Living with “Orange Crush”

It’s been a month since I traded in my Triumph Trophy for an orange and black BMW K1600GT that I dubbed “Orange Crush”. Since it’s my primary transportation I’ve ridden it every day—except for some rainy days here and there. So, I think I have a good handle on the good, and the bad of owning it.

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Sadness. Loss. Renewal. Hope.

I love the Triumph Trophy. I love the character and power of the motor. I love the handling. I love the electronics. I love the stereo, bluetooth, and iPod connectivity. In fact, I love everything about it. Oh, yeah, except its reliability. That isn’t very good at all, especially when the bike is your primary transportation. Indeed, for several months, my only transportation.

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Runner-Up

2015 BMW X5 xDrive35i

I’ve gotta be honest with you. I loved everything about the 2015 Volvo XC90 and it has ruined me for all other SUVs. Nothing on the market has its combination of modern style, technology, room, and drivability. Which is sad, really, because, now I have to review the BMW X5, a car about which I might otherwise have said many nice things.

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Impossible

2013 BMW K1600GT Review

For years,I’ve been adamant that the R1200RT is the only BMW touring bike I’d be interested in owning. The I-4 powered K1300GT was uncomfortable, seemed sluggish at low revs, and, frankly, a bit ungainly compared to the RT. It was also a motorcycle line that was plagued by a number of niggling mechanical and fueling issues. It was certainly fast, but I was never impressed with it. I remember that after I put it through a ride test, my exact comment to the BMW rep when I got off the bike was, “Meh.”

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New BMW GS unveiled on October 2

BMW has announced that the newest RXXXXGS will be unveiled at the INTERMOT show on 2 October. The reason for all the X’s in the bike’s name is…we don’t know what the engine will be. 1200? 1250? 1300? Air-cooled (Probably not)? Rumors have been of a 1250cc water-cooled boxer.

But whatever it is, when we first see it, we will also know what the future of the R1200RT, and the rest of the R-models will be. The GS is the iconic bike in the BMW line-up and the Boxer engine is the heart of BMW’s motorcycle. So, in about a month, BMW will not only be unveiling a new GS model, but also the future of BMW’s motorcycles.

It may be that we will see the end of nearly a century of air-cooled boxers.

The comparo I’ve been waiting for

Back in 2007, Kawasaki took the sport-touring world by storm with the introduction of the Concours 14. Ever since, it’s been the darling of the motorcycling press, and generally regarded as the king-hell sport-tourer. This year, though, BMW strikes back with the new bikes based on the 1600cc I-6 engine, and they’ve received rave reviews.

The thing is, when you ride a bike by itself, it often seems more impressive than it would by riding it side by side with something else with which to compare it. So, what would happen, and who would win, if some testers rode the Concours 14 and the K1600GT side by side? Well, thanks to Motorcycle.Com, we now know. They spent a couple of days riding the two machines side by side, and have written up their impressions, as well as providing some video.

We’ll get to the video down below. In the meantime, the key takeaway from this comparo is probably this:

Compared to the Kawasaki Concours 14, the K16 simply blows the doors off its Japanese counterpart from the word “go.” It’s astounding to say that the ZX-14 engine is weak by any means, but when stacked against this competition, the Kawasaki simply feels, well, slow.

The K1600GT is the motorcycle that made the Concours 14 seem slow. That says a lot right there. But there’s more. Apparently the K1600GT blew away the Kawi in several other areas, too.

Once above 5 mph, the GT changes direction with absolute fluidity and grace, though the K16 won’t be mistaken for an S1000RR in the weight department. That said, its linear steering and sporty chassis were a hit among both our testers, especially compared to the heavy-steering Kawasaki…

BMW claims the K16 (in both GT and GTL form) makes 70% of its available torque at just 1500 rpm. That’s quite a lot of power with the engine barely spinning. What that means in the real world is that no matter if you’re just leaving a stop or cruising on the highway in sixth gear at 80 mph, when the throttle is twisted, the Beemer moves…

Yes, only 123.4 horsepower. Dyno chart junkies might scoff at that number (especially compared to the Kawasaki’s 131.8 peak horsepower), but from the saddle the abundant amount of torque makes it easy to forget any horsepower disadvantage. What we didn’t expect, and what may be even more surprising, is just how smooth and well balanced the K16 engine really is. Propped up on the center stand and with the engine running, full-throttle blips produced no visual movement from the bike whatsoever. None….

ABS intervention from the BMW felt much less intrusive than the Kawi, to the point where you almost forget it’s working. It’s truly a step above where ABS technology was just a few years ago…Simply put, BMW has nailed the ABS on the K16…

We’ll just say it right now: we’re in love with the K1600GT as it does everything a sport-touring motorcycle should do, and it does it incredibly well.

Looks like BMW has a winner with their K1600-series bikes.

