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R1150RT vs Kawasaki Concours (aka "Connie", aka "C-10")


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Hello my fellow R1150RT riders,


I've posted this little essay on Concours Owners Group Forum and thought it may be of interest to members and lurkers of this forum as well:


The following is my initial impression on how the R1150RT compares to the C-10 (1986-2006 Kawasaki Concours, aka "Connie"). I had two Connies before, 1999 and later 2005, for a total of seven riding seasons. Few months ago I sold my 2005 C10 and acquired a 2004 R1150RT in very good shape and already clocked about 5K miles on it. Keep in mind that I am a sport-TOURING, not a SPORT-touring, rider and rarely ride with a pillion.


First most noticeable thing about RT is that it does not salsa in dirty air behind trucks, buses or any other large-and-not-very-aerodynamic moving objects. It rides absolutely straight and feels nailed to the road. This is a total departure from yanking and dancing Connie in similar conditions. While riding Connie, I had always reflexively searched for a lane without a truck/bus/van in front of me to minimize “the dance”. I don’t notice the dirty air or crosswinds as much on RT; the bike just slices through whirls as a knife through butter. I guess BMW R&D guys took good notes while testing the RT in a wind tunnel.


Gears on the RT are different – they are all taller and spread wider. The 6th gear is true overdrive and can not be effectively used at town speeds because it’s too tall. The first five gears will manage 99 per cent of situations and the 6th will shine on the interstate. I may never again search for the “7th gear” as I continuously did with Connie.


I expected a long and unpleasant “acquire-a-taste” period for throbs from the boxer engine but my fears never materialized. It was strange at first, especially at a stand still, to feel how the RT shakes, but I got used to it quickly. Shaking transforms into vibration as the bike starts to move. When I got onto the interstate for the first time I thought that traffic was moving oddly slow only to realize (by checking speedometer) that I am moving well above posted limits. The point is you don’t feel speed on the RT as much as on Connie based only on sensation from engine. When Connie “buzzes” at high rpm the RT just vibrates. This vibration is present at all rpms but does not bother you or, worse, put your hands to sleep. After a while I stopped even noticing this vibration. Having quieter engine and being more aerodynamic, the RT is much quieter bike overall compared to roaring Connie.


Riding the RT at highway speeds brings me to a feature I’ve always wanted on a touring bike – the power adjustable, push-of-the-button windshield. Switching from non-adjustable shield(s) on Connie to infinitely adjustable one on RT makes you realize how intelligent, civilized and practical this feature is. I’ve started using it after only minutes with this bike. Lower down in town, up on the highway, and somewhere in between if it’s hot. I believe this must be a built-in feature on every touring bike. This particular RT has an aftermarket CB euro-style shield which is slightly different in shape, a bit taller and wider than stock and is perfect for my 6’ stature. The stock shield would also be adequate as I have found out testing another RT.


The fairing on the RT is almost as protective as the one on Connie. If it is really-really cold, like below freezing cold, my thumbs are getting frosty even with grip’s heat on high. I suspect an upward flow of air from the bottom of mirror assembly directed just a bit too high and therefore reaching the area below handlebars. This could probably be fixed by installing small deflective wings below mirrors. The side panels are not as wide as those on Connie and my knee are also getting cold faster. Conversely, even reversed scoops on Connie didn’t help keeping my feet as warm as on the RT. Again, you may notice these small imperfections only during very cold weather.


The RT is, of course, no match to muscular Connie in power department but, as I have mentioned before, racing is not my forte and unhurried power delivery is fine for my riding style. Dropping to lower gear makes blending with traffic effortless when entering highways. And even though the RT is not based on a sport bike it flicks in and out of corners almost by itself and feels very secure and planted doing it. For me, a scenic, long and untiring (meaning: my hands are not asleep; my legs are not cramped; my head is not blasted with buffeting; I am stopping only because there is a great scenery to be photographed, not because of fatigue; I am ready for a party after 6 hours of riding; etc.) ride through Catskill or Adirondack Parks is by far more attractive, desirable and enjoyable than a race to outrun everyone on the road or pegs scratching while taking a corner at hair-raising velocity.


