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Old 12-07-2012, 11:10 PM   #1
sarhog OP
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Joined: Nov 2012
Location: Florida Panhandle
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Question K1600GTL or GS/GSA?

Hello inmates, first post here.
I've been out of motorcycling for about 2 years now, but while surfing the net a couple months ago, I ran across the BMW K1600GTL and I was amazed at the engine and the technology on it.
My bike background was a couple of choppers and a couple ElectraGlides over the last 17 years, and an FZR 23 years ago.
I'm about ready to buy a K1600, but the R1200GS/GSA looks intriguing.
Anyone have both and care to compare and contrast these bikes?
I'm planning a 3 corners ride (minus Maine) this summer (2 up with my 14 year old son), and possibly an Alaska trip next summer.
I'm interested in hearing rear seat passenger observations...I think I'll be comfortable with either one.
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Old 12-07-2012, 11:36 PM   #2
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Go ride both... take home the one you like better.
I ride a GSA but have put time on the K1600 GT and it is an amazing machine. The GSA is more versitile and unless you do a seat upgrade i doubt your passenger would enjoy the GS as much as the k bike. Do you want a luxury cruiser or a off road / on road machine.
Good luck!

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Beads in the headlight a Flying Aga Tale by Isabel Dyson I met these two travelers on their Journey from the UK to Alaska and through South America on a 1979 BMW R100RS. Their book is now on Amazon for Kindle.
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Old 12-08-2012, 01:31 AM   #3
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You've been out of the saddle for two years, and the two bikes you are considering are pretty different than what you've been riding for over a decade.

Yeah, as has been said, you really need to ride both. I thought I would like the big GS until I rode one. I though the same about an R1200RT. I've come to realize that I simply like bikes that are little smaller. YMMV.

Perception and emotion doesn't always match up with the reality once your ass is stuck on the thing and you have a payment due next month.

Ride them both, pick the one you find yourself thinking about more when you're falling asleep at the end of the day and still excited about in the morning. I take the same approach with women.
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Old 12-08-2012, 04:14 AM   #4
Robert OK
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I own both. The GSA is more versatile and has earned my loyalty. If I had to give up one it would probably be the K, but it would be a rough decision.

Regarding passengers, for the driver they are less noticeable on the K, but both bikes can get a little top heavy when stopped. If your son weighs over 140 (a guesstimated threshold) the rear will sink and you may be more prone to wheelies. The K feels more like a Harley with a passenger, no sag, but the passenger seat is high up so it gets annoying when they move around a lot at stops.

My wife prefers the GSA for passenger comfort. She actually finds the seat (stock) therapeutic for her back. The K has a gap between the seat and backrest that is uncomfortable for her. Others complain that the top back shakes. The 2012 GTL models have a very tight space for the hand grip. Supposed to be fixed in the later 2013s.

My son (who is 5'9") didn't like the GSA, because he felt the space was too small and made us too "intimate". He wasn't that wild about the K either, but mainly because of the grip rails.

A stock GSA will haul more stuff than the K. On a recent trip I had a fully loaded K ready to go, but had to switch bikes because the windshield on the K was acting flakey. Took everything out of the K and put into the GSA with room to spare.
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Old 12-08-2012, 05:31 AM   #5
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Location: Long Island
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I was also interested in the GTL as a 2up bike and rented one when we went to Vegas this past Sept. We had the bike for a day, picked it up at Las Vegas BMW. and rode out to the Hoover Dam, then we rode out to the Ring of Fire by way of shore rd then the interstate back to Vegas to our hotel. We did just over 200 miles and this is what our impressions are based on.
From my perspective the motor is fantastic,the transmission shifted nice, the low speed handling was vague,
that is 15mph or lower, after that it was fine,suspensions was good, the wind protection was good. The radio was good around town, on the highway not so much. Storage was good. Overall I enjoyed the bike.
My wife's point of view, she experienced terrible buffeting at speeds over 50mph. She did not feel secure on the bike. The seating position was to high and she was unable to use the grab rails because the trunk interfered with her arms. She felt that if I had to make an evasive maneuver she would get launched. Deal breaker . We would have put more miles on the bike but she was not enjoying it at all. She wouldn't even ride back to the dealer the next day to drop it off, all of 5 miles.
So you know were I am coming from I ride about 15k a year, I would say half of that with my wife. The bikes we use are a 2004 R1150RA and a 2010 Victory Cross Roads.
My suggestion would be to rent the bike for the day, your opinion might be completely different than ours.
This is also my first post. Good Luck
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Old 12-08-2012, 11:08 AM   #6
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Sorry for th quick hijack.

