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Topic: Rode the new BMW K1600 GTL today. My thoughts follow...  (Read 13217 times)

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tjhess74
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« on: May 26, 2011, 09:02:39 PM »

Our local BMW dealer just got in a K1600 GTL demo bike.  Apparently BMW is sending demo bikes before the ones that customers have ordered.  I was able to spend good time in the saddle and as a result I was able to form some immediate opinions and was able to sit and think about others.  This machine holds true to the German methodology of engineering...'If you don't need a gadget, we will design one for you anyway!'



Upon the initial viewing, it has a very 'K1200LT' look to it.  I like BMW styling, so I found it to my liking.  Color scheme and overall design is unmistakable in that aspect.  Upon sitting on the bike, some things struck me immediately; You sit IN this bike, not on it.  The seat height is very low (almost too low for my long legs). This bike feels like a K1200LT from the saddle.  The long pullback on the handlebars and overall cockpit design gave me that familiar feel.  Speaking of the cockpit, it is very forward from the riders position.  I have long arms and its a stretch to reach forward (not that you really need too).  The instrument panel is very well layed out and clear, even in bright sun.  Im 6' tall and the windshield in the lowest position is  just below eye level.  When setting up from the sidestand, this bike is top HEAVY!  Perhaps I should have expected it, but that 7 gallon tank up top really adds to the heft.  Initially, I was concerned how it would handle at low speeds and how difficult centerstand application would be.  Placing this bike on the centerstand was amazingly easy!  You could do it barefoot with one hand (if you dont have sensitive feet).

I played with some of the plastic panels and tried to get a sense of how they all come together.  I was a bit dismayed by the flimsiness of some of the trim pieces and i question how long they will last .  I think 'cheap feeling' is a good way to describe it, but there has been alot of that on expensive motorcycles recently.

There is plenty of storage.  There is a dry storage pocket by your left shin, and an iPod docking station by your right shin.  The three saddlebags were a little disappointing in there internal volume however.  The two side bags have many protrusions that limit the size, but my helmet did fit...barely. The top case is beautiful inside (really, beautiful?!).  It is very well lit and lined with a carpet mat and side liners.  It is wide, but not very deep.  A nice thing is that it is removable, unlike the Goldwing. All locks are both key usable and remotely controlled, as is the security system.

Upon turning the key, the bikes dashboard comes to life.  Like the Goldwing, the display greets you with some graphics...a '6' (BMW's symbol for this engine).  I played with the menu/toggle system and found it to be very user friendly and straightforward.  All other controls are standard (turn signals are the standard left/right button).  All suspension and performance settings are easily controlled using the Mode/Toggle controls and the settings are brightly displayed on the screen.

Here is where I really made an obvious cringe and was shocked by something I didnt expect...hitting the starter button resulted in a sound I can only describe as starting a 1981 Chevy Suburban...not just any Suburban, but the old 6.5 liter diesel one.  The starting of the engine is a huge turn off and is not in anyway a pleasant sound.  But, once the starter is laid to rest, the engine comes to life...and all is pleasant again.  If I had to use one word to describe this bike, it would be 'SMOOTH'.  No, seriously, it feels frictionless.  Ive never felt a bike so butter smooth when running.  It also has a great exhaust note...aggressive yet restrained.

It is now time to go for a ride.  The throttle is extremely sensitive...twitchy sensitive compared to what Im used to (and people say the Concours 14 throttle is sensitive!!!).  The clutch friction zone engages almost immediatly after letting it out, but I got used to the combination rather quickly.  Low speed handling was rather impressive (once you get used to the throttle and clutch).  The second it moves, the top heaviness disappears.  She also has a great turning radius! Low speed tight turns felt very comfortable.  Upon hitting the main roads, I felt the power was very adequate, especially for a bike this large.  Let me emphasize how SMOOTH this engine is all the way through the rev range...butter, I tell ya! Initial acceleration is slightly 'boggy', but after that brief second it starts to pull confidently. Something else hit me like a ton of bricks as soon as I started finding other gears...the gear box sucks.  There is more driveline 'slop' and clunking noise when accel/decelling than Ive ever heard on a bike before.  Combine that with the twitchiness of the throttle and it is a caucophony of clashing metal.  Also, shifting gears will draw attention from those around you, it is very loud.  I was extremely disappointed with the drivetrain.  The clutch has a 'pulse' in it that neither I nor the salesman could find a reason for.  It feels just like the pedal pulse from an activated ABS system, and is more pronounced on gentle downshifting.  I didnt think anything was wrong with it, Ive just never felt a clutch pulse repeatedly like this.

