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Matts_12GS

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Looking for some advice.

I have a 2005 GS that i've got 95K miles on. I've had the bike for a long time and am ready for something new. I'm thinking of an RT for a change of pace, but unsure of whether to bite on a cheap and clean low mile camhead near me or start shopping for a wethead. I'm not going to spend the cash to buy a brand new one, and I'm wondering where the best bang for the buck is. Is it in an later model camhead, or an early wethead now that the shift cam bikes are coming out.

 

Any thoughts?

 

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I've never ridden a Camhead, but I think it still is the tried and true automotive layout of engine and transmission separated by a dry clutch. I think the Camheads are slicker shifting than a '14-'16 Wethead, with shifting improved as of '17. I suspect the Camhead is a bit more of a touring/sport balance whereas the Wethead is for sure a sport/touring balance.

 

The Wethead has a very different personality from previous RTs, and surely way different than my previous R1100RT. Much more of a sporting sense to the Wethead with quicker, steering and quicker revving motor. I don't know how much more real world HP a Wethead has over a Camhead but I can tell you that computer on the Wethead tames the delivery out of tight corners to keep it civilized and the bars get real light with the front wheel wanting to go for some air.

 

 

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I've only ridden the 2005 RT, and my current 2015 RT. So I don't have a good frame of comparison compared to most here.

 

But there are two things I'd personally use as my primary considerations:

 

1. Set your budget. Then look for the best model you can buy for that money.

2. Still do yourself a favor and ride both. Especially the new Wetheads. Depending on what YOU prioritize, you may find that just spending a little more on a Wethead will make you happier in the long run. Or you may decide it's not worth the extra money for a few extra smiles...

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Looking for some advice.

I have a 2005 GS that i've got 95K miles on. I've had the bike for a long time and am ready for something new. I'm thinking of an RT for a change of pace, but unsure of whether to bite on a cheap and clean low mile camhead near me or start shopping for a wethead. I'm not going to spend the cash to buy a brand new one, and I'm wondering where the best bang for the buck is. Is it in an later model camhead, or an early wethead now that the shift cam bikes are coming out.

 

Any thoughts?

 

Afternoon Matt

 

Just the change from the early 1200GS to any of the 1200RT's is going to be significant change so jumping from the GS to later 1200RT will be strange & different.

 

Personally I'm not that fond of the early wetheads but I usually see or deal with the bad not the good.

 

The later camhead bikes have been pretty solid & trouble free (except for some handlebar switch issues (BMW usually covers those).

 

There are some pretty decent deals to be had on low mile later camheads so right no those are hard to pass up if looking for a decent bike on a budget.

 

 

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Matt, I too am not sure about Camheads, but I had a Hexhead, 2008 and it was wonderful, the 08 was a great flawless machine, except for the persistent gas tank fuel level strip. BMW should have just bit the bullet and fixed the darn thing. I had no trouble with the final drive, which I think is a trouble spot in earlier models. Easy to work on, simple almost as an airhead! It had plenty of power. So then I test rode a wethead, opps way more power, more responsive and handled a tiny bit better. I sold my 08 right away and now have a 2018 RT. I think if you bought a hexhead you would be able to pick one up pretty cheap and then ride forever. But again I think the wethead is a step up

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My GS is a hexhead, and I have ridden a couple different hexhead RTs, and a cam head GS.

 

My question is really a matter of which platform, camhead or wethead is the better bang for the buck.

 

I know the early wethead bikes head shock issues that we're fixed, and there camheads scared everyone whitless with the change in maintenance.

 

For those who went camhead to wethead, how different is the total power and ride feel from the dry clutch bike?

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The Wethead RT for your size ( being tall ) might feel a little cramped in the seat-peg relationship. I'm sure an aftermarket seat would help, it's just something I noticed when switching to that bike. The newer RT will have a performance edge over the Camheads no doubt, but who cares! :dontknow: If you find a nice Camhead go for it! :thumbsup:

 

Pat

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I came from a string of Japanese bikes with my last one being a 2005 FJR1300. I was all set to get some new or used Wethead but a really nice, low-mileage Camhead popped into my dealer. If your criteria is bang for the buck, I'm extremely pleased with mine at $10,500 for a like new machine with 6,200 miles on it that runs like a sewing machine). The obvious styling and electronic features you can see for yourself and decide which you like but there are a couple of non-obvious ones for you:

 

Wethead:

1) Wet clutch mounted up front behind the engine cover. Easy to get to and probably fairly inexpensive to replace. Don't hear much on hear about people replacing them and wet clutch technology is obviously very well developed so I'd expect them to be pretty much bullet-proof.

