BMW K 1300 GT

K1300_GT_19By Kevin Ash


Pictures: Double Red, Jason Critchell




For the launch of the three new 1300 BMWs we flew to Malaga on Spain’s southern coastline, and on the first day rode from there up to a small town to the east of Seville. the roads were a mix of motorway, bumpy backroads and some beautifully surfaced, sinuous mountain roads. On day we headed west to Portugal’s Algarve, when the weather was also mixed, mostly cool but with sunshine, wind and rain at various times.

 BMW_K1300GT_03Click on image for galleryThese were great roads and conditions for putting the K1300 S through its paces and some sections highlighted the strengths of the 1300 R especially well. How telling then that the bike in most demand was the least flashy, the lowest powered and in theory at least, the dullest: every time we went out to the bikes, the keys of the five K1300GTs were the first to go.

It was clear what the riders were gaining by going for the touring bike: better comfort and weather protection for some fairly long distances, and in most cases more gadgets (the bikes’ specifications varied), including heated grips, heated seat, electrically adjustable screen and integrated panniers to make carrying extra clobber that much easier. Understandable on the long, high-speed stretches then, but even when the roads ahead were more about having fun than putting distance behind you, so the GT keys were still the hardest to find.

The reason was, what you lost by choosing the GT was a lot less significant than what you gained. The superior comfort was hardly unexpected, although as with all the K-Series, engine vibration at high revs is nasty, and the GT’s seat isn’t especially cosseting – I was shifting about after an hour or so on board. The riding position is spacious too, while rear seat accommodation is excellent, with plenty of room and even the option of seat heating for the passenger too. Buffeting from the windblast only seems to affect taller passengers, others are little affected. You can tailor the riding position too, altering the height of the seat and the handlebars by a useful 1.6in (40mm).

But what mattered on the launch was how the BMW K1300GT compared in the company of its stablemates, and on most of the roads there was precious little difference in terms of how much fun it was. While it’s down on peak engine power, its 158bhp (160PS, 118kW) is still enough to be exciting, while its broader spread of torque very often made it feel as quick as the other two anyway, especially in a series of tight turns.

The old 1200 GT was reasonably torquey but felt weak in the 4,000-5,000rpm range, which meant you sometimes had to drop a gear or two to make snappy overtakes, but the hole has been filled on the GT and it’s now a genuine top gear motorcycle (ironic then that the gearchange has been improved for a smoother and lighter action). Like the other two 1300s the GT also enjoys a crisper and more lively throttle response which adds considerably to the riding pleasure.

The GT’s steering is also very light and its responses to bar inputs are accurate too – as with the other bikes the changes to the Duolever suspension have resulted in useful improvements, particularly with regard to rider feedback. So although it’s the heaviest this isn’t the handicap it might be, in addition to which it has a sorter wheelbase and tighter turning circle, and is easy to manoeuvre in small spaces such as parking or doing U-turns.

K_1300_GT_16It’s on a fully specced BMW K1300GT that you understand why the factory had little choice but to revert to a conventional indicator switch: the handlebars are packed with buttons and fitting the old three-button system amongst these would have been almost impossible. The new buttons’ action is a touch on the heavy side though, while the indicator one needs more travel and a less pointy shape.

BMW calls the K1300GT a sports touring bike, but at first sight it looks more like a straight touring machine with its substantial bodywork and panniers. Having hustled one along a variety of roads I think BMW is right, as the GT is as capable of getting the adrenalin flowing as the 1300 S and even the R. It does help when the ESA 2 electronically adjustable suspension is fitted though. Even on the Normal, solo rider no luggage setting the suspension works better than a GT without ESA 2, providing excellent ride quality, real precision and the best high speed stability in the class. Then you can fiddle with the ESA button and set the bike up according to how hard you’ll be riding, what kinds of roads are coming up and how heavily the bike is loaded, and after a few subtle whirrs the bike’s ready. There are plenty of gadgets on bikes which are forgotten as soon as the novelty value has worn off, but most riders will use ESA regularly: it works and it makes a useful difference.

Something else noticeable was how the GT no longer seems to rattle and squeak and feels better put together than the previous model. You’d hope so as BMW has been having build quality issues in the last couple of years and needs to pull these back if its reputation is not going to be damaged.

