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5600 Miles on an R1200RT

Anyone curious about this?

Well, I'll tell you anyway.

Three bikes went on this trip.   My just serviced 1200RT with 5400 miles on
it, an 02 Black Gold Wing 1800 with about 15K on it and fresh service. and a
1200GS with about 12K on it and fresh service.

Trip was from Chicago, IL to Banff, Alberta and some circuitous routing around
Southern B.C on the long way home.  We came back down into Washington and
happened upon a spectacular road...Washington Rt. 20.   Absolutely recommended
and the pleasant surprise of the trip.   It runs East-West just a bit under
the Canadian border.   We didn't take it all the way West, but picked it up in
about the middle of the state.  Fantastic.

Spent some time in the Sturgis/Badlands/Black Hills area.  Another nice
surprise.  I can see how this place caught on with the Harleyists.  Some very
wonderful motorcycle roads around here.  Spearfish Canyon is not to be missed.
We were there two weeks prior to the big rally on our trek West and made a
point to go North of it on the way back.  Other great roads were Rt. 87
running along the East side of Glacier National Park.  The roads of Southern
Alberta were beautiful, but they run along next to the mountains rather than
through them.  The area around Banff and the Columbia Ice fields is gorgeous,
but the roads are pretty tame...good for sightseeing, not great for twisting
the days away.

Last day was a long one.  On the road 4AM in the dark in Fargo.   Took I-29
down to I-90 and into the LaCrosse, WI area.   I must have got a second wind,
because I was all for taking the "back way" home.  I must say LaCrosse County
has some of the best twisty roads we traveled on the whole trip.

The bike ran flawlessly, of course.   A few discoveries:


Electronic cruise control.   Omigod.  What a wonderful thing for touring!
You can really relax and shift around on the seat etc. when you don't have to
be concerned with regulating your speed.   No hand calluses, no sore back and
shoulders at the end of the day.  I found that guiding the bike with my left
hand was better because the throttle moves when the cruise changes engine
power to maintain speed.  If you grab the throttle to hard, it will kick out
the cruise control.


One accomplice had just purchased the 02 Goldwing 1800 on this trip, trading
up from a GL1500 with 80K on it.  He, unlike most Wing Nuts, has taste.  His
bike had a back rest, a set of highway pegs and that's all.  He insisted on
black, and I agree.  That color seems to shrink the dimensions of this bike.
Makes it much more agreeable to look at.   His bike has no CB, no half-gallon
suck-cup, no floorboards, no dangly chrome helmet fasteners on the back to
drive other riders nuts, no pinstriping or lightning bolts, flames or neon or
trailer hitch.  He will never fit in with the Wingers I know.

It was first experience with electronic cruise as well.  We were able to synch
up most of the time and just travel at exactly the same speed.   When we were
a little off, it was just a matter of touching the "speed up" switch once or
the "slow down" switch once every 10 minutes or so to keep the bikes within
sight of each other.

The third bike of the trio was a 1200GS, a bike I truly do like a lot, but no
cruise and a smaller tank made him feel out of place on the interstates.   The
owner had received his new Aeroflow full coverage windscreen and lower the
afternoon before the trip.  After reading the installation instructions, he
wisely decided to pack his bike instead and live with the much smaller Cee
Baileys screen he'd installed, but I'm sure he was wishing he'd packed days
before the trip.  The CB screen was just OK for him.  Ear plugs were required
equipment and he experienced quite a bit of buffeting on several legs of the
trip.   Anyone contemplating a long trip on a GS should buy a full coverage
screen with lowers protection.   The GS is so much better to ride with these

The Wing, by the way, is a fantastic tourer.   I was able to trade for 30
miles or so.   If I'd known how fun these things are, I might have made
another choice.  Make mine black with minimal chrome and crap, keep the
floorboards, thankyouverymuch.

Biggest negative on the RT is the sound of it.  Especially getting off the
Wing, which sounds like the best Porsche engine you've ever heard.  God, I was
ready to go out and buy one just for the engine sound!  It was almost painful
to hear that over-lean rattly RT noise again.    Sounds like a two-stroke
running in pea gravel by comparison.   With ear plugs and keeping it off-load
at 4K or so, it's kinda nice, also flogging at high RPM isn't bad, but
sometimes in more normal riding, shifting up through the gears, it's really
grating.  This is just where I like to appreciate fine machinery in motion.
Sounds like a little thing, but, to me, it really detracts from the joy of
ownership of this bike, especially for the price.   I think I like the sound
of the 1150s better.   For sure, the 1100 sounds better.   I know I like the
sound of the 1200GS much better than the RT sound.   Wonder why the RT has
such a crappy voice?   This is not just my bike, but both demo bikes I rode
prior to purchase.   Thank god for iPods and molded ear plugs with speakers

