Re: Talk me out of a K1600GT
I did extensive test rides on a GSA and K16GTL last summer, and I ended up on an R12RT. Here was my thought process.
I ride around 30,000 miles a year on my bikes (the Night Train gets about 5,000 a year, whatever my other bike is gets the remaining 25,000). My riding is made up of DC-area commuting, pleasure riding on the weekends, hitting the mountains as hard as I dare, and several multi-thousand mile road trips (usually one big 10-day trip, and a bunch of long weekends). I carry a passenger probably 40% of the time. I have accepted the fact that no manufacturer designs a bike to suit my needs perfectly, and no matter what I'm compromising something by trying to get one bike to fill all these roles.
For the two years prior to last Thanksgiving, I was riding a 2010 H-D Ultra Limited, and it fulfilled my needs relatively well once I threw a fair amount of money at the suspension and various comfort bits (I'm convinced that there's an industry-wide conspiracy that puts crappy seats and windshields on bikes). Had it not been for an inattentive driver, I'd still be riding it. But last summer, I started getting the itch for something different.
In an attempt to connect with my inner Charley Boorman, I took a test ride on a GSA, and I was instantly hooked. I haven't had that much fun on a bike since I was a kid riding a TL125. No kidding, I was grinning ear-to-ear the entire ride. The bike was quick, handled like a dream, stopped on a dime, and was just stupid easy to throw around. I took my wife out to Bob's to test ride it a few days later, and I was like an eager teenager on prom night. She loved it too, and I was ready to pull the trigger on bike #3 (since I couldn't see us using the GSA as a touring platform, and I won't sell the Night Train).
When we came back from that ride, the salesman suggested we try the GTL. We were more than happy to, given how well the GSA test went. Needless to say, we were underwhelmed. My Harley weighed 900 pounds, and other than when it was falling on me, I never noticed it. I could turn that thing around at walking speeds without a care in the world. The GTL was 100 pounds lighter, and I never would have guessed that. The center of gravity is higher, and the control relationship isn't nearly as parking lot friendly.
The motor is turbine-smooth, and the power is intoxicating, but the weight rears its head every time the road gets twisty. The suspension, brakes, and available lean angle allow the GTL to be ridden hard, but the subjective feel through the bars implies tremendous bulk is being moved. In other words, the bike can be thrown around, but it doesn't dance. The ergos were good though, and with the addition of some highway pegs, I could see riding it over long distances.
And as a big tourer, it didn't coddle my wife the way it should. The wind management for the pillion is terrible, and the seat's awful (but that's the global conspiracy). The top box moved around too much on the mount, making it all but worthless as a backrest on a bumpy road (to be fair, the one on my RT does the same thing, I've got to figure out a shim to keep it still).
And it's certainly priced in the right neighborhood when it's compared to the big Harleys, the 'Wing, and the touring Vics. But it wasn't enough to convince me to trade the Ultra on, especially considering it's a first-year, clean-sheet design. I'll let others do BMW's beta-testing, thankyouverymuch.
We ended up deciding to move, so bike #3 got back-burnered, and then the accident happened, and we had to replace the tourer. When I started bike shopping again, the GTL hardly ever came up, primarily due to the weight and balance issue. I'm done with barges at the moment, and never seriously considered anything that big. I still couldn't see us doing 800 mile 2-up days on a GSA, so I went for the RT. I don't regret it a bit, especially when you factor in how easy it is to work on a boxer.
YMMV, of course.
2005 H-D FXSTB/I
2014 BMW K1600 GTL
2014.5 Kawasaki KLR650