During hard use the fuel consumption dropped below 40mpg (14km/l, 7.1l/100km, 33mpg US) but in normal riding, such as steady motorway speeds of around 85-90mph (135-145kph) the bike was returning an impressive 50mpg (17.7km/l, 5.6l/100km, 42mpg US). With its 5.3 gallon (24 litre, 6.3 gallon US) tank, that’s a handy 265 mile (425km) range, and with gentler use again it would stretch even further,

The panniers are standard fitment, and while they look sleek and well integrated, their thick walls mean the capacity isn’t as much as it looks. They’re also a bit fiddly to operate. But the list of additional equipment, including small or large topbox, is extensive, running to tyre pressure warning, heated grips and seats, cruise control, Xenon lights and much more.

BMW does have a habit of finishing the development of its bikes after they’ve gone on sale, but as the K1300GT has been on sale for three years now, this does mean it’s come on well, and is now setting the standards in its class.

(£12,240 on the road.
SE model*: £13,490) Model discontinued in 2011

Options prices:
1. ABS: FOC (std)
2. Xenon headlight: £299
3. ESA II: £617
4. Seat heating: £206
5. Cruise control: £339
6. On-board computer: £123
7. Heated handlebar grips: £206
8. Automatic Stability Control: £250
9. Tyre pressure control (TPC): £172
10, High windshield: £49
11. Anti-theft Alarm system: £172
12. Low seat (790mm): FOC
Dynamic pack – ASC+TPC = £377 (save £45)
Comfort pack – 6+7 = £315 (save £14)
* SE model comes with 2+4+5+6+7 as standard, saving £540

Contact: BMW (GB), 01344 426565

www.bmw-motorrad.co.uk


www.i-bmw.com - USA-based BMW sport-touring forum site


Specifications

prowen
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Hi Kevin, couldn't open the K1300S page, maybe you're still writing that one up. As a lighter alternative to the GT it's the K1300 model I'm most keen to read about. Hired a K1200S a couple of years ago to tour Scotland. It wasn't a bad ride, but the clutch started slipping. What has BMW done to beef this weak link in the transverse four powertrain up?

kevash
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Hmm, the 1300S page should open fine, although I did change the optional URL path recently - that's the /bmwk1300s at the end of the web address, which might have caused your problem. I'd originally had it with an underscore (seen as a space by search engines) then altered it to catch Googlers who miss out the space bar. Very esoteric and geeky, sorry, but I try to include various misspellings and so on in the text to predict what people might mistype into Google. Most you don't see as they're in the code that brings up the picture galleries, although sometimes when your pointer hovers over an image its name appears, and it could be anything, like Motto_Guzi and stuff like that.
You wouldn't believe how many people I get who type hondacbf125 into Google as one word - I'm top hit for that below a couple of promoted ones!
Probably sent you to sleep now... getting back to the 1300S, try the link in the black menu bar again or the Recent Features box on the left, and if it still doesn't work, refresh the page (how you do this depends on the browser) as that should clear the cache and the link will work. If it still doesn't work... look in the address bar at the top of the browser and see if it has ashonbikes.com/bmw_k1300s - that's the one I changed. If you delete the _ and press return the page should work. If not, please let me know!

Re the clutch, BMW has beefed it up for all three 1300s, with stronger springs, different plates and revised hydraulics, so that should be okay now. It does still sometimes make a bit of a judder and graunching sound when you pull away, reminiscent of Ducati dry clutches (and some older Yamaha ones), but that doesn't necessarily mean it's weak, just unsophisticated.

The S feels lighter when you're wheeling them around, parking and so on, but on the move there's not a big difference, and in fact the GT's steering feels lighter. Get a test ride on both if you can as you might be surprised - I'm probably getting a GT as a long term test bike this year as I liked it so much!

BMW is having a nationwide dealer launch of the S on Feb 7 and there should be demos available then. I'm not sure if the GT is also available then. If you get in touch with a dealer now, before the publicity kicks in, you should be able to get a test ride.

tom
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Joined: 29/11/2008

Great reviews thanks - Kev, are there plans to update the R1200RT this year as well?

kevash
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I've not heard of any, and I suspect they'll be more concerned at updating the ancient 1200LT, but the RT has been around since 2005 so it could be due some refreshment soon. But they do keep these things very close to their corporate chest - bear in mind lots of the stuff you read about new bikes on the way is just guesswork, usually they don't really know.

kievski
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Hi Kevin, seems like this is one fine motorcycle ! Looking forward to getting one in March/April - ordered it after trying everything else at the end of 2008 ! Especially as there's no new Blackbird for probably years, if ever !