However, that ultra lean-burn technology and electronics paid off in spades in
fuel mileage.   I had the largest fuel capacity AND the best mileage of the 3
bikes by far.   I think I may have had the fastest bike as well, but the Wing
was damned close.   We didn't race or anything.  I could dust him in the
turns, for sure, because of ground clearance even though he's pretty fearless
and was usually right behind me again in about 2 seconds during the fast-paced
riding we did.   We all had to stop for gas when the GS ran low...about 140 to
160 miles of range on that.  I never really got near finding out how far I
could travel on a tank.   300 miles does not seem like a fantasy number,

Gold Wings are not built for high speed.   The wind intrudes at about 75mph or
so and mileage starts to drop.  Much less so on the 1800 than on the 1500,
which was carbureted and had less well thought out aeros.   Even so, we spent
a lot of time travelling 72 to 75 mph at the request of the Gold Wing pilot.
Riding is so effortless on either the Wing or the RT at that speed that one
listens better to the Ipod and notices more of the land going by.  No back
pain, no right hand calluses.

My Wing friend has no aversion to scraping pegs.  He rides hard when the
opportunity presents itself.   He says putting the dashboard adjustable air
suspension all the way up really helps the ground clearance, but the RT leaves
him in the corners anyway...and I've yet to scrape a peg in 10K+ miles.  I may
get a peg lowering kit just for a little more comfort because there's
clearance to spare on this bike.

Another revelation is the new system cases.   I also have the small top case.
I can't tell you how many times during the trip I thanked BMW for setting up
their new lock system so the bags can stay unlocked all day.   "Let's see,
where did I put that"?  No more moving keys from bag to bag and cursing under
my breath when I accidently push one of those handles down on the red lock
lever.  Another good feature is that you can open the case without unhooking
the bag from the bike.   Anyone who has really packed their bike using Bungee
Buddies on their system cases knows that when you try to access the old system
cases, the bungees pull the cases away from the bike and you have a mess
trying to fit everything back together again.   This problem is gone.

The small top case is expensive but well made and waterproof.   It fits a
helmet easily with some room for extras like rags and gloves.  I keep my
compressor in a leather pouch in there too.  When I put the helmet in, I have
to stick the pouch in the helmet, but it's an easily learned habit.   An
advantage of the smaller case is that it makes less sail effect on the bike at
high speed.   I've also heard through the grapevine that the large case costs
2 mpg.   Don't know how true that is, but it sounds possible.   It's really

The small "SS" size Big Mak tank bag is great for gas stops.   I just flip the
thing up and stay right on the bike.  With a credit card, gassing up takes
about 1.5 minutes. Then I can pull the bike away from the pump if I want to
stop for a water and bathroom break.   The map case is made to hold and hide a
CD player or Ipod...very handy.   This bag does activate the down button for
the windscreen on hard left turns, but it's something I've put up with on 3
RTs now and I'm used to it.   It's still the tank bag to have.  I've certainly
got my money's worth out of mine.

I use a BMW duffel type soft case that's kind of a rectangular box shape on
the pillion seat for extra riding clothes.  It bungees nicely to the back seat
without the need for  Bungee Buddies.   Two hooks go under the luggage rack
and top trunk, they cross under the carry straps of the duffel then fasten to
the frame rails on either side below the seat.  Pop two bungee hooks from the
lower frame, pull the bag off the seat and take it into the motel.  Couldnt'
be much easier.  I usually carry this in one hand and my two bag liners and
tank bag in the other.   I'm in the room in one trip.  I got this bag at the
BMW store next to the South Carolina car plant several years ago.  It sat in
my closet unused for years.  I prefer something with wheels when I travel by
plane.  I don't know if they make this thing anymore.   It's not supposed to
be for motorcycles, but it just seems to work out better than anything else I
can find.  It's not supposed to be waterproof, but I've put a couple coats of
Scotchguard on it and that seems to do the trick save a few drops coming
through the zipper on rare occasions.  As I said, I just use it for extra
riding clothes, most of which are not damaged by water anyway.   It holds a
lot and doesn't interfere with my rear view mirrors while sitting on the back
seat.  A problem I had, though, was the metal studs on the bottom of the bag.
Great for hotel lobby floors, bad for my new bike's sexy handrails.   On the
third day, I noticed that the beautiful silver grey handrails were getting
scuffed up by these metal studs.   I pulled out some duct tape and put two
layers on the rails...barely noticable because of the near perfect color
match. (Sometimes things just seem to work out.) Problem solved, except that I
have the two marks on my handrails now.    I'll be looking for a touch up
paint or something I can use to fix this.

