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New Bike Itch


>That "new bike itch" is getting stronger and stronger.   The strange think
>is that after looking at the new RT and the new ST I find myself lusting
>after the new GS!  I think I'll give one a really good test ride this
>week.   Pity my poor checking account if I discover that I like it as
>much as I think I might.

>// marc

Just got back from a high speed weekend in LaCrosse, WS on my new RT.   I now
have what I think is a pretty good perspective on the new bikes.

My friend Bill has a new GS.   I've spent time in the Alps on an Edelweiss
tour with a new GS.    I can tell you that you'll be instantly impressed with
the GS when you ride it.  The handling, chassis, ride and engine response are
startlingly good.   A few days with it and you feel like superman.  After
10,000 miles, the bikes just get better.

The RT is smoother, faster, lighter than the old and impresses with bells and
whistles as well, some of which are actually useful.  I'm really in love with
the new hard cases that don't need to be unlocked with the key every time you
want to access them.   You lock them when you want them locked.   The
procedure for opening them is just strange enough so the untrained will not be
tempted to mess with your stuff...they'll assume it's locked.   GS optional
telescoping bags have a similar setup.

I got the RT because I live in Chicago and we have long transits to get to the
good roads.   We also do at least two really long trips each year, one begins
the day after Thanksgiving, so good weather protection is a real plus.

Looking at pricing, my RT cost me in the low 18s out the door, the GS, at 14,
is really just a base for putting on the stuff you really want.   The hard
bags are extra.  The top case is extra.  Heated grips, I think, are extra.
Wind protection?  Extra.   Throttle lock?  Extra.  Engine guards, skid plates,
decent lighing? extra, extra extra.  One thing you can do, though is negotiate
on GSs, and, if you know you'll want certain accessories, you can use the huge
markup they make on them as a negotiating tool.  Get some of the extras thown
in or at least thrown in at cost.

What you get with the GS, is the best suspension on any bike in the universe.
The bike in stock unadorned form is the lightes Hex head you can buy.  It's
lighter than the new ST by a couple pounds.  The seating position is
incredibly comfortable.   (Hint: Try putting the front part of the seat on the
high setting and the rear on the low setting.)   Bill set his like this and
doesn't plan on buying an aftermarket seat.   I may have to buy a rider's seat
for the RT as it's seat is just OK for me.  Trouble is, no one makes one yet.

Am I kicking myself for not buying the GS?   Well, it was a real hard decision
for me, but by buying the RT, I got the other perspective on the new bikes.
The RT has 10 more HP than the GS.  There's a real rush of power at 6,000 RPMs
that runs up to around 7200 before it tapers off...at least that's what it
feels like on my bike.   I've finally got enough miles on it that I feel I can
ride with total abandon on it.  The electronic cruise control, standard, is
great for me because I'm often the ride leader and it's really great for
keeping a nice even pace while getting a little rest for the right hand.

My bike came with optional heated seat.  It's nice to have when it's chilly
out.   I didn't think I'd ever use it, but it's great.  Other options on the
bike were the computer thing, which has outside temp, which I really like,
ave. speed, ave mpg, two trip odometers, and an oil level indicator which has
limited utility as has been discussed quite a bit in some of the forums

RT Heated grips are standard.  RT Side cases are standard and are easier to
pack.   I bought the optional smaller top case.  My helmet and a few
nick-nacks fit in it.  That's all I need it for.   If I need extra storage for
a jacket or something, the helmet gets stored on the bike or gets brought in.

The RT handles like it's on rails, but it's not as intuitive as the GS, which
is simply telepathic.   If you've had an 1100 or 1150 GS, well, there's no
comparison.  The new bike is much lighter and more athletic.    RT may need a
new rear shock to be really stellar.  I've got the damping adjustment screwed
in all the way now and it's still a little sloppy.

My friend Bill had a streak of bad luck with his bikes.  I met this guy when I
first bought my '99 RT.  He has always been a good rider.  He had a '96 in the
identical color and became sort of a mentor for me concerning equipment to buy
for the bike and generally taught me the way these rides go.  Three years ago,
Bill had an off with his RT.   We found a wrecked '00 RT.  He had it shipped
up to my place from Texas, we tore off all the broken bits and replaced them
with good parts from Bill's wreck with the help of every shop manual, parts
fiche and repair book we could lay our hands on.

