I am ... from India, but I presently work in Saudi Arabia. Taking the liberty to put a small query to you.
Having extensively used an R1100RT for almost 9 years with very little maintenance and now riding a R1200GS, which is the absolutely best bike I have ever owned & ridden and will be keeping with me for some more years in Saudi Arabia I am hooked on BMW bikes purely for their functional qualities.
I now may be able to get an unused fully loaded 2007 K1200LT for almost half it original price (the old dealer had some financial issues & closed down liquidating his stock). If I were to buy this as a bike for use in India when I go there once every 2-3 months, I had the following queries since I saw you own an LT.
-I want to keep it with me for atleast 15-20 years as my retirement bike. Will it do that without giving me headaches for such a long time? I know the R series bikes well but not much knowledge on K bikes. I also know the old K75s and R100s can stay on the road for 50 years with their simple technology, but does all the new technology add more trouble on this particular K series bikes.
-How easy would it be to repair this bike (things like valve timing adjustments etc) by a good street smart mechanic in India not trained by BMW. There may only be about 5-6 of these K1200LT bikes in the whole of India.
-Since I will disconnect the battery & put it on a trickle charger everytime I leave the bike unused in India for 2-3 months, will this particular kind of bike start to have other mechanical problems due to non-usage.
-What has your experience been with maintenance/usage of this bike.
Thanks in advance for sparing your time and I shall await to hear from you at your convenience.
Thanks for your note. I am flattered by being considered an expert - I am not. I suggest you post this also on BMWLT.com, in the BMW Bikes / K1200LT section (http://www.bmwlt.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=11
) - you will get a lot of replies, possibly too many...
Let me try to answer some questions, starting from the easy ones. Mind you, this is a personal opinion, based on my ownership of 2 consecutive LT's for something like 8 years.
I sold the first one with high 50k miles on the odometer, the current one has mid-40k miles. I bought both of them used; in recent years I solo almost excusively on the GS and only use the LT for two-up with my wife, therefore nowadays it gets less than 5k miles a year.
1. Non-usage: no problem. My LT is sleeping right now, as it is every winter season (last used sometime in October). It fires almost instantly as long as the battery is charged.
During the season, it also gets little use, maybe once a month - no problem starting. (Except for the usual cloud of smoke: K-bike engines have cylinder heads on the left side; when parked on a sidestand, oil leaks in and burns off on start).
2. Maintenance: in general, very little beyond oil and fluids change. Every 3-4k miles, I change engine oil and final drive fluid. Every two seasons, I change trans oil, coolant and brake fluid as well as air filter - that's involved, as it is under the tank.
Beyond that, I changed the 10-year-old brake lines - no big issue to a mechanic that follows directions (see point 3). That is it.
The design is fairly mature. Prior to the LT's, I had several other K-bikes, the oldest a '91 K100 - and they soldiered on for a long time, relatively trouble-free. K1200 in many respects evolved from the earlier generations. In summary - I consider the bike very reliable.
There are some peculiarities: early LT's suffered many final drive failures (as did my previous '00 LT). That, I believe, is now under control - I do not see complaints on forums for recent models. By the way, repairs to the drives by BMW mechanics were incorrect; some members of the BMWLT forum developed correct techniques. I would not worry - I am convinced that on a 2007, likelihood of failure is low.
3. Repairs. Well, here is a bit of a problem. The machine requires either someone that knows it, or someone with patience. There are repair manuals and the BMWLT forum is an incredible resource of pictorial guides and general help. Still, you'd have to do a lot yourself or find a mechanic who is organized and willing to concentrate just on your bike and spend the time to do a repair. It's a fully faired machine and just to get the tank off takes several hours and removal of many different fasteners. I keep dozens of little paper envelopes where I scribble where each group of bolts came from - otherwise it is hard to put back together.
In other words, you cannot have a mechanic that jumps in to do the work for a couple of hours, then works elsewhere, then returns - that's prescription for trouble. You'd need to either have the mechanic read the instructions in great detail or do that yourself and supervise the work.
As an example: the motor is basically a high performance car engine, nothing really bike-specific (it actually started life as a Peugeot in late 1970's). Valves are overhead, adjusted by shims in "buckets". This means that it is easy to check (just a feeler gauge), but to adjust them, one needs to pull the camshaft off, measure existing shims and order new ones. Not difficult, but not something done casually. On the flip side, the valves are very stable and should need no adjustment in at least 40-50k miles.
What this means to you is that either you need to be mechanically inclined, or at least be able to understand and supervise the work - and be able to afford services of a better mechanic that does not consider you a nuisance.
My understanding, from reading ride reports here on ADV, is that you may be able to find a gifted mechanic in India for the LT, but that you may have trouble acquainting him with the required procedures or convincing him to spend exclusive time with your bike.
4. Keeping it for long. Well, that is a tough issue to address. The LT is a fairly modern (= reliable) bike and a lot of 1999 models are around, discussed on the forums. With proper maintenance, it should last - but issues can crop up. What you will need to decide is whether you are be able and willing to face a big, expensive failure. For example, clutch work is very labor-intensive (tens of hours). ABS failure may be expensive. If you go with an attitude that your expectations are for a trouble-free ownership but you accept a chance of trouble, you may be OK.
However: I do not know if the is the right bike for long-distance riding in India
. It loves both cruising open roads and sweeping the twisties - and is unbelievably comfortable for the pillion rider (that is exactly why I keep mine). But, it really likes good pavement.
It's very heavy and does not take well to bad pavement (easy to damage on potholes) - and, you cannot venture off-pavement: it gets too squirrely on dirt and gravel. That may close off a lot of great destinations in the area.
Did I say it is heavy? It weighs in at over 350kg. I am about 75kg and 168cm - and handling the beast is taking a lot of effort. It is tough to maneuver at slow speed and in narrow situations. Practice of riding will help a lot, but the heft of the machine is always a concern.
To summarize: it's all a personal decision. Mechanically, you should be OK in my opinion - even though, as with any performance vehicle, you cannot guarantee long-term health. Whether it is the appropriate bike for the type of riding and for the traffic and road conditions, that is your call.
I think that if I were you, I'd get the LT if the deal is really, really good. You can always resell and minimize losses.
Otherwise, I'd think about either an R'GS or and F'GS - of course, these are just as complex as the K-bike.
Good luck! Robert.