I have an 02 LTC and an 06 K1200S. I've owned no cage for about 4 yrs now.
There's over 117k on the LT, near 50k on the KS now.
The FD failed on the LT around 17k miles (it melted) and I'm still on the same FD. Thats not too bad, 100k miles on that thing now. The bike is running better than new after the latest service I had (spent 3 grand on that one) in all respects. gotta do yer maintenance no matter what.
I've had 2 tranny's, an FD at 36k replaced on the KS.
Funny thing is, the only 2 times I've been stranded were due to a blown out valve stem on the LT rear tire (doh!) and a busted fuel QD in south Indiana, that was expensive (380 tow, 50 bucks to fix) at about 40k miles. I had the metal ones installed during a service. I always made it to the dealer with the KS, except for coil failures/tow (from my house), I attribute the coil failures to heat out west here (failed just out of warranty by about 3k miles).
I did have the LT towed from the house (in MI) because of the big oil dump but I made it home (came from a job in Boise, ID that time, drive started failing in west MI, made it to Utica).
I put 50k on yamaha FZ1's prior to and during the beemer ownership/use. I can say that every wekend, I had to spend more maint time on the FZ1, change sprockets/chain every 18-20k miles, etc. I do about 1000 miles/week so it doesn't take long before you need 300 bucks worth of (decent) sprockets/chain. I did all the labor on the yamaha's.
I dunno, its a tradeoff and for some of us, obviously a crap shoot. I don't wanna do chains/sprockets anymore, I'm old and lazy
I want to hit the bike show and all coming up here to take a look at whats out there, I like the FJR 1300 but its going to take something radical to remove my arse from my KS, even with all the problems/expense I've had with that thing. Can't get enuff of that bike
I just did another 800 miles on the LT this wekend (gawd, big sur is nice!!) on an oil change and new tires. Another 400 coming up to get back to AZ. Thats a lot of miles on anything. I like the LT but in general, I like sport bikes more, they just won't always 'do the mission' I'm on, thus, the LT for those jobs.
So all that hot air leading up-to this: It is expensive to maintain these bikes, no doubt. Some folks (like me) seem to get the 'lemons', others like Meese really get hammered.
I only know the answer for me STILL isn't a cage. I gotta ride, I'd go nutz in a cage. What hurts is the little stuff that keeps breaking, like my hatch latch (again), its getting a perm fix this time around but at a price of course.
So far, I'm not sure there is a perfect answer/bike out there, seems even if there is, my karma in the showroom ain't the best based on my 2/2 track record with these beemers (yamaha's were flawless but..naked too).
I guess we outta be glad these aren't airplanes