My new '07 GT, first impressions, GPZ1100 comparison
I recently (3 wks now) got a new '07 (White) K1200GT. Mine is loaded -- almost everything is there: ABS, ESA, RDC/TPC, ASC, OBC, Cruise, Xenon, Hot seats, Hot grips, Nav III, large topcase.
I'm upgrading from a '95 Kawasaki GPZ1100 with a bunch of touring accessories: Corbin seat, reworked shock, Givi bags, bar risers, Throttlemeister...
Over the long weekend I took my first long shakedown ride, from Silicon Valley over to Monterey then down the Pacific Coast Highway to Pismo Beach, then some 2-up trips around the area there, and finally back up CA 1 and home. It's got 1000 miles on it now, time for the first service.
Executive summary: the K1200GT kicked the GPZ1100's butt in almost every respect. It's more comfortable, more powerful, more responsive, faster stopping, more adjustable. I love it, the GPZ will have to go to make room. (Why almost? Well, the GPZ is red, and styled so it looks faster even when it's not.)
The suspension is fantastic. I worked pretty hard to tweak the GPZ to suit my 6'2", 240 lb body, and the GT just worked right from the floor. I wasn't sure about the ESA, but after putting some miles on different roads I love it. I kept the GPZ set up pretty firm, but even so the front end on the GT is noticeably less divey and being able to switch to "comfort" mode for the freeways was a nice luxury. I also loved switching the preload to 2-up without needing any tools.
The ABS and linked brakes are interesting. It seems I've picked up a bad habit of over-applying the rear brake, because the ABS kicked in a couple of times when I didn't expect it, or maybe that's just weight transfer forward. I've locked the GPZ rear wheel before in similar circumstances, and it was nice to not have to recover, I think the ABS feedback will help break me of this habit in a safer way.
As far as I know I haven't used/needed the ASC yet. People tell me it's not very subtle, so I guess it hasn't kicked in, and I wasn't really trying to engage it.
The cases are fine. The Givis are simpler and seem more rugged, but they hold about as much as the GT. The side cases are deceptive -- they look small but they're deep and I crammed a lot more in there than I expected. Same for the topcase, it looks like there's a lot of wasted space due to the double-shell design, at least compared to the Givis, but it held just as much.
We did some 2-up night time riding, and my wife was pretty happy with the heated seats. She says she can't see over my head quite as well as she could on the GPZ (my seat is in the tall position), but she was more comfortable. The xenon headlamp sure works at night.
I also love not having to hassle with chain lube. The GPZ actually has kind of a lot of play in the drive (the rubber cushions in the hub get loose over time), and I was actually expecting a tighter feel from the GT, but it was about the same -- no biggie, I'm used to it.
The Nav III is great. Expensive, but very useful. I don't have GPS systems in my cars because maps are pretty easy to use, but on a bike it's really nice to not have to hassle with refolding the map in the tank bag. (No tank bag! ...yet.) It was really nice to be able to take a quick look at roads up ahead and pick the interesting ones, detour around towns, etc. I wish it had batteries in it so I could have brought it inside with me to do some route planning. (It comes with a wall wart adapter, but I didn't bring it on this trip.) I also wish it was easier to transfer routes from e.g. google maps to the nav system. The software that comes with it (PC only) is pretty bad in comparison.
I also got a new helmet, the Dainese Airstream Course, with Bluetooth. It's a fine helmet, as quiet and comfortable as my old Shoei. The bluetooth worked fine with the nav and with my phone, but it doesn't get loud enough to hear with my earplugs in at speed. It resets to the default volume for each new 'connection', so while I can turn up the volume for a phone call, at the next call it's back to the default. This is especially annoying for the nav instructions, since each 'connection' is only a few seconds long, it's almost pointless to turn up the volume. Still at city speeds it's fine -- when I met up with my wife (she drove the car with our daughter) at a random deli in Monterey, the nav instructions were very useful, and it sure was handy to be able to call her without taking the helmet off. (I did pull over.) I blew through the batteries in both my phone and the helmet over the 4 day trip, so I ended up making the ride home with neither, and it wasn't much worse -- hearing the nav instructions isn't a necessity, the on screen text is fine.
I got the short/normal windscreen. Even though I'm tall, I test drove a couple of different options, including an aftermarket screen, and the shorter screen gave me the most options. With the screen all the way down my entire head is in the airflow, which is actually pretty quiet and nice a cool. I can put it up a little bit so the flow only hits part of my helmet and it gets a little quieter, or I can put it up all the way so my head is almost sucked forward to keep the rain off. It's not really any quieter with the screen up all the way, but the noise is different -- more of a lower rumble than the usual wind whistle. The helmet probably makes a LOT of difference here. With the taller and especially the aftermarket screens I didn't have the option of putting my whole head in the wind, and the aftermarket screen I tried (sorry, I don't remember the brand) seemed to generate a lot of turbulence so it was really noisy and made my head bounce around a lot. The stock screen makes a nice smooth flow which is nice and comfortable.
Does anyone have experience or recommendations for tool kits? The one that came with the bike is pretty ridiculous -- a couple of allen wrenches?! Pfft. I'm leaning towards getting the BMW supplemental tool kit and then adding a few other useful items of my own, but there's not a lot of room under the seat. Does it all fit? Any other suggestions? (I also kept a first aid kit under the GPZ seat that doesn't really fit anywhere convenient on the GT, I could repack it and put it in the fairing pocket I suppose, but I kind of like having that space for other little stuff. On this trip I just put it in the bags, but I'd like to have it with me even when the bags are off.)
Hey, thanks for listening, this turned out to be longer than I expected. I'm looking forward to more conversation here.