Looking at Beemers

I spent about a half hour talking to a local motorcycle cop about his new ride, a BMW R1200 RT-P. It’s the new bike that all the departments here in California are switching to for their Mary units. He just raved about it.

Well, I’ve never actually seen one up close, so, having nothing else to do after work, I went over to the local BMW dealer on my way home to have a look. I looked at the R1200 RT, the K1200 GT, and the K1200 LT. The designation of R1200 refers to the 2-cylinder, 110hp, 1170cc boxer engine, and the K1200 is an inline four-cylinder transverse mounted engine. The RT is their low end tourer, the GT is a 154-hp sport tourer, and the LT is their top-of-the-line Gold Wing-style tourer.

I sat on them, looked at all the cool dealies on them, and talked to a really nice sales guy. And my overall conclusion was…


Maybe if I had to ride one 8 hours a day I’d like them, but I dunno.

First of all, any of them are about $20,000, unless you want the stripped down version. The GT doesn’t have–and you can’t have–a radio. The seat on the LT is about 32 inches off the ground, so the average person can’t even flat-foot it, which, I think, is not something you are looking for in an 850 pound motorcycle. And the seat heights on the R and GT are about 30 inches, so you can flat-foot them, but just barely. The GT and RT both weigh a bit less than the sporty, however.

No forward controls. No floorboards, and even if you could get them, your legs would be spread so wide you probably coudn’t touch the ground anyway.

Yeah, they have a low center of gravity, and some really cool features like heated…everything, and I’m sure they handle like a dream. And I’m sure the GT’s 154 horses are screamingly fast. But I really didn’t come away from looking at them thinking they’d be fun to handle in city traffic. Your little tippy-toes come down on gravel and that bike is gonna go down. Uneven pavement? well, good luck with that.

And when they go down, they go down. It’s not like a Road King, where, if you drop it in a parking lot, it’ll tip over on the crash bars at about 45 degrees, leaving you standing astride it, feeling stupid. If the BMW bikes go down, you’re going to say “hi” to Mr. Pavement. Then, shell out lots and lots of money for all the new plastic fairing and hard bag replacement crap. The LT does have pop-off mirrors, though, so you can snap them back on instead of replacing the whole fairing, and it has these wing-like rubber bumpers on the outer edges of the fairing. That should only cost you a couple of hundred to replace, along with the chromey, plastic bumper dealies on the saddlebags.

I guess I was surprised. I hear people talk about them like they’re the cat’s pajamas, but in real life, they just didn’t seem all that great for the money, or fun to tool around town in. I understand they have excellent handling, which is good for the cops, who really need it, and they’re probably a blast on the highway, but they just don’t strike me as great all-round motorcycles.

Not for anyone with an inseam less than 26″ inches anyway. They’d inspire a lot more confidence if you could plant your feet firmly from the saddle, I guess.

Wh are the seats so danged tall?