Here’s a range of big beauties that eat miles for brekky. Snag looks hard at the bruising K 1200 and 1300 GT of 2003-2011.
When the K 1200 GT hit Australian shores in 2003, the mission statement from BMW was to blur the lines of sports touring to come up with a mount that offered all the trappings of a luxo-tourer, and one that also possessed a good degree of sporting agility as well.
A pretty tall order and whether that first offering exactly hit the mark is open to argument, with many suggesting the front-end was way too remote to be called sporting.
The bike certainly offered Grand Touring, and the moniker was pretty well on the mark on that front.
Using the K 1200 RS as a strong starting point, the bike was beautifully appointed, as it should have been at $26,750. You got adjustable heated grips and seat, higher bars than the RS, a luggage rack with hard panniers as standard and an electric screen.
The bike also came with integral “partly integrated” ABS which means that the brakes are activated on the front and rear wheel when the rider pulls the lever. The footbrake, in turn, acts only on the rear wheel. There was also cruise control from standard.
The drivetrain and chassis componentry was carried over in full from the RS, using BMW’s stock-in-trade telelever front and paralever rear-end.
There was a claimed 97kW at 8750rpm and 117Nm at 6750rpm on offer from the liquid-cooled, 1171cc, 16-valve ‘flat’ four-cylinder. While the engine looked on paper like it should make good power, it was a little lacklustre.
The bike weighed in at a massive 281kg dry, and sprinters aren’t built like hammer throwers, it’s as simple as that.
On the open road the bike’s size was a plus. In typical BMW fashion, the fairing had more wind co-efficient testing than the space shuttle, and the bells and whistles designed to enhance the experience did just that.
The engine built a decent, if unhurried, head of steam and there was time to look around and become immersed in the ride in total comfort. The 20.5-litre tank allowed for reasonable stints, and for those looking to ride long distances in Euro-style, this thing offered a lot of bike.
In town, things turned a little dark. The GT just needed an apple in its mouth and you’d swear it was a fatted pig, such was its bulk. Bung in the width of the lovely hard BMW luggage and lane-splitting very quickly became a four-wheel drive mirror collecting exercise. Big? Yes.
So, the first of the breed could best be described as a reasonable first-up effort. We reckon a fair marker would come up with a ‘B’. One thing is certain, the bike really offered little to the sports rider, but the comfort-seekers were pretty well catered for.
In 2006, the bike came in for significant revisions. Compared to the first version the 2006 K 1200 GT provided a higher level of touring comfort with a substantially lower weight of 249kg. In short, it handled far better thanks to a massively superior frame and suspension arrangement.
The big change was to be found in the suspension setup, with BMW’s Duolever at the front and EVO-Paralever at the rear. The front was a Hossack style set-up, while the rear offered a single-side, double-jointed swingarm.
The 2006-2009 K 1200 GT got the four-cylinder engine that made its debut in the 123kW K 1200 S. It developed 112kW in its GT specification, which made it the most powerful machine in its segment by some margin.
The bike came with an electrically adjustable windscreen, adjustable rider’s seat and handlebars, as well as panniers included as standard.
Apart from a fully controlled three-way catalytic converter, the high performance EVO brake system with semi-integral ABS brakes and an electronic immobiliser were among the features offered.
The standard seat could be set to a height of either 820 or 840 millimetres and a lower seat was available with minimum seat height of 800 mm.
As usual, BMW offered a wide range of optional extras and special equipment, including Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA). ESA allows the rider, apart from the damping on the two spring struts, to also adjust the spring base (spring pre-tension) on the rear spring strut as well as its spring rate and spring hardness, conveniently at the touch of a button.
Also optional was an on-board computer, Xenon headlight, cruise control, and the new Motorrad Navigator III.
In 2009, the K 1300 GT replaced the 1200 which upped power to an impressive 118kW at 9000rpm. Interestingly, fuel economy was far better on the 1300, although the bike demanded 98 octane unleaded. Tank capacity was now 24 litres, offering a good touring range.
Standard equipment included ABS, heated grips, cruise control and on-board computer. SE options included ESA, traction control, tyre pressure monitor, heated seats and a xenon headlight. Redesigned switchgear included a combined starter/kill switch (clever) and an all-in-one indicator switch rather than the triple-switch setup that no one liked.
The GT has undergone steady improvement, and the smart buyer will take that into account. It’s fair to say that the 1300 is a substantially better animal, but prices clearly reflect this. Of course, that’s influenced by the relative ages of the bikes, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
Those on a budget will get a lot of bike with the earlier incarnations, but used prices have held up well, which is the story with most BMW models. Put that down to the quality of build for which BMW is famous, coupled with the badge prestige factor.
The K 1200 GT was recalled due to a small number of units which experienced leaky front fuel lines, while some 1300 GT units were recalled because the directional indicator and/or the emergency engine-off/start functions could be rendered inoperative, which could result in the engine stalling, and increase the risk of a crash.
The GT range offers stable, comfortable and beautifully finished motorcycles. Cutting-edge technology (for the time) abounded and reliable, there is a lot to like about the GT.
Fact is, if you like your bikes big, refined and classy, then the GT range is worth a look.
Snag’s career in motoring journalism spans 29 years with stints at major bike mags Australian Road Rider, Motorcycle Trader and AMCN along with contributions to just about every other outlet worth a hill of beans. He was editor of Unique Cars magazine and hosts his legendary podcast ‘Snag Says’ when he gets off his date.