kevash
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The new Blackbird's been rumoured for years, but there was substance behind the whisperings... I was talking to a senior Honda development rider at the bar on a launch once (always the best place to get stories...) and he said they'd fully developed a Blackbird replacement (this must have been five years ago) but it simply wasn't good enough, and they couldn't make it any better without starting again from scratch, and that was too costly for the relatively low sales. So it never happened!
Well I do hope the GT turns out to be good to live with, as well as ride on a test, as I'm getting one too... probably, anyway, BMW was planning to lend me another GS Adventure for 09 (I had one last year) but after riding the GT I've asked if they can make it one of those instead, and it looks likely they will. Apologies for not forking out my own cash for it though! But I'll be interested to hear how you get on with yours - I'll write about mine on here and probably in the Daily Telegraph too.
But for me the GT was the surprise of the launch (we rode all three 1300s on the same press launch, riding from Malaga to Seville then Faro in Portugal) as it was the one I enjoyed the most as well as being more comfortable on.

zzrwood
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G'Day Kevin - Greetings from Oz


Great to find your site - I have enjoyed your journalism through various publications over the years, and also enjoyed your BMW book. Hope you might give me your opinion on a couple of other perspectives of the K1300GT - particularly in comparison to BMW's other tourer, the R1200RT.


A bit of background - My wife and I took a sabbatical in 2007 and shipped our RT from Australia to the UK and spent a fantastic 4 months touring France, Southern Germany and Austria. I'm a pretty laid back rider and the RT was a pretty good platform for general touring but we didn't think too much of it on the motorways - got blown around a fair bit - we did have a bigger screen, the big top box and tank bag which probably didn't help. (I think I should have thrown the big screen away and used earplugs).


When we got back I tried an '07 K1200GT for 1000kms but couldn't get used to the character of the engine, and that it was really abrupt on and off the throttle - only seemed to work when you were really getting stuck into it. Other than that I liked the stability and pretty much everything else.


So (after all that) - how do you think the K1300GT would work for motorways and general pottering around (as it obviously seems pretty good for more sporty riding). I used to have a VFR that was a great bike to ride in the twisties and also easy to potter through towns. I'm sort of hoping for a similar bike - but more suited to my somewhat aging knees and wrists.


Hope you don't mind the long-winded question. My wife and I are planning to move to the UK later this year (she's a dual national) and look at buying a new bike over there early next year and it will probably come down to the RT or the GT. We want to be able to get on the Motorways and head for southern France (or Scotland) for R&R whenever we get a week or two to spare.


Cheers


Robert - Brisbane, Australia


PS - Do you do the web development yourself? I have been doing quite a bit of Drupal development lately - would be happy to offer (voluntary) help if you want to do new things or try different designs.

kevash
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Hi Robert, thanks for the comments. Yes, the RT does have more bodywork than the GT and will get blown around a bit more, especially with the box and tankbag. I found the fuelling generally on the 1300GT a lot better than the 1200, which I agree does have a sudden off-on action. And that's always worse for a passenger as they never know exactly when you're applying the power again and end up headbutting the rider or just lurching about uncomfortably. The 1300's pick-up is definitely smoother, although in the end I'd still recommend getting a test ride, and most BMW dealers in the UK will be able to help with that.
Where the GT scores over the RT is in its stability, it's absolutely rock solid at high motorway speeds and I'm pretty sure even two up with the extra luggage it'll be a fair bit more stable. You won't get quite such effective weather protection but it's still pretty good. It's a lot more VFR-like than the RT too, in the way it handles and the engine performs around town as well as on open roads, although of course it is bulkier and not quite as wieldy.

Yup, I did all the site development myself and it was a north-face-of-the-Eiger learning curve... I'm pretty comfortable with Drupal at the moment, although I'm struggling with getting a video module to work properly (we get some great vids from the manufacturers sometimes which I'd like to post), and there are some issues with Internet Explorer (inevitably) and the theme I'm using, the pretty common Peekaboo and Guillotine bugs. I've seen some fixes for those but they involve diving in to the php code, which I don't have any proper experience of except for some very minor tweaks. If you've any experience of that I'd definitely be interested!

kievski
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Hi Kevin, thanks for the update on Blackbird, happy to keep you posted on how K13 GT works for me and look forward to hearing more if you manage to get one. Already signed up for BMW World Balkans trip in Aug/Sep so should be a reasonable run to report on ! ZZRWood, having tried the RT and K12 back to back, the RT was OK, but more agricultural in 'feel' than the K12. My wife noted difference too. The RT did use less fuel, has longer range and is cheaper. . . . but I finished the runs on the K with a smile. . .roll on March/April !

zzrwood
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Hi kievski - look forward to hearing your opinion on the K1300GT when you get yours. The Balkans trip sounds fantastic, make sure you take photos and tell us about it - even if it will just make us all jealous!

