKC said:
@dougunn - Best post response! Thank you! Great info for my next test ride probably this Thursday. As someone in another thread somewhere said the first test ride was mostly "gee wow" although I did try to pay attention to many of the things I read about, and I am not altogether new to this sport bike thing. But this next test ride I will do more stop and go, light to light type of riding to see if I can begin to control the clunking and smooth shifting. I have read before about pre-loading the shifter and have tried that on my classic GT. It is effective but as you said you need to be 'in the zone' to remember to do it. Somehow I just haven't been able to build the habit and learned to live with it.

I can feel the love of the bike from the many responders in this thread and others. I know there have been problems and most people don't post unless there is something to b!tch about so I take all that with a grain. But now it is my hard-earned money I am about to lay down so I want to know I am making the right decision.

Thanks again to all who responded!


Jerry
I went from the 06 1200GT to the 09 1300GT, for many of the reasons stated earlier. I love the 2009 as I go into my 3rd season. More reliable, better control and better smoothness. The geometry is better making the bike more nimble and easier to steer at very low speeds Everything about this bike is so much better than the 1200GT. It is a shame that BMW decided to drop the bike from its lineup and replace it with the 1600. I test drove the 1600. A nice bike, but it is 100lbs more in weight even though it did not seem so, while riding it. I think I will wait on it, as I am really into my current machine, having taken it on a wonderful ride of 2400 miles last summer. I never felt very tired at the end of each day, after doing twisties etc in NC, & TN :)
 

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Yep, the K12GT was the Beta bike, and the K13GT is what they should've shipped to begin with . . . ;)

I've also ridden the K16GTL. It was very comfortable, with ergos pretty close to my GT after I added bar risers and peg extenders. It has tons of torque, which makes it very easy to ride. And yes, it's 100 lbs heavier, but it is balanced so well that it absolutely doesn't feel like it. I took a GTL up the twistiest local road I could find, and it was just as easy to ride well as my GT, even in the really tight stuff. I was impressed with everything about the GTL, except for the price tag . . .
 

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My previous bike was a '03 GT and I loved the bike, even the whinny servos... Put about 60k on that bike in just 3 years...around the time of my divorce. ANYWAY, in 2010 I decided it was time to trade her in and I picked up a new '10 GT. I believe that the 1300 is superior to my 1200 in every way except for looks and the new switchgear (ewwwe)....

'03 K1200GT
Looks & Switchgear

'10 K1300GT
Performance, Handling, Range, Comfort, Brakes, Throttle Response, Suspension, Luggage, Informational (OBC), Safety

It's the little things that I like, such as the distance to empty display. It's a great help on a long trip to know how far you will be able to go. Makes trip planning that much easier. Between my Zumo GPS and the distance to empty display I know pretty much when and where I will need to stop for fuel.

I usually ride in SPORT mode on the ESA, but when the road is in poor condition it's amazing to push a button and instantly switch to COMFORT.

I've had an instance where I was forced to 'grab a handful' of brake. Having the anti-lock brakes available more than likely prevented an accident on a busy road.

On my '03 I lost most of one side case due to the muffler running behind it, it's nice to have that room available to me on the new bike along with a decent sized rack to handle a tail bag.

Now that the stalling issue has been settled I am much more comfortable driving at low speeds than on the '03 which was a whale in the parking lots.

I just need an early spring to get back on the road again!
 

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K1200gtse

Some good comments on the K bikes in the forum, I have an 08 K1200GTSE and have clocked up 83000km, yes the clunk in the box can be annoying but easily prevented if you are prepared to ride and treat these wonderful road munchers like they ask to be treated..once in 1st, load the shift lever, get up to 4000 plus rpm, a quick blip of the throttle and a short flick of the shift (together) yep works every time, my unit is fitted with a booster plug, dominator slip on and a KnN filter which combined makes for an extremely responsive bike,
So what if you need two thumbs to indicate, if that’s the inconvenience people have to live with on the bike, my heart bleeds!!
Most corners are a breeze, the shoulders on the tyres are there for a reason, don’t be scared to lean into an apex, it’ll leave you hunting out another one..
The only issue ive had is the fuel sensor fail, got my local bmw dealer to fit a new one, big deal, for a 12 year old bike, I’m sweet with that..
These bikes are simply sensational,
And I love my thunderbird too!
 

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The first thing I learned (at the driving school, we need a separate driving license for motor driven 2 wheelers) riding a bike was to preload the shifter before touching the clutch, its as essential as counter steering, dosen't everyone do that? Down to 1st it clunks.
Preloading makes the shift almost like butter, I'm not tanking about K1200 (I'm here looking for information before geting one), been riding K100s, old air head R75/5.
Most the time shifting up I dot even use the clutch on my present K100, just preload and let of the throttle a little bit. 99% of my driving is slow commuting to work no aggressive riding at all.
 
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