Hi all. I traded my 2001 BMW K12LT after 40,000 miles of riding it with my wife a lot and pulling a Uni most of the time. I would probably still be on it or a newer one if I hadn't made the "big mistake" of taking a Wing for a drive. Bought a new one in 2005 and then traded it in a year ago for a new 2008 with the GPS and heated seats and grips. I have been riding bikes since the late 50's (mini bikes) and have had a lot of different ones so I have some experience with them and I gotta say we loved the K12. Only thing is that bike was sooo lazy. It would just lay down for a nap whenever it wanted one. Just kidding but of all the bikes in all the years that one was hard to keep upright. The first time it was still new and I had washed it and pushed it in the garage out of the sun to dry it off. I walked out front to shut off the garden hose and heard an awful crash. Ran back in the garage and there she lay on her left side. Apparently I had not extended the side stand far enough and then double checked it and it s l o w l y tipped over. (No it was not running and no my garage floor doesn't slant.) In the following four years that bike managed to do a lot of resting and I learned why BMW had put the crash bars on it. One time I had been riding all day going from Trenton, Ontario to Peru, Indiana on a hot humid summer day. I was a little heat exhausted and really didn't realize it and I rode into a motel and up to the office area. When I stopped and put my legs down I just could not hold it up and down I went. I loved the way it handled and rode on the road but, at low speeds it was just to much. If I wasn't VERY careful about where it was parked it would idle itself right off the side stand and BOOM on it's side again. Another small aggravation was the location of the reverse lever on the K 12. I had to be very sure of my footing with that bike and it was scary sometimes to have to move my left leg to fish around for that lever and then the backing up was scary too? The one thing we did love the absolute most about the K12 was that after some time we realized that it came complete with a large group of new friends and ya'll are the cats pajamas.
Our introduction into the world of Wings came in Chattanooga when we put the K into a trailer and hauled it from our home in Wyoming to Tennessee. The 2005 GL we traded for was a beautiful bright blue color and we got to take a small ride on it before it went into the trailer for the trip home. We managed to make it over into Georgia for some peanuts in Plains, (didn't get to see Jimmy and Rosalyn) and a great meal in Columbus. Did the gulf coast drive all the way through Nawlins, Loosiana and up through Texas and two different blizzards on the way home.
I had to adjust to the GL a little bit after 4 years of the K12 and the smaller motor. the wing will just ease away from a stop with either no or minimal throttle. It also is MUCH easier to handle at low speeds than the K. It didn't take long to fall in love with the Wing's power band, which is, if it's running it makes power. This bike will come away from a light with the back tire spinning and then if ya just stuff second gear it will yank the front wheel off the ground. The only way to truly explain the GL's power band is to just go ride one. If you do, do not take your checkbook with you. :^) I was approaching my retirement so in 2008 I traded in the 05 and got a new one with the upgraded six speaker stereo and heated seats and grips and the on board GPS.
At first I really missed the electric wind screen of the K bike but, I quickly learned that the little adjustable window in the GL screen is pretty cool too. I can't raise and lower the screen in flight but it is nothing to pull over for a sec and just raise or lower it from the seat and that relocates where the little window is too. I agree that the wing isn't as smooth on the road but, as we all know with the Ohlins mods for the K12 there is the Traxxion mod for the GL. Totally changes the handling of the Wing just as the mod to the K12 does to it. Apparently generic suspension for the masses is no better than generic seating for the uh, er, well butts of all.
We pulled that Uni (which I still have) all over North America and loved it but, I really did not like it on the wing. The hitch on the beemer allowed the Uni to be attached to the bike from a mounting point that was very close to the draw bar and the one on the wing didn't. It mounts way up under the seat to the rear frame and it would wallow around on quick transition corners and up set the aplomb of the bike. I bought a tear drop shaped trailer from J&E Enterprises in Indiana and had it painted to match the wing and then at the BMW rally here in Gillette, Wy. last summer I had them both pinstriped. It makes for a nice looking package with all the chrome gee gaws I have added to the wing.
Any one who thinks the K12 really handles may want to check out the web page titled Yellow Wolf on the Dragon and consider if you can run with him? He has the respect of most of the crotch rocket guys on the Dragon on that GL. The interesting thing is that, that film was made by a friend who was on another yellow GL. His name is Fuse and he can cut a rug when the need arises.
All in all we honestly loved both of these bikes and after a few drops I finally learned to always be very careful about parking and low speed maneuvers on the K12. The GL's are pretty much bullet proof and stand up to a lot of hard riding with very few failures that I have ever read about. Honda addressed the frame issue in the 01~03 bikes very quickly and in some cases they even replaced the frames if it was necessary. Since then there has been no further trouble with the frames since they changed the thickness of the parts in the areas where a failure had occurred and they didn't fight with the customer about it they just made it right ASAP. I was lucky in that I never had a rear end go out but we all know there have been some failures and some interesting issues getting them fixed?
Wing uses more fuel but, it runs on lower octane so what I lose in mileage I make up in the cost so that one is a toss up. I look at my bikes as toys for my soul and just abide with whatever it takes to enjoy them. I know this is a beemer page so I have to allow for some bias just as the GL pages do the same thing, only in the other direction. If ya really want a laugh go to BurgmanUSA and read about how a 650 scooter is as good or better than a Gold Wing. I have always loved the kick in the pants of some thing under me with some horsepower and am to old to ride a Hayabusa and look for trouble.