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The Mother of all BMW RT and Honda ST comparisons


BendBill

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When two afternoons of unscheduled free time dropped in my lap, I had the choice of cleaning the garage or writing up my notes from comparing my old BMW RT 1150 and my Honda ST1300. The garage can wait.

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Since moving from an 03 BMW RT1150A to the Honda ST1300ABS, I’ve noted the large number of new ST-owner.com members coming from BMW. In November, 2008, for instance, the ST-owners.com Introductions folder showed that 19 former or current beemer owners joined the ST ranks. That was more than any other identified brand, including Honda.

 

If you’re considering a switch either way, I’d first look up Bamarider’s comparison on this link: http://bamarider.com/The%20Motorcycle/the_motorcycles. He owns the ST1300 and the RT 1200 and likes both.

 

You might also check http://bmwsporttouring.com/ubbthreads/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=275393&page=1thread from the BMWSportTouring forum last December, where posters offered some contrasts between the two. The following posters on that thread were especially good at nailing some of the ST and RT characteristics: Rocket Cowboy, who strongly preferred the RT, pjripple and Michigan Bob and Tim Yip [especially] arguing both sides while opting for the RT, and dduelin, Steve_Reinig, and Spike the Administrator, who preferred the Honda. As for jeddy, he liked both and then went for the 2007 BMW 1200KGT

 

There is balance in our cosmos. ST-owners.com has posters who have moved from the ST to the RT and articulate their preference for the RT. In short, there’s movement between the brands. One of the best things about BMWSportTouring.com is that they ride all kinds of machines. At any one time a number of them, including administrators, move from BMW to other rides: FJRs, Aprilias, Hondas, etc. Turns out that Kool Aid is not addictive for some people. I have found that same open-mindedness on ST-owners.com.

 

My audience is several-fold:

 

1) current or former BMW riders considering the ST for a variety of reasons, but who cannot get a test ride [ stupid Honda ];

 

2) ST riders who have not ridden the BMW RT series for any length of time [ test rides will send some riders packing if they’re unfamiliar with BMW handling and “character.”]

 

3) riders coming back to motorcycling after xx years, or those who are moving from cruisers, sport bikes, or other brands.

 

I waited until the new-bike honeymoon phase for my Honda ST has passed--9 months, 13K. If you want a comparo with pom-pom boys cheering THE one-and-only brand, such cultists can be found elsewhere. So if I sound like a shill for either brand, you have my permission to set me on a straight-pipe cruiser and dress me up with a ZZ Top beard, a Jerry Garcia belly, and Village People assless chaps. ;) That vision outta put it in perspective. Sport Touring riders are a fraction of the market, outgunned probably 20-1. If we have any ardent differences, it’s probably more of a family spat. Besides, whenever I’m tempted to overstate a difference, I remember G.B. Shaw’s great character Undershaft, who admonishes an idiot in puppy love: “Like all young men, you greatly exaggerate the difference between one young woman and another.“

 

Most of all, I will try for some kind of objectivity because I want to keep going to BMW gatherings such as Chief Joseph Days in Oregon and the Torrey, UT, ride-fests in spring and fall. Many great people congregate there, as well as some borderline characters in scotch and cigar groups, you know--the kind that might beat me up, or blow cigar smoke in my face, or not share the scotch.

 

I include quotes or summaries from road tests in moto-mags, although their biases can be as pronounced as individuals. My favorite source of info is the incredibly detailed LASD/LAPD evaluation by 4 Los Angeles area motor officers from a 2006 track test of 4 bikes: 2 Harley models, the 1200 RT, and the ST. Frankly, it is the most data-rich evaluation I have ever read, and it’s augmented with officers’ written comments. Lots of material in that 86 pages. For the complete public report, see http://www.lasd.org/sites/motorcycle-test/2006.pdf

 

Comparisons:

 

I must start with a conclusion. I am keeping my Honda ST 1300 because I really like most of the things it does for my style of riding. That said, I probably would have kept my former 1150RT for a long time except I got one of the bad ones. Most RTs, of course, have no major breakdowns. Mine had two: No warnings. Dealer never knew the cause. Both times I was bikeless for a month. After that lost time and $1.5 K extra, it was time to part company.

 

Since over half of my riding is way out in the back of beyond, usually with no cell service, I needed something reliable, hence the move to the Honda ST. From what I have seen of other current ST owners who came from BMW, they had experienced similar major breakdowns. A beemerphile may argue whether the BMW problem bikes are 3%, 5%, or 7%. When it happens to you, it’s 100%. I was a 200 percenter. I’ve met others.

 

Nevertheless, I really still miss many things about the RT. When it’s good, it is very very good. And while I plan to keep the ST now that I love it, it has some significant shortcomings compared to the beemer, which will affect different riders in varying degrees.

 

Enough of wishy-washy: time to make evaluations. I hope others with experience with both motorcycles will chime in with comments or differing views. * note: I came from an 1150; the 1200 RT has significant upgrades in engine performance and in weight reduction, though it still shares other characteristics in common with its predecessor.

 

1--Engine performance:

 

The ST is faster, significantly more so than the 1150. The ST’s smoothness and that wonderful V4 torque, however, can mask the speed. Frankly, if anyone says that the new 1200 RT feels faster, I can see why—the opposed twin’s vibey rumble, coupled with a needed shift or 2 to stay in the power band, as well as more sound, makes things feel faster. The Honda, by contrast, is almost eerie [in a good way to me] in how it jets into warp speed. For example, in 3rd gear at around 35 it’s revving just below 3K. If you want to go, forget everything about opposed twin or inline-4 power bands. Just snap the ST throttle open [don’t worry, it won’t wheelie in 3rd ]. A muted rumble, but mostly whisper-whoosh, and in an instant it’s redlining at 107. It is an incredibly linear power band. Quiet, smooth, precise: the 3rd-gear warp glide is really smooth. It’s fun. I do it a lot. [ note to LEOs—road tests conducted in So Cal ]

 

The faster BMW 1200 RT model, however, has really closed the gap. In fact, one moto-mag comparo noted that the 1200 RT was slightly quicker at 60-80, a common passing speed. Most ¼ mile tests I’ve read put the ST around low-mid 11 seconds and about 115-118 mph. Most other tests show the Honda faster than the 1200 RT by about 1/3-1/2 second. However, note the below table from the LASD test , p. 74, which shows times much closer in most areas and is more reflective of actual riding:

 

BMW RT 1200A

0-30--2.64

0-60--5.47

0-100--10.59

30-60--2.52

60-100--5.69

1/4 mile--13.22 @ 110.7

 

Honda ST1300ABS

0-30--2.69

0-60--4.85

0-100--10.49

30-60--2.56

60-100--5.82

1/4 mile--12.95 @ 107.6

 

Conclusion—really close between the 1200RT and Honda ST1300. ST slightly quicker.

 

Engine performance and high-speed track runs:

 

To the possible surprise of some BMW riders, the ST clearly beats the RT 1200 on the Pomona Fairplex high speed track. This matches my experience that the ST is considerably faster in sweepers than my 1150RT, and as long as no repeated peg scraping is involved, the ST just pulls away. As you can see from the extensive LASD/LAPD track test, all 4 riders had consistently better track times and higher speeds on the Honda ST than the BMW 1200 RT. [Four officers rode eight 1.5 mi laps each for a total of 32 laps on the course. Highest and lowest lap time of each rider is excluded before computing average for 6 laps].

 

BMW 1200A

RIDER--------TIME------SPEED

DEPUTY 1---1.23.59---67.6 mph

OFFICER 2 ---1.23.75---67.5 mph

DEPUTY 3 ---1.24.86---66.0 mph

OFFICER 4 ---1.29.05---63.5 mph

 

 

 

HONDA ST 1300A

RIDER--------TIME------SPEED

DEPUTY 1 ---1.22.66---68.4 mph

OFFICER 2 ---1.22.45---68.5 mph

DEPUTY 3 ---1.23.68---67.5 mph

OFFICER 4---1.28.02---64.2 mph

 

 

Conclusion: the ST was uniformly faster for all 4 riders, so the advantage should fall to nearly every street rider. The difference is not large for sport-tourer riders: only about one second per lap or 1 mph overall per lap. Three interesting complaints also occur in the officers’ comments: 1) all 4 remarked that the Honda can break rear tire traction accelerating out of turns, which means snapping open the ST throttle can be dicey; 2) several riders noted that the Honda scraped the pegs on tighter turns. 3) 3 of the 4 officers cited BMW’s problem with weight transfer under hard braking, with 2 complaining of “fish tailing.”

 

In fact, this focus on track handling is a convenient segue to the next category . . .

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2--Handling and Suspension:

 

This category should be broken down into several elements. Other riders might think up better classifications.

 

--Front suspension: tight twisties

 

To this day, I miss the BMW telelever front suspension: it was smooth, comfy, and isolated me from road irregularities. It’s a great engineering decision to separate steering from suspension forces. Plus it transfers compression forces toward the center of mass. It took me about a month to get used to it; after that I was a fan. BMW telelever does feel very different from conventional forks, so people new to BMW may need time to adapt. Several of the hotshot BMW HP2 models revert to forks and obviously beemer’s new sportbike for racing will have regular forks. Most riders would agree that regular forks are much better for racing and road feel. Maybe that’s why so many moto-journalists repeatedly slam the BMW for a vague, wooden feel—plain lacking in feedback. My sons would agree: they have ridden my beemer and my ST during many of our trade offs on longer rides. Two of them pronounced the ST much better at handling.

 

But that’s because they are already accustomed to forks and to more forceful counter-steering from their Portland International Raceway track days, plus their CBRs and Gixxers--and a Ducati 748—have all been fitted with steering dampers. For touring and for sport touring, however, the telelever is wonderful. When combined with the RT’s relative top-heaviness and its lower weight, turn in on tighter curves is near intuitive: it just floats on over to where you look. After a while, it zipped on over to where I was thinking of looking. [ sidebar—You want fun and agile? I rented a BMW 1150R several years back: That motorcycle is fantastic. If you think the RT handles nice in tight fast stuff, try an R for a day: faster [i think], lighter, more bar leverage, and more sure-footed in the turns].

