Yeah, I'm here. Just finishing up some last minute prep so I can get on the road and head east.
As far as I can tell, the original poster never claimed he was looking for a bike to do Iron Butt rides. Although these bikes are obviously capable of such, that really is a small subset of the already small motorcycling demographic. Yet we do push bikes to their design limits (and way beyond), so it does have some relevance here.
And yes, I've passed quite a few FJRs in my time. (Uh, I mean ridden. Yeah, that's what I meant.
) And I've written up my thoughts several times, too. I've tried to be neutral and fair, but y'all know what I'm riding so that kind of gives it away.
So here's my thoughts:
Both the FJR and the GT are supremely competent mile munchers that maintain a lot of sporty character. Both have monster motors coupled to great suspension and brakes (although some give the Beemer the nod on the last two). Both carry good sized factory bags, and both have well-developed rider communities with tons of farkles available.
The FJR has a more sporty seating position. It is a good, solid mount with typically Japanese reliability, although some riders complain of excessive heat. The FJR simply does what it was designed for, very well.
The GT has a slightly more relaxed riding position, although still quite sporty, and no heat problems whatsoever. I find that the Duolever/Paralever suspension gives a solid ride regardless of road conditions. This bike just soaks up whatever you throw at it. It also has tones of factory options like ESA, ASC, TPM, and the best factory cruise control in the business, all of which simply aren't available on other brands.
Beemers also have a level of engineering quality that I just don't see on other bikes. For example, I've see several FJRs with broken rear sub frame castings, typically from overloading the rear rack (rated for something silly like 10-20 lbs). I've also severely overloaded my GT's rack, carrying 50-70 lbs and never had a problem, because the GT's rear rack is mounted solidly to a welded frame piece.
Having said all that, Beemers do have an intrinsic problem with final drive failures. I've had several fail myself, but then again, I'm hardly the typical rider. They say it's getting better, but it is still something to be concerned about. In fact, I'm actually carrying a spare final drive and the associated tools on the Iron Butt Rally this month. I hate to do it, but I figure it's a kind of insurance.
What the choice boils down to then is your preference for riding position, your balance of overall cost versus cool gadgets, and your tolerance for known issues with these bikes. The FJR always wins out on cost/value, but is that really the highest priority? I tend to keep my bikes for 100K miles or more, so I'm not too worried about initial cost versus resale value.
The best analogy then is this: Would you rather buy a Camaro for a decent price and blast around town, or would you rather pony up the cash for a 5-Series BMW and blast around while playing with all the buttons, controls, and gadgets? Either one is a valid choice and in the end, it's your money and your ride, not mine.