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This is The Daddy. A Total Ubherfuhrer of motorcycle touring. Im sure that theres no other bike that can match its single minded focus of demolishing thousands of miles in comfort in the least possible time. That includes the Goldwing.
The Goldwing is its nearest natural competitor. But by comparison the Goldwing is just a chrome plated tractor. On the K1200LT you can chase and overtake a Yamaha 1300 mounted local rider down the hair raising switchback Pyrenean roads from Andorra la Vella to Anserall. I did. Great fun!
With this bike the pleasure is as much in the journey there as in what fun you can have with it once youre there. So crunching the 700 miles through the French Autoroutes down to the Pyrenees was no problem. You just set the cruise control to 160kph, raise the electrically powered screen to full height, slip in your favourite driving music CD compilation and switch on the four speaker premium sound system. Youre at your destination in no time.
Theres no discomfort. The three way adjustable, heated saddle sees to that. If youre short in the leg department, you can lower the seat to accommodate the shortest rider.
The screen also adjusts using a stepper motor for a perfect ergonomic fit.
The engine is a longitudinal, horizontally laid 1200cc four cylinder, fuel injected, DOHC unit. Its unique positioning lowers the centre of gravity to make the bike easier to man handle. Mine produce 98bhp (later ones 120 bhp) but the torque, produced low down the rev range, was sufficient to move the bike along briskly, with 0-60 times in less than 4.5 seconds and a top speed in excess of 120mph. The bike is also amazingly economical, even with full panniers and a passenger I managed 42 mpg. How do I know that? The built in multi function trip computer told me!
With 761lbs of weight behind it, the big K needs exceptionally good brakes. Mine had three Brembo discs with ABS fitted, later ones have the added advantage of servo assistance, theyre all well up to the job of hauling this beast to a rapid and safe halt.
It corners well for its weight but ground clearance is limited when compared with other normal bikes. If you bear that in mind you can still be pleasantly rewarded on long fast sweeping bends.
OK, enough praise, whats not so good about it?
Its heavy. Despite the low slung engine it carries a lot of weight on top, especially if you have a passenger and the topbox is loaded. So when I said you can ride it with short legs, they need to be very strong short legs. If you cant manage it and starts to topple (It can happen, believe me) one option is to lay it down gently on the rubber mounted built in crash bars.
The unique reverse gear also helps when moving this beast about. You put the bike into neutral, turn a dial, and the starter button controls the starter motor which has now transformed itself into an electric reverse motor, very clever.
Hey, and its wide. I tried commuting in and out of London in the rush hour a few times and it wasnt too easy. Filtering between narrow gaps in traffic is not the big K12s thing.
So should you get one?
Maybe, maybe not. The great thing about the BMW motorcycle network here in the UK is that theyll let you test ride any of their fleet. So if this review has inspired you, grab your helmet, go visit your local dealer and blag a test ride.
Youll not be disappointed.
If youre into the distance bug this is supreme (I did Gibraltar to Hertford in two days).
Hope this helps.
Price new around £15,000
Price used on EBay around £7,000, if buying used youll need a full BMW service history. Also note the 6,000 mile services cost around £220 but every 24,000 miles they need the full valve service and this can cost £600, so watch out for that.
Built in luggage
6 CD Premium sound system
Heated handgrips and seats
Electrically adjustable screen
Type: Liquid-cooled inline four-cylinder
Bore and Stroke: 70.5 mm x 75.0 mm
Fuel System: Motronic MA 2.4 fuel management system
Compression Ratio: 10.8:1
Final Drive: Enclosed driveshaft with two universal joints
Front: Two, four-piston fixed calipers; 12.6 inch dual floating rotors; full integral ABS
Rear: Single, four-piston fixed caliper; 11.2 inch single fixed rotor; full integral ABS
Front: BMW Telelever
Rear: BMW Paralever
Wheels and Tires:
Front: 120/70 x 17 tubeless tire
Rear: 160/70 x 17 tubeless tire
Length: 98.5 in.
Seat Height: 30.3 in.
Wheelbase: 64.1 in.
Weight: 761 lbs. dry excluding options and accessories
Fuel Capacity: 6.2 gals.
Looking for a two wheeled caravan? Then go and buy a Goldwing! The K1200LT may be "BIG" in every respect but it is still a motorcycle! Having owned two and completeted over 70,000 miles in total luxury, I consider that I "KNOW" the beast! The K1200LT is not for novice tourers, unless you are the kind of motorcyclist who sits in the middle lane of a three lane motorway at 50mph! This bike has real character and it takes guts to get the best out of her. Sitting aboard the K1200LT gives a feeling that you ARE Judge Dredd! She has more gadgets than most, but most of them are very useful and BMW have listened to riders and got rid of the silly little "add-ons" like the cigarette lighter of the K1100LT. My first K1200LT was replaced by BMW when she set off in reverse - on her own! Ooops! I think that was down to poor electrics rather than a "design" fault. The second bike has behave herself - at least in reverse! The main fault with the K1200LT, dropping from 5th to 4th, may have been rectified in later models, although BMW understandably deny that this happens. It certainly happened on BOTH bikes that I have had; it settled down on the second bike after 15,000 miles and rarely happens now. For those interested in this little quirk, see Ride magazine November 1999 where it was said, inter alia: "If this were my K1200 I'd now be wracked by anxiety. Our bike dropped out of top gear into fourth perhaps a dozen times on the blast, once at a crank-twisting 130. And the bodywork became rattly." Having got "that" out of the way, what are the other major faults? Rear brake! Forget it.... practically non-existant... although this appears to have been rectified with the later "linked" braking system. Radio! Suffers from the same electrics problem as the reverse gear and it is "SO" annoying when "PHON
E" comes up on the display when you are enjoying Meatloaf's "Bat out of hell" well into the "Endorsement Zone"! Servicing costs! Although servicing only comes around every 6,000 miles, the cost is prohibitive! Most of the panneling has to come off to perform the service which takes at least a day. My experience of BMW's own servicing was not good - they screwed a bolt through a panel that was much too long and it caught on the fan every time it came into operation! (Not good!) Headlamp! I know it sounds petty, but it isn't when you are doing serious mileage in all weathers and seasons! An "upgraded" bulb is a must! OK... enough of the moaning... now for her good points... Handling... Once you are used to the sheer weight and size, she handles superbly although she is NOT very "flickable" in bends! Fuel consumption... Over 270 miles on a tank of fuel... and that isn't hanging around! Over 50 miles to the gallon sounds like day-dreaming on such a beast but that's what she regulary returns. She really is a "mile muncher"! Comfort... The electric screen is almost perfect... almost because I had to fit the larger screen to mine to make it even more comfortable! I know it may sound crass but there ARE times when you can ride through heavy rain without feeling a drop! For my money heated grips should be standard on ALL tourers but the heated seats on the K1200LT make the ride almost effortless, even in the depths of winter! That's all for now... I will update with tales of losing all the air from the front end whilst riding in the "Endorsement Zone" at a later date... Ride safely... but RIDE!