Review: BMW R 1200 RT

Of all current BMW motorcycles, the R 1200 RT probably has the most “midlife crisis” reputation. When I see it in the showroom, I soon imagine a settled fifty-year-old in the saddle, ready for a tour with the missus on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

But despite that reputation, the 1200 RT does extremely well in sales charts, and if you’re looking for a touring bike, this boxer so often seems the logical go-to answer. Is its stuffy image only a first impression? Could it change my mind in a week?

A trip to Austria, together with colleague Luc on his Triumph Tiger Sport, would be the ideal opportunity for an extensive RT test. 2200 km should be enough to form an opinion.

Personally I find the BMW R 1200 RT’s look quite a turn off. With its gigantic front you’d almost offer it a gym membership. The 17” front wheel even seems disproportionate. Fortunately the two round LED daytime running lights are pretty. A nice (but optional) wink to its four-wheeled family.

The finishing is also excellent. Meticulously and with an eye for detail. The dashboard is clear and informative. Two round analog meters (speed and rpm) with in between a beautiful TFT color display that informs you about autonomy, mileage, temperature and so on. Above the display there’s a bar with warning lights, and above that a mount for an (optional) GPS. Which is not very readable in direct sunlight. Some additional shielding from the sun wouldn’t be a bad idea for the next RT. Also: too bad the GPS can’t be locked so you have to take it with you every time you have to make a sanitary stop or enter a gas station shop.

You can easily control many settings from the handlebar. Most of them with your left thumb: scrolling through the extensive menu is peanuts with the multi-controller ring. Also handy: you can assign menu items as favorites. After selecting these you can go directly to, for example, the settings of heated grips or the GPS, instead of having to dive into the menu.

Broad beaked Beemer

I’ll admit it: I didn’t want to return the BMW R 1200 RT after my week’s test. What a splendid bike for endless days in the saddle. The windshield is Continue reading

Review: Suzuki GSX1250FA Touring

Suzuki’s GSX models all have four-cylinder engines, with the GSX1250FA having the largest lung capacity: 1255 cc. On some markets (Australia and Belgium for example), it’s available in a tourer trim, challenging other big tour bikes like the Triumph Trophy, BMW R 1200 RT and Yamaha FJR1300.

The Touring suffix doesn’t mean the GSX1250FA obtained lots of extra equipment: a vario windshield, a topcase and side panniers, that’s it. Fortunately, the model already had a nicely streamlined fairing so that suffix is justified.

Tough competition

The first question that raises is whether this Suzuki is up to the rather tough competition. If you compare the price tags, the GSX stands out: it’s a lot cheaper than its three competing colleagues. But while these offer technology like cruise control, heated grips, an electrically adjustable windshield, traction control and different riding modes, the Suz does without. Back to basics. And if you think the option list might have something to offer, well, you’ll only find a tank pad or wheel striping.

Still, the GSX1250FA Touring has ABS, a height-adjustable seat and a centerstand. The latter comes in handy because the GSX uses a chain to transfer the engine power to the rear wheel. You might expect a shaft drive on a touring oriented bike, but a chain of course lowers the price.

Some mistakes

The competitive price of the Suzuki GSX1250FA Touring doesn’t only imply a pretty basic standard equipment, the bike also makes some mistakes. For example, it has three keys. One to start the bike, one for the topcase, one for the panniers. Continue reading