Originally Posted by BBeck
For me it isn't about the speed, but about being able to get out of situations on the road on the way to the places you mention. I also live in the foothills of the Cascade mountain range, which means going up and over a mountain pass.
BBeck, you live in my neck of the woods (I live in Bellevue just north of 520). My 230L is great for riding over to I-90 and heading east to the forest roads east of Issaquah, and it's great for riding on those forest roads and exploring. I also plan to head over to eastern Washington this summer; I'll make a long weekend out of it, and load up the 230L in the back of my Dodge Dakota quad-cab and throw my son's XR70 in next to it so we can go riding together. The advantage of the lighter bike is that I can single-handedly load and unload it. (I have two ramps... a regular ramp and a step-ramp, and I walk up one while I push the bike up the other.) Not that the 230L couldn't make it over a Cascade pass, but if I wanted to go riding for several days I'd take a two-lane and know that I could easily do at least 50 mph at the top... and that's fast enough. On most of those roads the RVs limit the speed anyway.
I've also lusted after the BMWs, but they really are a pavement and dirt road bike, and not as well-suited for difficult terrain... not that you can't do that (see 'Long Way Round') but I don't have the luxury of a 3rd hand who can help me push the bike out of mud or over obstacles, or a support crew in multiple vehicles.
As an aside, I'd like to see a pair of riders take 250cc or under dual sports and duplicate the LWR ride. I think it'd be a much easier ride... and they could leave all of the extra junk home, the stuff that Ewan and Charley abandoned in the Far East. A tent, sleeping bag, stove, minimal tools and spares (shared between the bikes), a couple pairs of camping trousers and t-shirts, underwear, and socks... maybe a netbook, small digicam, SPOT or APRS/ham HT, and a GPS. 25 lbs worth of gear, inside plastic bags in soft luggage. When you have a bigger bike with all of the hard cases, you'll load it up... nature abhors a vacuum.