High performance and smooth riding in BMW’s slick cycle
Responding to the growing demands of customers who want the same type of performance and comfort in their motorcycles as they’ve gotten in their cars, BMW offers the K1200 GT. The bike that Cycle World deemed the world’s best sport-touring bike for 2006 combines the comfort of a big touring motorcycle with the handling and performance of a sport bike into a vehicle that succeeds in both areas.
The K1200 is powered by a 152-horse power, 1,157 cc water-cooled, four-cylinder engine that produces a top speed in excess of 120 mph. The shaft drive provides a smooth transfer of power that eliminates maintenance and results in a cleaner vehicle as the oil and dirt that naturally collect around a standard chain-drive do not exist. As with any shaft-driven motorcycle, a small amount of power is lost in the transfer when compared to chain- or belt-driven vehicles, but don’t think you’ll be holding up traffic. This bike flat out goes! Pulling on to H-1 at a merging speed of 35 mph quickly tops 70 with an easy roll of the throttle for the smooth-riding bike that absorbs road shock and maintains control even on Oahu’s typically bad roads.
Bill Kato, the sales manager at South Seas Honda, Yamaha, BMW, Ducati, says BMW engineers its motorcycles with a nod toward its cars. Both, he says, are designed for the discerning consumer who appreciates the combination of styling and mechanical advancements that is a BMW trademark.
Much like its cars, BMW motorcycles come with an extensive list of options that include heated seats and hand grips (which may seem unnecessary in Hawaii, but will be appreciated for those early-morning or evening rides over the Pali or H-3), cruise control and on-the-fly electronic suspension adjustments that allow the rider to customize the suspension to fit their riding style or the load they are carrying.
The K1200’s paint schemes move away from the standard motorcycle colors to reflect those used by BMW’s automobiles with custom-style colors like crystal gray metallic, dark graphite metallic and deep blue metallic. Body colors are matched with two different tank and seat colors.
A main component of any touring bike is protecting the rider from the winds that can turn a pleasant ride into an exhausting journey. The K1200 combats this problem with an adjustable windshield and side moldings that not only provide for smooth body lines but guide air around the legs to reduce drag. Spend several hours in the saddle of any motorcycle and you’ll quickly find out how important it is to deflect as much wind as possible.
The rear foot peg positions help keep the bike firmly tied to its sports bike roots and aid in controlling the 622-pound motorcycle around turns by keeping your legs tight against the sides and allowing the entire body to be used to direct the motorcycle. The position of the pegs, however, can take some getting used to and may limit a certain amount of comfort. However, any such problems with foot position are made up for with the upright seating position – and can be further altered with the adjustable handlebar height -that creates a more ergonomically correct posture for the rider unlike many pure touring bikes that can force the rider to hunch forward causing stress to the lower back. The upright riding position also makes the bike incredibly responsive for such a large vehicle, and also provides a better view of traffic for the rider and those, hopefully, watching out for the German-made street machine with a seat height of 33 inches.
In addition to being visible in traffic, another important safety feature of the K1200 is the BMW Motorrad Integral anti-lock breaking system that prevents front wheel lockup and reduces the bike’s forward thrust, enabling the rider to better maintain control by keeping more weight over the rear of the motorcycle.
With the mass of technology that produces such smooth power and effective breaking, an outstanding feature of the K1200 belongs to one of its simplest components. The hydraulically operated multiple-disc clutch provides very tight shifting with a short clutch travel that makes changing gears easy while providing feedback to the rider much like that of a high performance sports car. Then again, that is exactly what the bike really is.
The BMW K1200 GT is not a motorcycle for everyone. The body feels wide when you first climb aboard, and safety dictates that the operator be able to place both feet firmly on the ground when not in motion. But so long as you can safely handle the vehicle at a stop, riding it will be a breeze. There is power to spare, it’s simple to control, it looks good, the quality is evident and most important, riding the K1200 is a complete joy.