2) The alternator is mounted INSIDE the engine between the crankcase and the gearbox and is incredibly expensive to replace. The part itself is $1400 and to that you have add the labor needed to remove the engine from the bike then and partially disassemble it. They don't seem to fail often but when they do look out. Personally I'm much more afraid of electrical gremlins than of mechanical ones so this was a big deal for me.

3) The camshafts need to be removed to adjust any valve clearances that go out. This isn't hard and the clearances are very stable.

 

Camhead

1) Dry clutch. Mounted between the engine and gearbox but only the gearbox needs to come off (still a big job but you don't have to break open any casings to get to it). They seem to last forever.

2) The alternator is similar to automotive type and is mounted above the engine and driven by an externally accessible belt.

3) Valve adjustment is via shims (like the Wethead) but the only the followers need to be remove and are held in place by C-Clips so they just pop off.

Edited by Pappy35
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The Wethead RT for your size ( being tall ) might feel a little cramped in the seat-peg relationship. I'm sure an aftermarket seat would help, it's just something I noticed when switching to that bike. The newer RT will have a performance edge over the Camheads no doubt, but who cares! :dontknow: If you find a nice Camhead go for it! :thumbsup:

 

Pat

As far as being cramped, I bought a Russell Day Long. With the stock saddle I had installed a foot peg lowering kit, and I took it off when I got the Russell. Im 6'. The Russell put me up, and back a little. I can do 500 mile days no problem. As far as which RT to get, I went from an 09 to a new 2016. The 09 had flat spots in the power band that bugged me, and I got a case of the new bike itch in the meantime anyway. There is no comparison, the 16 has responsive power, and BMW looked at every aspect of the bike and improved it. There is talk about the gear box on the 16, but mine doesn't bother me. If you are an avid rider I recommend the wet head. You will appreciate the difference.

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The sales person at the dealer by me said some of the early Waterheads were tough shifting, some not. Mine is a good one I guess. I suspect if you are used to a Japanese snick shifting bike the earlier Wetheads might be a shock. Coming from a R1110RT and having to get into the whole Zen shifting thing on that bike makes my 2015 Waterhead an awesome shifting bike by comparison. Shift Assist Pro models maybe makes this issue a moot point for the early Wetheads.

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If the price is right, it's hard to go wrong with either. I put 108k miles on my camhead RT and now have a liquid cooled GS with 92k on it. Both are great bikes. The wethead is noticeably more powerful.

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Woods Fun Center here in Austin had 2 RTs for sale this past weekend - brand new, loaded for $15ish OTD. MSRP of over $23K. There is a deeply discounted K16GT on the floor too but I'd stick with the boxer.

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I had a 2006 RT that had 36K on it when I sold it and never an issue other than the fuel strip that BMW covered. I moved to a 2016 RT and also own a 2012 GSA (Cam head) and both are great bikes. The 2016 is in many ways better than my 2006 RT although I did love that '06! And the 2012 cam head is the best oil head BMW I have owned. They just keep getting better and better. There are some killer deals on 2018 RT's right now. My buddy bought a 2018 on Saturday and they really made him a nice deal. Also know of a 2013 RT with about 34K on it for sale if interested. It is well taken care of and in excellent condition.

 

With either option you won't be disappointed. If me and I had the $$ I would go with a wet heard RT.

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I came from a string of Japanese bikes....

 

Hi Pappy35. Your list of pro's and con's made me smile. I think the idea of the alternator inside the engine has MUCH MORE appeal being kept away from all the dirt and elements the previous models had to experience. I haven't heard on many alternator failures on pre Wetheads and I have heard of NO alternator issues on Wetheads (yet), so don't really think this should even be considered on your list. Lets face it, we hear of more issues deep inside the bowels of the engine that crop up way more often than an alternator.

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+1 In general the alternator might only be bettered by the solenoid for reliability.

 

Come to think of it, I have only had to replace one or two alternators in my entire decades of motorized machine experience (numerous motorcycles, cars, boat motors, all manner of small engines) and the two both were extenal units. Never one that lived inside the motor. While that anecdotal experience guarantees nothing for anyone including myself, it seems a safe bet to not place much weight on the type of alternator in the decision process.

 

 

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I came from a string of Japanese bikes....

 

Hi Pappy35. Your list of pro's and con's made me smile. I think the idea of the alternator inside the engine has MUCH MORE appeal being kept away from all the dirt and elements the previous models had to experience. I haven't heard on many alternator failures on pre Wetheads and I have heard of NO alternator issues on Wetheads (yet), so don't really think this should even be considered on your list. Lets face it, we hear of more issues deep inside the bowels of the engine that crop up way more often than an alternator.