Handling was a bit disappointing too.  The heavy feel returns when you reach 45mph or so.  You really need to muscle the bike around, especially in emergency left/right maneuvers.  The best way I can describe the handling is 'soft and spongy' despite the suspension setting being on sport, its tightest setting.  At these speeds also, there is quite a bit of buffeting off of the windscreen.  Raise the screen and calmness returns (but its too damn high and so far forward you cant even reach it!).

On the interstate, the bike was expectedly smooth, but seemed to wander in the lane and was subject to being bounced around by the windblast of other vehicles.  For a bike of this size, it didn't feel planted in its track.  Low screen buffeting on the interstate was distracting.

Something else began to annoy me after about 20 minutes...the 'buzz' of the engine (not the exhaust).  It has a high pitched whine very similar to an electrical interference from a car stereo that goes along with the engines rpm's.   I was having trouble ignoring it.

As with any bike, it takes time to get used to a new one.  One thing that I was having trouble with was getting my thumb past the large scrolling dial on the left grip.  Being big makes it easy to use, but it also makes getting to the turn signal and horn switch awkward.  The horn switch is actually buried deep in the grip design.  Covering the horn button is not too easy on this machine...good luck if you have short fingers.

Today was in the mid 90's here in Charleston, but I stayed very cool on this bike.  Engine heat management was excellent and the fold out side air vents were equally as effective.  They delivered a great blast of air to the chest area.  This is some of the best air management Ive seen on a bike.

Overall, I did like the bike.  However I think there are some serious 'fit and finish/refinement' issues for being a BMW (especially a $27k one).  I would expect that transmission from a Hyosung, not a BMW.  If you are in the market for a large touring bike, then compared to the Goldwing (among others), this could be a very viable choice.  Despite the items I didn't like, I would consider it against a Goldwing.

Here is a compact list of likes and dislikes:

+ pros
-SMOOTH (did I mention how smooth this engine is??!!)
-Very comfortable
-Lots of gadgets to play with and make life easier
-Extremely effective side air vents.
-Good power
-All settings adjustable on the fly
-Removable tail trunk
-Easy to navigate electronics package
-BMW styling

- cons
-TRANSMISSION. way too loose and loud
-Clutch pulse (what is that?)
-Electrical interference-like engine whine
-Small mirrors
-'Floating' sensation on the highway
-Very sensitive throttle/clutch
-Scroller interferes with other left hand controls
-Some bodywork/trim is 'chincy'

Check with your local BMW shop, if they have a demo bike they need to put miles on them before it can be sold (2500 to be exact), so test rides come easy. I encourage you to feel for yourself.

UFO edit - add picture for front page article integration.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2011, 12:40:47 PM by OℲ∩ » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2011, 09:18:10 PM »

Thanks for the report.
Did you check the tyre pressures (maybe it has a display on the instrument panel?)

With those handling and transmission woes I do not see trading in one of my Vespas for one.
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« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2011, 09:44:43 PM »

Thanks to the clearly displayed pressures on the panel, I did!  front was 39, rear was 41.  Not sure what BMW recommends.
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« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2011, 09:49:39 PM »

Thanks for your impressions.  Thumbsup

I think it's a nice bike but not something I would ever consider buying. I'm not much of a farkle-fan, especially of crap I haven't installed myself.
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« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2011, 11:23:11 AM »

Ditto, sounds like a nice bike but at this stage more interested in smaller and lighter... My K1200GT is a good balance of comfort, performance and luggage but even that feels like a top heavy pig compared to my GS. The heaviest I've owned was my FLHT at around 900lbs but that carried it's weight low, I wouldn't be interested in anything even close to that, specially if the weight was high up.

 Shrug
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« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2011, 11:33:13 AM »

Excellent write-up, thank you!  Thumbsup  

I agree that some of the faults you found are disappointing considering that this is a premium luxury bike.  
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« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2011, 05:12:27 PM »




Handling was a bit disappointing too.  The heavy feel returns when you reach 45mph or so.  You really need to muscle the bike around, especially in emergency left/right maneuvers.  The best way I can describe the handling is 'soft and spongy' despite the suspension setting being on sport, its tightest setting.  At these speeds also, there is quite a bit of buffeting off of the windscreen.  Raise the screen and calmness returns (but its too damn high and so far forward you cant even reach it!).