 

That said, the Honda ST handles wonderfully for my style of riding. With nearly the same wheelbase and rake/trail, it turns in as quick as the RT, though it does not flick back and forth effortlessly on linked 20-35 mph twisties. That lack of easy and light quickness, coupled with less peg clearance on the ST, means that the RT will likely dance away from the ST in tighter twisties or a series of linked turns.

 

Another factor which slows the Honda for more aggressive tight riding are the front forks, which are “compliant,” and “plush and controlled,” according to Motorcycle USA in 2003, a sentiment echoed by many other road tests. However, peg scrapers would need to beef up the front fork with bigger springs. [Honda has often been noted to have softer forks.] Plus the front forks are not adjustable as on the FJR. As to fork braces to stiffen up fork-flex, I don’t know; there seems to be divided opinion on them. But even after those mods, not much can be done to bring the ST to match the RT in the tight fast stuff. You can’t raise pegs an inch or so to match the RT’s greater clearance

 

If one subtracts the Ricky-racer factor, however, the Honda is as agile as the 1200 RT. For an interesting result on tight handling, read the Pursuit Course evaluation in the LASD/LAPD test: “conducted on a closed 2.45 mile city street course which closely presents the environment most urban law enforcement agencies must contend with. The course has virtually no straight-a-ways and consists of right and left hand turns and obstacles in the roadway.” The combined RT riders’ had a time spread of 2:02-2:08 minutes, with the ST fractionally better at 2:02-2:07 minutes. Sheesh! How much closer can you get? Other slow-speed agility results occurred in the separate cone weave tests: ST edged out the RT and was rated higher overall for tight u-turns of varied width. The results show conclusively that the ST maintains a small but consistent advantage over the RT in maneuverability. But here is another caveat for lovers of lean: Although testers liked the Honda’s handling, several riders complained of the ST’s peg-scraping.

 

In my own parking lot drills [ certainly not systematic ], I have experienced mixed results. My 1150 always felt top heavy in a vague way. The ST, while lower, is plain heavy everywhere. Since I’m not good enough to do back and forth locked turns at speed, I’m not in a position to comment which feels better. However, I have practiced a number of short parking lot drills on 2 FJRs over the last 3 years and I find it the easiest of the three, probably due to my familiarity with inline 4s. The FJR may be saddled with an additional 2” of wheelbase, but its motor seems to be carried more forward than up high. Once underway on the FJR, I felt like I was pushing around a long but well-balanced wheelbarrow that was only half full.

 

Front suspension and sweepers or fast stuff

 

On sweepers or anything posted over 45, I find the ST as solid and considerably faster than an 1150 RT, and likely faster than a 1200 RT. As Two Wheels Only, the moto-mag from the UK said in Nov 2003, “Ground clearance is a bit limited, but on sweeping corners they [sTs] are fantastic and just kind of glide."

 

And listen to some of the motor officers’ positive comments on the ST handling during their 32-lap high-speed track evals:

 

1—“Acceleration and handling are very good. You have a very confident feeling of the roadway . “

2—“The bike comes up to speed well; becomes comfortable after just one lap. Great bike to ride.”

3—“Acceleration was very good. The suspension was firm and worked well in a track application.“

4—“The acceleration is smooth and the gear ratios are well spaced. The only time the rev limiter kicked in was at maximum speed.”

 

And here are similar positives for the BMW 1200 from the same riders:

 

1—“Acceleration and handling is very good. Has a good feel of the roadway and turns in the corners very well.”

2—“Handles great through turns, even when encountering bumps (forgiving).”

3—“Acceleration was strong and predictable. I did not experience rear wheel slip when accelerating out of turns. The lean angle was good. Early peg scraping was not an issue

short of making extreme lean angles.”

4—“Handling in both high and low speed turns is smooth and predictable. Changing lines while in the turns was easy.”

 

Bottom line--For high speed and track type riding, presumably for sweepers, the RT and ST perform very closely, with the Honda ST slightly ahead of the BMW RT 1200 with all 4 police riders uniformly. [ha-ha: “uniformly.” Get it?]

 

--Rear Suspension

 

The BMW RT is better. I found the RT 1150 stock shock worked fine. If you need plush, you can set the RT to really soft for long day rides, and it will ride as stable as it does at a higher preload. When I became too spirited in tighter stuff and if the road undulated, the beemer dragged the center stand really hard, a sure sign that the well-fed must still crank up the rear preload in faster twisties.

 

The complicating factor for Honda at high speeds is that the ST, for all its greater weight, lower c-o-g, and smaller surface area, is prone to aerodynamic forces in a way that the beemer just shrugs off. Frankly, this aspect of the ST’s handling gave me the most worry before buying it. I read obsessively about the high-speed weave instability. There is a lot of info and rumor and second party anecdotes, especially from the UK, where a motor officer in 2003 lost his life when his ST crashed. The UK police forces rightly pulled all STs pending investigation. The conclusion is that the ST is more affected by loads, suspension set up, and even tire pressure. Honda subsequently increased torque specs for key frame components in all later models and added lawyerly warnings about rear loads. Police forces in the US have not had any problems I could find, mostly because Honda and all parties know not to mount heavy stuff or those tall LEO poles on the rear. True, one shouldn’t do that with any motorcycle, but the Honda ST is more sensitive in this area.

 

To make sure the ST is rock solid at anything over 90, keep tire pressure up at 42, crank up rear preload, lower the shield, and mount rear loads as close to the c-o-g as possible. Then it works just fine, though the overall ride becomes firmer. One reliable ST rider, speaking on condition of anonymity, swears that the ST with these settings easily hits 140 and remains stable, adding that on long empty stretches like . . . NV 50 enroute to . . . oh, someplace in UT . . . in spring or fall, the ST cruises at 125-135 for 5-10 minute stretches at a time. Steady every time.

 

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3-- Overall comfortable ride

 

For overall ride, the Honda ST is superior to just about anything else on the road. In the Dec 2007 Rider shootout, the ST was the unanimous winner among the 4 bikes, with the moto-journalists concluding Honda’s ST had a “low center of gravity and a surprisingly light feel.” Here’s a representative quote from another motorcycle test of 8 bikes with hard bags: "After sampling all of the bag-equipped bikes two-up, if I had to ride from Portland, Oregon, to Portland, Maine, I'd choose the Honda for the simple reason that it accepts the burden most readily and is the least intrusive to ride and operate. I find the Yamaha FJR1300 much more stimulating, but at the end of a really long day on the road, that polished feeling the Honda provides would give me the most comfort."

Cycle World “Speed Wagons,” Nov 2005 8-bike shootout

 

Just about anything on the road, that is, except the BMWRT, which was not in either of those shootouts. Instead, testers included the BMW KGT, which finished lower in both rankings.

 

In several other road tests I’ve read, experienced rider/testers claim the RT 1150 or 1200 is the plushest and most comfortable ride on the road, period. That includes the Wing. I tend to agree. I remember renting a Goldwing 1800 for a day. My RT 1150 felt more sure and supple than the rental, [which had only 18K]. And when I cranked the Wing preload up to the higher range, it felt harsh in front

 

While I don’t know how to quantify it, my old 1150 RT just seemed 10-15% more plush than the ST, mainly because I always keep the ST preload cranked up higher for high speed stability or in case I want wheeeee! time. The ST ride really is as good as the writers say; it’s just not quite as comfy-soft as the RT. Once again, credit the BMW front telelever. Do you have a 600 mile day? Just set the rear preload to soft and the BMW still remains stable at any speed.

 

And just check out all of the comments from all 4 officer/testers on the 157-mile comfort test from the LASD evaluation: The BMW was hands down winner. They loved it after an all-day ride, with several saying they were ready to go another 158. As for the Honda, all officers rated it lower for comfort. They complained of the stock seat [which is actually worse than they say!] stiff suspension, too much of a forward lean, and too much heat on a 100 degree day in slow traffic. A few things can be quickly and easily done to make the ST closer in comfort, but I doubt it will equal the RT.

 

Another ride factor I found better on the RT was its stability in crosswinds and especially overtaking 18-wheelers. Intuitively, the ST should seem better: its fairing is smaller and mounted lower, the motorcycle itself is lower by about 1-2 inches, and it’s heavier by about waaaay much. And yet many ST riders would agree with those beemer riders from the Dec 2007 BMWST thread: the ST does a wind dance in dirty air. It’s been described as “nervous in dirty air” to having “happy feet” because it’s anxious to pass. It’s not dangerous, nor is it unstable. It doesn’t even feel dangerous or unstable. Instead, it’s a characteristic you would notice if you’re accustomed to the RT, which greets dirty air with effortless straight-aheadness. I’ve been told if you’re coming from just about anything else, the ST’s dancing will be a non-issue. What’s weird to me is that it occurs only in the dirty air wake 120-150’ behind, but becomes solid again as you close distance and pass.

 

Finally both machines have wonderfully tight, solid, squeak-free and rattle-free characteristics. I’ve watched both windshields as I ride my 1.2 mile washboard dirt road to home—both of them as still as if I’m on a new paved road. Both mounts glide down the road with a feel like polished granite covered by a velvet seat. Odd image but you get the idea.

 

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4--ABS brakes and stopping:

 

I honestly cannot tell the difference between the BMW and the Honda in full panic stops. I have taken both the ST and the RT out to my high-speed sparse-vegetation straightaway course way out back [ note to LEOs: track tests done in . . .Texas ]. I’ve run them both up to very high speed, most of the way through 4th gear. And then I mashed both brakes as hard as I could, because that’s what I’ll do when that deer will jump out in front of me on hour 10 of day 3 of successive 600-miler days. Both motorcycles stop wonderfully: straight, with no front dive that I can tell. In fact, they both seem to just kind of squat down a bit while I brace against the G force and feel the light flutter of ABS pulses.