I built in a Valentine One radar detector to this bike the first week I got
it.   Only the remote sound module and remote display units show and they're
at the bottom left of the dash.  I have a sender for a Legal Speeding helmet
LED.  I discovered I could velcro that in back of the dash and it would still
work...no worries about getting it wet at all.   I had no problem with this
setup the whole trip.  It rained twice, but no deluges and we didn't have to
ride much in the rain.   It did rain overnight a time or two and the thing
worked like a champ next day.

I wasn't completely thrilled with the stock suspension for the RT after riding
it 4,000 miles or so.   The rear seemed too floppy at times even with the
rebound damping all the way up.  The front seemed harsh over some pretty minor
bumps and is non-adjustable.   I was hoping to have my Ohlins set rebuilt to
1200RT specs, but still no word from the Ohlins guy on that.   I sold them for
a song to a guy in Arkansas and bought the full monty Wilbers system: high and
low speed compression adjustment, rebound adjustment, ride height adjustment
and remote preload on the rear.  Preload and rebound damping adjustment on the
front.   Not cheap, but I like it a lot.  I think the spring rates are maybe a
little heavy for touring.   The bike turns like it's on rails.  It did before,
but now the goofy ride motions in back are gone and the front is not so harsh.
Still, I think the highway and side street ride could be better, especially
unloaded, without destroying the newfound stability on the bike..  Maybe I
just need to do more tweaking.

I want a new seat, but it's not so bad that I can't wait until spring.
Sargent will have their new RT seat ready by then and that's probably what
I'll get.   I can't see putting one of those clunky looking Meyers or Russel
saddles on this sleek machine.   I know they're great, but I'm not out doing
Iron Butt runs every weekend.  This was my longest trip for the year and
asthetics should count for something.    The bike looks damned good the way it
is and I don't want to ruin it.

Cee Baileys delivered their new RT windscreen to my house the week before the
trip.  I installed it and it transformed the bike.  The new screen is every
bit as good as my 1150's C.B.Type 3 (aeroflow shape) and my 1100's genuine
Aeroflow screen.   With the stock 1200RT screen, there was no buffeting, but I
wouldn't ride more than 20 miles without earplugs.  Now the 1200 can be ridden
easily at 80 mph without earplugs for extended periods.  There is very little
wind noise and no buffeting.   It was much quieter than the Gold Wing I tried
in this regard.  I'm taller than the Wing rider sitting down.  He had the
windscreen height set for him, so this is probably not a valid comparison, but
the vast difference surprised me.

The Wing does not have an electric windscreen adjustment.   Amazing to me
since it comes with so many conveniences.  The Cee Baileys screen has a huge
flip-up on the top and plenty of air gets under the front for that "Laminar
Flow" thing to happen.   The result is that the screen can be a good 4" below
your line of sight without any wind noise.    When bugs are thick, I can put
the screen up to about 1" below my line of sight and have zero bugs on my
helmet screen...can even ride with the helmet screen part way up while the
bike is getting pelted with bugs.

Ran into another 1200RTer from Dallas in the parking lot of Devil's Tower (the
"Close Encounters" mountain.   He'd come all the way up from Dallas on his own
and was going to do as many national parks as he could in the area for an Iron
Butt patch of some kind.  To each his own.   We compared notes and found that
our mileages and oil consumption levels were about the same.

My bike used a little less than 1.5 quarts of oil in 5600 miles.   It used
more in the fast twisties when I was using lower gears and doing more engine
braking and hard acceleration...much more, in fact.   On the highway, it
barely used any.  (The Gold Wing used no oil the whole trip.)  Oil consumption
on the RT is coming down now that I've got over 11K miles on the bike.  I'll
switch to synthetic at 18K.

The oil level indicator on the instrument panel is very useful when touring.
If you keep the bike 3/4 or more full, the bike always reads OK on oil level.
If it gets down to about half, you'll get a <!> warning on the RID
occasionally.  When you "check" the oil, that is, when you have the bike fully
warm and standing on a level surface at idle for 10 seconds or more...say at a
stoplight, you bump through the modes until you get to the "Oil" mode and it
will check the oil again.  You'll get a check mark, indicating that the oil is
still OK.    When you get down to below 1/4 of the sight glass, this procedure
will yield a <!> mark.   It's time to add.   Sounds complicated, but in
reality, it's much handier than bending down to look at the sight glass all
the time, and it's actually more reliable because of the false readings on the
sight glass.

That's all for now.

- -TB