Only 4000 miles on the 2018 K1600GTL. Still trying to make it feel more like our beloved 2000 K1200LT.
Yesterday’s ride, The World’s Greatest Pillion Rider (WGPR) and I head out under sunny skies, 60 degrees temps, and lots of autumn color. A quick shortcut over a couple miles of Vermont dirt roads allows us to bypass downtown traffic and we take the narrow roads through Guilford and Vernon, and head south into northern Massachusetts.
Vernon still looks prosperous, in spite of loss of the tax base provided by the now idled Vermont Yankee power plant. This is the Connecticut River valley, with the best farm land around; mostly lacking the ubiquitous rocks found in other Vermont farmland. A surviving dairy farm (so much of local dairy is gone), with a herd of Holsteins grazing in a green pasture. Later we see another farm, this with a group of Guernseys pastured on one side of the road, Holsteins on the other. These are the flat lands of Vermont, so different from the rocky hill farms that have difficulty surviving. Having grown up amongst the smell of dairy farms, the scent in the air as we pass the farms is pleasant to me; WGRP doesn't care for it.
Later, one of the biggest horse farms around. We hadn’t been down this road in a few years and didn’t recall seeing this one before, or at least not this big and prosperous looking. Seeming miles of white board fenced pastures. Horses grazing on pastures looking as neatly trimmed as a golf course. We used to have horses, but BMWs are cheaper to own.
Starting our mountain road into Mass from Vernon, a narrow, recently paved road, lacking a center line, winds and climbs, under an awning of over hanging trees of green, orange, yellow, and red. This is a late afternoon ride and the sun shines through the trees, low over the mountain, casting shadows on the road amongst the fallen leaves. Leaves scattered only by our smooth, quiet GTL whisking along through the fallen leaves. This is perfect motorcycling.
Not sure what WGPR is doing; we don’t intercom and she plugs ear buds into an iPhone and listens to podcasts, books on tape, or whatever. I tap her left knee or just point out scenes of interest, a flock of sheep, or a great panorama at the mountain top. She taps my hip in acknowledgement. Our com system: she taps my hip when all is good, taps my shoulder when she wants to alert me to something, which she almost never does. Once we have pulled away from a stop, riding with WGPR is about the same as riding solo. Same bike, same ride, just with company.
The smooth power of the K1600 is pretty amazing, it just feels effortless as it climbs the mountain. (Advantage, GTL. The KLT was smooth and powerful, but no match for the roll on power of the 6 cylinder.) With so many other local roads suffering potholes, cracks, and patches, this road is so smooth the ride feels like low level flying.
In Mass, we take the road through the town of Gill, past the neat farm calling itself “UpinGill”, nice sweeping road, again good road surface and little traffic. The couple of cars we happen upon slow and pull over to ease our pass. I wave a thanks.
Getting to Mass rte. 2, I think of AJ’s Cycle, a place I visited for BMW parts, and coffee and conversation so many times over the years. (Users of BMW Owner's Anonymous will recall the "KK"). An old school BMW dealership in a house using converted living room for a showroom and the service shop in a building out back. Soft spoken Alan, behind the counter for parts and bike sales, told me years ago of expecting to lose his BMW dealership status. Indeed it happened. BMW NA, found its regional distributorships in MaxBMW. AJ's now sells MotoGuzzi's but still works on BMWs too. Max Stratton does a great job, and the MAX dealership I go to in NY (where I bought my GTL) is spacious and modern. They do a good job. But I miss the days of the “Mom and Pop” BMW dealerships and the days of the Airheads, “the gentleman’s motorcycle”. As years and miles click by, nostalgia becomes sweeter.
Our return "flight" from Mass to VT is on rte. 5. We pass fields of standing cornstalks, ready for harvest by the silage choppers. We've passed multiple open fields, dark earth fields dotted with bright orange pumpkins. Signs of the season.
Hint: Much is reported about rte 100 in VT as a motorcycle road, but rte 5 is under reported as a superb motorcycle road. In both Mass and VT, it follows the CT river, beautiful vistas, in some areas sweepers follow the curve of the river. The road parallels I-91, so most traffic is on the interstate, and the local traffic on rte 5 is relatively light and motorcycle friendly, the few cars often will slow to facilitate your pass.
My K1600GTL journey: Having gifted our 2000 K1200LT as a wedding present, I suffered great “gifter’s remorse”. I found my self shopping for a used KLT, but never closed on the few I looked at. In the words of a reply to one of my earlier posts, it is “time to move on”.
We recently test rode a new Honda Goldwing. I hadn’t realized the major make over Honda had given the Goldwing in 2017. It is a very different bike from the GL1800 we rented a few years ago in AZ. (WGPR likes the GTL pillion seat better than the Goldwing; she sees better and the hand grips are better on the GTL.) Again, very tempted, but didn’t bite. Had as many as 5 bikes at once some years ago, but they were Airhead projects; having two new expensive touring bikes at the same time would be fun, but it would be cheaper to get a horse.
With the rumored tranny recall on the GTL, a Goldwing purchase seemed a little more justifiable, but my hope is that any tranny fix will be done during the coming winter months.
Our GTL modifications: Aeroflow “mini wings”, a 7Jurock “A” windshield, and a Sargent seat. The mini-wings give GTL cockpit a little more of the feel of the KLT. The Jurock shield has a lip at the top like the CeeBailey did on our KLT, which is an improvement over stock. Suburban Machinery rider peg lowering kit. The Sargent seat is an improvement over stock, but after 4-6 hours I'm wanting my BeadRider or AirHawk cushion, so my OEM saddle is off to CA for a Russel Day Long make over. So, we are settling into the GTL and memory of the KLT is fading. I probably should never get on a KLT again, or my memory refreshed, “gifter’s remorse” will surface again.
In addition to missing our K1200LT, I miss the halcyon days of BMW Luxury Touring forum and the early days of K1200LT ownership. BMW Luxury Touring is still the best motorcycle site going, but lacking a KLT, I feel like an outsider. The other K1600 forum is full of good information, but it has its share of chastisement and argumentation that has been pleasantly absent on this board.
And the K1200LT is still an unmatched motorcycle.