 

I have not tested them deliberately in rain. I’ve not ridden more than half a day in steady rain. When it’s wet, I really slow down anyway and take the least-traveled routes. As for gravel, I ride a 1.2 mile dirt/gravel road to my place. Both machines seem to me to pulse about the same and stop the same when I practice braking in gravel, which I admit is not often.

 

Most sources I’ve read indicate that the Honda ABS is better than the BMW RT’s. BamaRider’s website notes he used to think they were equal, but now finds the ST better. An MCNews Dec 2007 article comparing the FJR, ST1300, and the new Kawi Concourse, showed the ST with the best stopping at 60-0 to be 126.4’, which they declared was “virtually a tie with BMW’s latest system.”

 

And anyone who looks over that LASD/LAPD test can see how extensively they tested the ABS brakes. Four different test conditions: 1) 40-0 sandy; 2) 40-0 wet; 3) 40-0 dry; and 4) Hot braking 60-0 immediately after those 32 laps. Honda bested BMW in all 4 tests and among all 4 riders in every test.

 

5--Reliability:

 

Honda ST 1300.

 

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6--Wind management

 

For a wind-free ride, the RT is 1st choice. The stock 1150 RT windshield kept air off me when it was only half-way up, save maybe a stream of clean air on my upper helmet. It kept nearly all side flow away from my broad manly shoulders. Everything I’ve heard indicates the 1200 is as good or better.

 

The ST shield is narrower, so more flow hits my upper shoulders. Then there’s the odd minority view; a 2003 road test/shootout in TWO claimed that “The Pan’s [Honda ST1300] fairing gave the best protection” compared with the 1150 RT and the FJR. Trust me, here: that statement was only half-right. Of course the ST beats the FJR, but the majority of people who have ridden the RT and the ST would award wind-protection laurels to the beemer.

 

The Honda T is very good, even close, according to some folks, but it’s just not quite as still in the cockpit. Which works for me because a funny thing has happened after 2-3 years of riding: the wind became my friend, as some of those . . . um . . . experienced riders on the BMWST forum like to say. The more I rode my old RT, the more I left the shield all the way down except below 48 degrees. And the more I kept it down, the more I found a forward lean became preferable, and eventually comfortable.

 

So now on 500-600 mile days, I find myself always feeling better on my ST than I ever did on my RT. [ Much better in fact, but more on that issue when I discuss BMW PTTR–pull to the right.] I used to read experienced riders talking about the forward lean and letting the wind and abdominal muscles keep you up. I used to wonder how ShovelStrokeEd or Master Yoda or others rode their near-crotch rockets and managed to stay comfortable for all those long and fast miles on Blackbirds, K-rods, FJRs. And I wondered why long-time riders would sometimes call my windshield a “barn door” ? I’m beginning to see why.

 

Which sort of leads to the next category

 

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7--Ergos

With some minor differences, the view from the cockpit is similar. I feel like I’m sitting “in” both the ST 1300 and RT 1150. No long stretch to the bars, no sharply bent knee. The machine below feels burly, rounded, and very compact. The tank is really wide at the front, and tapers as it arcs way down to the seat. Both seats tilt forward, which many riders change: the RT rider adds $15 seat jacks to raise the front bracket, while the ST rider angles the seat to plumb level by inserting the front tab of the seat 1 slot higher into the frame brackets than the rear tab.

 

As for seats, I always liked the stock BMW comfort seat, either because I’m easy to please or because I carry around my own padding. The stock Honda seat is terrible: hard and narrow. However for $100, Spencer’s seat mod will do wonders. Mail your seat in and he’ll reshape the foam, provide a great-fitting booty pocket or well, AND add a gel insert. I don’t know how he does it. Result: the Honda seat then becomes considerably more comfy than the BMW comfort seat.

 

Riders who want a more upright seating position will like the RT. The ST, in contrast, causes the same rider to lean forward about 1 inch, with handgrips down about ½ inch lower. For various reasons, I have come to prefer the ST position for the upper body, but many riders of course, love the sit up and beg of the RT.

 

Footrests put the RT rider’s legs slightly more forward, so the knee bend is about 90 degrees. On the ST, the footrests are a bit farther back. Overall, I prefer the RT for lower body positioning.

 

The Honda ST seat is a full 1-1 1/2 inches lower than the 1150 RT. With my 30” inseam I always could flatfoot my old RT just fine. [ I wear thick-soled Danner boots and I compress the shock with more G-forces than lightweights do]. With the ST, I gain more clearance, with knees nicely bent, and leaving me a lot more margin of error on uneven and off-road terrain. Anyone with a shorter inseam will find the ST fits them better than the RT. I bet a rider with a 28” inseam and thicker soled boots can flatfoot it on the Honda, provided the suspension sag is set at the standard 1 1/3.”

 

I put risers on both machines. If I had to do it over again, I likely wouldn’t.

 

 

8--Various categories, harder to quantify, and yet which may be deal-breakers or

-makers for different riders.

 

Initial Price:

 

BMW costs more. During the 1150 series, they were about 1-1.3K more than the ST with ABS. At present, the base prices show the same spread: 2008 Honda ST1300abs @$15.7K and BMW RT 1200 @$16.8K. Over the years, BMW has moved once-standard features into the options category; powerlets and heated grips are now extra.

 

Resale:

At 4 or 5 years, they are about even:

 

2003 BMW 1150RT—-----------NADA $7590 MCN $7590

2003 ST 1300 ABS-----------NADA $8258 MCN $8055

 

2004 BMW 1150RT------------NADA $9039 MCN $9075

2004 ST 1300 ABS-----------NADA $9144 MCN $ 8930

*note—BMW resale rises considerably after 2005 with the 1200 series. Those of us with Honda 1300s and their solid resale prices will suffer the same steeper declines as the 1150 riders when our model is updated to the ST 1600 V-6 [ :D] whenever that happens.

 

Clutch:

 

Honda’s wet clutch is much better than the BMW dry clutch. I eventually learned how to shift the beemer [as smoothly as it allowed] by using preload, quick clutch, and kick -up smartly. It wasn’t until I returned to a wet clutch that I realized how wonderful and slick and easy and smooth and carefree and solid they are. I’ve never had the Honda “stick” when stopped and shifting from N to 1st. In those situations, beemer riders just get used to letting the clutch out a bit before the RT gronks into 1st with a clack or a clunk, depending on how it’s feeling that day.

 

In combination with its very tall first gear, the BMW clutch has another shortcoming. I remember too often the RT smelling of burnt clutch when I ascended my brother’s steep and winding gravel driveway, which required several stops, followed by precarious steep starts up a banked turn. Similar problems with the BMW clutch were noted by 2 of the 4 officers in the LASD cone weave test, both faulting the 1200RT for lost friction point control during maneuvering. Conversely, 3 of the 4 testers found the Honda ST clutch worked superbly at maintaining friction point control.

 

Weight

 

BMW is the runaway winner here by about 130 lbs lighter. The RT 1200 is even some 20-40 [?] lbs lighter than its 1150 predecessor. I don’t know how they did it because it sure looks bigger that the 1150 RT. The Honda ST is a heavy beast. To state the obvious, the weight really all goes away once you’re moving. Too many road tests, as well as the results from the LASD test, consistently praise the Honda ST’s handling and feel.

 

But while the weight disappears after 2 mph, wrestling it around my garage and on my gravel driveway is a chore. Not only that, but according to my Service Manual for the 2003-2008 ST1300, the Honda has gained weight TWICE in its run and looks to be about another 7 lbs heavier in 2008. I wish that 80’s comedian, Screamin’ Sam Kinison were alive and yelling, “Honda, you’re going the WRONG WAY!”

 

Could it be that the Honda kickstand and center stand do not help matters? The side stand on the ST seems a bit short, and leans more than my beemer, so I must heft it a few degrees more to bring it straight up. Also, I swear the center stand is mounted about 1’’ too far rearward because it seems much harder to get up than my old 1150.

 

 

Dealerships

 

Most BMW shops I’ve visited were great. Two especially fine ones are Hansen’s in Medford, OR, and Iron Horse in Tucson, AZ. I’ve only been in one beemer store that seemed sub-par, and that was on the sales floor, not in parts or service. So all in all, 5 out of 6 is very good. Most of the service guys are super. [ Except the one who said, “Who could ever know why u-joints fail”? Hmmm. Who would ever know but BMW and maybe Yugo?]. Best of all, when you go into a BMW shop, everyone around you is a motorcycle rider.

 

The majority of Honda shops are nowhere near as nice. I have been in 2 dealerships where the sales floor was knowledgeable and where the service guys were really helpful and knew their stuff. But I’ve also been in 6-7 other Honda shops where a number of the people wouldn’t know a CBR from a sled.

 

Service costs

 

Hooo wheeee!, but this category is tricky. I divided it into 3 parts depending on how much work is performed by the owner.

 

1) if dealer does it all

 

If a rider followed the service manual strictly and paid the dealer for all work and inspections, the Honda would cost close to the beemer, maybe as much as the beemer if he just called any Honda shop. For my 1150RT, as I recall, oil/filter and valve adjust every 6K [ dealers/mechanics said my beemer valves always needed adjusting], ran between $300-$340 2 years ago. Then there was a new fuel filter and new alternator belt around 24K, both of which seemed surprisingly expensive [i forget how much—does $100-$150 each for parts and labor sound right?].

 

The Honda service calls for an inspection every 4 K and an oil/filter every 8K. [ No one I know does the tiny 4K inspection, nor is it marked as recommended to be performed by Honda.] The 8K oil /filter and more thorough inspection is around $180 at the only dealer I know of. No fuel filter replacement on the Honda. No alternator belt. Both are lifetime, presumably. The Honda valve inspection is every 16 K.

