- Browse bikes
- Top bikes
- News & reviews
- Free classifieds
Review of the 2004 BMW K 1200 GT:
You will like it more
Author: Keith Johnson, 2006-04-26, viewed 795 times.|
Pros: Performance, quality, electric windshield, cruise control, heated seat and grips in a killer sport tourer.
Cons: High price range.
One month after taking delivery of my 2004 BMW K 1200 GT I´ve put about 4500 miles on it and the longer I have it the more I like it. I´m 49 and have ridden for 33 years on many bikes, but this is my first BMW. My other bike is a Honda VTX 1800 C,but I was looking for something more nimble with better protection for longer distance cruising in the 500 to 800 mile per day range. |
Before buying the GT I looked at the Yamaha FJR, the Honda ST 1300 and the BMW 1150 RT in addition to the K bike. Here are some comparisons:
The 1150 RT has great protection for travelling, a very comfortable seating posture but (after riding the K 1200) the RT just does not have the power and absolutely electric throttle response of the K bike. Makes sense, given that the K bike has 130 HP and the RT has only 86 HP. I also found the RT to be ´buzzy´ and the K bike perfectly smooth.
I love Hondas and have owned many of them, but the ST1300 somehow just did not grab me even though I kept wanting it to. It has a very smooth engine (of course), but pickup did not seem to be as instantaneously electric as with the K bike. My big slam on the ST1300 is that it feels wiggly, somehow unstable at speeds over 80. Dropping the windshield all the way down helps a lot, but the last thing I want in a tourer that will spend much of its life at 100+ is not to have rock-solid stability and tracking at speed. [And, no, this is not a tire or road surface thing as I encountered that effect on three different STs on three different test rides]. Although fit and finish on the ST is excellent, it´s good finish in a more automotive style than the uber-tech finish on the BMW, like the difference between a quality Accord and the perfect paint job on a BMW sedan.
Last but not least, I don´t like the looks of the ST as much as the K bike. There is just a bit too much Japanese Transformer Robot look to the front of it.
What about the Yamaha¿ You´ll read great reviews of it for power and handling but the bike in person is a disappointment. I´m 6´2´ and didn´t fit on it well. It has zero amenities (no cruise control, seat heat, grip heat) and looks cheap with inferior fit and finish and crude paint.
In the end I felt a real emotional connection with the GT, I loved riding it (I had about three hours worth of test rides on three different occasions), I liked the way it looked and I really liked the BMW quality. So, how did it work out¿
What an amazing bike! I ride a mix of around-town errands, a short commute (about 40 miles total every other day) and the occasional long trip. I´ve taken my bike from the San Francisco Bay area to Ensenada, Mexico, twice on weekend trips. It´s a 600 mile ride each way. I leave work early on Friday about 2 PM, arriving Ensenada late evening and then come back on Sunday. My fastest time so far is doing the trip in 7.5 hours, where most of the time I was cruising in the 110 to 125 MPH range and got out of Ensenada early enough on Sunday not to be delayed by local daytime traffic in LA.
I also ride the twisties, getting up to Alice´s about twice a month, but in a relaxed style.
The BMW K 1200 GT handles great in the twisties with endless power on tap regardless of what gear you are in. It´s a flat power curve so when you twist that throttle you get action pretty much no matter what the RPMs are, although you get your best power between 4500 and 6500. What I expecially like is roll-ons at 80 or 90 when you´ve got to blast past a slow-moving truck or cage: instant response and the next thing you know you are flying by at 110 or more. Carving through downtown San Diego on I5 at 120 on early Sunday morning runs brings new meaning to the term ´sweeper fun.´
I know this may sound weird in the US, but I lived in Germany for a couple of years and got used to travelling the Autobahn at 190 clicks. That´s about 120 MPH and if you have the right machine and the clean surface and good weather it´s perfectly safe and routine. That´s what the K1200GT can do for hours on end.
I ride with earplugs in and the power windshield set so the wind catches me at about the shoulders. That takes the weight off the upper body and leaves my head in clear air for relatively quiet laminar flow over the helmet. I like the electric windshield since it allows me to lift or drop the windshield to put the wind where I want it at different speeds.
