So Iíve gone through several bikes over the years. Iíll admit at first, it was a bit of the Goldilocks syndrome as I was getting back into riding after being away for 10 yearsÖ There was a lot of this one is too bloated, that one is too slow, this one is not ideal for long trips, that one cannot go off road, and so on and so on.
I purchased my 2008 990 Adventure brand new and itís quite the bike! I still adore it. In fact, if I were still living in West Virginia, I would still have it. I had plenty of excellent fireroads and jeep trails nearby. In fact, I would still have the 530EXC too. But, the move to central NC changed my needs.
The first thing I found out was the closest KTM dealer which can service the LC8 motor is two and a half hours away. While I will do all of the normal maintenance on my own, valves and anything technical would be done by them. I am a big proponent that a local dealer can make or break a bike decision (which is part of the reason I didnít consider a Guzzi Norge or Triumph Trophy).
In addition to no local dealer support for the KTM (pretty common right now across the US), thereís the quality of day or weekend rides which can be done on either KTM (Adventure or 530). In WV, I could ride from my driveway and be on KTM-appropriate stuff within minutes. Here, itís more than 2 hours on the Adventure on long straight roads or interstate to get to the good stuff and on the 530 itís impossible to ride it areas which it would be happy.
So, I sold the 530, purchased a trailer and picked up a track bike because I had a friend selling a GSXR for a song. I had thought about getting a 250cc dirt bike and trailering to ORV areas, but Iím still not sure thatís what I want to do.
I had pulled off several track days on the 750 and even earned a novice provisional race license. However, during my time on the track this year, I have noticed the quality of riding on the track has either greatly diminished or I have been super fortunate with groups Iíve shared the track with in the past. Yeah, sure, I had a get off this year that was my fault. My little low side didnít shake me one bit. It found it to be funny. But, I had way too many close calls with guys riding well above their skill set. Also, during my brief time doing track days this year, Iíve seen way too many people taken off the track for serious injuries (including one incident which one rider lost his arm and another lost his life). Despite years of track days in the past, I had made up my mind that Iím done. I realize what I witnessed this year could be some sort of an anomaly, but it turned me off. Done.
As I had cash in my pocket from selling the track bike, I ran across a great deal on a K1200S at my local BMW dealer. Iíve always liked them and always through it would be nice to have a powerhouse bike once in my riding career. I was able to test ride it for quite some time and pulled the trigger. The track bike money was gone. I put 5,000 miles on the K bike during the two months I owned it. This was my first BMW and the one thing that stood out to me is how BMW really does make a bike with the rider in mind. I canít explain it, but it felt like it was built for the bikeís exact purpose and the bike to human interface was excellent.
When I purchased the K bike, the owner invited me to come back to the dealer in a few weeks because the BMW factory demo truck was going to be there. I immediately signed up to test ride three bikes.
1) BMW 650 Sertao because I was seriously thinking with the K, I could downsize my ďadventureĒ bike to something with less weight and had a local dealer
2) BMW K1600GT Ė just for the heck of it as I have never ridden a monster touring bike.
3) BMW R1200RT Ė I had always heard how nimble they were and I wanted more time with the new HP2 derived boxer which BM started to use in 2010. The previous boxer never really ďspokeĒ to me.
Ther Sertao didnít impress me. Itís not that light compared to the KTM and it didnít feel as well mannered off road compared to the larger KTM.
The K1600GT was very impressive. I could see myself on something like this in 15-20 years.
The R1200RT was the surprise of the day. I liked it so much that I couldnít stop talking about it. Eventually, I went back to the dealer to take another test ride. I knew I had to have it. They made me quite an excellent trade-in offer on the 2005 K1200S I purchased from them so all I had left to do is see if I could sell the KTM.
Within a weekís time I had the KTM sold and had a lot of interest on some of the aftermarket goodies which I would sell separately. At the end of the day, I financed a bike for the first time as I could live with owing less than 20% of the bikeís MSRP.
Now that you know the background, why exactly did the RT speak to me?
With the RT in the garage, I can do long tours and pull off very sporty rides as well. With the KTM, touring and sporty twisty riding was kind of a compromise. The wind buffeting could be miserable on long long days and the more narrow tires and higher CG didnít provide as much confidence as a lower CG bike with gripper shoes.
The RT excels at long ass days in the saddle. Itís the most comfortable bike I believe I have ever ridden. The wind management is very good. Itís not nearly as clean as a VFR or that K1200S, but the screen is well designed and doesnít generate any noticeable buffeting. I would like to be able to get a little more air on me, but thatís in the works as Iím looking at sport screens for the R to use during the summer.
Even before ever considering an RT, I always thought that comfort would be the bikeís biggest positive attribute. But, after riding it, I discovered the bloated looking touring bike can RAIL in the twisties! Itís short wheelbase, low CG, and relatively low weight all translates into a bike I feel as confident as I was on my Super Duke during spirited road riding. And that puts it in pretty good company. Sure, on a track the Super Duke would be able to smoke it. But, when Iím at 7/10 of aggressive street riding, the RT can handle everything Iíve been able to toss at it. Plus, the 2010+ HP2 derived OVC boxer is a great motor. It puts down a ton of torque and is perfect for riding at a pace which I hardly ever use my brakes. Of course, the fact it is perfectly happy to be flung into a corner gives confidence when I believe I may need a little brake. Instead, I can scrub off some speed with the front tire while itís on its side.
Take the attributes above and add to it the fact the bike has a host of creature features at my fingertips (adjustable windscreen, adjustable suspension, heated grips, heated seats, cruise control, etcÖ), and it makes this the quintessential Sport-Touring bike with a nice 50/50 mix of both sport and touring.
While I still want to get a bike to play in the dirt again, that will come later as I still havenít figured out what I want to do. Something like the Sertao speaks to me. I like being able to ride from my home to the dirty stuff. I so wish Yamaha would release the 650 Tenere in the US. I really believe that bike would be perfect. I know there are other options and Iíll take my time over the next few years trying them all out. Of course, now that I own a trailer, a 250 trail bike has potential too. I just need to figure out where I can ride it and make sure Iím comfortable doing gnarly single track alone as itís not easy to find someone who has the same schedule to ride with.
But for now, I look forward to long trips on this RT. I like the idea that I have a bike which could pull off a solid day and Ĺ to 2 days of highway riding to expand my ďtouring radiusĒ for week long trips to explore great places. I am even tempted to go for my first Iron Butt.
Itís been years since Iíve lost sleep the night before a dayís ride on a motorcycle and this RT has done that. The last two bikes to tickle my fancy the same way was the Duc ST3 and the Super Duke. As I put some more time on the bike, Iíll report back if anyoneís interested.