Cheers
Robert - Brisbane, Australia

tom
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Joined: 29/11/2008

Thanks Kev for getting me thinking about a K1300GT to replace my R1200RT. On the basis of your review I had a test ride and then (feeble willed individual that I am) I bought one. If the R1200RT were a Daimler then the K1300GT is a Ferrari. Unbelieveable fun to ride but I imagine v easy to lose ones licence on. The funniest bit about the running in phase was the statement in the handbook not to exceed 7000 rpm. Exceed it! I couldn't get near it - must try harder. I do quite a few miles each year in all weathers so I am looking forward to comparing notes with your long term review and once again thanks. Tom

kevash
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Cool! I'll forward your message to BMW and see if they give me a commission, haha...
Yup, I'll be really interested to hear how you get on with it - I've hardly ridden mine at the moment, it's been parked first at Kawasaki then Triumph while I've been borrowing an ER-6f and a Bonneville but it'll be back soon and I'll start putting more miles on it. I didn't find I needed to go above 7000rpm either, which is good as that's where the vibes start to get a bit heavy, so I reckon most owners will barely notice them.
There'll be some changes to the website soon, mostly to make it work properly with Internet Explorer as there are a few minor viewing issues at the moment, but also you'll be able to upload pics so we can check out your bike...
It'll be worth reading the running in article in the Technical Section, although there's a contradiction highlighted in this link http://cbr1100xx.wordpress.com/2009/03/08/bmw-k1300gt-road-test/ saying BMW insists you only use Castrol Power 1, which is fully synthetic and probably doesn't help the running in process. Doubly odd as much of the info for my article came from Castrol's Research Centre!

tom
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Thanks again Kev - must look for where the oil goes in! Actually thinking about metaphors (as I do whilst riding on motorways) I have decided the RT was liking being a cop and the K is like being chased by a cop - and on that happy note time for my roast beef.
Tom

kevash
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I'm just hoping 'time for my roast beef' isn't a metaphor too...

tom
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Kev - luckily not on this occasion!

New subject - how about writing something on the ASC system fitted to the BMWs? The manual explains what it does in rather stilted and not too helpful English but it does not talk about its use. What sort of situations does it kick in and what happens? I am always much more cautious in the wet and on muddy/greasy roads - does ASC help here? Come to think of it I bet you have already written this somewhere but a link would be greatly appreciated.

Tom

kevash
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Yup, I can do that, I wrote about it when the R1200R came out in the MCN Tech Watch column, so I'll put that on the site shortly. I've been slacking a bit recently on getting stuff up on here as there's been so many press launches and I've not been home much but I should be dealing with that kind of thing more again soon. The Streetfighter's about to go up, the Bonneville soon and the RSV4 next Saturday.

tom
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Brilliant and thanks - keep up the good work. Tom

kevash
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tom
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Thanks Kev

Paulvt1
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Kev. How does the BM fair against the Kwak GTR 14? I like the BM, but there are some good deals to be had on the Kwak (0% finance for one).

kevash
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The GTR is bulkier and less wieldy than the BMW, but has better weather protection - more touring biased basically, although aspects of it are sportier, like it doesn't know what it wants to be. The engine needs to be revved harder than the BMW's making it more work than it should be and the fuel range is poor (180 miles to dry, so 140 miles to thinking about refueling), the two things which would make me recommend the BMW. But the GTR does handle well, pretty sharply in fact, although the front suspension is underdamped and doesn't like being hustled too much. The GTR's fuel consumption is a lot higher, maybe 37mpg where the BMW will get 45mpg or more, so it costs more to run in this respect.
Lots of little niggles made the GTR tiring for me over a long distance, including win noise, a jiggly ride quality, heavy gear selection, tucking in during low speed corners and so on.
It's still pretty good, but BMW's better, so the price difference will need to be good...

tom
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Had the K1300GT for about 6 weeks now and done about 3600 of mixed motoring including some fantastic stuff in North Wales, Bristol commuting, south coast A roads and so on. I keep learning more about the bike and it is simply wonderful to drive. I have shaved about 4 minutes off my 38 minute A road commute without trying and the bike keeps wanting to go faster. Averaging about 46mpg though I got it to 50mpg on a long motorway journey by showing a tadge of self restraint. The ESA2 is fantastic. I am no sports rider and only ever touched my suspension on other bikes when taking a pillion however this really does make a difference. It is easier to wash than the R1200RT I had before and feels lighter though it is in fact heavier?!

