I have seen a lot of people say the GTL is no match for the LT. Understand the bikes are not the same but is it worth trading up? I also see a number of GTL’s up for sale. Is that due to purchasers regret? If you have owned both, can you provide your experience, likes and dislikes?
I had test ridden a GTL some years ago, and then again last fall when I decided to make the change. I had read many comparisons and had a pretty good idea what I was getting and what I was giving up. I just felt I was ready for a change.
I have only a little over 1200 miles on our 2018 K1600GTL, so in fairness to the bike I don't have enough time in the saddle.
Ditto what Ken said about pillion comfort. WGPR (World's Greatest Pillion Rider) really noticed the difference when we had both bikes and were switching back and forth. We'd ride the GTL and she'd say it was fine. (She is very tolerant, uncomplaining). But then we'd get back on the KLT and she'd say she really noticed that the KLT was better for her.
For me, the GTL isn't just all things better than the KLT. From my perspective the KLT was just more "comfortable". Again, caveat is I had the KLT from 2000 (new) to 2018 and 100,000 miles so the bike fit like an old glove.
That said, I think KLT smoothed out the road better than the GTL does. I don't recall he weight difference between the bikes, but presumably the KLT is heavier and that maybe part of the difference. I had Olins on the KLT. With the GTL suspension set to the "Road" setting, the bike smooths the bumps pretty well, but if I hit a bump in a corner the bike wallows and loses the line. The KLT never did that; it was always solid in bumpy corners, giving great confidence. With the GTL suspension set to "Dynamic" the bike is more solid in response to bumps in corners, and the bike holds the line well, but Harsh! On the KLT I'd just stay seated in the saddle, but on the GTL I want to stand on the pegs a little to help absorb the shock of the bumps.
I liked the feeling of being "in" the bike when on the KLT. The mirrors integral with the fairing, the winglets, and my aftermarket CeeBailey windscreen created a very comfortable hole in the wind, nice big weather protecting slip stream. The GTL lacks that feeling; I have added an aftermarket windscreen with a lip at the top like the CeeBaily had, and AeroFlow "winglets" for the 2018 GTL and these help a bit, but it still isn't like the KLT.
The KLT had enough power for me unless I was trying to keep pace with our riding pals on their K1600GT. The KLT engine and the 5 speed tranny worked fine for me although for passing and climbing rpms often approached the rev limiter.
The GTL: Reverse is better, push button on the handle bar perch, rather than leaning over to mechanically shift into reverse.
Power, more than needed. Actually, with the throttle in "Dynamic" mode I have to have a very attentive control or acceleration and engine braking will make you a jerky rider and wear out the rear tire. I read at least one GTL owner who preferred using "Rain" mode all of the time, probably for this reason. I seem to prefer "Road" mode most of the time where the throttle response falls between "Rain" and "Dynamic".
The tranny on the GTL is better. I used to occasionally miss a shift on the KLT, finding neutral instead of second. On the GTL it shifts very predictably, and sometimes requires "searching" for neutral when you want it. The "no clutch" shift feature on the GTL isn't something I've used much but is kind of neat. You can still shift if your left hand is busy doing something else, and I suppose it is a faster shift if you are trying to pass someone as fast as possible.
The GTL with its lower center of gravity is more forgiving at a stop if you end up a little off balance and you find your footing in some sandy or slippery spot. I won't miss that top heaviness at slow speed of the KLT. Even so, the GTL is still a big bike with it's own share of weight, and the difference between the bikes in this regard isn't that stark.
Speaking of Rain mode, it really does work. I tested it on wet grass and the controls over ride your throttle input when it senses the rear tire starting to spin. Very effective. That could be a very effective save if hitting an oily wet spot unexpectedly.
The are a few nit pick things that bug me on the GTL, like the audio control buttons down low on the left side of the bike. What the heck are they doing down there? Other stupid stuff: I was very happy with hard wired earbuds for audio and had to bypass the Bluetooth stuff on the GTL to get back to my old way of doing things. The first hack I did on the GTL was to patch audio wiring so I could control the volume in my earbuds with the perch mounted "wonder wheel". The WonderWheel will control volume of the bike's speakers but won't control volume when using Bluetooth audio. After fooling around with some external volume controls using the bike's Bluetooth, I gave up and did my hack into the speaker wiring.
Seats: I had the stock seat on the KLT, but I had modified it by removing some foam. On long rides I would swap out an AirHawk cushion for a BeadRider just for a change. The stock KLT seat was better for me that the stock GTL seat. I have been using the AirHawk with very little inflation, and the BeadRider on top of the AirHawk on the GTL. The combination seems to be working okay for me. Lots of folks report going to a Russel Day Long seat on the GTL. I had a BackUp back rest on the KLT which I liked. Since the 2018 K1600GTL seat is one piece for rider and pillion, I'm not sure if a rider back rest is available without getting an aftermarket seat.
Buyer's remorse? No... not really. Do I miss my KLT? Yes. But I am looking forward to becoming one with our new GTL.
I waited years for BMW to build a KLT on the K1600 platform, but it never came and I got tired of waiting.
Have fun with your decision.