 

Morning Andy

 

Internal alternators can be an issue if not designed & cooled properly. Just look a the early Goldwings & their very high stator failure occurrences, or more recently the BMW 700/800 bikes that are plagued with constant & expensive alternator stator failures. (Finally, BMW seems to have a handle on the 700/800 stator failures but it took many years for them to sort the failures out & re-design the darn things to cool them properly).

 

Internal alternators have serious cooling concerns as well as needing to be free from long term oil additive effects on the wiring insulation.

 

One of the big issues with most internal alternators is how to effectively regulate them as slip rings & brushes don't work so good when covered with oil so most are 3 phase & run at or near full output with the excess current dumped into heat.

 

Let's hope that BMW learned from their less-than-stellar 700/800 bike alternator experience & designed proper cooling & current dump into the 1200wc bikes as the stator (just the part alone) on the 1200wc is just under $1400.00 not counting the extensive labor involved to replace.

 

 

 

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One of the local club members (BMW-NEF) had his alternator break on his 2014? GS-LC on way to Alaska this past summer.

It happened in Canada and the local BMW dealer repaired it for around $4,500.00, I was told.

Some of this information is second hand and I also don't now how many miles the bike had on it at the time of failure.

I do know that the fellow was glad his extended warranty company paid for it.

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With several of the Wethead bikes approaching 100,000 miles, and the fact that they have been out for 5+ years, I feel like the alternators have proven themselves to be....not a concern at all.

 

I don't remember seeing a post about one needing replaced on any forum? I don't doubt there has been replacements. But in the numbers these have sold in there would be more visibility if there were several failures.

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I came from a string of Japanese bikes....

 

Hi Pappy35. Your list of pro's and con's made me smile. I think the idea of the alternator inside the engine has MUCH MORE appeal being kept away from all the dirt and elements the previous models had to experience. I haven't heard on many alternator failures on pre Wetheads and I have heard of NO alternator issues on Wetheads (yet), so don't really think this should even be considered on your list. Lets face it, we hear of more issues deep inside the bowels of the engine that crop up way more often than an alternator.

 

I only mentioned it to highlight one of the less obvious differences between the Wethead and Camhead models. I totally agree that there haven't been many reports but there are some out there. It's not none. The nightmare applies only when the bikes drop off warranty. Here's one: Wethead GS Alternator Failure (it has a couple of really good images too). There are several others. Check out the GS forums.

Edited by Pappy35
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well, this coming weekend, I'm going to ride my hexhead GS to the dealer to test ride the cam and wetheads back to back.

thanks for all the input!! I will be sure to keep everyone posted on what follows me home.

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Alternator technology on motorcycle is quite old! Heck, Triumph changed over from DC generator to alternator around the mid-'60s! The big difference between that, and the present day alternator is that the old ones were mounted to the end of the crankshaft in the primary drive housing and uses the clutch's oil for cooling. Very easy to get to, if needed, but I had never heard of one failing. The big Zenor diode, to rectify and control the AC to DC output is mounted on a hefty finned heat-sink, mounted to the frame under the tank. But, then, back in those days, the only loads that we had were just the front and rear lights, and that was it! :)

Edited by PadG
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I had an 04 RT and it was extremely stable. I rode an 18 and felt the wind moved it around alot especially on the highway. Take a long test ride. I also rode the GS and it was stable.

Edited by Richard_D
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I had an 04 RT and it was extremely stable. I rode an 18 and felt the wind moved it around alot especially on the highway. Take a long test ride. I also rode the GS and it was stable.

Interesting Richard, I experienced the opposite on my test rides.

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I had an 04 RT and it was extremely stable. I rode an 18 and felt the wind moved it around alot especially on the highway. Take a long test ride. I also rode the GS and it was stable.

Interesting Richard, I experienced the opposite on my test rides.

 

Could be how tight/loose you keep your torso, arms, and wrists is part of the differing experiences. The older RTs and guessing all the GS models, due to their design purpose of traveling less improved roads, have more conservative front end geometries and would be less affected than the Waterhead RT by subtle unintended inputs.

 

My '99RT is rock stable and requires significantly more input force on the bars to flick it around when riding frisky. I really like how responsive my '15RT is but initially thought it was more affected by cross winds and truck turbulence VS my '99 RT. As my ride time increased on the '15 RT I realized that with the more responsive geometry I had to relearn maintaining a light touch on the bars like I was riding a sport bike and and the was rewarded with a very stable riding bike.