Lug Nut,

I'd be interested on your take on the comparison of the GTL to your Victory. Both the GTL and the Cross Roads Tour are on my short list for potential next bikes, primarily because of more 2 up riding. Wife thinks my RT is a bit cramped. However, I have never owned a cruiser.

To the OP, have you considered waiting a bit for the new water cooled GS and then building it up with GSA type farkles.
"Not all who wander are lost"

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Old 12-08-2012, 04:55 PM   #7
Lug Nut
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Location: Long Island
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OK, I'll give it a shot. The Cross Roads feels lighter and comes off it's side stand easier. Since the bike sits lower it's easier for you and your passenger to mount. Once on board the CR the seating position for you and your passenger is leaned back. There are large floor boards for you to move around on and smaller ones for you passenger. The GTL seating position is upright for you and your passenger. You're locked in. My wife found the seating positions on both comfortable. When riding with my wife on the CR I don't even know she's there. There is plenty of space between us
and she is seated low. On the GTL there was plenty of space but she sits higher and I could feel it. I knew she was back there when we were riding. Storage on both bikes is good. I think the fit and finish was better on the CR.
On the road the bikes are very different. The CR is a relaxed ride while the GTL is like a sport bike. I know, no surprise there. What did surprise me was that two up I preferred the handling of the CR. You will need the air pump to set preload Victory should include this but they don't..The motor on the CR is smooth, powerful and relaxing. On hot days you will notice some heat, not uncomfortable but it's there.
The GTL motor is incredible,feels like it's for a sport bike. Didn't feel much heat from the motor,the suspension is more refined,better brakes and it has more gizmos.A good choice for a solo sport touring bike,just didn't work for us two up. If you could rent each one for a day that would be best. That's how I looked at the rental. One long test ride.
Hope this helps
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Old 12-10-2012, 05:24 AM   #8
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Test ride by yourself and two up. Another tidbit to reinforce test riding, I have a friend at one of our area BMW shops and he mentioned a couple weeks ago that he was surprised at the high % of 1600s purchased by HD, etc., riders after riding both the r and k bikes. No common denominator to share, but as much as I love twins ( be they BM, Guzzi, Triumph, etc,) the amazing torque and power from just off idle to red line on the 6 is incredible.

My last $.02 , I recently rented a HD touring bike for a few days of camping and mountain riding and if I had only ridden it on a 20-30 mile test ride I would have said thanks, but no thanks. After several days and enjoying blue skies, heavy rains and getting to know and trust the handling, I was very impressed and would def consider one for our two up travels, it has it's design limitations like they all do, but a very good motorcycle in all aspects (I do 20 +/- Ks a year for ref.).

Good luck, very cool to share the ride with your son and how great that some father/son test rides could add to the fun.
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Old 12-10-2012, 05:49 PM   #9
sarhog OP
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Thanks for all the replies. I'm still undecided, but my wife said she refuses to even sit on a GS. I might try and take one out on a test ride this week though.
To be honest, I think the K1600 is better suited for what I plan to use it for, but the GS justs looks more fun.
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Old 12-10-2012, 06:01 PM   #10
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It is!
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Old 12-10-2012, 06:14 PM   #11
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when you are talking 20K + bikes. I think a few bucks spent on rentals is well worth it. Many Harley dealers will give you some store credit for rental fee. BMW stores are usually generous with test rides too. Victory makes a wonderful motor, and for 2 up you really need to ride a Vision, more power and better ground clearance. I know it is unconventional, or as my friend calls it Gay. But damn, riding and not looking at it this is one fine motorcycle.