 

And HERE is where Honda dealers get really weird—or tricky or stupid. Often, I’m told, the Hondas do not need a valve adjustment; if they do, it’s an additional $280-350 over the inspection, according to the 4 dealers I called. There is a worse and huger price range if you call around for the full 16K inspection service; quotes were anywhere from $480-990!! Honda owners must call around and get quotes from the service manager or a mechanic who knows the ST. Since there are so many Honda shops, work it to your advantage; you will find one that’s reasonable.

 

 

2) if owner does easy oil/filter/air filter/spark plug replacement, while dealer does mechanical stuff:

 

I am in this half/half category. I believe many other riders are, too. I find the Honda cheaper. Since the beemer always needed valve adjust/or TB synch every 6K, I’d pay for nearly 3 BMW services before I’d pay Honda for its valve inspection. With 10x the number of Honda dealers over BMW dealers, I decided to make the numbers work in my favor for quotes on the 16K inspection. I called 4 shops, 3 of which had competent or experienced ST 1300 mechanics. I asked for a price for the 16K inspection only. One shop in So Cal said it was $680 no matter what, because they do not break down costs—[okey dokey, see ‘ya]. Three other shops nearby, the ones I trusted, gave me firm quotes of $257--$220--$144. However, if you have to adjust the valves each and every 16K, then the Honda is as much, even slightly more than the BMW. So far, nearly everyone on the ST board says 32 or 48K is more likely for an adjustment, but only time will tell for me.

 

3) Owner does everything including valve adjust and throttle synch. Dealer does only major warranty repairs in case of grenades.

 

Barring major breakdowns, the advantage switches back to BMW by a slight margin. Oil and filter costs are low on either brand. And while valve adjusts are more frequent on the BMW, many rider/techs report they can do it in a pretty short time, around 2 hours. Honda owner will take considerably longer, both to inspect every 16K, and to adjust the valves when the time comes, reportedly at 32K or 48K.

 

For the home mechanic, the BMW is easier to work on than the more complex ST. Once again, that LASD comparison has very interesting info. Simply look through the long section where mechanics estimated the level of time or difficulty to perform some 25-30 operations of maintenance, replacement or repair. In the majority of cases, they rated BMW easier and less time consuming.

 

Vibey vs. Smoothie motor

 

Another personal preference area. I love Honda smooth, especially on 10-hour days. It really is not as quiet as rumored; it does make a muted growl from 6-8K, if I’m not wearing earplugs. I appreciate how that wonderfully-tuned and consistent engine helps everything else stay velvet quiet. Most importantly for me, it’s a reassuring reminder of Honda’s near-universal signature strengths—precision, balance, engineering, quality. Have you read the J.D. Power and Associates Motorcycle Competitive Information Study of 2006? Then you know who was number 1 in overall quality: Mother Honda. [Although there were some ties with Suzuki] As Tim Fox, the J.D. Power survey supervisor reported, “The quality performance of Honda is noteworthy.” Smooth can say many things.

 

But I also liked the BMW opposed twin vibes. With my helmet and earplugs in place, the RT drone sounded like an old bi-plane with a souped-up Curtis motor. After a while, sound melded with feel, and it just kind of “thrummed/throbbed” down the road. When accelerating, it felt and sounded like my dad’s old ‘32 flathead Ford tractor. The motor is an example of what has been called the “agricultural” feel of the BMW or Harley-Davidson. That feel and sound obviously has many fans. It’s a “sound” if you like it, “noise” if you don’t.

 

One possible drawback to the beemer vibes is that my right mirror was often useless on the beemer because of vibrations. I had always assumed it needed some insulation between the mirror housing and the fairing. I tried different fixes but none helped. [Later, a beemerphile told me the blurring mirror meant that the valves or throttle bodies needed adjustment, but that 2nd –hand anecdote is hearsay in this comparo; the jury is instructed to ignore the remark]. If it’s true, however, it means my old RT was out of synch even more often than I thought.

 

Two-up riding

 

BMW is a clear winner here if you ride two up for long distances. The comfort factor and seat size for the pillion is about the same. But the carrying capacity is significantly different. The Honda can carry only 410 lbs. If you’re already a full-figured type and weigh in at 240 all suited up, an average pillion at 125-135 means you have only 35 lbs remaining for stuff you can bring along. If both rider and passenger are average or smaller, the ST will work well. While I don’t have the figures available, the beemer probably has another 80 lbs carrying capacity, useful for the Rubenesque among us, or for carrying more stuff, or for bringing along larger women.

 

Luggage

 

Both can carry good amounts. Both the 1150 RT and ST1300 are made well. Looks are a matter of preference. I liked them both. The 1150 series has a nice top box, one of the rare ones that actually looks good on a motorcycle. Honda does not make a top box. I’m not familiar with the BMW 1200 top boxes, but I know they come in 2 sizes.

 

Warranty and extended warranty

 

The Honda ST has always led this category. Over time, in fact, it has widened its lead: still 36 months and unlimited mileage. 4 additional years can be had for anywhere from $410-550 and can be purchased near the end of the original three years.

 

The BMW RT used to be 3 years unlimited, but now I believe it has been reduced to 3 years, 36K. [*note—has it dropped lower? Or is that only for the GS, which I hear is down to 24/24.] Extended warranty quotes I’ve read run a whopping $1400-1550 for 3-4 years. The corporate pencil-pusher/actuaries who set these prices have access to breakdown and repair info. They know what they’re doing and why.

 

 

Other stuff, both -–bad and ++good, which may be a big deal or not to different riders

 

--ST heat.

 

Affects some people, not others. Twice in 13.6K miles, I wished it did not blow heat on my thighs as I was stuck in stop and go traffic in the mid 90s. It lasted 10-15 minutes and then all was fine again. Other riders more sensitive to heat could find it a trial. If you come from a BMW R model, the coolest-feeling motorcycle of all, you might be surprised at first. Most of us are not bothered by it. In addition, both the ST storage compartments get hot. Don’t stow chocolate bars in them. Use those two convenient places for keys, plastic cards, small maps, wallet, road gear like earplugs and aspirin--anything that won’t get gooey.

 

--ST has an irritating throttle instant on-off mode.

 

I do not like it at all. Coupled with the quick first gear, it can be hairy if you’re intending 5 mph entering a mall driveway entrance, and you get instantaneous 15 mph and the woman in the minivan exiting the driveway is wide-eyed, wondering why you’re coming right at her. I’m going to love my fuel pressure regulator at Turbo Tom [for about $100, I think].

 

--The ST has no gear indicator, the instrument light display is weak in direct sunlight, and the clutch lever is NOT adjustable.

 

Why have an adjustable brake lever but not a clutch? What were they thinking? I’ll buy and install an adjustable CBR clutch lever. If the light display causes me too much squinting, there is this place called bluegauges.com, where you send your dash innards and they return it to you with bright lights in various colors. Electric blue could be cool. A winter project, maybe? I also miss the gear indicator. Some say you don’t need one, but you don’t need a motorcycle, either.

 

--ST grips.

 

They’re hard and shaped like typical UJM grips. I already replaced them with BMW grips, 2 for $20--softer, shaped better, and grippier. Cal Sci makes some great grips I found too late, but the BMW grips are good enough.

 

--ST keys and locks.

 

How cheap! The rest of the machine is so well-engineered and precise. Southeast Asian pot metal is higher quality than the ST locks and keys. Mine are already getting sticky. I’ll be off to the locksmith for keys and locks.

 

--ST thermostat

 

Half of ST owners in one smaller poll have reported a failed thermostat, a real blight on Honda reliability. It won’t strand you or cause overheating. Rather, it stays open and the bike runs too cool, and performance and mileage drop. Honda replaces under warranty, but they only install Honda thermostats, some of which fail again. Even again! Better to buy the Turbo Tom thermostat and install it myself if it goes out.

 

++ST tip over bars and mirror tethers

 

They are heavy duty and protect the engine and all your tupperware in case of drops. It saved one rider’s legs when he went down. A great standard item that saves many owners lots of $$$. Mirror tethers are already built in, as they should be.

 

++ST ambient thermometer digital display on dash

 

A great idea and it’s accurate. I refer to it often in spring/fall when I ride the mountains and come across stretches of wet pavement. Nice to know if it dips to 36 or below. You can also refer to it when it’s really hot to confirm . . . it’s really . . . hot.

 

++ST lack of oil use

It is so cool to own and ride a motorcycle like the ST that uses no oil, maybe 3-4 tablespoons during the first 8K miles, and that’s with starting it on its side stand all the time, which is kind of a no-no with beemers. 4K after my last oil change, it has used no oil. None. Talk about finely engineered tolerances. The oil also remains a great-looking transparent red for 1-2 K after the oil change. And how pleasant to take 2-3K road trips without packing oil, funnel, plastic bag holders for same, extra paper towels or dirty rags. In fact, it feels great not even checking oil on trips. I already trust this motorcycle.

 

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--RT no engine protectors

 

You must pay extra if you want to protect your cylinder heads. For your money you’ll get plastic-looking cylinder protectors. They look good, they’re small, and they cost more than you think unless you’ve been on Kool Aid a long time. BMW riders say they work; a few say they work once, but then you must buy a new set. BMW makes nothing that will protect your fairing or mirror covers in a tip over, so do not buy a big-deductible insurance policy. You will have to fashion your own mirror tethers.

 

----RT engine wear-in

 

I followed the engine wear-in procedures advised by a number of beemer riders. Altogether that procedure takes about 2-3K before you can be worry free about higher revs, and flog it like a . . . . beemer rider. It’s kind of boring keeping a motorcycle below 4, 5 or 6K. After my replaced top end at 15K, the mechanic advised me to start the wear-in all over for at least 600 miles. It was more boring the second time.

