Itís interesting how people can have very different opinions of any given bike.
As a sports bike rider (BMW R1200S and Ducati 1098S) I was looking for something more tour friendly so I arranged a back to back test ride of the R1200GS with ESA, the R1200GSA with ESA and tall screen and the R1200RT with ESA.
First out was the RT (with panniers) and I was immediately impressed with the low speed handling and comfort, once on the move it felt very light and nimble despite its large heavy looking appearance. Wind protection was the best I have ever experienced on a bike, the lack of buffeting and noise at freeway speeds was a revelation.
The ESA suspension did not impress, no setting provided the combination of control and comfort I would expect of an expensive Euro tourer. The same applied the K1300S with ESA that I had ridden not long before.
I was not at all happy with either GS, the high centre of gravity and trail bike, sit on top feel just donít work for me coming from sports bikes. Comfort was also a big disappointment, the seats had me squirming around in an attempt to find a comfortable position after only half an hour and the wind protection on even the tall screen GSA was marginal at best with a lot of tiring buffeting at freeway speeds. I would rather a naked bike or the 1098 Ducati than put up with buffeting.
After the test rides I was surprised in my strong dislike for the GS and great admiration for the RT, it stood out as the sort of bike I was looking for.
I had previously tested the Triumph Sprint ST and Tiger, I dislike the Tiger for much the same reasons as the GS and liked the Sprint, although it was not what I was after.
Within a couple of weeks I purchased a non ESA R12RT and ordered a pair of Ohlins shocks and a taller, wider California Scientific screen. The Ohlins transformed the ride and handing of the RT, gone is the front end lift under hard acceleration and dive under brakes, the ride is now smooth comfortable and controlled with no bounce or wallow. With a few extra clicks of damping the RT is as tied down as the sports bikes and lots of fun in the twisties.
The Cal Science screen has almost eliminated what little buffeting was there with the original screen and is noticeably quieter at high speeds, its hard to imaging how any bike would have better aerodynamics and wind protection than this setup.
I note that people have issues with the RTís mirrors, I found them ďdifferentĒ at first but once they where adjusted properly and I got used to looking down at them I found I liked them a lot, they are large, always very clear and obviously play a vital role in keeping wind and rain of my hands. I have no desire to add handlebar mounted mirrors.