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Bernie is pretty subtle on every input but the throttle .. :bike::rofl:

 

My 96 RT felt a truck ridden back to back with my hexhead GS. The GS being about 100lbs lighter contributed much more to it being blown around than the full fairings on the oilhead.

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I had an 04 RT and it was extremely stable. I rode an 18 and felt the wind moved it around alot especially on the highway. Take a long test ride. I also rode the GS and it was stable.

 

Having owned a '06 RT and then moving to a 2016 RT I do find the new RT a bit more sensitive to wind and turbulence. Not a concern but certainly a bit different than my 2006 RT. I just believe it is a different bike with different aerodynamics and feel. That and the clutch engagement point on the 2016 are my only complaints and both pretty minor. I would still take the 2016 overall versus the 2006. But both great bikes. I would not hesitate to own any 1200 series RT.

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Hi Terry,

 

Sadly I didn't get them in. SWMBO informed me that there Sunday plans I I had counted on were actually in Saturday. Weather looks good for Wednesday, I'm going to go then. thanks

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So for sure more likely the Wethead alternator fails than an asteroid taking out Earth. IMOHO this should be weighted not much more than an asteroid hit in the decision to buy a boxer with an external vs internal alternator.

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So for sure more likely the Wethead alternator fails than an asteroid taking out Earth. IMOHO this should be weighted not much more than an asteroid hit in the decision to buy a boxer with an external vs internal alternator.

 

I think the odds are somewhat more likely but, yes, I agree. I only brought it up because someone stated there have been no reported Wethead alternator failures and this just happened to occur a few days ago. 8-)

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I only brought it up because someone stated there have been no reported Wethead alternator failures and this just happened to occur a few days ago. 8-)

 

I think you are referring to what I wrote?

 

"I don't remember seeing a post about one needing replaced on any forum? I don't doubt there has been replacements. But in the numbers these have sold in there would be more visibility if there were several failures."

 

I don't expect no failures out of any machine. I did do some searching and they do show up. Mostly 2013 GS models. There was an improved alternator put in Wetheads starting with the 4/14 build dates. The recent RT alternator failure was of the early design. I hope I don't have to deal with it, but even so I see these as having a very low failure rate.

Edited by realshelby
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I only brought it up because someone stated there have been no reported Wethead alternator failures and this just happened to occur a few days ago. 8-)

 

I think you are referring to what I wrote?

 

"I don't remember seeing a post about one needing replaced on any forum? I don't doubt there has been replacements. But in the numbers these have sold in there would be more visibility if there were several failures."

 

I don't expect no failures out of any machine. I did do some searching and they do show up. Mostly 2013 GS models. There was an improved alternator put in Wetheads starting with the 4/14 build dates. The recent RT alternator failure was of the early design. I hope I don't have to deal with it, but even so I see these as having a very low failure rate.

 

Morning realshelby

 

My parts book only shows the 1200GS receiving an updated stator. Do you have something showing the 1200RT (wc) also got an updated stator?

 

I did call a BMW tec that I know & he told me he has seen a few 1200GS (wc) stator failures but mostly in the early 1200GS bikes but he wasn't sure about the specific model years all being pre 2014.

 

From past history I would expect (some) GS bikes to be the first bikes to experience stator failures as they are more likely to get stuck in the mud & deep sand & experience elevated internal engine/oil temperatures. I have stuck my hexhead GS a couple of times so deep that the oil temps hit the max & the engine was rattling like a steel barrel full of loose chains when I finally rode it free. Water cooling & a fan should help a little on the wc bikes but they can still make extreme heat when stuck with little or no air flow across the engine & the water cooling only effecting the upper cylinder & head areas.

 

It took around 25K-35K on the BMW 800GS bikes before stator problems showed up but a number of the 800GS bikes that failed a stator re-failed again & again at about the same mileage.

 

 

 

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Could it be that the stator was upgraded before the RT received the W/C engine in the ‘14 model year? I sure hope so!

 

Morning Rockosmith

 

That sure is possible but the 1200RT & the 1200GS call for different part number stators so I doubt the 1200RT got the updated GS stator.

 

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Morning realshelby

 

My parts book only shows the 1200GS receiving an updated stator. Do you have something showing the 1200RT (wc) also got an updated stator?

 

I did call a BMW tec that I know & he told me he has seen a few 1200GS (wc) stator failures but mostly in the early 1200GS bikes but he wasn't sure about the specific model years all being pre 2014.