Good evaluation.  I rode one a week ago and thought it was the new king of the road...as long as the road is straight and very smooth.  When the road got bumpy, uneven, or tight, I was thinking "an old Buick with worn out shocks" although "1500 Goldwing" is probably a better description of the GTL's ride and handling.
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« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2011, 11:46:55 PM »

Cool - thanks for the info...

No pics?  Now I gg google image this....  

Results:



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« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2011, 11:09:17 AM »


Our local BMW dealer just . . . Upon the initial viewing, it has a very 'K1200LT' look to it.  I like BMW styling, so I found it to my liking.  Color scheme and overall design is unmistakable in that aspect.  Upon sitting on the bike, some things struck me immediately. . . . . I encourage you to feel for yourself.


nice write up.   Bigok  I am scheduled to test ride a GTL in Santa Fe, NM July 1 when I take the R1200 in for a hook up to the diagnostic computer.  I'll try to remember to make a list from your thoughts and pay close attention as I ride to see how our impressions compare.
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« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2011, 02:00:32 AM »




Good evaluation.  I rode one a week ago and thought it was the new king of the road...as long as the road is straight and very smooth.  When the road got bumpy, uneven, or tight, I was thinking "an old Buick with worn out shocks" although "1500 Goldwing" is probably a better description of the GTL's ride and handling.


Funny how the magazine tests have no issues whatsoever, praise it to the sky etc yet two reviewers on this board have found this complaint.

I find 'our' reviewers to be far more credible.
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« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2011, 08:56:23 AM »

to the mags credit (even though they get paid to say nice things), i have spoken to guys that i know and respect that say the k16 they rode handled quite sharply.  it makes me wonder if tire pressures are very sensitive on this bike?  
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« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2011, 10:36:15 AM »




Funny how the magazine tests have no issues whatsoever, praise it to the sky etc yet two reviewers on this board have found this complaint.

I find 'our' reviewers to be far more credible.


After test riding the K1600GTL and a couple of other "hot" models (non-BMW) that had serious flaws not mentioned in any road tests, I am starting to wonder how objective the magazine tests really are, the testers use phrases like "much better than I expected" without explaining what they expected or how that bike compares to the competition.

The GTL is very impressive as a touring bike but it is not a sport-touring bike and I really doubt the GT will be much different as it is still going to be around 750-760 lbs with a full tank.  Add luggage to the large saddlebags and the GT will be a 800 lb bike.  Both bikes offer very low seat height and that comes with a price...very little ground clearance and not much lean angle...much like the big cruisers.

One of the reasons that the GTL feels so smooth is that the rider is almost detached from the front wheel...you don't seem to get any road feedback through the handlebars.  I guess this is a good thing when you are in a touring mode in a straight line but I didn't care for it on back roads, curves, and less than perfect surfaces.

The K1600's appear to be much more about comfort than speed/sport and there is certainly nothing wrong with that, but I think that anyone buying one with the intention of keeping up with their sport-touring friends on twisty roads is going to be disappointed unless they are willing to push the bike to dangerous levels.

Does the GTL trump the Goldwing as a touring bike?  I think it does although the Goldwing would still be my choice for back roads.  Is there a place for a K1600 in my garage?  Maybe if I started touring two up...but I think I would go with the lighter GT (which is still heavier than the ST1300).

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« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2011, 06:23:57 PM »

Hi. Just read your review and I agree with your assessment. I rode the very same bike over at Champion Honda when it had 74 miles on it couple weeks ago. I know Harry from way back and I also bought my ST from him.

Took off and rode Dorchester down to the Harley dealer and back behind it and I never did get used to the twitchy throttle. Took it down across the Ashley and then turned around and came back. It's not a very nice handler at all .. and I agree with you on the saddlebags too. Don't think a helmet will fit into one.  
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« Reply #13 on: June 02, 2011, 11:15:59 AM »

I just want to know what exactly the 6-cylinder engine adds to the overall experience. Yeah, I'm sure it is smooth. But the BMW 4-cylinder K engine was already very, very smooth. And not so ridiculously wide/splayed.