Negatives: the only two thus far are that, unlike the R1220 RT the glove box is not big enough to take a water bottle and the underseat space won't take my water proofs - not too much to complain about then.

Tom

tom
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Thought you might like to know about the first defect with the bike. Yesterday all booted and spurred and ready to come home from work the bike would not start. Turns out there is a known design issue with the new BMW switchgear on the right hand handle bar such that when parked in the sun the starter switch contacts expand to such a degree the switch no longer works. Apparently cooling down can help however the expansion can be so severe the switch breaks - as in my case.

Apparently BMW are working on a fix but for the time being K1300 owners better pray for rain! When BMW Motorrad Bristol fitted my new switch today they told me there were only 11 switches left in stock across the UK.

kevash
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I've got another one for you! My right hand indicators stopped working, although the left ones still flash normally and all four flash when I use the hazard switch. I called the dealer and they told me it's not just a poor connection or dodgy switch but an issue with the circuit board that does the indicators. It's happening a lot so they've stopped producing the new circuit boards at the same time as demand has suddenly risen with lots going wrong, which means it's taking a long time for the new ones to come through. So I'm stuck without right indicators until that happens. There's nothing preventative you can do in advance I'm afraid, unless you fancy ordering a circuit board now just in case! The queue's pretty big...
Hmm, still a way to go with quality by the looks of it...

tom
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There we go then - every trip and I will wonder whether or not I'm going to get home or have the 2 hour wait for BMW Recovery. At least they lend you a BMW 3 series whilst your bike is off the road still as I contemplated all this sitting in air conditioned comfort and listening to Classic FM on a queue on the M5 yesterday you cannot beat a bike.

granitehead
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I had a, possibly related, problem with my F800 a while ago. Whenever I switched on the heated grips, especially on the hot setting, the throttle action became so stiff that the bike was difficult to control. I took it to my local BMW dealer and they cured it by fitting a spacer somewhere in the throttle assembly. It was a known fault apparently. It makes you think there's something odd about the materials they use when sunshine and heated grips can have such an adverse effect. I even had my clocks melt due to the fitting of a double bubble screen, but that's another story!
Speaking of BMW switchgear, has anyone ever discovered why they insisted on persisting with the 3-switch indicator system for so long? Now that they've changed to the orthodox system used by all other manufacturers, are BMW finally admitting that the old switchgear was inferior? Perhaps they have just seen the results of some obscure research that concluded that the majority of the population do not have double jointed thumbs and therefore find their switchgear a pain in the backside and a blight on otherwise excellent motorcycles.

tom
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..... the story continues! On Saturday BMW Motorrad Bristol replaced the right hand switchgear and today phoned me with the good news that they think the new pod was manufactured after Jan 09 and according to BMW does not suffer the same problem. Driving home comtemplating this good news and thinking how lucky I was that my problem had occurred on the right hand side rather than the left as there are no spares in the world for the left side my left indicator stopped working or at least the switch did (is this "Ash envy" I wonder?). I am now officially on back order whatever this means and can hope for a new part sometime after you Ash.
After complaining to BMW Customer Services I hope to get a loan bike tomorrow for journeys to Southampton, Plymouth and Holyhead in the two weeks ahead. But it might have to be a caaaaaghhhh"!

kevash
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Responding to granitehead first: I think BMW stayed with the three switch system just for the sake of being different for a long time, though some people there have always been convinced it was the best way (not me though... but I was still disappointed when they changed as I dislike everything being the same). The reason they, er, switched is because with all the extras and buttons on the bars there simply isn't room for three indicator buttons any more. I think there's seven buttons on the left side alone now when you get all the options, and mine on the right has the starter, heated grips and heated seat too.
You could say their hand was forced... (okay, I'll stop it now, haha).

Tom: my current (sorry, I'm off again...) right hand switch will definitely be pre Jan 09 as it's an early press bike, so I imagine they'll quietly change that too. I offered to come down to Guildford where the dealer is who does the press fleet maintenance and wait for it - I did this before, brought my laptop and did some work there as they have wi-fi. But they quickly insisted on coming to collect the bike saying it might take longer as it could be one of two things (worrying...) and they might as well do some 'safety checks'. What I think they'll be doing is changing some other suspect parts surreptitiously - it happened before with my GS. I'll put a mark on the right switch...