Suspension on the RT is plusher so road bumps and potholes of Manhattan are handled gracefully compared to bumpy and rattling Connie which was ready to loose all its parts going up Madison Avenue. Riding the RT along the same avenue felt like riding on smooth surface.


Next, let me tell you about the stopping power of the RT. The first time I had to use the brakes in an emergency (traffic light changing from green to red skipping yellow on an intersection monitored by advertised Red Light Camera!) I thought the bike would stand on its front wheel - that’s how powerful and effortless the brakes are even when only two fingers are operating the brake lever. But all went well - the bike just stopped on the dime. No fuss, no thrills, just extremely efficient, controlled and very short stopping! Both wheels were in contact with asphalt at all times, no wheel locking, no skids, and no slides. That was simply spectacular! Even drivers around me have noticed this grand act! I was so amazed that I later had to google the net to find out how this EVO-servo-ABS-whatever stuff works exactly. The point is it does work and works brilliantly! In the same situation Connie had tried to locked rear wheel and skidded and slide all over for a much longer stopping distance. You could start blaming rider, of course, but I now strongly believe that in an emergency the RT will out brake Connie hands… err, tires down!


The riding position on the RT is more up-right and relaxed. There is no pressure on the wrists/arms/shoulders, no discomfort in the legs, and everything feels more natural. This RT came with additional luxurious custom front seat (Russell’s Day-Long?), but, surprisingly, my tush likes the plain stock seat much better. Front seat can be adjusted over 3 height positions and as it goes up it also slides back giving taller rider more leg room. I’ve tried almost all available seats for Connie but stock seat on RT is more comfortable than all of them.


Putting the RT on its center stand is a breeze. Yes, I did master the technique of raising Titanic... err… Connie on its center stand, but it was always a very carefully coordinated effort, not a natural and easy move as with RT.


Side bags on RT can be equipped with 3 different (size) lids and this one has extra large installed, so I can easily store large full face helmet, summer jacket and more in each, meaning they are much larger than Connie’s. This RT also has an original BMW top box which was specifically made for this model and blends very nicely with bike’s lines. However, fitting a large full face helmet into it requires some creativity because of its odd shape. Closing, opening, removing and installing any bag is a two seconds affair. There is also one lockable storage bin up front and it's larger than both of Connie's combined. Ignition key opens all locks.


As far as negative points - I can’t find any at this time.


I do understand that service and parts for the RT cost more, but that is something I’ve decided to accept. I do not work on my bikes myself because of lack of time and place and, since there is no Kawasaki (or any reputable for that matter) dealer in or near New York City, the service of C10 was always a major headache. Previously, I had to pay for a motorcycle towing service or beg/bribe/blackmail one of my friends to take an unplanned vacation so that he can drive me from and to dependable Kawasaki dealer half a state away. So, where were my savings? Now I can drop the RT at BMW of Manhattan (no affiliation, etc.), be back home 10 minutes later, know that my bike will be taken care of with guaranties and allow my friends to live their own life because I can pick the bike up by myself and at any time I feel like it.


Furthermore, there were few things that have always bothered me about Connie: overall roughness; unavoidable need to customize; fixed windshield; and, although very controlled on both of my C10s, but a "buzz" nonetheless. The RT, on the other hand, is very comfortable in stock form, better designed and equipped and, consequently, more enjoyable and safe to ride. Did I mention the fact that RT is VERY comfortable?


Let me just add that a late model RT with low mileage and in very good shape could be found for $5-6K in today's market. And there is an almost infinite choice of 17" tires available for this bike.



Again, these notes are just my .02 kopeks on how the R1150RT compares to the C10, so your experience may be shockingly different.



