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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. 

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BMW 1979 R100RT: Part III - Test Ride

Ricardo Perez

Fuel Line Filter
I finally got a chance to take the bike out on its first maiden run; a short 85 mile ride. I've had the bike put back together for a few weeks now, but every time I'd take it out the carburetor float bowls would start leaking, usually within five miles of taking off. I would just pull over and take the bowl off, let some gas run through the needle valve and pop it back on. Good to go for another four or five miles!
Of course, the inside of my gas tank is rusty and it sitting at the painter's for over a month sure didn't help. I know I've got to treat that tank, but it seems no one sells the solution I'm looking for in South Texas (it's a water soluble thing called Evaporust). Well, it finally dawned on me that I should just put in a pair of small and inexpensive fuel line filters. I picked up two of the smallest I could find at Autozone for $4.99 each, cut the fuel line, and popped them in. Took less than five minutes. My brother said he did the same thing years ago with his Honda CBX (six cylinder) and said that after the filter clogged the bike stalled on him on some lonely highway. He just punched a hole in the filter with a screw driver and kept on riding.
We left Saturday morning for a breakfast run to San Isidrio, Texas. Those fuel line filters worked like a charm. About 35 miles down the highway I opened up the throttle a bit and went from a pedestrian 65mph to 85.3mph according to my Garmin GPS. I know it's accurate because it's been certified by radar in the Texas Hill Country.  According to the local Sheriff in Camp Wood he said he clocked me at 65mph in a 55mph zone and I had my cruise control set right at 65mph, on the Garmin not on the speedometer.
The bike ran great, smooth and once it warmed up it shifted smoother and just ran better. It idled perfectly at 1,100rpm and should do much better once I get the carbs tuned. Of course, the bike feels much taller and nimbler than my Harley Ultra Classic. I did notice a little wavy (loose) feeling in the rear section as I held the bike at 85mph. I'm not sure if that was because of the wind or some mechanical issue. At 75mph it was totally smooth; at 65mph it was smoother, very quiet, and felt like it could stay at that speed forever.
Once I got home the only noticeable problem was some gear oil weeping from the gear shifter shaft entering the transmission. Maybe that's due to my replacing all the fluids with synthetic oils and perhaps I should go back to the old dino oils. I'm ordering the new seal and that should take care of that problem. I also felt that the saddle just wouldn't do on a day-long ride so I may look at getting a Corbin saddle to replace the custom job on there now.
Conclusion: Yes, I'm very happy with the bike and just want to keep tinkering with it.

BMW 1979 R100RT Project: Part II

Ricardo Perez

Work In Progress!

  Well I finally got my parts back from the paint shop. I worked on it a full two days, the second joined by my brother who helped me out quite a bit. It still needs the pin-striping work, but I got so impatient with the long wait on the paint job, five weeks, that I  just told him that we'd do the pin-striping later. 
Well it looks a lot better than it was back on February 29th when I bought it, but it still has a long way to go. Hopefully, I can now take my time with anything I tackle next knowing that I can take it out for a spin at any time. I plan on taking it on our maiden voyage this week, maybe doing a hundred miles or so to see how it handles and holds up. I have yet to get it up to it's sweet spot which I'm told is somewhere around 4,500rpm? Here's some of the basic things we've done to date on the bike. First off, we removed that very ugly seat, old styled fog lights, passenger riding pegs, and the Reynolds rear rack. We have new Metzelers on both front and rear, new front brake pads, new fork seals, new progressive springs in front forks, new progressive shocks, new push-rod seals, valves adjusted, carburetor float and needle valve, new clutch cable, new air filter, new oil filter, all the fluids changed, replaced seat with older seat more to my liking, new fairing mirrors, new front fork fender brace, and side reflectors on front and rear. Replaced many screws, nuts, bolts, etc. I'm sure I'm forgetting some things, but there's still lots to do. 
Putting on the fairing can be a little hard, especially if it's just one person, lots better if you have help. I'm telling myself that now I'll go back and redo everything, but at a slower pace just to make sure I've got everything right. I'll make sure that every screw is the right one, and new without mixing some new with old. The important thing for me is that it run well enough that I can confidentially take it on an out of state ride this summer. 
New Fork Brace & Reflectors

Looking Good!

