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Is Everyone Out Riding?

You want list fodder?  Here's some list fodder....

I have recently divested myself of one Twin-Spark '04 R1150RT through private
sale and purchased a brand new out of the crate '05 R1200RT in dark graphite
with dark lowers.    I got the computer thing, heated seats, no radio, no
remote control suspension and ordered up the small top case, which came in,
but has no locks-- back ordered.

On my list is a full tool kit, maybe the clear turn signal kit and maybe the
large top case instead of the small one.  I haven't seen the large one yet,
but the small one looks a little, oh, I don't know, wrong, to my eyes.

The dealer was too busy to do a timely 600 mile service, so I consulted with
him and bought the supplies and did the critical things myself.   I retorqued
the heads, set the valves and changed oil and filter.

I also built in my V-1 with full array of remotes and sender for Legal
Speeding helmet LED into the bike.  Then I was off to Georgia for a rally
(from Chicago).   It rained most of the way down and part of the way back, but
we had a very nice afternoon in GA and the ride through Tennessee on TN 30
through the Cumberland Gap area was quite memorable.   Stayed at a big hotel
in downtown Nashville on Saturday night.  It was my birthday and I decided to
splurge.   Went to some pretty neat clubs on Saturday night and heard some
terrific music.

The bike ran beautifully save a flat tire caused by someone's 7mm (3/16"?)
Allen wrench completely entering my rear tire.   I discovered the problem at
dinner on Friday evening.   Luckily I had my Stop & Go patch kit and a little
electric air compressor with me.  The Stop & Go mushroom patch was ineffective
on the sharply angled hole, but it slowed the leak well enough to get me back
the 15 miles to the motel.  In the morning the tire was flat again.

I was happy to meet ON columnist Dr. Curve in the morning out in the parking
lot.  He was road testing a new K12S for a future article.   He offered to do
a "real" patch job on the tire and I gladly accepted his help.  An hour later,
3 of those rope-type patches had been stuffed into the hole (it was a big one)
with lots of rubber cement.   It held, but still made some tiny bubbles.
Nevertheless, I was able to ride all the way back to Chicago on the tire,
checking the pressure with decreasing frequency as I gained confidence in it.
It held at 39 psi cold the whole way home.   When I washed the bike the
following day, bubbles appeared on the patched area, but another air pressure
check told me it was not serious...Down to 37 psi after 3 more days.

I've ordered up a new tire and have the "real" 600 mile service scheduled with
the dealer.   They'll perform the other little things that need doing. ie
computer check of the brakes, throttle synch etc.  I really don't think these
things will make much of a difference but I'd like to get the dealer stamp for
this first service.

I've now ridden both the new RT and the new GS for quite a distance.  I had a
1200GS last year in the French Alps with Edelweiss for 3 or 4 days of hard
riding.  It's a magical bike to be sure.  My friend and riding accomplice on
this GA trip was riding his new GS as well.

The RT engine has a little different character than the GS.  The engine is a
little more pumped up with higher compression, a different cam and, I think, a
different dual spark management system.   This system may get tweaked with a
software upgrade eventually, because both my bike and the demo bike I rode
exhibit a bit of popping at low RPM during decel and even steady state riding.
Closing the throttle doesn't stop it like it did on the 1100s.  This is not
surge, however.  The bike pulls very smoothly and has so little vibration it's
almost spooky.  The GS, however, is smoother sounding to my ears and has a
more even response in the lower range.

In exchange for putting up with this minor and possibly correctable "rough" RT
behavior, I get an extra 10HP and some extra torque as well.   It's a very
strong motor and a delight for fast touring and the pull at 5 to 7,000 RPMs is
simply stunning.  Mileage is averaging over 43mpg and that's with a lot of
short trips and with travel at some fairly high average speeds.

If the handling on the 1150RT was a "notch" up on the 1100, the handling of
the 1200RT is about 2.5 notches above the 1150.  It's really easy to lean it
far into a turn. The GS is the same or better being limited more by the tires
you put on it than anything else.   For most of the trip down to GA, I had the
rear damping set really soft.   Only running Deals Gap on wet roads made it
feel a little wrong.   I tightened it up a bit after that and the bike felt
even better without even approaching harsh.   The swingarm on the 1200 seems
to be a lot longer than the 1150's.   The rear shock is completely vertical on
the bike and directly under the rider.

