BMW seemed to make a lot of little changes that, on the surface, don't seem too disruptive or significant, but sure adds up to one brand new machine. The service manager at our dealership said that it took him comparing my '11 with the '14 to really see all of the little changes that had been done. I, myself, didn't notice them either until the night before I picked up the bike. Honestly, we had been waiting so long for these, and I was on the fence about buying the new one anyways, and work has been so hectic, that I hadn't been giving it much thought. So it took me researching the crash bars until I realized how much I did not like the new design in some aspects.
The biggest problem with upgrades like this is that they never seem to let you use the accessories you spent gobs of money on for the last bike, because they absolutely will not fit on the new one. In this case, they swapped the swingarm and the exhaust can. That required the purchase of new panniers, yet again. ARGH! (Though they have been redesigned themselves in the interrim, and they are somewhat improved.) Yeah, I don't love the plastic panniers. There are some better adventure ones out there. But I really, really like that these ones expand when needed. A lever inside the case allows it to expand another 1.5 to 2 inches. I like that for traveling. I can keep them compact for regular riding, and expand for long distance trips. Also, my helmet will actually fit in one of them. Therefore around town rides let's me hide it there, not having to carry it around everywhere.
Like the RT, this one has only been ridden home. So I don't have a lengthy frame of reference on the handling differences. I am going to have to reserve my judgement until I can spend more time on the bike. (This weekend!!!! squeal!!)
The engine is smooth. So very smooth. Just like the RT. The clutch is superb. Even though the GS doesn't have the clutchless shifting, the smallest flick of the clutch lets me shift. This model hasn't lost any overall weight, but it does feel lighter and easier. The seat has been redesigned, that even though the seat height is the same, I can actually flat foot this beast. By comparison, I could get one foot flat on the '11, with the second being mostly flat with my heal less than an inch from pavement. I didn't love that I couldn't flat foot it. I feel that is major for control in parking lots and such. I had gotten accustomed to it, and just recognized the situations when I needed to park somewhere else, or man handle the bike from the side. (Or ask Oilburner to move it.)
So I am disappointed in myself that I didn't instantly love this bike. People believe that is because I had ridden Oilburners and already understood the difference with the new engine. That I need more time on my bike to get a feel for it.
I plan on spending lots of time on it this weekend, hitting the twisties to break that engine in. I will keep you posted on thoughts and feel.
BMW really reduced the amount of paint on these machines. The darker silver here was red on the '11 model. They also blacked out much more of the frame and supports in the cockpit area, darkening the overall looks. I like it as it will probably enhance visibility of the instrument cluster. They added a little sacrificial tank pad down towards the seat/crotch to prevent scratches. Good thinking.
Yes, they have added the "dial" on the left hand grip. On this machine it controls the GPS only. On Oilburners machine it controls EVERYTHING! Even the heated grips and seat. I was breathing a sigh of relief to learn that the heated grips is still a button the right grip. One huge disappointment is the single turn signal lever. BLECH!!! My tiny hands and short thumb make applying the turn signal something that I actually have to think about instead of just intuitive.
And don't ask me why the crash bars are different shapes between left and right. I only just noticed and will now have to go and look. Jeez I hope they can remove the valve covers without having to remove the bars.