And now, video!

httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpTPihOYMn4

BMW F800GS vs. Triumph Tiger 800XC

Comparo dyno charts

Motorcycle.Com has a head-to-head comparo between the two hottest mid-sized adventure bikes in the world right now. It looks like it was tough choice between these two, too. Just take a look at the dyno graphs.

It’s a fascinating comparo, because the two bikes are just so close together in features. Triumph even replicated the layout of controls and accessory power ports on the BMW. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I guess.

At the end of the day, it seems the only difference between these two machines is their relative street/trail performance. Which one is best really depends on how you’re going to use it, but, as a practical matter, both are great.

There’s still something about that Triumph triple powerplant, though…

BMW K1600R?

Photoshop of a rumored BMW K1600R

Where would we be without new model rumors, and the photoshops that make them seem true, or, at least, plausible.

In this case, the rumor is of a coming roadster version of BMW’s new flagship sports-tourer, the K1600GT, which would be called the K1600R.  It would look something like the photoshop image here. Or not.

It sounds attractive. Still, there are some questions that would have to be answered:

But… The K1600GT starts at £15,300, a full £1800 more than the old K1300GT (which it effectively replaces, as well as superseding the mammoth K1200LT). Would it be possible to make a six-cylinder machine that could match, or even come close to, the K1300R’s £10,450 price? And would the bigger engine offer a significant advantage over the existing four? Finally, could a six-cylinder BMW out-pose and out-muscle the Ducati Diavel that’s scrambled the “big naked” market this year?

Having said that, BMW doesn’t really compete on price, much. and if they can pump up the power of the K16, the same way they did with the K13 for the S model, I can foresee a 180HP+ version making its way into the lineup as an S or R model.

I can dream, anyway.

Quick Notes

If I was to tell you how packed my schedule has been this week, you’d be so bored you’d want to slit your own throat. So I won’t. But I do have time to take note of a few things.

The ATK/Hyosung GT650R I’ve been evaluating for ATK is doing fine. I’m convinced that, given some ergos more forgiving to my 46 year-old frame, it’d be a fine commuter/city bike. It’s easy to ride, with predictable performance, and has a surprisingly comfy seat.

The Honda CBR1000RR is about the deadliest racing weapon imaginable in the hands of Casey Stoner.

Is the new Kawasaki ZX-10R good enough to beat the BMWS1000RR in a head-on comparo? No. Seems like a close call, though.

I got my FJR back from the shop on Saturday. Embarrasingly, I had managed to hang my good luck bell in the perfect place…to cut the main wiring harness with the edge of the bell in a full-lock left turn. I’m glad I was backing out of a parking space, instead of trying to do a U-Turn, when the engine went dead.

Instead of spending money on a second bike, I’ve begun wondering if I shouldn’t just get an exhaust system, PowerCommander, and K&N Air Filter.

The naked bikes are back

The American love affair with motorcycles, such as it is, has not extended to the naked bikes in recent years.  They sell like hotcakes to our cousins across the pond, but in the US…not so much.  We like our cruisers and repli-racers and sport-tourers.

For the 2010 and 2011 model years, that has changed drastically, with a whole slew of naked standards, big and small, coming back to the US in a big way, and from nearly every manufacturer. Kawi completely redesigned the big Z1000 for 2010, Triumph has been pushing the Street Triple, and now Yamaha weighs in with the new FZ8, while BMW is trying to recapture the magic of the F800ST with the new F800R.

Motorcycle USA has stacked up some of these bikes against each other in a new comparo. What makes this one interesting is that the three bikes chosen, other than being middleweight standards, are powered by completely different powerplants. The F800R is a twin, the Street Triple is–as the name implies–a triple, and the FZ8 is an I-4.

So who wins? Is it the thumpy Twin of the BMW, the silky smoothness of the Yamaha I-4, or does the Street Triple offer a sporty compromise between the two that makes is a superior bike to ride?

Apparently, there are a lot of things about the Street Triple that catches the testers’ hearts.

Quick Hits

Motorcycle Daily joins the list of motojournalists who’ve tested the BMW K1600GT/GTL. They like it.

The Icon waterproof Patrol jacket seems very nice, if a bit pricey.

The Hyosung GT650 seems like a decent naked standard, considering its price.

Another decent photoshop rendering of the upcoming MV Agusta Brutale B3 675 triple.

Talk about electric vehicles all you want, but they aren’t ready for prime time, if the sales figures are any clue.

Wes Siler thinks the 200-ish horsepower BMW S1000RR would be a great first bike.  For beginners. Who just started riding.

For 2011, Suzuki gave the Gixxer 600–one of the most popular sportbikes ever produced– a complete overhaul. How good an overhaul is it? Motorcycle.Com’s Pete Brissette took it out on the track to see.