Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Spokane, WA, USA
Newbie 2005 LT owner, also own 2012 GL1800
The group here is probably sick of comparisons between the LT and the GL1800, but since I currently own and ride both, I thought I would post a reasonably concise opinion piece on how the 2005 LT and the 2012 GL1800 compare in MY book.
Styling - In everyone's opinion that has seen both, the LT wins hands down
Engine - The (2012) GL1800 has a lot more bottom-end torque. Good and bad, GL1800 by a nose.
Clutch/Transmission - The GL1800 transmission shifts "clunky" at 1060 miles compared to the LT with 6500 miles. However, I think the LT is too "long legged" in 1st gear, which concerns me a bit with regard to clutch wear and starting out under some conditions. Call this one a draw. (before anyone sneers at my 1060 miles on the GL1800, bear in mind this is NOT my first GL1800. I'm just comparing my latest one to the LT.)
Handling - LT again hands down. The GL1800 feels a bit "lighter" in the parking lot, but the LT walks all over it over 5mph. Pillion weight shifts are much more noticeable on the GL1800, as well.
Brakes - Tough call. Braking systems are certainly different, not sure which is "better". Personally, I do NOT like the eternal squealing and squalling of the otherwise-perfectly -good LT brakes, but that's just my peeve.
Vibration/resonances/bodywork - IMHO quality is up on the Honda over previous years, call overall quality a draw. The LT's "tupperware" and exhaust buzzes and rattles like crazy compared to the Honda, though. Give that sub-category to the GL1800.
Suspension/Touring comfort - LT wins. GL1800 suspension is just plain unsophisticated, also bottoms out quickly. with max preload set. (430 pound combined 2-up load) Both stock seats, (again in my opinion) are equally poor in different ways. I'm 6' 3", so both bikes have the pegs placed poorly for my use; the LT is somewhat worse in this regard.
Airflow - LT wins, hands down. Stock GL1800 batters the pillion unmercifully by comparison, rider protection isn't as good as the LT either.
Electronics - Apples and orange comparison. Honda has raised the bar quite a bit on the 2012 GL1800 audio system and GPS, but since I'm comparing it to a 2005 LT, no call is made. (My totally unfair comparison is that the 2005 LT stereo sounds tinny compared to newer touring bikes in general, including HD and my 2009 Victory Vision Tour Premium)
So - agree, disagree, roll your eyes at will. It's all just my opinion. Why did I buy a 6 year old LT? Simply to ride it for a while and see if there would be reason to look at a 1600. There are things about the 1600 I don't like from the curb, but I thought I'd put some miles on a LT to buffer my (negative) first BMW impressions before I look more seriously at the 1600. Of course now that I've put that all in print it seems to make no sense at all... My wife likes the swoopy body work, comfort and the chrome - that's probably it. (she liked the Victory Vision for the same reasons, so I bought one of those too... Pattern?) ;-)