 

--Distance to BMW dealer

 

At first, I thought it wouldn’t be too bad being 100 miles from the dealer. I would really rethink that proposition if I were ever to buy another beemer. 6K service means you wait around for 2-4 hours if the shop is on time. A breakdown means days, or a week, until they can pick it up and trailer it to the dealer. Around $100-150 for a one-way trip. Trailering in this neck of the woods is not paid for by BMW even for a warranty repair.

 

--BMW oil use

 

BMWs burn a lot of oil when they’re new. Most riders claim that oil use drops sharply once the engine is completely worn in, about 18-24K. A few owners report little to no oil loss after the bike is worn in. I guess I got a bad one there, also. My 1150 used a quart of oil every 1,400-1,600 miles up until I sold it at 35K. When I asked the tech several times about the matter, he told me that such oil consumption was within spec, which strikes me as a really loose spec. In retro-spec [sic] I wonder why I even bothered to change my oil since it didn’t stay in there very long.

 

--BMW turn signals plus Kisan SignalMinder = ++

 

At first I thought the turn signal controls were curious, though I really liked the activation paddles and their location. But wait! There’s more: a 3rd separate cancellation button near the underside of the left handlebar. I thought I’d get used to it, but after several weeks, I disiked that Rube Goldberg cancel operation more and more. Enter Kisan SignalMinder, my first $100 or so well-spent on the RT. Kisan made the turn signal paddles activate and cancel just like electric switches have been able to do for 30 years. And it gave the RT running lights, which all motorcycles should have but which the BMW did not. So there is hope: the goofiest design can turn out well if you buy the right fix. [*Note to ST riders and most anybody else --a number of BMW riders really really like their BMW turn signals just as they are. I am not making this up.]

 

--BMW 1150 RT padded backrest

 

A lesson learned never to purchase by description. It sounded good over the phone: of course I want to pay an extra $80-100 to have my BMW top box fitted with a BMW padded backrest. It turned out to be a thin plastic over a piece of thick curved pressboard, all of ¼” thick. Later, naturally, I saw better options for about the same amount of money

 

--PTTR

 

PTTR remained a no-likey for me, but I generally felt I could live with it. I learned to try different gyrations if I wanted to stretch while rolling down the road: slide over on the left side, extend my left arm out in the air stream, load the bags as heavier on the left. Sometimes, if I thought about it, it bugged the OCD or wannabe engineer part of me that wondered why it was unbalanced other than TADT [To the uninitiated; it means they all do that. Don’t ask; don’t think ;)]

 

 

 

++BMW cool running

 

No matter how warm it gets, the RT will never make you any hotter. I have sat at long traffic signals and let my shins rest against the cylinder heads with comfort. Those great –looking jugs stay cool way out there in the air flow.

 

++BMW gauges

 

All in all, I prefer the 1150 RT display to the Honda ST. It looks less Dodge Caravan-ish and it has that neat gear indicator, though it lacks the temperature gauge. The RID display also has a better mix of graphics to balance the numbers; the ST has almost too much info expressed in numbers. The backlighting is better on the 1150RT.

 

++BMW handlebar fluid reservoirs

 

The brake and clutch fluid reservoirs on the 1150 RT were nicely integrated with the bars and lever assemblies. They are rounded and look really stylish and integrated. The Honda ST looks good in rectangular brushed aluminum, just not as good IMO as the beemer. At least they don’t look like the urine-sample containers of some UJM set-ups.

 

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**A final ps—One pleasant surprise of my ST1300 was the disappearance of my back pain. I always had that nagging pain just inside the left shoulder blade whenever I rode. Since I never had that pain in my earlier motorcycle days, I wrote it off to age. I tried exercising back muscles. Rest breaks. I took aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, which sometimes made it better, but it never disappeared. I grew to accept it as the price of fun. So every time I rode over about 200 miles, it would creep down between my shoulder blades, always on the upper left side. At the end of 400-500 mile days, it bugged me throughout the night, though not terribly.

 

So imagine my wonder when it did not happen on the ST after my first 200 miler. Then 300, 400, 600. No back pain Not once. All the other usual stiffness is there: neck, hands, legs. But that nagging shoulder blade pain has never returned.

 

Since all else has remained constant and I’m 4 years older, I attribute this nice surprise to one--and maybe two—factors

 

1—The slightly more forward ST lean, coupled with a bit more clean air to keep my head back, so I no longer work as much to keep it up [Maybe I’m just a fathead.]

 

2—And here is a possible 2nd cause, so forgive my theorizing: Before I picked up my ST, the dealer agreed I would not sign anything until I took a test ride to ensure it ran straight, no pulling either directions. I wanted only PSA--Pull Straight Ahead. If it dived either way, his techs were to reassemble the front axle and re-install and tighten the pinch bolts. The test ride was super. The ST ran bolt straight for really long stretches.

 

So here is my theory, which might be half-baked. I’m wondering if PTTR or some other BMW wheel alignment factor somehow contributed to my back pain. Can 10 straight hours of imperceptively twisting the bars to maintain a straight line send pain up the back? Or is factor #1 sufficient?

 

Anyway, I’m happy for now with the Honda ST. It’s the closest looking motorcycle to the BMW 1150RT, which I always found to one of the most beautiful body designs in all motorcycledom. And the ST works great for me. We've bonded

 

Who knows? It could be my last bike. A bunch of ST 1100 people out there remain as faithful to their older rides as Airhead or Harley people are to theirs, unwilling to part with them.

 

Or the next ST might really be a 1600 with a V6. Or better yet, maybe the same engine but with a diet of about 150 lbs, a gear indicator, and cruise control.

 

Or maybe an RT lite? Put a cool shield and city bags on the future BMW R 1400 R, along with some big driveline changes and a wet clutch and discount purchase programs, and a 7-year warranty and a . . . I know! . . . "An official Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle with a . . . “

 

Ride what moves you. There is always hope. The road goes ever on and on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks, Bill. Nicely done. :clap:

 

I wonder if you've slanted the finances in favor of the BMW. Looking at the used numbers, the ST is always somewhat higher than the RT, plus it costs less to begin with. So, the depreciation would seem to be a fair amount worse on the Beemer. Of course, it would probably be hard to sell either one locally..... :(

 

The there's the esthetics. Call me shallow, but I'd like the ST a lot better if it didn't look like a scooter from the front :D

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Great review, piecing all the info together.

 

I've only seen 1 or 2 ST1300's in person. I sat on a used on at a dealer. It was alright, but comming from my R1200RT, the gauges and plastics looked dated in design, like a '99 CBR. The seat was low which was nice, but it lacked legroom. I guess I was just underwhelmed.

 

2-up comfort and cargo capacity tipped the scales strongly toward the RT.

 

That V4 motor and Honda reliability and dealer network tip the scales back to the ST.

 

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What a nice write-up. Thanks for taking the time.

 

Do the RT-Ps have lower rear-end gearing improving the performance. Those numbers may be slightly lower for us civilian riders.

 

I sold my 1100RT last summer, my riding partner rides an 1100ST, and we swap bikes occasionly. We always agreed that we wanted his Honda motor in the BMW chassis.

 

I now have a 1200RT and it certainly matches the performance of the 1100ST. The 1200 is a huge improvement in every way to the 1100.

 

I think all Sport-Tourers are wonderful, and I love every one of them.

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Good write-up. I don't know how my R1200RT (with ESA) is compared to your 1150 but when I swap with my buddy's ST1300 I have no doubt in my mind the RT handles better in tighter twisties, more than just better ground clearance.

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It sounds like someone needs to ride a 1200RT... considering that this is the current RT going against the current ST. I just sold my ST 1300 to buy my R1200RT and the difference is night and day. There were too many annoyances and areas of poor performace. My 1200RT will outhandle my old ST in every aspect from low speed, to high speed sweepers, it doesnt really matter as the handling of these 2 bikes are really that differnt. I also know many CHP officers that have had just the opposite of your findings for the performace of the 1200RT vs ST. I also find it funny about the conclusions of scraping pegs. Personally this was a regular experience on the ST and even the CHP/police units will say that this the gauge for finding the bikes limits. No scraping at all on my RT with alot more aggresive lean angles. The suspension of my ST was basically like a truck at best while my RT absorbs every imperfection. Too me these are big things for a sport touring bike that I am going to ride for 800 miles on in a day. I will eventually get around to doing my own comparison but I can already tell mine wont be nearly as favorable to the ST.

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What a nice write-up. Thanks for taking the time.

 

Do the RT-Ps have lower rear-end gearing improving the performance. Those numbers may be slightly lower for us civilian riders.

 

I sold my 1100RT last summer, my riding partner rides an 1100ST, and we swap bikes occasionly. We always agreed that we wanted his Honda motor in the BMW chassis.

 

I now have a 1200RT and it certainly matches the performance of the 1100ST. The 1200 is a huge improvement in every way to the 1100.

 

I think all Sport-Tourers are wonderful, and I love every one of them.

 

The RT-P's do have a slightly lower final drive. I believe it's the same ratio found in the R1200R and R1200S. I think it would mostly reduce clutch wear at low speeds and make the bike pull harder in 3rd gear, reducing the need for a downshift.

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First a bit of thanks to Bill for his input. I imagine this comparison will mean different things to different riders. My priorities probably follow cali_beemer's preference towards handling. Just in case BMWNA is reading this , BMW, Honda or any other brand isn't going to sell me a bike as heavy as the Honda ST. I know that's my own preference but, it's my market segment that I don't want ignored. :lurk:

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Dave_zoom_zoom

WOW!

 

What a great job you have done!!!

 

I could only hope to express myself as well as you have.

 

What an informative read. I'll be passing it on.

 

THANK YOU!

 

Dave

 

P. S. I have the 06 R1200RT & love it. But that doesn't meat I don't admire the ST1300.

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Good review.