Don´t make fun of cruise control, heated seats or heated grips until you´ve tried them! I use these all the time and you can bet your butt that heated seat is a great way to take off the chill all over. It extends the amount of time you can go without having to stop to put clothing on/off for different weather conditions. And, at the rate the GT burns up miles you will find yourself in different weather conditions many times during a trip. I also liked having the power plug available as a stock item so I could plug in my electric vest for cold days.
A negative for the GT is that at 100 MPH you can only go about 130 miles before the reserve light goes on. At 120 MPH, it´s down to about 110 miles and at 130 you can barely do 100 miles. I suppose at slower speeds you could go about 140 or so miles. I don´t mind this because I have long legs, do a lot of running (which tightens up the thighs), so I´m usually ready for a break after an hour and a half of riding when going slow, and when riding fast I think it´s wise to take regular breaks as well to make sure fatigue does not interfere with concentration.
I´ve heard guys putting on bar backs for a more upright seating posture on the GT and I thought about doing this as well at first. But, I found that even after ten hours in the saddle it was no big deal once I got used to the posture, especially if I was travelling fast enough for the wind to take weight off my arms.
Kudos to BMW for getting the luggage right on the GT. It´s easy to use and very convenient. You can take the bags off for around-town riding and the bike looks great, or you can put the bags on for a trip and the bike still looks great. BMW says not to go any faster than 80 with the bags on but I´ve had it up to 140 with no problems with the bags.
At all times the GT tracks rock-solid reliable, is easy to steer, has nice transmission action and a very responsive throttle without being twitchy. I love this bike!
Long term, I can see when I turn 60 I might be interested in a Gold Wing or BMW LT, but right now I like being more in contact with my environment and appreciate having a bike that is more on the ´sport´ side of a ´sport tourer.´ I just can´t step away from the performance the GT has. If you have the money to buy one I don´t think you´ll be disappointed.
Update: As of January, 2006: I now have 12,000 more miles on the bike - I still love it. Totally! I ride every day and still feel a thrill when the garage door goes up and I see my bike ready to go.
Sad to say, BMW is no longer producing the K1200GT using the famous flat four engine used in my bike and the K1200RS. The new ´K1200GT´ that appears in 2006 will be a totally new bike derived from the K1200S.
Two months ago I took a long demo ride on the new K1200S. I almost bought one as the ride was very appealing, a real rush. What you get with the K1200S is nimbleness and lightness that makes the GT seem, well, heavy. Although the S is also a very long wheelbase bike it seems a lot more flickable. It has even more electric throttle response than the GT, with even more power on tap.
What I didn´t like about the S is that it was a lot less comfortable than the GT with fewer amenities. It has less legroom than the GT for tall guys, more forward lean, a much less comfortable seat, no cruise control or heated seat and seriously goofy looking luggage. You also have to get used to that almost turbine whine of high RPMs, much higher RPMs than the GT engine. Superb sportbike, yes; traveling machine, no.
I still lust after the S and want one to buzz around town but I can´t see doing more than short rides on it. With the GT I can take off the luggage and feel sporty around town and then when I want to go places I put the luggage on and eat up miles. Sad for me, the crushing hand of fate has dealt me insufficient finances to afford both a GT and an S. Such is life!
If I can afford only one such bike I much prefer the versatility and range of my GT. I´m looking forward to seeing the 2006 GT version of the K1200S. With some slight ergonomic changes and a few amenities that extra 30 horsepower and lighter weight will be very, very tempting!
Amount Paid (US Dollars ): 17800
Model Year: 2004
This review of the 2004 BMW K 1200 GT was posted by a visitor on Bikez.com and does not necessarily reflect facts, truth or Bikez.com's opinions.
Write a motorcycle review yourself?You are welcome to write motorcycle articles on Bikez.com. Write about anything your fellow riders might find interesting to know about a bike. Use our standard picture or upload your own. All reviews will be checked manually before they turn up online, usually within 24 hours. To write a quick comment or discuss a bike, use our discussion forums.
Click here to write a review.
BMW Ducati Harley-Davidson Honda Kawasaki KTM Suzuki Triumph Yamaha
|About Bikez.com.||Contact Bikez.com||Motorcycle catalogue|