Originally Posted by NormanB
Apart from the huge amount of money that both these machines will cost what real world advantages will either or both offer over the Burgman 650. Interested in your view.
Well, I'll take a stab at adding some perspective to your basic question. As others have tried to establish, the question comes somewhat from "out of left field", meaning, it's really difficult to make a comparison between heavy-hitter touring machines and a 650 anything
, more especially so if it's a "scooter".
I'm not being critical of the Burgman. I did watch both the video links you offered, which are commercials for it, but well done ones, and they make it look quite enchanting. But we know about the Burgman in these parts as well...one of the forum members owns one, and I got a close-up and personal look at it at one of our local forum "tech sessions". It's a cool little machine, one I wouldn't mind adding to my stable. But, I digress.
Which "other" machine you ultimately decide to buy should be based on your personal priorities. Both the BMW LT and the 1800 Wing have strengths and weaknesses, in my opinion, which is based on 50 years experience riding and owning probably 25 or so motorcycles. I currently own both an '04 GL1800 and an '06 BMW LT.
Let me try to capsulize how I see a comparison between the two.
1) Engine torque: The Wing has it in spades. You can drop the clutch at idle, and the bike will go. It won't stall. That torque is present evenly throughout the bike's powerband, even at low speed in 6th gear (overdrive). The LT, on the other hand, has very little low-end torque, and moving off from a stop requires a completely different technique to avoid stalling the engine. Starting from a dead stop takes a little throttle and a smooth clutch on the LT - not an issue, but definitely a contrast to the Wing in this area. Aside from very low rpm issues, the rated power of the LT is comparable to the Wing, an amazing fact, given that it's only two-thirds the displacement (116hp vs 118hp for the Wing). The powerband of the LT comes to life around 3,000 rpm, and can really produce some impressive performance from there to 8,000 rpm redline, although I frequently operate my LT in high gear at 2,000 rpms, and it doesn't complain. Summary: the Wing's the "hot-rod" here, but the LT gets along fine and produces impressive torque and power in its intended powerband.
2) Low speed handling: No question, the Wing excels in this area. The lower center of gravity of the 1800 makes maneuvering at very low speed a simple proposition for a rider of average proficiency. In contrast, this forum is replete with threads discussing how to deal with the notorious low speed handling issues of the LT, due to its higher center of gravity. Notwithstanding, familiarity and frequent use tend to render this a non-issue.
3) Other than low speed handling: The LT wins in this department, hands-down. Nothing else to say. The bike handles wonderfully, much more nimble than the Wing. It's exhilerating to ride. The front suspension design is a pleasure to have, and it eliminates "dive" in hard braking, which occurs with conventional hydraulic fork designs, which the Wing has, although the Wing attempts to get around this problem with "anti-dive" components, which work acceptably well.
4) Maintenance: The Wing requires less. Scheduled maintenance intervals are less frequent. It has no separate transmission to drain. Parts availability on the LT can be problematic; the handlebar cruise control switch failed on my LT and a replacement had to be ordered from Germany. Result: 2 weeks downtime for a switch. Also, when maintenance is necessary on the LT, it tends to be more expensive.
5) Ride Quality: With the re-design of the GL1500 to achieve a "sportier" bike, the ride went from soft to quite firm, too much so for my tastes. I much prefer the ride I get from my LT. It's soft, yet quite capable of handling the demands of high-speed maneuvering. You must be the arbiter in deciding how you like your ride to feel.
6) Bells and Whistles: I believe the overall audio package of the LT is far superior to that offered in the OEM Goldwing. There's better quality sound, and more and better quality speakers. I'm uncertain about new Wings, but my '04 did not even come stock with rear speakers installed - they were extra-cost options. The same can be said about many Wing options - what used to be included are now extra-cost accessories. The Wing does, on the other hand, come standard with intercom; the LT does not. The LT offers a hydraulically-actuated "push-button" centerstand, very cool, and an electrically-height-adjustable windshield "while-you-ride", also way-cool. Those were hooks to me, when I bought my LT. It's a pretty sophisticated machine (but they all are, these days).
Although not attempting to address the specific questions you posed, I hope some of the above helps you make your decision. Others will probably note that I omitted mention of the LT's power-assisted and proportional brake system. That's purposeful. I'm willing to concede it's a step forward in terms of brake system performance and riding safety, but I get my Wing stopped when I need it to stop, and have with other bikes I've owned, so I'm still not ready to be a cheerleader for that alone.