 

DR, no, I don't have anything based on facts at all. Just what I had read on ADV and BMWLT. I read that the "updated" alternator came into place in the 04/14 build date Wethead. I assumed that would include the RT, maybe they did too. I didn't know there was a different alternator in the GS. And I would wonder why. I assume your parts book is showing a superseded part number? I am kind of hoping it is an error in that it does not show the RT also being changed. Especially since mine is an 05/14 build! I replaced the clutch in my '04 RT. That is a big job. Pulling the engine would be one thing in the Wethead, but having the split the transmission apart sends images of bearings, spacers rolling across the shop floor when the seal breaks loose!

 

Edited by realshelby
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Thanks Pat.

That is a good deal. I looked at another 14 this morning that I am going to do some investigating and put an offer in on.

 

2014, 1400 miles. No GPS, no top case, no keyless start, but most of the other options. I'm thinking of offering around $9500.

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I think with this upgrade a new paradigm is in order: How about the administrators pay the members for participating on the board--a sort of reverse things. I think its bound to improve membership, don't you?

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DR, no, I don't have anything based on facts at all. Just what I had read on ADV and BMWLT. I read that the "updated" alternator came into place in the 04/14 build date Wethead. I assumed that would include the RT, maybe they did too. I didn't know there was a different alternator in the GS. And I would wonder why. I assume your parts book is showing a superseded part number? I am kind of hoping it is an error in that it does not show the RT also being changed. Especially since mine is an 05/14 build! I replaced the clutch in my '04 RT. That is a big job. Pulling the engine would be one thing in the Wethead, but having the split the transmission apart sends images of bearings, spacers rolling across the shop floor when the seal breaks loose!

 

Afternoon realshelby

 

I do show a 'supersede' on the 1200GS (wc) but show nothing on the 1200RT (wc).

 

Now this doesn't mean that BMW didn't quietly change the darn thing at production level & retain the same part number but that is usually not the case as BMW usually changes the part number slightly so dealers can purge old stock & not install pre-supersede parts.

 

Usually (but not always) the stator part is not the issue anyhow, unless the stators were just plain built incorrectly. It is usually a stator cooling issue that kills them in mass.

 

On the BMW 800 it was not the stator part CAUSING the failures but it was the rotor causing the problems even though a stator winding failure was the end result (BMW didn't design any oil flow holes in the rotor so hot oil got trapped in the rotor/stator area (stayed in the rotor uncooled) that THEN allowed overheating of the stator windings. Latest 800 rotors have large holes in the rotor to allow oil entry/exit & much better cooling. In fact I just machined some cooling holes in a friends 800GS rotor as he was headed out on a long trip & didn't want to have the common occurring (trip stopping) stator failure.

 

The good part here is it looks like BMW added enough, & large enough, openings to the 1200(wc) generator to allow good oil flow through the windings.

 

 

 

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DR, interesting point about the holes in the rotor. I do a lot of work with DL and SV 1000 Suzuki's. They have been exhibiting stator failures above what they should. Part of that is the 5 magnets become loose in the rotor and migrate together. We have a fix for that, but it is often both problems at the same time as the shifted magnets do seem to have a dramatic effect on stator failure. One of the things we have come across is that Suzuki changed the rotors somewhere around 2005. Early units had a hole midway in the rotor surface that holds the magnets, one between each magnet. Later units have no hole. No one has given a plausible explanation for why they were there in the first place. I thought maybe to drain excess oil. But didn't take the next step that you pointed out, that they may be there to INCREASE oil flow through the assembly. There does seem to be more later model bikes failing, but then again there are more of them.

 

I agree that BMW would likely change the part number. Never seen a manufacturer not change that when parts change. BUT...I wonder if there is the odd chance that there was likely almost no RT alternators in stock at dealers around the time this might have happened. They might have known they could account for all the superseded parts? Just a thought and probably not the correct one. But it would make me feel better to think I had an improved version.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am late to this thread. So mi dos centavos:

 

Owned a 2002 RT. Thought is was the end-all. Rode it from 72K to 130K. Rear-end went out and the cost to repair vs. bike value and mileage I decided to "upgrade" this summer to a slightly used 10K miles '14 RTW. That's a generation skip, of course.

So last week I had a front wheel replaced and got a loaner, a 2010 RT. I couldn't get back on my RTW fast enough. The R1200RT was a disappointment after the RTW. I do not miss the dry clutch. Love not having to check and top up the damn oil all the time. The extra power! I would not mess with any old oil cooled RT.

 

While chatting with the service rep, explaining my new found appreciation for the RTW after riding the loaner, he warned me not to ride the brand-new '19 1250RTW with the variable cam timing. The risk of a new addiction and financial misappropriation is too high. "You'll mortgage your family to own that bike!"

 

Michael

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