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2005 Sport Touring Comparo
<a href="http://www.motorcycle.com//shoot-outs/2005-sport-touring-comparo-14281.html">2005 Sport Touring Comparo</a>
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Purchased an '06 BMW R1200RT six months ago after reading a Rider magazine comparison (R1150RT vs K1200GT vs ST1300 vs FJR1300) in which the RT came out as the winner. Knew the updated R1200RT couldn't help but be an improvement. Impressed by its relatively light weight, nimble handling, huge (7 gal.) gas tank and admirable gas mileage. Gratified to see the RT come out on top once again. Still, don't understand why more mention isn't made of this bike's incredible touring range. Wife and teenage daughter, both weighing in at around 125 lb. (I weigh closer to 250), enjoy frequent day trips on the passenger seat while the bike delivers 46-47 mpg. Riding solo increases fuel economy by another 1-2 mpg. This makes 300 miles on a tank easily attainable. Go on group rides about once a month with the local BMW club (BMWCOSC) and usually have the only bike that will run all day on one tank of gas (club rides usually cover 180 - 230 miles per day). It seems that gas mileage and tank range ought to have a more of an influence on touring and sport touring road and comparison tests.
It keeps going...and going...and going...
I bought one of the first '05 RTs after riding one of the first 1200GS in Europe on a "French Alps Touring Center" Edelweiss trip and waiting for an eon for the RT version. This is my 3rd RT. (Apparently, I like them?)
I wanted the balance shaft engine with dual plugs and improved throttle body setup. In the bargain, I got cruise control, which I thought would be useless (boy, was I wrong about that), an on-board computer that has an inaccurate thermometer and a marginally useful oil-checker. I didn't get the radio or the electronically controlled suspension. I use an iPod with molded ear plugs under my helmet for sound and bought a set of Wilbers shocks for the bike. I don't ride passengers much so I don't need all the adjustments.
I agree with the tester's assessment of the stock windscreen. It's somehow wrong. I bought a CeeBailey's screen that's longer and flips up at the top. It only needs to be about 3/4 of the way up to completely cover you in a pocket of buffet-free windlessness. At about 30K, I went through a series of upper windscreen mounts, found some made of stronger stuff by an enthusiast. Problem solved. This screen improves the riding experience a lot. Gives you a little air around the arms so you don't get too hot in summer, but it keeps you out of the wind all day at a windscreen height you can easily see over.
When scrapping around back roads, just lower the screen, bring the revs up, put up with some extra vibes and enjoy the tremendous engine braking that BMW Boxer engines offer to help you around tight turns at ridiculous speeds. What I love most about these bikes is that they allow you to change your line in a corner if something turns out to be not as planned. They also can stop really fast and hard with just two fingers on the right lever with very little dive. These bikes take a while to learn, but they will do amazing things. I'm more confident on this bike than on my Aprilia Mille R. It's that good.
At 70K+, it's still going very strong and runs like new. I keep looking for a bike I'd replace it with and keep coming up empty. It's not perfect. The thermometer could work better, the oil check warning could come on less often, it could have a better engine sound. I've never really liked the styling, but it just works so danged well I can't imagine touring with anything else.
When I look for a replacement, I look first at the bags. Do they close securely without a key? Will they hold a helmet? Do they attach and remove easily? Do they require a big ugly frame to mount to the bike?
Next question: Can I buy this bike with cruise control? I just will not buy another long distance bike without it.
Next: What are the foibles? Does it have a tricky throttle (Triumph Explorer) Does it pour heat on the rider's crotch? (Yamaha) How much does it weigh?
I'm of the mind that one doesn't need much more than 100HP for a Sport Touring bike if one knows what one is doing. There's really only so fast a person should go on public roads. At some point, you get so far beyond other's ability to see you coming and for you to see them pulling out in front, crossing the street etc, etc. You just don't want to spend much time at that sort of velocity....especially when you're far from home with no chase van or media-vac helicopters handy. The RT offers enough creature comfort and power at a low enough weight, with good economy and great range. It's also a hoot to ride hard in the tight stuff for hours on end. It's great in inclement weather and the Telelever front end, while a little lacking in feedback, just doesn't react as much to emergency braking and other maneuvers as a standard fork. When you learn what the bike will do and how you can make it do things it shouldn't, it's your best friend out there.
OK, that should be enough good stuff, but I'm not done. Maintenance on this bike can be done at home. There's no coolant, you don't have to pull it apart to adjust valves. That's part of the magic of the boxer configuration. They can be done in 30 minutes and the procedure hasn't changed in 3 model updates. The newer RTs with the overhead cams use shims, but these are simple. If you do a very good job of getting clearance even on both sides, there's no need to balance the throttles either. Air filter is a bit of a pain, but it's just taking out a lot of screws and putting them back every 10K or so...nothing really scary, just more work than it should be.
I think I'll put on my heated gear and go for a ride!!!
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