 

Still leaning to a new RT but ST is on the list.

 

Questions:

 

1) Does the ST1300 come with a factory cruise control?

 

2) Can you get factory music on either?

 

3) When will the next generation of each come out?

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Good review.

 

Still leaning to a new RT but ST is on the list.

 

Questions:

 

1) Does the ST1300 come with a factory cruise control?

 

2) Can you get factory music on either?

 

3) When will the next generation of each come out?

 

No cruise control is offered at all on the St1300. There is a radio that Honda makes but looks more like a JC whitney approach add on and I believe its only available overseas (but can be shipped here). For some reason Honda doesnt support the ST very much in the US and there are debates on why Honda doesnt offer the top case in the USA. BMW 1200RT comes with factory cruise and has the option of a very well integrated stereo. Personally I just use earbuds on a satelite radio. There are rumors that the ST and goldwing will become one bike soon like in 2010 but I have no evidense to support that this is anything more than a rumor. I believe the next RT will be getting the HP motor soon if the rumors on Advrider are correct. That means a dual overhead cam version with 10 more HP. Its tough to say what will be next on either as most comanies do a good job of keeping things secret.

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It sounds like someone needs to ride a 1200RT... considering that this is the current RT going against the current ST. I just sold my ST 1300 to buy my R1200RT and the difference is night and day. There were too many annoyances and areas of poor performace. My 1200RT will outhandle my old ST in every aspect from low speed, to high speed sweepers, it doesnt really matter as the handling of these 2 bikes are really that differnt. I also know many CHP officers that have had just the opposite of your findings for the performace of the 1200RT vs ST. I also find it funny about the conclusions of scraping pegs. Personally this was a regular experience on the ST and even the CHP/police units will say that this the gauge for finding the bikes limits. No scraping at all on my RT with alot more aggresive lean angles. The suspension of my ST was basically like a truck at best while my RT absorbs every imperfection. Too me these are big things for a sport touring bike that I am going to ride for 800 miles on in a day. I will eventually get around to doing my own comparison but I can already tell mine wont be nearly as favorable to the ST.
As I recall you sold the ST1300 only two months from start to finish despite your glowing early posts in an ST forum. How many miles on the old ST1300 did you ride? From your initial internet posts to the end it seemed to me that the ST1300 was a poor choice for you and you just had to come to grips with that choice.

 

Handling is a subjective sort of thing and I can't fault your opinion though. On the other hand in the last 4 years there have been many comparos of these bikes [R1200RT and ST1300] and poor handling is not generally associated with either of these motorcycles. Most heap praise on both of them despite the ST's weight and the RT's vague feedback. Whatever is best for you - ride it and have fun.

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Thanks. Too bad Honda is discontinuing the ST1300.

 

Yup, you read it here first.

 

Uh, well, actually I read that back in March, I think, and it turned out to be a hoax. You have new info?

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Great write up. This is exactly the type of comparison I wish I had had available when I was shopping for a new bike in September. (I bought a 2008 R1200RT.)

 

That said, I'm not sure that it would have changed my eventual decision, for one simple reason. There were no 2008 ST1300s anywhere to be found.

 

I went to at least 7 or 8 Honda dealers, looking for an ST. Nobody had one, and nobody had any idea when (or if) they would be getting one.

 

That, and a general lack of product knowledge, pretty much sealed the deal - not in a good way - for Honda.

 

Just so you don't think I'm picking on Honda, Yamaha and Kawasaki were not much better in the availability and salesmanship departments. And don't even get me started about the mega-line dealers. It's a miracle these guys ever sell a motorcycle.

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Quinn,

 

I can answer that as I had both the ST and 1150RT and now the 1200RT

 

Old RT averaged about the low to mid 40s mpg (43-46) ST was a little less, sometimes staying around (38-42 mpg) and the new RT is running 46-48 mpg.

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You did an exellent job of showing ST's and RT's are both equally competent rides. Where the RT truly out preforms is in its character with its distinctive look and feel and unique engine the BMW inspires passion, The Honda is functional to the point of boredom a two wheeled minivan. Or at least that my story and I'm sticking to it.

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As usual, most of you hit the mark, so thanks for your input.

I've included some replies and clarifications below. Thanks, again

 

motoguy128

 

Great review, piecing all the info together.

 

I've only seen 1 or 2 ST1300's in person. I sat on a used on at a dealer. It was alright, but comming from my R1200RT, the gauges and plastics looked dated in design, like a '99 CBR. The seat was low which was nice, but it lacked legroom. I guess I was just underwhelmed.

 

2-up comfort and cargo capacity tipped the scales strongly toward the RT.

 

That V4 motor and Honda reliability and dealer network tip the scales back to the ST.

 

 

Yep to all your points, motoguy. I noted your critiques in my write up, but it's buried in all that text. Here goes the short version: ST dash and gauges have the zest of a Dodge Caravan. For leg ergos, I know I liked the BMW better. Cargo capacity is way higher on the BMW--check. "tip the scales" nice phrase :)

I also checked with my wife who advised me the pillion seats felt the same, though she usually rides for no more than 2-3 hours tops. She added that the wind protection felt better on the RT, which I forgot to add to the write up.

 

Good write-up. I don't know how my R1200RT (with ESA) is compared to your 1150 but when I swap with my buddy's ST1300 I have no doubt in my mind the RT handles better in tighter twisties, more than just better ground clearance.

 

It sure does. Besides the pegs, my RT had a quick and easy lightness [ top heavy + less weight + telelever]. In addition, the ST's front forks are too soft for anyone over 120 lbs, hence my conclusion was that the RT would pull away from the ST in fast tight stuffl

 

It sounds like someone needs to ride a 1200RT... considering that this is the current RT going against the current ST. I just sold my ST 1300 to buy my R1200RT and the difference is night and day. There were too many annoyances and areas of poor performace. My 1200RT will outhandle my old ST in every aspect from low speed, to high speed sweepers, it doesnt really matter as the handling of these 2 bikes are really that differnt. I also know many CHP officers that have had just the opposite of your findings for the performace of the 1200RT vs ST. I also find it funny about the conclusions of scraping pegs. Personally this was a regular experience on the ST and even the CHP/police units will say that this the gauge for finding the bikes limits. No scraping at all on my RT with alot more aggresive lean angles. The suspension of my ST was basically like a truck at best while my RT absorbs every imperfection. Too me these are big things for a sport touring bike that I am going to ride for 800 miles on in a day. I will eventually get around to doing my own comparison but I can already tell mine wont be nearly as favorable to the ST.

 

I'd be afraid to ride a 1200, cali-beemer. Could be tempting in many ways [though I pretty much know what I like about the ST] My critique agrees with your low speed nod to BMW. But high speed sweepers: Nope, not unless, as I noted, there is repeated peg-scraping. The 4 officers in the extensive track test had nothing to prove and no preconceptions. Yet the ST beat the RT consistently for 32 laps around that 1.5 mile track, which also had tight stuff. All 4 officers, all times, all speed differences. There is just too much consistent data there to be overturned by assertions alone or repeated.

 

I partly agree with you about BMW suspension: As I said, my BMW was more comfy, and the 4 testers agreed that the 1200 was more comfy. However, all 4 of those testers--and their times--clearly refute your truck comparison. As you can read, they commented very favorably about the ST handling, except for the pegs. And remember, the ST also beat the RT in 2 other major maneuverability tests. Again, among all the testers. Some truck.

 

I know your ST comparo won’t be favorable. I’ve read your other posts. The big hints were the “handling like a truck“ and the “night and day” phrases.

 

First a bit of thanks to Bill for his input. I imagine this comparison will mean different things to different riders. My priorities probably follow cali_beemer's preference towards handling. Just in case BMWNA is reading this , BMW, Honda or any other brand isn't going to sell me a bike as heavy as the Honda ST. I know that's my own preference but, it's my market segment that I don't want ignored. :lurk:

 

sardineone, I sure agree with you about the weight, plus the Honda ST keeps going the wrong way and getting heavier over the last 6 years. Nevertheless, it does handle surprisingly well, as a number of moto mags have stated. And it was right with the RT or slightly ahead with those 4 testers and their evaluations on gte major courses.

 

But back to weight: the ST is a pig in my gravel driveway and in my garage [ which, as Francois has reminded me, awaits :/]

 

I like your point about "different things to different riders" That is precisely why I included much more data [i hope] than interpretation of the data, much less a torrent of individual impressions. I hope I included lots of categories, even criteria. How a rider weights the criteria is the key.

 

Great write up. This is exactly the type of comparison I wish I had had available when I was shopping for a new bike in September. (I bought a 2008 R1200RT.)

 

That said, I'm not sure that it would have changed my eventual decision, for one simple reason. There were no 2008 ST1300s anywhere to be found.

 

I went to at least 7 or 8 Honda dealers, looking for an ST. Nobody had one, and nobody had any idea when (or if) they would be getting one.

 

That, and a general lack of product knowledge, pretty much sealed the deal - not in a good way - for Honda.

 

Just so you don't think I'm picking on Honda, Yamaha and Kawasaki were not much better in the availability and salesmanship departments. And don't even get me started about the mega-line dealers. It's a miracle these guys ever sell a motorcycle.

 

StevenK, Honda just does not care about the ST. They're too big of a coproration. And few Honda dealers know about them. Come to think of it, a lot of Honda dealers don't know motorcycles very well at all. Many people complained about the small number of 2008 ST1300s available.

 

Congrats on the 1200 RT. As you can see from many of the categories, it's a super motorcycle.

 

Quinn,

 

I can answer that as I had both the ST and 1150RT and now the 1200RT

 

Old RT averaged about the low to mid 40s mpg (43-46) ST was a little less, sometimes staying around (38-42 mpg) and the new RT is running 46-48 mpg.