Needs Pin Striping

Ready to Roll

My Review: BMW RT vs Honda ST

Tomas Perez

2003 ST1300

2010 R1200RT

I decided to review the Honda and BMW sport touring motorcycles after riding the Honda ST1100 and ST1300 for about 11 years and then replacing the 2003 ST1300 with a 2010 BMW R1200RT. I wanted to wait until I had some miles on the RT before I started this project. I'll be comparing the 2010 RT to the 2003 ST1300 I had. Starting with the front of the bikes and working my way to the back...

Please note that a 2010 ST1300ABS is essentially the same as the 2003 ST1300ABS.

Headlight - The RT has got very good dual H7 powered headlights and a third H7 high beam. The ST has a pair of special H4 bulbs that only Honda sells. Most tourers put in higher powered H4s in place of the OEM bulbs. I did that on both my STs with good results but I still think the stock RT headlight is better. Winner RT.

Dash - Slight edge to the RT. The BMW dash just looks more professional and the LCD display is easier to read in most daylight conditions. I also like that you can check remaining range whenever you want on the RT. The ST displays remaining range only when it goes into reserve. Both fuel and temperature gauges appear to be very accurate. Winner RT.

Mirrors - Let me rate these on a scale from 1 (very bad) to 5 (very good). I would rate the ST mirrors a 3 and the RT mirrors a strong 4. Both are positioned perfect for protecting the hands from wind, bugs, etc but the ST mirrors show too much of your hands in most conditions. I found myself dipping my head in order to get a clear view of whatever was behind me. Not so on the RT. Both offer a clear view (little to no vibration). Winner RT.

Seat - This item is so subjective and no two riders will have the same impressions on any motorcycle seat. I replaced the stock ST seats (both 1100 and 1300) with Corbin seats. The Corbin was much better than stock and better than the RT OEM seat. I am forcing myself to like the BMW seat since it has the heated option at a cost of $350. Nevertheless I may upgrade in the future. Winner RT (comparing stock seats).

Transmission - Both bikes have top notch transmissions. I'll give the nod to the RT for smoother shifting and 6 speeds. In my opinion the ST is geared slighter lower in high gear. I find myself looking for another gear while on the highway. The RT seems to be geared perfect for highway cruising but first gear is very tall (high). It idles in 1st gear at about 8 MPH. I've never found a false neutral on the RT in just over 10K miles and I expect the RT transmission to get even better as I add miles to the bike. Winner RT.

Brakes - Both bikes were equipped with ABS and both are awesome. Slight edge to the Honda for the ABS. You never know it's there until it's needed. Winner ST.

Suspension - I liked the ST setup but the RT has the electronic suspension option (ESA II). I like being able to change the settings from normal to comfort for the highway and then to sport if the going gets twisty. And you can do that while riding. Preload on the RT has to be set via switch while you are stopped. Setting are 1 up, 1 up with luggage, and 2 up. Riding the BMW with paralever and telelever suspension is a unique experience. I like it. The 2010 has ESA II which addressed several concerns with the older system. Winner RT.

Cases - Both are very good and can hold a full face helmet. I give the edge to the RT because you can leave the bags unlocked plus they have 4 latching points. Also the RT looks a lot better without the bags. The ST does not have a clean look when the bags are off. Winner RT.

Tank (mileage) - The ST1300 has a 7.3 gallon tank and the RT has a 6.6 gallon tank. I modified the ST with a K&N air filter, Two Brothers mufflers, and a Turbo Tom fuel pressure regulator. Those changes made the ST much better and increased my mileage. At low speed the RT has better mileage. At high speed the ST was better. Slight edge to the ST but both bikes can do over 300 miles on a tank on a good day. Winner ST.

Fairing - BMW did it right with the new RT. The ST is good but the RT offers better protection and less wind noise. In addition, I can have the windshield lower and still have the wind stream go over my helmet so I don't have to look through the windshield. Winner RT.

Weight - The BMW is about 120 pounds lighter ready to go. One of the reasons I purchased the RT over another Honda ST or BMW K bike. Winner RT.