Looks like I got there first with the indicator trouble... I'll be very interested to know how long it takes for yours to arrive as sadly they do give press bikes special treatment so it's not always easy to know what the real world situation is.
You might well find the left indicators work if you put the hazards on by the way. Not that this helps at all, just an observation! But I do reckon doing without the left ones is easier than the right, which will be a great consolation for you.

granitehead
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Aha...I spot a flaw in your argument Kev. Sorry to be pedantic but BMW have also incorporated the new switchgear on the F800R which has surprisingly few switches on both sides (only two on the right) so their reasoning cannot have been lack of space on this model.
I'm with you on having a bit of variety in life though (that's why I bought a F800S) but it shouldn't be to the detriment of the sound ergonomics established and accepted by pretty much all other manufacturers, even ones that like to be a bit different.

kevash
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Not my argument, theirs in fact, that's what we were told. But it is still valid as they'll want to use the same switchgear across the range for cost reasons, and although on some bikes there won't be many buttons, the facility to fit them must still be in place so it's basically the same with fewer holes cut in. Using completely different switches for bikes with fewer buttons would increase costs significantly.
Ironically now when I ride a BMW with the new switches I still end up wiggling the wrong fingers sometimes as my head says 'BMW' and automatically looks for the old system!

kevash
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Well, they collected the GT yesterday, not sure yet when I'll get it back. I could do with it by Monday next week as I'm on the launch of the Guzzi Stevlio NTX and a coupe of Aprilias, the Shiver and Mana GT, and I always go to the airports by bike whenever possible as the parking's free! It's much quicker to not having to bother with all the long term parking hassle. I'll ask BMW for the official line on the switchgear problems today.

shuggiemac
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I sympathise with the switch gear problems, I honestly do BUT from a selfish point of view, can I ask when the Stelvio NTX review will be done??
.
Nothing like being chased for a review on a bike that you haven't even ridden yet - sorry for that.
.
What is the NTX anyway? Is it, on paper, going to be radically different from the Stelvio that we already know? If you get a chance please ask them to drop the "frightened insect" headlamps !

kevash
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Yup, I'm riding the NTX next Tuesday, fly out to Venice on Monday and do the ride of all three bikes somewhere in the Dolomites, come back Wednesday. The NTX is the Stelvio equivalent of the GS 1200 Adventure, the more rugged off-road biased version - you can see it here: http://www.ashonbikes.com/node/259 though it was called the TT when I wrote that! How very Guzzi... like the Stelvio being called the 4V when the Griso with the same motor is called the 8V!

Anyway, depending on when I get the pics it should be on here Thursday evening, possibly sooner. And it'll be a world first test, I'll beat MCN by a week, haha!
Headlights are unchanged, sorry!

tom
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I am getting used to riding with no left indicator though it feels really silly sticking your left hand out on an 09 K1300 when turning left then indicating for right turns - I am sure other drivers think I am taking the mickey. Pulled up next to two 57 plate R1200RTs at the lights yesterday - as I pulled away turning left I am sure they both wobbled in surprise as I stuck my hand out. Anyway I am told my switch will be in on Wed or Thu and will pop in to have it fixed then.

I too prefer the bike for airports (Southampton last week) but need to find places to change - disabled toilets seem the best bet - you can use them without a blue badge! Good luck next week and enjoy the Guzzi - great bikes, lots of character and full of quirky defects too.

Tom

kevash
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Well mine's been fixed, no real problem getting the spares I'm told though it can take a few days, which seems to fit with your experience Tom. I've read elsewhere on the web that there can be weeks waiting, that production of the bikes has or was stopped for a while etc. A reliable BMW source told me that production definitely wasn't interrupted and here in the UK there's no real spares problem, although we're one of the later countries to experience these issues, in some of the first countries where it started to happen (hot ones, which I'll come to...) there might have been a spares backlog for a bit.
The problem seems to be some aluminium filaments in the switchgear connecting a circuit board to the switches - these pass over quite a sharp edge and when they get hot then cool again they expand and contract and slide across the edge, which wears through them. Hence the hot countries issue first, and it's why it's happening here now, as the weather got warmer (hmm, not any more though!).
They could only deliver my bike back on Tuesday next week so I'm collecting it on my way to Gatwick on Monday morning - have to go to Guildford on something called a 'train' apparently. That'll be novel...
Kevin

tom
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Joined: 29/11/2008

.....and mine too has been fixed. Great not too fell like a twit again waving left hand around. I wonder what will break next?

kevash
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I'd guess the switch on the other side in my case will be next... I put a small mark on it before the bike went back and it's still there, so I'm now wondering if the kill switch will go! As that'll disable the bike completely I'm going to keep some tools on the bike that I can dismantle it with, just in case. Not really what you'd expect to do on a bike like this, or any bike come to that.

tom
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Joined: 29/11/2008

Kev - thought the long term review on the Saturday Telegraph was spot on and absolutely in line with my experience. I am getting around 47-48 mpg which means (as I must be fatter) you must drive faster! All the best. Tom

playlord
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Joined: 19/10/2009

Hello Kevin,
I am new to the site but have followed your writing for some time in The Telegraph and MCN where I noted your regret at having to return the 1300GT. Its attractions seem to have grown on you to a degree that surprised you.

