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Our website is all about motorcycles, especially BMW cycles. We cover rides in the Southwest and Mexico, motorcycle modifications and review motorcycle products. 


BMW R1200RT and BMW K1200S - A Dilemma

Tomas Perez

The RT in high places...

From Merriam-Webster:
3. a :  a problem involving a difficult choice...

I've had a perfectly good BMW R1200RT since 2010.  I purchased the bike new without a test ride. It was not my first boxer BMW although my last boxer was a 1984 R80RT.  The 2010 was a new model year with engine and body changes.  It was too many positive changes to pass up.

I've always liked the boxer engine.  It has some weak spots but the basic design also has some positive attributes.  And there seem to be many others that feel the same way to the point that BMW boxer has been in production for 90 years.  Even more revealing is the fact that production stopped once but public demand brought the bike back to production.

What I like about it is the simplicity of the engine, low center of gravity, the unique shape and sound of the engine, and the way it feels while under power.  It's hard to describe but it's like a lazy lope at normal highway speeds.  Push it hard and you get a vibration from the engine but it's the low frequency type that does not bother you as much as a high frequency type vibration.  At higher speeds - in the order of over 85 mph - and that vibration is worse.  The times I notice most are when I fall behind a riding group and I'm running much higher than normal speed in an effort to catch up with the group.  But keep in mind that the other 99% of the time I'm one with the bike.  

For the highway I find the RT hard to beat.  Starting with the lower weight as compared to other touring bikes and adding the range that the bike has makes for a very good touring bike.  I have gone 265 miles at high speeds and over 300 miles at lower speeds on a tank of gas.  I can carry 10 days of clothes and camping gear on the bike without too much trouble.  I have also set up my bike with music and GPS navigation which makes long distance travel that much easier.  Don't get me wrong.  It's not all a bowl of cherries.  I've had my share of the typical BMW problems but the basic machine has been very solid.  By the way, let me add that I still don't understand why BMW took so long and in some cases never added some of these problems.  My problems on the RT were the handlebar switches and one fuel strip gone bad.  All things considered I obviously like the RT since I still have it and don't have plans to replace it any time soon.  

But then this year I find this hardly used 2008 BMW K1200S stored in an enclosed trailer.  It had a dead battery and a flashing brake failure light which normally indicates a non functional ABS system.  We put a new battery in it and it starts up right away.  The sound alone was impressive.  Did I mention that it had a Remus muffler on it.  That makes a big difference.  I decide to take a test drive.  Since the bike had hardly been used in about 5 years I was careful and concerned about the test ride.  In addition, it not being my bike I was very gentle with it - no hard acceleration nor hard braking (also had that blinking brake light to worry about).  I did not even check the tire pressure and I also did not check the suspension settings but in spite of this the bike handled very well during my short test ride.  Just months earlier I had purchased a Honda VTR1000 (Super Hawk).  It's Honda's copy of a Ducati - at least as far as engines go.  It's a V twin (90 degree), carburetors, chain, choke - you get the idea... old school hot rod.  In addition it came with a set of carbon fiber mufflers that when I added them it made the bike sound that much more like a hot rod bike.  The bike also had suspension and carburetor work that resulted in a nice total package.  It's about the same horsepower as the RT but it's much lighter and smaller.  I like the handling a lot but the riding position is rather sporty.  

BMW 2008 K1200S 
After test riding the K1200S I could easily see that this bike was in another class.  I know that the Honda is a 1998 and the KS a 2008 but it goes beyond that.  I was forcing myself to stick to the Super Hawk as my hot rod bike with zero intentions of using it for touring.  I liked the basic elements of the Super Hawk and did not want something too close to the functionality of my RT.  That is also the main reason I never considered the GT as another bike.

After riding both bikes for a month I decided the KS would be my second bike.  Now that I have ridden it more - a total of 3000 miles - I am liking it even more.  Although I never meant for it to be used for touring I have added a tail rack to it and use my BMW Sport Bag on it as well as a small waterproof bag.  I added a Ram mount on the battery cover so that I can mount my Zumo 660 but instead I have been using my iPhone for music and GPS.  Having both of these very nice bikes reminds me so much of John F. Kennedy.

I've ridden both bikes back to back to back on the same day.  They are so very different yet I love the way each rides and handles.  That is my dilemma... which will be my main bike?  If I ride one of them for an extended period (days) I look forward to riding the other bike.  My logical side of the brain also tells me that I don't need anything more than the BMW R1200RT but then the K1200S stirs the soul.  There are many times that I ride the KS in a very civil way felling secure that if called upon the bike can do so much more.  Getting on the expressway via an access road is a joke for the KS.  It's just so easy to merge into the flow.  Of course right after that I have to let up on the throttle because I am normally way beyond the speed limit.  It's exactly like they say - the acceleration is intoxicating.  About 10%... maybe more like 5% of the time I tell myself that I need to sell the KS before I get in trouble with it.

Sunday morning breakfast run

Getting back to John F...  My good ole dependable RT is my Jackie Kennedy...  the KS is like... well... like Marilyn Monroe.

For now... I'm keeping both...