 

Dang, I knew I forgot something. Roadwolf's experience agrees with just about every eval I have read: The RT is anywhere from 2-5 mph more frugal with gas.

Thanks

 

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Thanks. Too bad Honda is discontinuing the ST1300.

 

Yup, you read it here first.

 

Uh, well, actually I read that back in March, I think, and it turned out to be a hoax. You have new info?

Could be a hoax again. But I don't think so. It is to be replaced with a new model, designation unknown at this time. When? That wasn't told me either, only that the new bike is in the latter stages of development.

 

Yeah, I know. All bikes have a successor "in development." True. But this information was specific to the ST1300 and I personally believe it. You are free not to.

 

Look, it's not a bad thing. The ST11 was discontinued and the 13 is a better bike. Relax. The comment was more related to an excellent and well researched comparison written by the OP. Good info. Too bad that in addition to the BMW1150RT being discontinued, the ST1300 will be, too.

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Of all things . . .

 

I just found a new updated LASD track test posted by Dave the Affable back in Oct, 2008 that shows the RT getting faster or the ST gaining weight in the 32-lap high speed evaluations. Probably the latter

 

I'll try to type the track day longhand numbers into some shape to post tomorrow, but in the meantime see this link

 

http://bmwsporttouring.com/ubbthreads/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Main=37254&Number=402246#Post402246

 

Thanks, Dave

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Thanks. Too bad Honda is discontinuing the ST1300.

 

Yup, you read it here first.

 

Uh, well, actually I read that back in March, I think, and it turned out to be a hoax. You have new info?

Could be a hoax again. But I don't think so. It is to be replaced with a new model, designation unknown at this time. When? That wasn't told me either, only that the new bike is in the latter stages of development.

 

Yeah, I know. All bikes have a successor "in development." True. But this information was specific to the ST1300 and I personally believe it. You are free not to.

 

Look, it's not a bad thing. The ST11 was discontinued and the 13 is a better bike. Relax. The comment was more related to an excellent and well researched comparison written by the OP. Good info. Too bad that in addition to the BMW1150RT being discontinued, the ST1300 will be, too.

 

Fernando, when I first heard the rumor, I heard the successor might be something like a ST 1600 V6. Whatever it is, I hope Honda tries to lose weight. And if it looks like an RT 1150, I'm buying.

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It sounds like someone needs to ride a 1200RT... considering that this is the current RT going against the current ST. I just sold my ST 1300 to buy my R1200RT and the difference is night and day. There were too many annoyances and areas of poor performace. My 1200RT will outhandle my old ST in every aspect from low speed, to high speed sweepers, it doesnt really matter as the handling of these 2 bikes are really that differnt. I also know many CHP officers that have had just the opposite of your findings for the performace of the 1200RT vs ST. I also find it funny about the conclusions of scraping pegs. Personally this was a regular experience on the ST and even the CHP/police units will say that this the gauge for finding the bikes limits. No scraping at all on my RT with alot more aggresive lean angles. The suspension of my ST was basically like a truck at best while my RT absorbs every imperfection. Too me these are big things for a sport touring bike that I am going to ride for 800 miles on in a day. I will eventually get around to doing my own comparison but I can already tell mine wont be nearly as favorable to the ST.
As I recall you sold the ST1300 only two months from start to finish despite your glowing early posts in an ST forum. How many miles on the old ST1300 did you ride? From your initial internet posts to the end it seemed to me that the ST1300 was a poor choice for you and you just had to come to grips with that choice.

 

Handling is a subjective sort of thing and I can't fault your opinion though. On the other hand in the last 4 years there have been many comparos of these bikes [R1200RT and ST1300] and poor handling is not generally associated with either of these motorcycles. Most heap praise on both of them despite the ST's weight and the RT's vague feedback. Whatever is best for you - ride it and have fun.

 

You are correct that I only had it for about 2 months or so, maybe 3. I also managed to put about 4k miles on in in that time. If you followed my posts about the ST on the ST-owners forum site, you will have made note that I complained about the suspension from day one. I have also always made note of the diiferent annoyances that I had ran accross. One big annoyance added with alot of smaller annoyances make a really big a annoyance. This is the reason I sold the ST. I also have had an 1100RT and sold it for the very same reasons. The suspension on my ST was bad from day one, even with alot of playing around with the settings and I had always commented on the lack of ground clearance. The ST was a nice bike in some ways but feel way too short in what I consider very critical areas. If the ST had a better suspension, and more ground clearance I probably would still have it as most of its other faults can be tolerated. Yes there are alot of little not picky things like not being able to see the gauges in the bright sunlight, the transmission would really like to find neutral on the 1-2 shift, there were massive amounts of backpressure with the windshield up, the glove box doubles as an easy bake oven, the keys are fragile, the keys dont go in the ignition very well, the latch mechanism on the cases were designed by a 3 year old, the trip computer is about as accurate as a weather report, the bike felt top heavy,etc... but these are somewhat forgiveable as every bike has some little issues. There isnt a perfect bike out there, but the suspension was bad and shook the bike on any road less than perfect, it had a nasty instability while in dirty air or passing a truck and anytime the leaning in a turn got fun the pegs kissed the ground and said, "no mas". There are still things I am a fan of on the ST. The motor was smooth, the wet clutch was nice, ergonomics werent that bad for me after some surgery to the stock setup but I still had some discomfort like a lack of leg room and narrow handlebars. The bars being narrow would lead to early fatigue on long twisty sections of road. The double glovebox was a nice touch eventhough you would have to consider the item being placed in there, did I mention it gets hot in there??? The side tipover wings are nice and I honsetly dont understand why all bikes dont have these. The diplay was cool at night giving the nightrider effect. During the day they werent good at all as seeing them during the day were a bit of a nusance. The brakes on the ST were good despite the ABS being hard to get activated. I liked the look of the ST while the RT is still growing on me, however; I am more intrested in function over form.

 

The ST has some good traits to it but the 1200RT even tops areas that the ST impressed me. For example the airflow over the fairong on the ST was very smooth and had descent wind protection, but then I ride the RT and the air is smoother yet and can create a very protected calm quiet pocket of air. While the ST would generate large forces on the back from backpressure when the winshield went up, I am unphased by any elevation changes of the RT's winshield. I dont like knocking any bikes ergonomics as everone is sized different and prefers different styles. I will just say that for me the RT is near perfect out of the box. The suspension of the RT cant be beat in my opinion. It absorbs everything so well and really turns the bike into a luxury feel and inspires a rider even on rough roads. Lets face it, in california the roads arent getting any better. If you live in a state with really smooth roads like nevada the ST's trucklike ride isnt a big issue like it is here. The motor of the ST was uninspiring and this took a while to figure out, but I was trying to figure out why after logging in quite a few miles, I didnt have that fun factor I have grown to love about riding a bike. It finally dawned on me that the ST doesnt have that increase in acceleration like most bikes. Its very flat and numb feeling. I guess this is where people get the idea of the ST being boring. I dont understand when people say the ST lacks character though. Maybe I have a different definition of that. The ST does have its own habits, flaws and traits unlike any other bike just like any other bike I have owned. The RT's luggage system is by far the best sytem I have used. Its funny, because honda guys make jokes about the BMW turn signals using 3 buttons for one function but it takes 2 keyholes to operate 1 side case on a honda. Let me say that the honda case mechanism is a cluster. 2 key holes, one flimsy key and a frustrating mount. The Rt's luggage can be opened without a key if desired and takes one key to perate the whole thing. I have always said that the difference is in the details. When I went on an overnighter with the ST and went to use the side cases as luggage there was nothign to hold the item in. The BMW has a nice strap system in it to do so and when I takes the cases off at my destination the bike doesnt look like a shaved cat. I am not even going to mention the obvious feature that are completely absent on the honda like cruise controls, heated grips, heated seat, gear indicator, self canceling turn signals, esa, etc... Going back to the little things, the BMW has 2 top case options that attach to the factory rack with nothing else needed. How doe the honda top case mount? Oh wait, I forgot, honda doesnt sell a top case for the ST in the US. Why is that???? so, if I do order one form Europe, how does it attach? What you mean theres a plate to mount to the rack plate??? that doesnt sound good. I will stop there but you get my point. The RT is so far the best bike I have ridden to date and has me energized about riding all the time. The RT in my opinion dominates the ST in so many ways but thats my opinion and for my usage only yours may vary. If you have an ST and your happy then great, but it didnt do the trick for me.

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from the LASD motorcycle 32-lap high-speed course Pomona Fairplex October 2008, courtesy of DaveTheAffable, who was there.

 

Note: The LASD website http://www.lasd.org/sites/motorcycletest/index.html does not yet have the completed 2008 report online

 

 

Compared to 2006 times and speed in [brackets], the 2008 preliminary numbers shows the BMW has 3 riders with faster times, while the ST has 3 riders with slower times.

Sorry about the formatting. I'm a klutz at transferring the spacing and columns.

 

 

 

 

 

BMW 1200RT

 

RIDER 2008 TIME-[2006] SPEED[2006]

 

Ofcr 1 1-8 1:21.5 [123.59] 68.9 [67.6]

Dep 2 9-16 1:22.5 [123.75] 67.9 [67.5]

Ofcr 3 17-24 1:25.6 [124.86] 65.6 [66.0]

Dep 4 25-32 1:21.8 [129.05] 68.7 [63.5]

 

 

 

HONDA ST1300 PA

 

RIDER 2008 TIME-[2006] SPEED[2006]

 

Ofcr 1 1-8 1:23.0 [122.66] 68.1 [68.4]

Dep 2 9-16 1:22.8 [122.45] 67.7 [68.5]

Ofc 3 17-24 1:25.9 [123.68] 65.4 [67.5]

Dep 4 25-32 1:22.5 [128.02] 68.1 [64.2]

 

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Thanks. Too bad Honda is discontinuing the ST1300.

 

Yup, you read it here first.