To go to Alaska, on the 1600 you will encounter road construction and gravel somewhere. It will do it but a GS or a RT will be lighter. Yes, I said RT. No matter what you ride, you need to find some gravel roads and get the feel of it. If I had the money and time 2 up I would pick the RT ,GS or GSA with custom seats. If I was solo and had good lawyers, then I would get the 1600 it is a rocket ship.

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Old 12-10-2012, 07:18 PM   #12
Joined: Nov 2009
Location: Norfolk
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I've had the pleasure of owning an 09 GSA and I loved that bike- it was my go anywhere / ride everyday bike (full time commuter). It was good 2-up but not great- I traded it in on 12 16GT and couldn't be happier (ill admit still in new bike lust) but it is a very comfy and smooth running machine. My wife and I toured on the GSA - it has plenty of room and storage- but at highway speeds it just felt a little did the high speed slab runs no problem but I could've used more on tap power. I had RDL seats and it was comfy and had decent weather protection - good in the twisty bits but heavy with a passenger. The 16GT is heavy too but lower so it feels easier to me- you do lose some storage space from the GSA but the GT seems much more set up for two up touring (bc it is...). I like it because out of the box it is ready to go with the add ons that make mc touring two up easier (heated seats, radio, everything is adjustable- good amount of room). I like the programmable drive modes, the well sorted safety features, push of a button and all of your entertainment options from iPod to xm to radio to weather is right there without having to bolt on a bunch of other stuff (i added a CI radar detector bc ahem, the power is addictive). About the gravel sections - the GSA may be better suited but good riding skills go a long way too. The good news is there are so many strong bike options out there the bad news is you have to choose one or at least I did (I was able to shield my Ducati during the bike sell off discussions).

For me on my commute and with the wifey- ill take a 16GT and an autocom (with part2275) and point that bike in any direction and enjoy.

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79 KZ 750 LTD G (98/99)
93 FZR 600 (98/99)
03 ZRX1200R (02-04)
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05 HD Hardtail Special Construction (05-05-stolen)
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Old 12-12-2012, 01:28 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by sarhog View Post
Thanks for all the replies. I'm still undecided, but my wife said she refuses to even sit on a GS. I might try and take one out on a test ride this week though.
To be honest, I think the K1600 is better suited for what I plan to use it for, but the GS justs looks more fun.

Wow, seriously?!?! Her loss!!! My wife was a tad bit skeptical, but after one day on it, she is in love. For reference, we spend a decent amount of time together on a Harley Street Glide and she also spent quite a bit of time on the back of my sport bikes over the years. She loves the GSA. Comfort, security, incredibly smooth and comfortable ride for her on the back.

It's a worthy consideration for touring...even if you're not on the dirt.
'12 R1200GS Adventure
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'11 Harley Street Glide - gone and mostly forgotten
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Old 12-12-2012, 01:46 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by sarhog View Post
Thanks for all the replies. I'm still undecided, but my wife said she refuses to even sit on a GS. I might try and take one out on a test ride this week though.
To be honest, I think the K1600 is better suited for what I plan to use it for, but the GS justs looks more fun.
They are fun in different ways. You need to figure out what kind of riding you want to do the most. I have just the same amount of fun on my GTL as the GS on regular roads. The GTL engine is magic and addictive. Anyway, I am trading my GS to get the new KTM 1190 adventure R - that will be more fun for sure on gravel roads than the GS. As everyone said, test ride test ride test ride... and trust your instincts. If not, look at yourself in the mirror just after riding, checking how much you smiled --- that should settle it.
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Old 12-12-2012, 02:21 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by TUCKNKITTY View Post
About the gravel sections - the GSA may be better suited but good riding skills go a long way too.
Another thing to remember. Skills are fine for handling a bike in gravel, but no amount of skill can prevent all those rocks from damaging the plastic. I had a Wing which I loved and put many, many miles on solo. I hit lots of construction zones during the summer in Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. The thing that was always on my mind was the damage that was possible with all that plastic. I've got a GSA now and love it because I don't have to worry about going through gravel with nagging thoughts going through my mind.

So, I wouldn't worry about the ability of a K1600 getting through gravel sections or even true dirt roads. It might get expensive, but the bike will make it. Heck, if I could get a Wing through some of the gravel sections where the road crew removed the road to its base anyone could ride a K1600 through the same sections.
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