The result was a bike with a clean '96 title and a '00 drive train with low
miles.  The bike ran better than the '96 ever did.  Within 6 months, that bike
was totalled.   I'd spent so much time and attention on putting that thing
together, I was pretty upset.

Bill couldn't afford another BMW by then so he bought himelf a used Honda
1100ST.   He loved the motor, but hated the handling.  A fork brace helped a
little, but it was always a struggle.   We went out to Colorado for a two week
ride one July and, sure enough, Bill low-sided that one in a hard turn coming
into Paonia, CO.  We were able to ride it out of there and get it fixed well
enough to finish the ride.   Lots of broken plastic but no structural issues.
Everything straight and true, which speaks of the tractor-like build quality
of the frames on these things.   Bill fixed up the ST with with new parts,
rode the bike for a while and sold it in better condition than when he bought
it.  He picked up a used 1100RS from a local club member, who quit motorcycle
riding in favor of bicycles, for a song.   Bill never really liked that one
either.    In a surprise move this spring, he bought an R12GS, shocking

Well, understandably, his riding has been very conservative since the purchase
of the 1100ST.  This weekend, he was able to come back to the world of real
riding.   He loves the new GS and feels totally confident on it.   Believe me,
that is a very very high compliment to this machine.   You won't go wrong with
one, just be prepared to upgrade it continually.  The GS catalog from Tourtech
is around 200 pages!

I've been smitten by the 1200 chassis and engine since my first ride last year
in France.   The GS is probably the best chassis of the bunch, but I'm put off
by upswept pipes that cut out half the capacity of the left side case and one
or two other goofy things on all GS's.    I love it's handling and would
surely find ways to work around this stuff if I owned one.

An advantage to the GS is that it can be bought at a bigger discount than the
RT at the moment.   Another is that the crossover "Tourance" tires are
dynamite on paved roads being less sensitive to bits of gravel in corners etc.
They last a little longer than the street tires on the RT.   They approach the
limit a little more gradually, further adding confidence.   When you can feel
the tires starting to lose grip and nothing wierd happens that can't be easily
corrected, you feel a lot better about riding near the limit.   I think it's
that big tread pattern.  The extra inch or so if suspension travel on the GS
makes it float magically over potholes and such.   Great for cities with bad

I bought the best color of new RT available...Dark graphite over dark
lowers....This makes the bike one color instead of many giving it a much more
integrated look.  I have to say, however, that I like the look of the 1150 RT
better from the front.   I had a chance to sit under a tree facing a row of
1150RTs with my 1200RT in the line. Instead of "Wow, what a great improvement
of the breed!" it's more like "Err...what happened to that one?".   The other
angles of the bike are pretty good, especially the back and sides.  They
really screwed up on the headlight and big mirrors, in my opinion.

There are no bad angles on the new GS.  It's just cool.   I'd prefer round
gages to those oval stylized things, but that's a very small complaint.

Those big headlights on the RT may be weird looking, but they're really good
at lighting up the road.   The low beams spread a very good blanket of light
on the sides of the road as well.  I've had the bike out on unlit byways at
night and the illumination is plenty for me.   I feel no need for aftermarket
lights.   The same cannot be said for the GS.   It could use a good set of
driving lights.

I was able to mount my V-1 radar detector INSIDE the fairing of the RT away
from rain and thieves.  I have remotes and a helmet LED sender under the lip
of the dash.  This set up works very nicely and is why I'm often picked to
lead these rides.

The ST looks good in that silver/pewter color to my eyes, but I'm not happy
with it's riding position.   I couldn't ride like that all day.   The K12S
even seems more comfortable.

GS is a terrific bike.  Aeroflow is coming out with a full coverage windscreen
for it soon.   Make sure you save a few extra bucks for that and some good
bags.  The BMW ones have this telescoping feature which is kind of good for
emergencies and for sticking a helmet in while you're parked, but I wouldn't
pack for a trip with those things sticking out like that. Spoked wheels are
heavier than the alloy ones and cost $500 extra.  Not a good deal unless
you're a dirt rider...in that case, buy a lightweight dirt bike and a trailer,
not a GS.

- -TB