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« Reply #14 on: June 02, 2011, 05:10:39 PM »

I saw one of these this morning on the Ortega.  Pretty Sweet!
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« Reply #15 on: June 06, 2011, 10:53:25 AM »

Thanks for sharing... good writeup and informative.
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« Reply #16 on: June 08, 2011, 10:29:50 PM »

I rode a 2011 (2010?) R1200RT with the new switchgear and the ring thing for the radio controls. I also felt that it was always in the way. Heck I found the switchgear to be clocked too far downward as well. I do not like the new turn signals that try to be simialr to everyone elses sport bike turn signals. I love my 2009 old fashioned turn signals much better. I wonder if the dealer really set that bike up properly or if it was just too new and not broken in yet?
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« Reply #17 on: June 11, 2011, 09:11:38 PM »


The K1600's appear to be much more about comfort than speed/sport and there is certainly nothing wrong with that, but I think that anyone buying one with the intention of keeping up with their sport-touring friends on twisty roads is going to be disappointed unless they are willing to push the bike to dangerous levels.


One wonders then why the big six-cyllinder, presumably-thirsty engine...
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« Reply #18 on: June 12, 2011, 09:20:28 PM »




One wonders then why the big six-cyllinder, presumably-thirsty engine...



hmmmmmmm, let's see; full dresser touring bike, hmmmmmm, maybe for the same reason there is a big thirsty six cylinder in the Goldwing?  Headscratch
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« Reply #19 on: June 14, 2011, 12:13:46 AM »



One wonders then why the big six-cyllinder, presumably-thirsty engine...


BMW claims 50 mpg at a steady 75 mph.  I read a review where they got 42 mpg while sport touring and 35 mpg when they thrashed it hard.
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« Reply #20 on: June 14, 2011, 12:31:06 AM »




BMW claims 50 mpg at a steady 75 mph.  I read a review where they got 42 mpg while sport touring and 35 mpg when they thrashed it hard.


I think when BMW makes mpg claims they are referring to Imperial gallons.
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« Reply #21 on: June 16, 2011, 12:22:46 AM »

Well, I logged about 15 miles on a K1600GTL today, thanks to Tom at Hermy's in Port Clinton, PA.  I'm not in the market for any bike that's $20K+ but, that said, this was one fine and glorious ride.  The bike worked well at speed on PA 61 (cement with tar strips and mild surface deterioration) and PA 895 (two lane blacktop with strips dug up for water mains and re-paved).  Hawk Mountain Road (two lane blacktop with moderate surface damage) has moderately steep pitches and all manner of turns (constant radius, changing radius, on and off camber).  The bike did exceptionally well in all of these settings.  Two points, nits really, stuck out: first, the speedo is a PITA to read and the tach isn't far behind.  The numbers and markings just don't work for me.  The tach is marked only at the thousands (1000, 2000, 3000, etc.).  Second, the throttle seemed a little too loose (not enough back resistance), making it awfully twitchy, even in road mode (I didn't try rain or dynamic modes).  But then, I'm not used to "fly by wire" throttles.  If I hit the lottery, though, I think I could learn to accept these two issues.   Bigsmile

Again, a big thanks to Tom and the crew at Hermy's!   Bigok
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« Reply #22 on: June 16, 2011, 11:28:12 PM »

I rode these back to back this week not far from north London, England. I was lucky to have a sunny day and rode the 20 miles or so to the dealer on my trusty 2008 FJR1300A.

First I tried out the GTL. I was surprised by its size. The word Winnebago came to mind even though I am a Brit and we don't use the word. I think it is the top box in particular that gives it the impression of such size. Goldwing users wouldn't bat an eyelid, but for us FJR owners, that is another world. Another initial dislike for me was the large external speakers embedded in the front fairing. I do enjoy music on the move, but do not see the attraction of it blaring out of speakers, battling with engine and wind noise instead of through earphones. The low slung foglights either side of the front fairing were also an odd sight: Motorcycling in the fog is not an attractive proposition and I am not sure that shining more light to reflect off the fog is going to help. Perhaps I am used to sport tourers rather than out and out tourers.