I'm planning to buy a new bike in the spring and the GT is on my list - if you have the time, would you expand on the reasons that it grew to become your bike of the year?

I'm not that experienced and have owned a Deauville and a GS1200. I'm looking for something that will tour but will be good day to day and reasonable fun to ride.

Many thanks in advance.

Joe

kevash
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Hi Joe,

Yup, I liked the GT a lot when I first rode it, as you can see above, which is why I went for one as a long term bike this year - happily BMW agreed. It particularly suits the riding I do, which is a lot of fairly long distance stuff, say 100 - 150 mile trips, and one thing I've appreciated more and more is the good fuel range. Most bikes I have can't get from my house to Heathrow (95 miles away) and back without refuelling but if I leave with a full tank on the GT it'll do it. And as I'm often coming back tired and late at night, it's a real bonus not having to stop. Comfort is very good and as with many bikes gets better once the seat beds in - new ones are often a bit too firm initially.

I appreciate all the equipment it has, though of course that costs! The heated seats I can live without but the grips are good, the ESA suspension is constantly being used and the onboard computer is helpful or at least interesting on boring roads! Sat nav is more useful on a bike than a car as maps are a pain on bikes, so I like that.

The handling is excellent, with proper feedback at last from the Duolever front end, outstanding stabililty in crosswinds but it's still noticeably more agile than the 1300 S or R. They've got more conservative steering geometry because they have higher top speeds (that you never use...) and need it to remain stable up to 175mph, yet it makes them more cumbersome at everyday speeds. The GT is also affected less by tyre wear than the S or R.

The brakes are amazing, not huge feedback but immense power, and you can outbrake most superbikes on this thing, yet the ABS is excellent too, especially in the wet. Well, it's the combination of brakes and anti-dive suspension that's responsible.

The engine has massive torque, you just leave it in sixth and treat it like an automatic, and because of that, the excessive vibration at high revs is very encountered in daily riding, you never need to rev it. But it also has character, which is rare in a four, especially the aggressive snarling it makes when you work it hard - I love that!

It's better built than the older 1200, the panniers are capacious and waterproof, it just does everything I want in a bike. Okay, it's not up to sportsbike handling levels but it's good enough to be fun rather than obstructive, and as an everyday, working motorcycle it combines luxury, ability and excitement exceptionally well, though it does benefit from having most of the optional extras.

Downsides are the question marks over reliability: mine had some switchgear replaced and mysteriously a few times the starter only turned the engine over very slowly, not enough to start it. But that simply went away again. The optional HID headlight kicks up sharply to the left and blinds people as you overtake them. The indicator switch is too small and the dip/main one is awkward to operate. The cruise control occasionally hunts gently and can be irritating. But when the complaints are at that level, you can see there's not a lot to dislike. I just wish the styling was a bit less old bloke, and by the time you've added the extras it's a pretty expensive piece of kit.

playlord
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Joined: 19/10/2009

Thank you very much indeed for such a prompt and detailed reply (much of which I hope you can use again where you'll get paid for it!).

It will stay on my list and I will test ride in the spring.

Being relatively inexperienced, I find it hard to draw too many conclusions from test rides. In 2007, I tried the 1200RT - about a three hour test on mixed roads - and my overall impression was that it was like a big scooter and not that involving. The dealer, understandably, wasn't enthusastic about letting me have the bike for a full day which might have changed my mind but, well, anyway, that was one of the reasons I asked the initial question about the GT; I guess a rider's verdict about a bike can change quite dramatically depending on the length of time he has to test it.

Many thanks once more and very best wishes

Joe

tom
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Joe I too owned a Deauville and changed to a R1200RT on which I did about 18000 miles of varied motoring before changing to a K1300 GT in March now with 11000 miles. Both BMWs are very good and very different. I too am not that experienced and it took me some time to get the best out of both bikes. The K is much more involving to ride and just begs to be ridden hard and I guess my license is more at risk now than ever before. The R makes you feel you can go on forever and you can ride for almost 300 miles without filling up.

