GT review for LT Riders Thinking . . .
The First Ride:
For those newcomers or those that have just jumped on this forum, I have never test-ridden the GT. I, until recently, owned an ’05 Granite Gray K1200S (sold in February ’06 in anticipation of the GT), and in addition to the K1200GT (picked up from Daytona Beach, FL, BMW, May 5th), I also have an ’05 K1200LT and an ‘05R1200GS.
I only offer my personal statistics so that you may assess some of my subjective comments, and objective as well, against my size:
5 feet 8 inches
30+ inch inseam
33.5 inch sleeve length
65 years old (only put this so that some that are older are not daunted by age)
New rider in June 2003; probably can be classified as an ‘average’ older rider. I am not sure what the ‘perfect line’ is (hi honey, would you like to see my etchings?), and while I would like to be a better rider, more likely I am a hobbyist rider who likes to tour but enjoys a good thrill (motorcycle that is) every now and then. My potential at the track has long passed.
I missed my 200 mile goal today as it fell short, but was very enjoyable at exactly 150 miles. The ride consisted of 4-lane highway, some super-highway, rural 2ndary roads with generally wide sweeping turns, some traffic jams. Nothing that was punishing or demanding of my rider skills. Probably the most daunting thing I did was jam myself downhill where I parked the bike against the curb. And while those short legs can hold up and flatfoot the bike, there ain’t much leg left to push backward, uphill, as it’s still a heavy bike.
ENGINE: Different enough from my ’05 K12S that it’s worthy of mention. Smooth, powerful, and responsive at all RPM/speeds, but does not have that explosive blastoff, what I would put akin to lighting up the afterburner on an F-18. It’s not herky-jerky, seeming to search for fuel, constant RPM, or whatever that trait was on the ’05 K12S that went away with grabbing a handful of throttle. I presume it’s the new ‘mapping/6.0’ program that’s all over the board(s) that has given this engine a sense of constancy, no big surprises at parking lot speeds or pulling around the corner from a stop at a redlight.
Lest I imply that it lacks power, NOT, it just seems smoother and much more predictable.
E.g. A Porsche Carrera wanted to play a bit at around 50 mph . . . I lighted it up in second, he tried (old guy) but folded fast at around 110. I folded faster . . . just what I needed on the maiden voyage. Beyond what I have written, I cannot say much more about the engine! It’s great!
SUSPENSION: Remember, I’m just an average rider so not likely to tax the suspension. While the track guys and aggressive riders talk about feedback, or lack of, on some of the ESA settings, well. I usually ride in the ‘normal’ (probably translated to boring) setting on the ESA. On the slab or superhighways, I set it to comfort if I remember. Which leads me to:
HANDLING. Bike handles like a dream. The ‘stiffness’ of perhaps too much dampening on the ’05 K12S is all gone. Ride it 2 mph in a parking lot, ride it at warp speeds, you just think about turning/leaning and it does it in a very elegant fashion. Certainly the yellow caution signs here in FL are indeed precautionary and conservative, but the GT takes these turns with ease and you can almost double the caution speed with little or no concern. Once again, I am just an average older rider and felt completely at ease leaning this bike over, even without counter steering but just shifting body (probably doing something wrong here). The bike is that good! Even if you think you are in a ‘bit’ of trouble in a turn it is so good as to allow you to add a bit of throttle and go sailing thru. Gone is any weave or wobble, perceived or actually there as on the ’05 K12S. At very low speeds not only does it steer straight/true, the jittery throttle of the ’05 K12S is all but gone. Should you need to feather the clutch a bit it’s still nice to know that it’s a wet clutch rather than the dry clutch as on the R series and the LT. And while I don’t intend to abuse its forgiving nature this bike makes me feel like a better rider than I know I am.
SEAT: The seat is a bit perplexing to me. I never was uncomfortable but I couldn’t find a position where I just knew it was correct. On the driver’s seat, just forward of the pillion the seat appears to have a thicker/bubble. At times I would move my butt back and plant it on that bubble, other times the seat just sort of slid me to the far front butting the gas tank. I never experienced any discomfort nor monkey butt but I intuitively felt it could be better. BTW, I left the bars in the full-up position the way it came from the dealer. I have no complaint in that position so unless I just feel like experimenting, will most likely leave it there. Back to the seat, no discomfort; my longest time in the saddle was about 100 miles . . . got off just to ask directions at a gas station. So I know I can go longer.
WINDSCREEN: The best position for me was about ½ up, looking over the top. I still felt a good deal of wind on my shoulder in that position. Is it good? Yes! Can the screen be better? I think so! I’m a fan of Cee Bailey’s #2 screens (top has a flip). As soon as one is available I will order it. Back to the tall screen furnished: The length of travel is excellent and I believe that in heavy rain/inclement weather you can tuck yourself behind the screen, but you will still get some wind on your shoulders. I couldn’t detect any what I call ‘dirty’ air. I thought there would be some between the screen and the cowling, but no. My Nolan seemed especially noisy on the GT, don’t know if it was me or I didn’t have my earplugs properly sealed in my ears.
COMPUTER: I have one on my LT and GS so no big deal, but it’s easier to read/brighter than I remember on my ’05 K12S. I might be wrong but with Polaroid sunglasses and the helmet was able to read the computer screen with no trouble in bright sunlight at all angles. Like the other computers it does more than I will ever need. OAT, outside air temperature nice . . . a nice 90 degrees at about 1:30 PM. One of the features I really like is the ‘countdown’ in miles when you go on reserve.
BRAKES: Just a quick comment here. Brakes superb, and you K12S riders (‘05’s anyway) the back brake actually works. In those low-speed maneuvers in turns where it’s a no-no to use that front brake, well the rear brake alone can actually slow you or stop you. Nice.
GENERAL COMMENTS: For the LT crowd, if you love touring and the motorcycle is just a vehicle to tour I think you might be disappointed. It’s not an LT, GW, or any of the HD Glides, especially if you ride 2-up. If you are one of these riders then stick to the LT. But, should you want a great touring bike that handles superbly at all speeds that you can ride your heart out and you tend to ride solo, the GT will fulfill your dreams. It truly brings fun and excitement back to motorcycling with some of the creature comforts of the aforementioned bikes. The cruise control, the excellent side bags/panniers, and the spacious (either) top case are all that I want in a motorcycle. Can it compete with the GSXR-1000, or any of the other shorter wheelbase, chain-driven rockets; probably not? But I dare say that if I had to give up any of my others the GT would be the one to stay. It’s that good. This was the bike I should have waited for. I suspect this will be in the stable for a long time and I hope I can be a worthy enough rider to not embarrass this fine machine!
Jacksonville, (Northeast) Florida
Jacksonville, FL (USA)