Having asked a passing staff member to help me out with simple mechanics, I opened the topbox with the key (I could have used the central locking plip on the keyring, an optional extra). Like a child trying to put a round peg in a square hole, I struggled to close the top box with my helmet (a Schuberth S1) in it, until a passing fellow customer took pity on me and suggested putting the helmet on its side. That worked and I am pretty sure I could have fitted two in the topbox on their sides. There was no difficulty fitting the helmet into each of the side panniers. I tried the quick releases on both side panniers, which were really easy to use. The top box was not quite so easy, and much more complicated than a Givi. It is clearly not designed for quick release. You have to open the top box, lift the carpet and turn a dial. That releases the top box, but it is still connected with a wire to the bike. In the few minutes I had, I did not identify a plug to separate top box from bike, though it must be there somewhere.

Getting on the bike required a bit more flexibility than my FJR. This is because the pillion seat is quite high. The drivers seat is much lower and the front of the pillion seat forms a backrest, or at least a buttock rest, for the rider. I felt as though I was sitting in the bike rather than on it. In use, this meant that I was less eager to move myself from side to side and tended to take a casual approach to cornering. At speed I used the electronically adjustable windscreen, which is much wider than that on the GT, to balance noise and airflow, rather than moving my buttocks back on the seat and lowering my head. That is because the high pillion seat entirely prevents backwards movement. The slightly feet forward position and swept back handlebars were comfortable and I had a great view. The downside was that I didn't feel fully engaged with the ride.

The bike had the optional electronic suspension adjustment and I asked the dealer to change the setting to normal from comfort before I set off. The throttle response was initially set by the dealer at rain mode. I was able to change to the other modes "road" and "dynamic" without bringing the bike to a stop, just by pressing a button on the right handlebar and holding it for a few seconds. The new mapping kicks in when you next pull in the clutch.

I was wary of manoeuvring the bike at very low speeds, because the wheelbase is long and the bike heavy. Once on the move however it was well balanced and the weight gave a great sense of stability. The engine had an enormous range of usable power. My FJR struggles to run at 30mph in 3rd gear, but the GTL would do it easily in 4th, 3rd or 2nd. The engine was absolutely smooth whether in traffic at 10mph or on the motorway at 95 (or should I say at or around the speed limit). This is a fairly quiet bike. At low speed there is so much torque that there is no reason to rev the engine and at higher speeds, the engine does not really win out over the wind noise, even though the screen is quite effective (and vastly more so than the FJR screen). Putting the screen up to its full height was a funny experience, as I actually felt sucked forwards, I soon found a good compromise position.

Compared to the FJR, the indicator on the GTL did not give a positive feel, so that the only way I could be sure it was on was to look for the green flashing light. This was a minor grievance for a bike that was very competent. I took it on a mixed route of motorway, urban, slow traffic and twisties. It coped well with most things, though the seating position and weight did not encourage me to really want to push it into corners on twisties. The bike exudes a more leisurely air than that. On the other hand, this bike is a licence buster and it is easy to casually end up way over the speed limit on a motorway without seemingly lifting a finger. I didn't try the cruise control on the GTL, but I would definitely use it if I owned one, both for relaxation and to keep the speed down to the limit on motorways.

I had absolutely no problems with the ergonomics and efficiency of the design of the bike, which has clearly been worked on in great detail. The switchgear was well positioned. The footpegs, gear lever and rear brake were just where I needed them and there were no obstructions from the centre stand (Ducati Multistrada owners will know what I mean). The plastics, including the panniers (note again Multistrada) were sturdy, though I couldn't help but notice the paintwork on the panniers was already chipped at the corners. Maybe that is what 3,000 test ride miles does to a bike. The clutch does pulsate if you hold it at low speeds, which is disconcerting, but the easy solution is just to let go. On the other hand, I assume the clutch was servo assisted as it was easy to use and did not wear out my hand in slow traffic, though the low rev torque also meant I had no need to keep slipping the clutch in town. I took note of written reviews that labelled the gears as clunky. I don't doubt that this is the experience of others, but I can only say it did not cross my mind whilst riding the GTL. I found gear changes light and easy with a simple blip of the clutch. The bike seemed a little resistant to clutchless up changes, but I did not experiment further.

I found the power delivery a little disappointing in the mid range. My conclusion was that this was because it takes a lot of grunt to get momentum into a barge of this size. I changed the throttle response to dynamic early on and that improved matters somewhat. At higher revs it was a different story and I had the sense of an inexorable acceleration that would have gone on long after my I lost my licence. Well that was the GTL. My overall sense of the bike is reflected in my decision to take it back earlier than the hour or so I had agreed with the dealer. It was an interesting experience, but not for me an exhilarating one.

