test rode ST1300/1200GT/FJR1300/R1200RT
Well I've finally decided to give up my LT as I don't do the two up riding I used to do. The new owner will be coming in from Seattle on Friday (to SF bay area) and driving her home....never did name her.
So for the last 2 weeks I've been test driving all the bikes I was interested in...I needed a bike that was obviously smaller, had some sporting nature but still upright riding position, and most things that made my LT so enjoyable to drive....I knew the stereo would be the hardest to find so I decided to disregard that as a necessary criteria.
The first bike I tested was the RT...having owned a 2000 1100RT I was sure that with all the improvements that were made that this would probably be the bike for me.
Loved the styling, ESA, new dash, seating position. I loved the nimbleness but what I couldn't deal with was the boxer twin....I have come to appreciate the smoothness of my LT and just couldn't get into the buzziness/vibration of the RT. I drove back to BMW of San Jose when the dealer asked me how I liked it...I made a face and he immediately said "I was afraid of that...most people coming from an inline 4 can't go back to the boxer." I couldn't agree more...
My next bike was the K1200GT...I convinced BMW of San Francisco to put one of their two GTs as a demo and let me be the first rider. After I showed that I was very serious they agreed to let me be the first to demo one. The sales rep there took me on a 45min ride.
First impressions...I liked the look of the bike but was not blown away..although the fit and finish are first rate. Riding position is very good. Engine sounds great and spins up very quickly.
I noticed some throttle abruptness leaving a standstill and some driveline lash in first gear...I got used to it as the drive went on but you really had to be smooth on the throttle or you might as well have been riding a bull...as said this is only really apparent at very low speeds and small throttle openings. Throughout the drive I was amazed at the suspension and the ESA...also loved the stability, and smoothness of the engine. It had none of the buzziness or vibration that some others have talked about. We did some 100-120mph sweepers (the salesguy was driving a K1200S) and finally stopped in the middle of the ride to take inventory. I told him that I have kids and felt the back tire slide out on a few occasions. He agreed to take it slower...but nonetheless I felt immediately comfortable onboard and the power is addictive.
We discussed price and trade in values...trade in was very good but not as good as SJ BMW. More importantly, I would have to pay MSRP on the new bike...I have never paid MSRP on any vehicle I've ever owned. The out the door price was just about 23k with the option package I wanted. A lot of bike yes...but A LOT OF MONEY! It's never stopped me before but I wanted to make sure...
I went to Berkeley Honda/Yamaha who were nice enough to let me test drive a Honda ST1300 (abs). Liked the styling, seating position, dash was nice but LCD gauges got washed out too easily.
I immediately noticed the sound of the engine...low rpm--sounds like a turbine motor...higher revs--now that sounds like a motorcycle. The bike felt very light on it's feet..at least as much as the GT maybe more...it certainly has a quick turn in. The engine had some power...somewhere between the RT and the GT. Horsepower figures don't lie...as it's certainly in the middle of those two and feels like it. What I didn't like was the seat (would have to go--slippery), the bars would need risers, but most importantly, the engine had way too much vibration. It just wasn't smooth compared to my LT or the GT...it felt cheap and underdeveloped.
At this point I felt sure that I was going to go with the GT...as a last ditch effort I called Yamaha in downtown San Jose and asked for a test ride on the FJR. They said that they have never offered a test drive but for me to come down and I could ride it in the parking lot...once there, they saw I was serious although unshaven for about a week....they ultimately agreed to a short 6-7 mile drive. Mike is the owner and was very professional, Scott was the part-time sales rep who helped me personally. He is a CHP officer and would follow me on my drive. I test drove the non-electronic shifting bike as I wanted a clutch that I could operate.
Loved the styling, loved the new dash, the seat was good and position from the bars was near perfect. Did I mention I loved the styling? Oh, and the color (Cobalt Blue) was awesome.
Driving the bike you feel the engine more than the GT, but it feels like a classy and refined engine. The vibrations you feel are enjoyable and sporty. The suspension is taut and about as stiff as the GT when it's on normal mode. I'm sure with some adjusting you could go as stiff as the GT in sport mode. The engine sounds fantastic and the powerband is torquier than the GT which loved to rev more. That is not to say the bike doesn't like to rev...it just feels meatier lower. I certainly couldn't take the bike to the upper limits with an off-duty officer riding behind me but I got enough of an idea that this bike could cruise all day for 300-400 miles and would be a blast in the twisties. More than anything you feel more a part of the riding experience that with the GT. The dealership and I discussed price---they were willing to take a 1k off the price. Out the door with heated grips the price would be 14,900k.
I left and went to think about it...within an hour a drove back and put a deposit down. As mentioned before, price has never stopped me from buying a bike..I have owned my 1100RT and 1200LT as new. But after driving the FJR the choice was clear. It had the power, handling, electric windshield, heated grips, abs, shaftdrive of the GT but looks significantly better. It doesn't have the ESA, heated seat, nor quite the fit and finish but the latter has been greatly improved on the 2006 and they have addressed all issues that had plagued earlier models.
I just couldn't find how the extra 8K was going to be better spent. After all I actually enjoyed riding the FJR MORE! In addition, I can add a factory zero deductable full coverage warranty within my first year of ownership. 4 year additional warranty would cost me $600 not to mention the first major service is at 24k. Only other services are the 600mile and oil changes.
Hope this helps some of your would be buyers...