Ride safe no matter what you ride and enjoy!


Happy New Year and best wishes!!!


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Urban Surfer

Thanks for that!

I have ridden a few other bikes since I got on my RT, and I am pleased to have made the right choice. Also the support and enthusiasm from other BMW riders is above and beyond any previous experiences I have had riding any other motorcycle.

Now if only this winter would be over

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Welcome to the forum. I too came to my '04 RT from an '03 Concours. It seems many of our experiences are similar. I think I probably ride a little faster than you but I was also always looking for the mysterious 7th gear. Never found it.


One of the first things I noticed was the phenomenal braking power of the RT. Simply superb.


For the three years I owned it, I kept it completely stock save some bar risers and a Throttlemeister lock. I would usually manage about 6K miles a year including the 2004-2006 Three Flags Tours. The first year I got the RT, I put 12K miles on it as I just didn’t want to stop riding.


I know the 1200 RT is a better bike overall than the 1150 but there is something about the 1150’s lines that speak to me and ooze class even at a standstill.


Enjoy your RT; I certainly am enjoying mine.


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Thanks for the reinforcement for the choices we have made. I came to my 04 RT from a Harley, so the differences were even greater (not that I won't have another HD some day, just saying they are day and night from the RT).


My brother has a Honda ST1300, and like your connie, it is faster and more powerful, but I find the RT falls into corners easier, the brakes are better, and looks better.


Welcome to the brand!

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I would take an RT any day of the week over a C10. But I do ride a C14 ('10 model) and let me tell you, the C14 is a completely different animal from the C10. The braking is as good as my 08 1200RT's was (although admittedly the RT had a better braking feel from the stock steel brake lines, which I wish the Connie had) but for handling and power the C14 is in a different class altogether.


But these are different bikes than RT's. Probably a more valid comparison would be to compare a C10 and C14 to an older and newer K bike, respectively.

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Glad you're enjoying your RT. I currently purchased a C10 this year. I did have a R1100RT-P. I pretty much agree with almost everything you've said comaparing the 2 bikes. Except for the C10 was a value for the buck purchase for me. The did get the C10 right, of course they did have 25 years to get it together :dopeslap: The seat is comfortable, the mirrors are useable, there are 2 trip meters, the clock is visible (attention Triumph :wave:) and valve adjustments are 30K+, metal tank - so, I don't need a strap on tank bag :clap: My RT-P went thru 3 transmissions!!!! I have no worries at all with my C10. (disclaimer: my RT-P was an ex police bike and was obviously the trainer bike). I purchased my C10 for $4k and its an 2004 with 15k miles. I was offered an RT with every accessory imaginiable for less $$$, but it was much older and 100k+ miles. I am not mechanically minded. I needed an appliance-bike. It does not have the "character" of a BMW or Ducati - but, its not gonna have the final drive issues. To me, when people say their bike has character what they really mean its a pain in the ass sometimes. I glad you got the bike you wanted. I had to get the bike I thought I needed.

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Very comprehensive comparo. I put 36K miles on a 2000 Connie over 2 1/2 years, went to an 02 K12RS and put 25K miles on it in 2 years and now have 7500 miles on an 02 1150RT I got this summer. Your thoughts are pretty accurate to mine. The Connie was a GREAT value and I can think of few bikes that are better for the dollars spent. I paid $3500 used with only 2900 miles. It was basically a new bike. Good power, bullet proof engine, best mirrors EVER, good ergo's, great weather protection. BUT, EXCESSIVE heat, terrible buffeting and noise from windshield, lots of vibration, engine sounded like a truck, no abs.


The RT is smoother, more comfortable (in every way) vastly better windshield (and elec. adjustable) better bags, way better brakes, great weather protection, better handling. More expensive to buy and operate, has a history of more problems.


The clincher for me though, were those 3 little letter ABS. My second beemer with it and will never have another bike w/out it.



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