 

Uh, well, actually I read that back in March, I think, and it turned out to be a hoax. You have new info?

Could be a hoax again. But I don't think so. It is to be replaced with a new model, designation unknown at this time. When? That wasn't told me either, only that the new bike is in the latter stages of development.

 

Yeah, I know. All bikes have a successor "in development." True. But this information was specific to the ST1300 and I personally believe it. You are free not to.

 

Look, it's not a bad thing. The ST11 was discontinued and the 13 is a better bike. Relax. The comment was more related to an excellent and well researched comparison written by the OP. Good info. Too bad that in addition to the BMW1150RT being discontinued, the ST1300 will be, too.

 

Fernando, when I first heard the rumor, I heard the successor might be something like a ST 1600 V6. Whatever it is, I hope Honda tries to lose weight. And if it looks like an RT 1150, I'm buying.

 

Fernando, I agree that a replacement model would be a good thing for the ST, I was simply asking for detail, as the original rumor Bill mentions is alleged to be an April Fool's hoax on another forum, a fake press release suggesting the Goldwing and ST were both being discontinued and a single 150hp V6, 1600cc bike would be offered in sport touring and full pimp touring editions. And Bill, thanks for the extensive writeup and followup commentary.

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Dave in Doodah
oNE wORD... Dewd..!

 

+1 in all caps... DEWD!

 

One hulluva great post - in content and execution. And you went beyond just nuts and bolts comparison to include many intangibles, too. Very well done - thank you so much. That said, there is one intangible that will cause me to always having a BMW in my garage... that wonderful boxer layout.

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One of the intangibles is dealer support. While BMW has its dealer problems -- there are too few and some of them are arrogant twerps -- I've never been to a Honda dealership who knew jack about the ST.

 

I guess this is another area with no clear winner. Do you want arrogant and rare or plentiful and ignorant?

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One of the intangibles is dealer support. While BMW has its dealer problems -- there are too few and some of them are arrogant twerps -- I've never been to a Honda dealership who knew jack about the ST.

 

I guess this is another area with no clear winner. Do you want arrogant and rare or plentiful and ignorant?

 

I'm fortunate to have an excellent family owned BMW dealer in the area, and they have been good to me. This impresses me: their service manager is doing free classes this winter, to teach how to adjust valves and the other maintenance on the various models over numerous weekends.

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One of the intangibles is dealer support. While BMW has its dealer problems -- there are too few and some of them are arrogant twerps -- I've never been to a Honda dealership who knew jack about the ST.

 

I guess this is another area with no clear winner. Do you want arrogant and rare or plentiful and ignorant?

 

I'm fortunate to have an excellent family owned BMW dealer in the area, and they have been good to me. This impresses me: their service manager is doing free classes this winter, to teach how to adjust valves and the other maintenance on the various models over numerous weekends.

 

After having the Honda and the BMW, I can say that there are definatley more Honda dealers but some of the dealers I called truthfully didnt even know what the ST1300 was. That scares me alot. The BMW dealers may be be fewer and further between but the majority of them all have been very good with mostly intelligent people in regards to the bikes they sell. Even when I had my Honda I trusted my BMW dealer alot more than any of my Honda dealers and checked to see if they will service the Honda since I know they re-condition all the used bikes beofre hitting the floor.

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One of the intangibles is dealer support. While BMW has its dealer problems -- there are too few and some of them are arrogant twerps -- I've never been to a Honda dealership who knew jack about the ST.

 

I guess this is another area with no clear winner. Do you want arrogant and rare or plentiful and ignorant?

 

Good point. I looked at the ST1300 when I replaced the R1100RT. My local Honda dealer didn't appear to care much about or have much history with the ST. With two local BMW dealers nearby that both do good work and offer fantastic customer service the choice was easy. Whenever I have the dealer work on the bike the salesman that lives up the road from me rides it into work. When he returns that evening his favorite beverage is awaiting him in the case of his GS.

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Great review! But one item that really caught my attention was this:

 

and that’s with starting it on its side stand all the time, which is kind of a no-no with beemers

 

I have a brand new 2009 RT, and I always start it on the side stand and then let it warm up (just a bit, while I put on my helmet and gloves) before riding away. I suppose it makes sense that the opposed cylinders might not be equally lubricated when the bike is leaning to the left, but is this actually a significant effect?

 

Maybe I should get in the habit of parking it on the center stand and starting it that way.

 

I did a bunch of searches, but "start", "center", "side", and "stand" seem to show up in practically every unrelated thread, so I couldn't find any actual discussion of this topic.

 

-Brett

 

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Great review! But one item that really caught my attention was this:

 

and that’s with starting it on its side stand all the time, which is kind of a no-no with beemers

 

I have a brand new 2009 RT, and I always start it on the side stand and then let it warm up (just a bit, while I put on my helmet and gloves) before riding away. I suppose it makes sense that the opposed cylinders might not be equally lubricated when the bike is leaning to the left, but is this actually a significant effect?

 

Maybe I should get in the habit of parking it on the center stand and starting it that way.

 

I did a bunch of searches, but "start", "center", "side", and "stand" seem to show up in practically every unrelated thread, so I couldn't find any actual discussion of this topic.

 

-Brett

 

You may very well be right, Brett, especially in your questioning whether it's a "significant effect." I used the qualifying phrase, "kind of a no-no" because my sources for this aside were not documented as in other parts of the eval. One source was an independent BMW tech, [who did good work,] advising me no side stand starts after I mentioned smoking and smelling of fuel strongly at start up, and continuing oil loss well after the wear-in period. I do remember reading the same caution somewhere on this site but can't remember in what context or discussion.

 

Do any knowledgeable BMW wrenchers know? Anyone? Buehler?

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**A final ps—One pleasant surprise of my ST1300 was the disappearance of my back pain. I always had that nagging pain just inside the left shoulder blade whenever I rode. Since I never had that pain in my earlier motorcycle days, I wrote it off to age. I tried exercising back muscles. Rest breaks. I took aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, which sometimes made it better, but it never disappeared. I grew to accept it as the price of fun. So every time I rode over about 200 miles, it would creep down between my shoulder blades, always on the upper left side. At the end of 400-500 mile days, it bugged me throughout the night, though not terribly.

 

I didn't notice this on first reading (OK, I admit I skimmed a bit), but now that I read this it really strikes a chord.

 

As mentioned in my prior reply to your review, I'm a new owner of an R1200RT (it's about 3 weeks old). Strangely, for the past 1-2 weeks I've had a persistent pain just inside of my right shoulder blade, as if I had pulled something. Sounds a lot like what you report. Even a couple days of not riding didn't help it in my case, so it's not as clearly related to motorcycling, but it sure sounds similar.

 

My RT doesn't seem to pull to either side. But the seating position is a heck of a lot more upright than my prior bike, a VFR800, so your seating angle theory might have something to it.

 

Hopefully, in my case, the pain will pass as I adapt to the new position. Or maybe it will just pass for no reason...

 

-Brett

 

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I found that I suffered a bit of back and neck pain at first when I got my RT also. What I have found is that coming from a cruiser and having riden HD's primarily for quite some time that I was using muscles that had been neglected for a long time. The way that I have dealt with this is by stretching alot more and applying the Master Yoda riding position. I have found that now after being on my RT for some months and racking up over 12k that any discomfort is gone and I am infact much more comfortable and likely to ride longer distances with out stopping and remain pain free. It seems to have taken a few months to adjust to the bike and a bit longer for my butt to break in to the stock regular seat to finaly atain the holy grail of comfort with a perma-grin frfom the fun I am having, and this is taking into account that I have bulges and herniations in the lumbar disks numbers 2 to 5 and some bad spots in my thorasic and cervical areas also. Stretching is your friend and should be done both pre and post ride, that along wuth seating position and body placement can have a huge effect on making your ride much better. As to the comparo I say Wow!, and thanks. I have been looking at the st as a possible bike for the wife along with a list of others including the new "low-low" RT, the f800st low, the f600gs low, and even the VFR with hard bags. The review realy helped out as I had not thought about the weight issue, so thanks again. And for you pain sufferers out there STRETCH and look at your body possition before changing the bike around. For myself all it ended up taking was a set of barbacks to finish the bike and yes I still ride the stock seat.

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My coworker bought a new Honda ST back in 2003 and loved everything about it except the heat on his ankles/legs. Do they still do that?

 

AFAIK, Honda ST heat is still the same. They're not good at responding to complaints.

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Thank you for your all inclusive review. I do appreciate the amount of time and effort that went into this.

 

Though I must say that I will agree to disagree with you on many points in your review, my position is as an owner of an R1200RT and not an earlier model. I have ridden an ST1300 for an extended ride and prefer the BMW hands down.

 

I feel that your efforts would have been more relevent if the review was performed on an R1200RT.

 

But, thank you again for your great effort ... There is definately alot of useful information in your writing and I have learned a few things as well.

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Well, I sure goofed on the bolded part below. :dopeslap:

 

In a recent Hexhead thread, two tech mods say that starting the oilhead on a sidestand is OK. I repeated an urban myth that it burns oil. It does not.

 

I'm unable to edit it out this late, so this notice will have to serve as a 2nd-rate correction.

 

Thanks to the tech mods and to a new member, Sea Beast, for following up and checking info.

 

 

++ST lack of oil use

It is so cool to own and ride a motorcycle like the ST that uses no oil, maybe 3-4 tablespoons during the first 8K miles, and that’s with starting it on its side stand all the time, which is kind of a no-no with beemers. 4K after my last oil change, it has used no oil. None. Talk about finely engineered tolerances. The oil also remains a great-looking transparent red for 1-2 K after the oil change. And how pleasant to take 2-3K road trips without packing oil, funnel, plastic bag holders for same, extra paper towels or dirty rags. In fact, it feels great not even checking oil on trips. I already trust this motorcycle.

 

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