Monday, November 1, 2010

BMW 12R vs 12RT: The Same, Yet Vastly Different

I've been avoiding riding Mr. Oilburner's RT for a year.  I do not want to be the one responsible for dropping it for the first time.  And drop it I will since I am so obsessively thinking about it.  Kinda like object fixation; if you continue to stare at something because you really want to avoid it, you will more then likely hit it dead on.

I've sat on the RT and tried it on for size.  And it has always felt a little tall.  I've tried maneuvering it in the garage and just found that I couldn't really flat foot it.  And I really like having that full contact with the ground.  Especially for something that feels so top heavy.

So I have been avoiding riding that thing.  Until...

The weather was great and we needed to clear our heads, so we hopped on the bikes and headed SW for a late lunch/early dinner.  And, of course, I played it into my head that the friction point didn't feel right on my baby.  It felt like it was at the very end of my fingertips and that I only had about a quarter of an inch to let it slip.  I needed that slip for all of the slow dimwits in front of me that accelerated from 0 to 35 in 3.2 miles.  So I was doing some jerky around, not really having the room to slip the clutch.

Mr. Oilburner thinks this is all in my head.  He just can't reconcile that anything can go wrong with a hydraulics clutch.  My adjustment knob is nowhere it can be accidentally adjusted.  And if something were to go wrong with the clucth and hydraulics it would cause the friction point to move closer to the grip, not farther away.

We reach an area that I know is basically a straight shot forward with no real turns and no hills.  So I pull over and tell him to see what it feels like to him.  I traded bikes.  Wow.  I mean these bikes are "supposed" to be the same.  But they aren't.

First, the seating position is just taller, not to mention that cushiony padded bum rest that feels like an air cushion seat in a truck with air suspension.  Just kind of float along.  Back to the is conducive to sitting up straighter than the R.  And it seems the seat to foot peg distance might be a little longer on the RT than the R.  I've noticed quite a few people in the R boards complain about leg issues and eventually install a peg lower kit on the R's.  So I might not be crazy.

Second, the cockpit on that thing!?!  Of course, I pull out of the parking lot and someone just so happens to be passing in the opposite lane.  I really don't want to run into them, but the bike just doesn't seem to be turning.  Now, I don't look at the windshield on my R when turning, but it is in my periphery and I am aware of it and the angle to horizon when turning.  That damn windshield wasn't turning!!  I manage to turn that behemoth into my lane (don't worry, there wasn't any near miss, just in my head) and point her straight down the road.  This gives me the chance to take in windshield, mirrors and instrument panel.  Nothing moves on that thing!!  I just don't get any feedback of turning.

Third, the mirrors suck.  They are placed in front of, and lower, than the grips.  They are convex, giving a little more view of things behind.  But the top half is taken up with my knuckles on those grips.  You could have seen the death grip, slowing turning my skin white, if I didn't have gloves on.

Fourth, the gearing is completely different.  I can't seem to find a spec sheet for the gear ratio, but Mr. Oilburner and I have had lengthy discussions during our rides comparing gear to tach information.  We know they have different gearing.  I found the gears quite acceptable.  It promoted regular shifiting and nice speeds.  Of course, I wasn't prepared to go over 50, but I am sure that would have come along in time.  I also found downshifting extremely smooth.

Why wouldn't I go over 50?  Fifth...without that feedback of turning the handlebars the thing just seemed to respond so quickly to the mere hint of pressure on the grips.  I could flick that thing around easily, at speed.  I didn't want to press my luck of something darting in front of me going faster than I was comfortable.

Sixth, connection to the bike.  My little R, with the lower seat, allows me to tuck my pelvis into that tank and grip it with my knees in the provided contours.  On the RT, I just felt like I was sitting on top of the bike.  I didn't feel a real connection to it, to be able to snuggle into it and purr along together.

Seventh, those windsails they call fairings.  OK.  I may be exagerating a little.  Nah!  There wasn't much of a wind to speak of, but gusts would come through now and again.  I could definitely feel it on the RT.  Not anything that worried me.  But then again, they weren't coming across a 1000 acre plain at 60 mph. And all those fairings masked the engine noise...what little there is.

In all, I probably ventured 10 miles on it.  At most.  It was a very interesting experiecing and I am glad that I finally did it.  I will not be hopping on it first the next time we go out.  I'm still in love with my baby.  But there are definitely differences between two bikes that are supposed to be closer than kissing cousins.


  1. Lori/BeemerGirl:

    Photos, where are the photos of the cockpit ? I think what you are saying is that on the RT, the faring is fixed, sort of like on my V-strom, whereas on your R it turns with the handlebars. a photo would have been nice for us non beemer people.

    on my previous SV everything turned, even the headlight. On a fixed headlight I found it was a problem on country roads where there were NO lights as the light follows on curves and you are blind unless you are following other tailights.

    Wet Coast Scootin

  2. And, what about the clutch? Did he feel it, or does he still think it is all in your head?

  3. Lori

    What's the surprise? the R12R is a real ladies bike and the R12RT is for gentlemen whereas the K series is for Jack Riepe.