Gearing is taller on the 1200 than the 1150.  The gears are more evenly
spaced, but everything has to be right to make a city block turn in 2nd
without lugging the engine a little I'm finding that ideal ratio right in
between 1st and 2nd.   Shifing on both bikes is just fine for me, but I kinda
wish 1st and 2nd were a tad lower with all the other gears the same.  I guess
you just can't please all the people all the time.

Suspension adjustments are much the same as the 1150, but the preload knob is
located under the seat.  This is a real pain when touring with a pack over the
seat.   I'd like to move the thing, but the hose leading to the shock is
really short.   I think there is an Ohlins or Wilbers suspension in this
bike's future and I'll ask for a longer lead to the adjuster..   I saved the
Ohlins set from my 1150 and I'm waiting to hear from my dealer..SHY Racing in
Murfreesboro, TN,  if it can be regrooved for use on the 1200.   Hope so, but
if not, I'll be selling these and getting a set of Wilbers for the bike.   I
think the ability to adjust compression damping as well as rebound would be
very helpful on this suspension.

The lower weight of the 1200 over the 1150 is easy to detect pushing the bike
around the garage.   It just feels lighter.  I'm 5'11" with a 30"
inseam...tall of trunk and short of leg.   I'm comfortable with either the low
or the high seat setting, but keep the seat on the tallest of the two settings
for long rides.   This thing might not have enough leg room for really tall
guys.  I mean, there's room for your legs, but the pegs are not low.   With
all my curve crazy riding last week, I never scraped a peg.  Granted, I'm
still taking it a bit easy on the bike, but I imagine that many touring
oriented riders will want to get peg lowering kits for their new RTs.

The rear tire has now grown to a fat 180/55/17 size...same as my Aprilia Mille
R !   My 1100RT had a 160/60/18, 1150 had 170/60/17.  I don't know if this
tire size has anything to do with the confidence you feel when the bike is
leaned way over or if it's the suspension and bike design itself, but
something is working very well here.

Brakes are better too.   Less grabby than the servo brakes on the 1150.   The
rear brake is no longer linked.  I didn't really mind having a rear linked
brake, but both front and rear were too touchy at low speeds.  I made the
linkage shorter on the rear to require a bit more travel before engagement.
This really helped make the pedal useful for something besides panic stops.
The 1200s rear brake feels much more "normal".   Likewise, the front brake is
easier to modulate in light braking, yet still has the massive stopping power
that the 1150 had.   I also think there is less servo noise on the 1200

If listers are looking for great Twin Spark RTs, there will be a lot of them
for sale this year in the $10K to $11K range depending on equipment.   They
are terrific bikes and they don't surge.  Servicing is a lot like an 1100.
They shift better and brake better and handle better.   Also have more torque
and one extra gear.   They're very nice bikes for the price.  The wow factor
of the 1200RT is going to create a glut of these perfectly good BMWs and
sellers are going to get desperate.  They should last at least as long as any
1100RT, the servo brakes are the only thing that you might want a dealer to
service on them.  Everything else is so well documented on these bikes that
you can pretty much follow the many cookbooks out there.  My 1150 had 21,100
miles and sold for $10,250 with hyperlites, headlight protector, cee baileys
windscreen, bar backs, sargent saddle, new Metzlers and fresh oil and filter.
Great deal for the new owner and I got the thing out of my garage berfore the
riding season really starts around here.

I was not disappointed with the price because I got $1000 off list on the 1150
when I bought it and an additional $1500 worth of incentives from Edelweiss
and BMW that I actually used for things I wanted.

Many 1150RTs were sold last fall when BMW blew them out at under $13K.  This
will also bring used selling prices down.

The new bike is terrific, the deals on last years bikes should be terrific as
well.   I predict there'll be a whole lot of bike tradin' goin' on this year.

- -TB