Options - Hands down it's the BMW. I ran out of money before I ran out of options for the RT. Winner RT.

Engine - Like them both - a lot - for different reasons. The Honda V-4 is simply awesome in the way it delivers its power. Riders talk about sweet spots for cruising. I like to say that the ST's sweet spot is 60 to 110 mph. It will cruise at any speed you want very easily and the engine pulls from about 2,000 rpm on. I do a lot more shifting on the RT. Going down a road or highway I say the ST is best for 5 to 25 mph and the RT is better for 25 to 75 mph and the ST taking over again at speed over 75 mph. Both engines are very smooth. The Honda does kick out a lot of heat whereas the BMW has nearly zero heat hitting the rider. Nod to the Honda engine. Winner ST.

Handling - Once again - subjective but the total package of the BMW makes for the better ride. I find myself using the RT for short, around town trips. I normally would not do that with the ST. Lots of factors involved - lower COG, lower weight, suspension bits, brakes, etc. The total package goes to the BMW. Winner RT.

Dealer Network - No contest! My Honda dealer is about 5 miles away - the BMW dealer is 265 miles away. Winner ST.

Cost - I think the ST cost me $14.5K in Nov 2002. The base cost for the 2010 RT is $17K and a little over $21K with the options I added. Winner ST.

Reliability - Honda makes good stuff. In 50K miles I had 3 things go bad on the Honda - oil leak (within a week of purchasing the bike), bad CPU that gave a FI fault (took the dealer a year to fix), and a brake valve (drove 600 miles with only the front brake). In 10K miles the BMW electric windshield refused to go down. I'll have to give this one to the Honda. Winner ST.

Throttle Response (update) - The ST had some reported issues with throttle response and a lean spot that was there to meet EPA regulations. I never really had much issues with this but did have a few times that the throttle response was rather abrupt. It wasn't often and only lasted a half second but it did happen. Going from the ST1100 to the ST1300 it is the one thing I noticed the most (besides more power and better brakes). The RT on the other hand has been perfect on throttle response so far and it is the only bike that I have had that just seems to get better overall as I put miles on it. Winner RT.

Body Panels (update) - This may seem like a trivial category but it was such a pain taking the Honda to the dealer for any type of service. Whenever the dealer had to remove a panel I never - I repeat - I NEVER got the bike back in the right order. I know that this is more a dealer issue than a bike issue but it created a number of problems in either case. For those of you that don't know, the bike uses at least 3 different panel screws plus plastic rivet type locks in other places. The plastic locks don't last too long and the metal screws have different size threads, different lengths, and different size shoulder depth! And some are Phillips and others Allen. Some black and some alloy. It's a mess. The problem with the dealer was so bad that I got to the point that I was stocking my own set of panel screws and they are not cheap! And yes I reported it to the main guy and yes I showed them what went where and yes I even loaned them my service manual. The 2010 RT has only one type that I know of. I haven't taken off all the panels yet but the ones I've had off are all the same size, color, wrench size, and they are all Torx. In addition, the panels on the RT just fall into place - no bending or twisting of panels to get them to pop in place. Winner RT.

Both bikes are awesome to ride and when I purchased the ST1100 I thought it was the perfect touring motorcycle for me. But overall it's the RT for me. Too many things that I like about it. The lighter weight and lower center of gravity makes it much easier to move around and ride at slow speed. The handling is top notch, the range is very good, brakes are great, weather protection is one of the best, good set of practical options, good cases, etc. In addition, I wonder how I rode for so many years without a cruise control. It took me about 3 months to get used to it but now I use it whenever I hit the highways. I also really appreciate the gear indicator on the dash. It's amazing how many times I glance at that whereas on my prior bikes I tried shifting again - either up on 5th or down after I was in first. For some strange reason the RT is just a pleasure to ride. I look for excuses to ride.

Kind of long winded but I wanted to cover the main areas of each bike. In any case... both bikes are awesome.

Update 2012/1/10 - Honda is selling the ST1300 again.  Price seems to have gone up to $18,230.  That's getting up there with the BMW RT cost.

2010 R1200RT