  4. Hi Bob! You caught me. No pictures. I wasn't taking my hands off that thing long enough to get any. I tried going through the myriad of pictures we have and discovered that I don't have any pictures of the cockpit on his bike. And that he hasn' bothered to take any for himself. :) I will remedy that when it is not sitting in the garage and let you see the size of that thing.

    You are correct in the assessment of the fixed headlight issues. He mentioned that on the Blue Ridge Parkway. But I must say that I feel the light is lacking enough on mine, that even though it does turn I still wish the candlepower was better as I still don't feel like I can see enough.

    Thanks for your insights. Will get that picture soon.


  5. Hi Keith! Wellll...can it be attributed to women's megrims? I might hit you if you say yes. He says it felt like it was in the same position as his. After he said that I paid attention to his and can see how he felt that. But I could still swear that it was in a different loction. The reason: I have small-ish hands. Current friction point was at the absolute end of my reach and I didn't have the control at the tips of my fingers to finesse. If it had been this way all along I would have complained long ago. Soo....he did "adjust" it before the return journey home. Whether he actually changed anything or just held the pliers next to the screw and made some adjusting motions...he won't tell me. :) But it did seem marginally better. Women's vapors...don't know... :)


  6. Hi Nikos!

    I would personally have to agree with you on the R12R being a ladies bike, for obvious reason that I ride one. But I know quite a few gentlemen that might boisterously disagree with you on that one. :)

    But is the K series only for Jack?? I seem to remember someone recently adding it to his fleet?? Any potatoes in your future or is that covered? ;)


  7. Lori, I realise that whenever I drive the K I am doing it on licence from Jack (BUT DON'T TELL HIM - WE WOULD DEMAND A FEE).

    Confession time - I owned a R11R and spent a considerable effort and expense lowering footpegs and raising seats to get comfortable (I bought it from a lovely lady natural healer who said that it would be to small for me!). In the end I sold it to my brother in law in Germany and he put a noisy exhaust on it!

  8. Lori:

    Now you know how how we "Males" keep the opposite species OFF our our bikes, even though Mr Oilburner will not admit it. Just make the bike appear too TALL, or clutch lever too far forward to reach and that is designed to keep others away from using it.

    The V-strom has one of the best lighting systems but the fault is that they don't turn and light up the curves. I was thinking of more lights mounted above the front forks to "light the way" Jack "r" style.

    Wet Coast Scootin

  9. I dig the R but the RT? Not so much. I'm sure the RT is a great bike (and your report makes it sound pretty good) but it's not my cup of tea. If it's not naked, I don't want it! :)

    I agree that handlebars that move freely from the rest of the cockpit are disconcerting. As Bob mentioned, the SV has a speedo and headlight that turns with the bars.

    (The other) Stacey has the opposite opinion. To her, the SV is disconcerting. She's owned an F650GS and a Street Triple, two bikes with fixed cockpits.

    It's all about what you're used to, I guess!

  10. Ni Nikos,

    Sorry for internet access. Haven't taken the time to upgrade to an expense iPhone... :)

    I can just imagine Jack making you paint a picture of his face on your fairings.

    After all the upgrading to the R11R, did you ever get it to a comfortable level? Or is that why you sold it? Oh well. I think you have a great bike now (or two).

  11. Hi Bob!

    Is that what you do to Mrs. Skoot to discourage riding? Cat is out of the bag!

    Yes, put the lights on the front forks. I have seen others and they work well. Nice tree shaped pattern of lights down the front of the V.

  12. Hi Stacy!

    A woman after my own heart, love the naked bikes too. That actually was one of my requirements before purchasing the R. So few bikes are nekked! :)

    It is all definitely in the eye of the rider for cockpits, turning or stationary. I'm sure we can get used to them...but for first time out? Wow...what a difference.


  13. Lori

    Unfortunately with the pegs lowered I was scraping my boots on corners...the next owner, my brother in law loves it but I returned the pegs to normal.

    With the GS the only time I scrape the pegs is when I drop it!

  14. Hi Nikos,

    Scraping boots? Not the pegs? That can get rather expensive if you are to good coverage boots.

    And stop dropping that GS on hard-pack. Only allowed in sand and soft stuff. :)


  15. Dear Beemer Girl (Lori);

    Look over the windshield and forget about what appears to be turning. You'll learn to love it. There is also much less buffeting getting around trucks.

    The gearing is sonething else. Going from a 1986 K75 to a 2005 Honda Aero Shadow revealed the short-comings of the low reving,low horsepower Honda engine to me in a flash. There is no substitute for a broad first and second gear, and a high top end.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  16. Hi Jack!

    You are correct, look over the windshield. That was how I noticed it in my periphery. A fractional second of "vertigo" that it wasn't turning. :)

    The fairings may help in some situations. But I have heard of others with side winds that will knock you across the lanes when they catch on them. Mr. Oilburner was fairly spooked by the catch when he first got the bike. But has since become accustomed to it. Might be a different story in high winds, tho.

    Sports and cruisers are completely different beasts, aren't they? I will take the sporty any second of the day. :)