Half an hour later, I was ready for the GT. I poked around at the small lockable trays low down on either side of each fairing. Near my left shin a flap opened revealing a tiny space that might be useful for small change. On the same position in the right was a tray with foam to hold maybe a phone and ipod and sockets for a usb stick and an ipod. The only other socket visible on the bike was a single powerlet socket higher up on the right fairing (canbus - so not really suitable for optimate).

The difference in character of these two bikes was amazing considering how much they share. The handlebars are not so swept back on the GT and my feet not so far forward. The windshield has the same protection as the GTL in terms of height, but is not so wide. The rider's seat is higher on the GT (there is a lower seat option) and it was easy to move sideways and backwards on the twisties, so this is a bike that can scratch as well as tour. The rider and pillion seat are not multi storey like the GTL, so I was able to move my bum backwards at speed, tuck in and lower the windshield to give the bike some sort of drag coefficient short of a brick. The engine note, whilst still smooth with those 6 cylinders, was thoroughly enjoyable when pushed. As it is the same engine and tuning, this can only be down to the different silencer configuration between the GT and GTL. On this bike I set the electronic suspension adjustment to sport and the engine to dynamic and had a whale of a time. I found time to check the tyre pressures on the easy to read cockpit display. I used the cruise control to saunter through villages at 30mph (it released easily when I used any other controls) and went into stellar overdrive on the open roads. GT is about the right term for this: Grand Tourer.

On this bike, I had to force myself to call up the dealer's address on the integrated BMW Nav IV to give myself a chance of getting back not too far over my alloted hour. That just about sums up my different attitude to the GT.

The result? I went to test ride and not to buy. I still thought the GTL was a Winnebago, well it felt a bit like a pan European to me, but felt that the GT was a good successor to the FJR. Without going into detail, I thought that if the FJR were being designed today, rather than 10 years ago, the K1600GT might well be the result. My heart began to think about buying one even as my mind wondered where the money would be coming from.

The dealer was not that knowledgeable about options, so that the sales patter was a little glib and with very high price options flying around such as the radio for 1,000. I was offered a very poor trade in price for my FJR at around 90% of its trade in value and 75% of its private sale value, and the dealer wanted an additional 2% if I paid for all or part of a new bike on a credit card. They could only offer me a September build date at the factory, so I would miss the entire summer.

I surfed the web and phoned a dealer who seemed much more helpful. In a way I felt bad, because my business was going to one dealer when another had been kind enough to provide me with test rides and cups of tea. It just goes to show that you need to be good at sales as well as pre-sales if you want to keep the customer happy. After a few general enquiries and getting to know him a bit over perhaps 30 minutes of phone calls and a couple of emails, I told him I was ready to put down my deposit for a July build date for a GT SE. After two weeks of pestering by me and no documentation to confirm the order or build date, I cancelled the order. It was like the moment in Fellowship of the Ring where Bilbo Baggins sees the one ring around Frodo's neck - the dealer suddenly declared that my order was finalised, built and being delivered from the factory - yeah right - see you in court.

Another dealer has the bike in stock due to an cancelled order, so I should have my K1600 GT SE in about a week.

Roll on July.

« Last Edit: July 05, 2011, 02:05:44 PM by Thog » Logged
RBEmerson
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Years Contributed: '07
Motorcycles: '03 BMW K1200RS - "Red Flash"'
GPS: Skippack, PA, USA
Miles Typed: 3092

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« Reply #23 on: June 17, 2011, 07:37:55 PM »

Interesting!  I agree that the GTL (which is what I rode) does have a Winnebago feel to it.  Particularly when doing a K turn to turn the bike around for the ride back to the dealer.  I wasn't particularly bothered by the mid-range feel - as you say, perhaps one expects this with a Winnie... Too bad Hermy's didn't have a GT to play with, too.  I think that might have suited me better, particularly coming off my K1200RS.  

I wouldn't fret a bit about using the first dealer for a ride and buying elsewhere.  Clearly they didn't have a clue about what they were selling.  All that and they want a lot of money and delivery on their terms, not yours.  I'd say voting with your feet is the right response.  
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