Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Wilmington, NC, USA
Re: R1200RT purchase advice
For someone who has ridden a lot of stuff you don't seem to have much of an expressed opinion about what traits you want in road bike- makes providing solid info for you more difficult. Anyone who mentions an HD, a 6 cyl BMW and Kwak 14 in the same note hasn't made much progress in eliminating what isn't a good match for them...
But a few comments on the 2 BMWs
The RT is lighter, amply powerful for any normal riding, a well proven mount for long distance use. The power band is narrower by bunch than the 6 cyl as one would expect. It is easily serviced by an owner who is passably competent. Current versions have eliminated the fuel strip failures (use a more normal gauge system now), have somewhat better final drives than earlier years and have fixed some other design goofs in earlier models (eg non-reinforced fuel pump flange fitting that cracked). But they've also acquired some new ones- there seems to be fairly high failure rate on the new BMW switch design, for example. If you like the RT motor, I'd suggest you also test ride one or both of the R1200 GS models- the handling is different on pavment, much better on gravel, etc and some riders prefer the GS - though its weather protection isn't in the same league as the RT.
The 6 cyl is a complex machine most folks will take to dealer for service- no surprise a salesman might prefer to sell it- more profit and a pretty much guaranteed service revenue stream for the dealership. There have been assorted complaints about the lack of parts is the US inventory leading to long delays and BMW customer service is of no assistance in expediting anything- its dealer resource dependent. Some BMW riders including me pan the design for sloppy appearance compared to other models but that just an opinion. Very little aftermarket support for anything on this bike, yet, including diagnostic tools. And every pillion rider in our club that has demoed it has panned pillion accomodations- its not a great 2 up bike compared to a GoldWing, K1200LT, etc. For that reason alone no one in our local BMW club has purchased one- they prefer their K1200LTs for 2 up by far....The 6 has good handling for its size and the motor is as slick as it gets though and if you like electronic gadgets its got plenty- I tend to count them as negatives because eventually they'll need expensive repairs..
If you're a sunny weather rider I'd guess you don't put enough miles on a bike for that to matter much but FWIW, the RT dry clutch, though a pita to replace for a home mechanic, is as robust as any car design- good for 100K or more if you don't abuse it.. And most FDs will go that far or more unless you're one of the few per cent who has an early failure. 50K miles is generally considered moderate low mileage on a boxer bike and every BMW rally has bikes with 200K, sometimes with 300K and once in a while even more than that...
Test rides should provide your answer. And that's no problem at most BMW dealerships, unlike most J brand shops that don't have demo bikes.
One point to keep in mind is that Germans use their customers as beta testers for new stuff. They do inadequate testing re durability in hot sunny climates for parts susceptible to such damage and rush new stuff to production fast enough to miss minor design goofs. Couple that with a lot of outsourcing based on price and it creates issues for owners BUT the warranties are decent and good dealerships are very effective at warranty service no matter where you bought the bike. I think the 4th or 5th year of model production is the right time to buy any completely new German design- it takes them that long to get it to it reliability peak. The traditional German indsutry skill is motors and metals - related work; he traditional weaknesses are in basic material sciences/choices (eg adhesives, plastics,etc) and electrical/electronic parts (compared to J, Korean or American stuff).
Whether the 6 will become any kind of a permanent fixture in the BMW lineup only time will tell. The boxer has survived many design generations and is about to see its first water-cooled version next year- because it has a loyal following despite all the other models BMW has made- sort of like the air cooled Harley motor. FWIW, I won't be replacing my 08 RT with a new waterboxer, 6 cyl or anything else any time soon- its finally fully farkled to perfection and meets all my requirements in a touring ride- BUT I would like a backup or something different periodically so might add one. I also ride a well farkled K1200RS (chipped, Ohlins, etc) for play time so maybe it should be a GS type- I get time on a friends R1100S so don't need another one of that type...
Last edited by racer7; Aug 24th, 2012 at 12:14 pm.