I think the key point which you have already worked out us that you won't get to know any bike on a short test ride.

Good luck and have fun.

Tom

playlord
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Joined: 19/10/2009

Thanks Tom. I went to my nearest dealer (Bishopbriggs, Glasgow) today and had a sit on the GT - looks a lovely bike and sounds pretty fine too. I was offered a full day's demo plus an assurance that they would get the price ( £14k plus with all the toys) down a bit.

I was the only customer in the place and read later in MCN that dealers are desperate and knocking chunks of money off. That doesn't appear to part of BMW's policy though and I'm not sure what I can expect when it comes time to buy (I plan to sit out the Scottish winter and wait till spring).

I don't know how much scope dealers have in competing on price - it is certainly in the price range that would make it worthwhile travelling a long way to pick up a 'bargain'.

Any thoughts would be welcome.

Joe

playlord
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Kevin, your point on the Xenon headlights interested me. The older I get, the more uncomfortable I find night-driving, mainly because of headlight glare. I believe there is a medical reason for this (interesting article at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1771460/).

Anyway, I find myself torn between the benefits of HID as a user, especially on a bike, and the drawbacks for other road-users.

There's an element too of safety, I think. Any approaching driver dazzled by my bike headlight, might end up on my side of the road or hitting someone else.

Maybe, as my wife says, I just think too much!

Joe

kevash
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Ah yes, night vision and age... gets to us all sadly. My 17 year old daughter happily reads books in rooms I can hardly see in! Headlight glare gets worse with age too, for the same night vision deterioration reason, even when the lights are no brighter than they used to be, but Xenon ones make the problem worse. The thing is, in the UK at least, the roads are so crowded it's become very rare to use main beam and make proper use of the Xenon's advantages anyway, while most of the time we're riding or driving on dip and dazzling people with on over-bright dip. I'm beginning to think Xenon lights are more of a nuisance than an advance.

tom
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Joe my experience of BMW dealers is that they pride themselves on a take it or leave it approach to price. My local dealer in Bristol are good and friendly and are willing to haggle a little but BMWs are never going to be cheap. Play hard to get and ring round a number of dealers to find the best price. Good luck.

As to lights the K is better on dip and the R on hi beam. Both are good.

All the best

Tom

playlord
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Thanks Tom. Is yours Xenon?

tom
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Joined: 29/11/2008

Yes sorry should have said so. Tom

blindboylank
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Joined: 21/11/2009

Kev
Just catching up on your experiences with the K1300GT. I have 16,000 miles on mine now and love the bike to bits despite the switchgear issues. I will have to wait until next summers trip to France to test the new swithgear in the heat!! Hope you don't mind, I have copied part of your technical description for the failure and pasted it into my blog post with links and credits.
Pretty much agree with everything I've read here regarding the K1300GT with the exception of stability in crosswinds. Mine seems quite flighty in windy conditions,
Regarding the heated seat, it was 1 deg today and I found it very useful indeed on my commute - lol.
Update - Sat 12/12/09
During todays ride to the east coast I stopped for a visor clean and the bike would not re-start. Same problem you have had, the engine barely turned over, not enough speed to fire it up despite a hot motor and fully charged battery. It took 5 attempts before it sprang into life. A little later, when I stopped for fuel, no problem whatsoever. Very odd.
Chris

kevash
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I'll post a long term report on here at some stage, just a bit busy at the moment as lots of mags want stuff early to get it finished before Christmas... MCN asked for four weeks of columns out of me in one hit, which is eight as I do two a week! Ah well, at least it means a break for me too once they're done.

My GT went back in October, after I'd done about 8000 miles, and I was very sorry to see it go, so much so I offered to buy it off BMW... luckily the guy I mailed was on holiday for a couple of weeks and by the time he came back I'd sobered up and been loaned a Bandit GT by Suzuki, and while that's not as good as the BMW, it's not at all bad, and does the job for half the price. BUt if I was serious about buying a bike right now, it'd be the BMW GT... er, though I might now want to wait until the Multistrada comes along, like a lot of people I think. But the VFR wouldn't get a look in.

Interesting that yours isn't so stable in crosswinds - I did notice that mine was very sensitive to tyre wear, but being a press bike they tended to change them earlier than you would as an owner, so I wonder if that's a factor.

That starting problem is very odd, it happened maybe three times to me, at about 6000 miles, then never again. Can't explain it at all.

Yup, no problem to copy some my stuff, as long as there's a credit and ideally a link.

Kevin