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dmozer74

RT vs GS

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dmozer74

I currently ride a Concours 14, but I'm starting to look at a BMW. I'm 6' 0", around 200 pounds, ride 2-up a couple times a year. I commute 3-4 days a week anywhere from 12 miles one-way to 60. I also enjoy the occasional IBA certified ride.  I'm strongly leaning towards a wethead RT, but when I look at the Iron Butt Rally results the GS (and GSA) are far more common for the rally. Can anyone share some insight into why that might be the case and if I need to reconsider my choice? I am not looking to do the IBR during the service life of my next bike.

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92Merc

The GSA is preferred because it has about a 1 gallon bigger tank, so longer range.

 

Outside of that, I think some people just prefer a GS because they don't want as much wind coverage if they are in a hotter climate.  I prefer the coverage of the RT because it's generally colder where I live.

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Bill_Walker

Or they prefer the GS riding position.  Or the longer suspension travel for riding crappy pavement.

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dirtrider
46 minutes ago, dmozer74 said:

I currently ride a Concours 14, but I'm starting to look at a BMW. I'm 6' 0", around 200 pounds, ride 2-up a couple times a year. I commute 3-4 days a week anywhere from 12 miles one-way to 60. I also enjoy the occasional IBA certified ride.  I'm strongly leaning towards a wethead RT, but when I look at the Iron Butt Rally results the GS (and GSA) are far more common for the rally. Can anyone share some insight into why that might be the case and if I need to reconsider my choice? I am not looking to do the IBR during the service life of my next bike.

 

Afternoon dmozer74

 

My personal opinion (as well as minor observations) is the Iron Butt results between RT & GS has more to do with the type of rider that buys a GS/GS-A than the GS/GSA being a better Iron Butt bike.

 

The GS/GS-A riders as a class seem to be more a more adventurous group  than the typical RT buyer.

 

I can't believe that most Iron Butt riders purposely buy a GS with the idea of it being a better Iron Butt bike (especially the early ones that didn't have cruise control).  My guess  is that it is the other way around with a rider buying a GS then looking for adventure so ends up riding in an Iron Butt.  

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TEWKS

If you have ever asked yourself, "hey I wonder if that little dirt road is a shortcut over the pass?" :revit: you may need a GS. :grin: Lucky enough to have both (GS & RT) at the moment and the GS seems to get the nod more times than not. :dontknow:

 

Now saying all that, the Wethead RT is a great bike.

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AZgman

I find my GS more comfortable than my RT was. I put on a touring windscreen from Vtechnik and some hand guard extenders and the wind protection is pretty good. The GS is lighter than the RT and even with the factory low model that I have, it has about 1-1/2" more suspension travel than an RT. But, I agree that the RT is a great bike.

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Selden

I've been told (but don't have personal experience) that the GS is more comfortable for the passenger. One thing to check is how easy it is to get on/off with side cases. Granted, they are completely different bikes, but the squared-off, high mounted side cases on my F700GS are much more intrusive than the rounded, lower cases on my R1100RT — something that I didn't consider when I bought it.

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WBinDE
10 hours ago, AZgman said:

I find my GS more comfortable than my RT was. I put on a touring windscreen from Vtechnik and some hand guard extenders and the wind protection is pretty good. The GS is lighter than the RT and even with the factory low model that I have, it has about 1-1/2" more suspension travel than an RT. But, I agree that the RT is a great bike.

^^^ Exactly. Also my knees like the GS better, they're not as bent. If MPG is important you'll find the RT easier on gas, both because of the better aerodynamics and because the final drive ratio is higher. The downside of that is that it's easier to go faster on an RT - when I traded my RT for a GSA my speed dropped probably 10 mph because the GSA is noisier (the RT fairing reduces both wind and mechanical noise), and the RPM I was used to cruising at didn't produce the same speed. Me, and my driving record, actually appreciated that.

 

The RT has more electronic whiz-bangery than the GS. The factory audio system is a waste of money IMO, sound is only through Bluetooth, quality isn't great, and it's confusing to operate. My Goldwing had 16 buttons and 2 knobs, each of which did one, and only one, thing. The RT does the same with 4 multifunction buttons and the multifunction wonderwheel. Also, more of the RT functions are controlled through menu options (e.g. heated grips, suspension settings) instead of dedicated buttons. I've got to admit though that the new GS TFT screen is a lot slicker than the analog gages on my '16.

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Ponch

If I had a concours, not sure I'd spend the scarole for a RT. You already have a sport tourer. If you want an adventure bike, then the GS/GSA would be a good choice. Have you looked at the Versys 1000 SE?  Motorcycle.com just did a comparo with it and the RT. Not sure why, but they did. Maybe if you tell us why you want to make a change, it would help. 

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Ponch
22 hours ago, WBinDE said:

^^^ Exactly. Also my knees like the GS better, they're not as bent. 

 

 

 

That can be fixed with bar risers and peg lowering kit. I did it with my older RT and it's GS like riding position now. 

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Ponch
On 7/10/2019 at 11:51 AM, AZgman said:

I find my GS more comfortable than my RT was. I put on a touring windscreen from Vtechnik and some hand guard extenders and the wind protection is pretty good. The GS is lighter than the RT and even with the factory low model that I have, it has about 1-1/2" more suspension travel than an RT. But, I agree that the RT is a great bike.

 

The Triumph didn't stay long, eh? :)

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dmozer74

 

17 hours ago, Ponch said:

 

That can be fixed with bar risers and peg lowering kit. I did it with my older RT and it's GS like riding position now. 

 

With the amount I commute my main concerns are related to issues there. I want a heated seat, cruise control, better suspension, less buffeting, and one of the most important and unfixable issues is the heat from the engine on the C-14 (mine is an '08). I know the first four issues can be fixed, but they're all aftermarket fixes and come with their own set of issues.  The heat is a big one for me.  I intend to find a demo opportunity and ride an RT and perhaps a GS to see how they compare.  Ultimately they may not be better enough than my current ride to justify the change.

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Ponch
33 minutes ago, dmozer74 said:

 

 

With the amount I commute my main concerns are related to issues there. I want a heated seat, cruise control, better suspension, less buffeting, and one of the most important and unfixable issues is the heat from the engine on the C-14 (mine is an '08). I know the first four issues can be fixed, but they're all aftermarket fixes and come with their own set of issues.  The heat is a big one for me.  I intend to find a demo opportunity and ride an RT and perhaps a GS to see how they compare.  Ultimately they may not be better enough than my current ride to justify the change.

 

The RT will have a heated seat. I have an older RT and I can tell you that the heat from it isn't bad and I live in AZ. As far as buffeting goes, it's all in the windscreen. I got a Calsci XL as the stocker was way too small for me, but I am 6'5 with a 34" inseam. Much better wind protection now. The RT will have better wind protection/management than any GS/GSA. With the Calsci XL, at speed in the rain, the only places that get wet/water are the outer edges of my thighs and feet, but that's me, I am big or tall now really. If I wear rain gear or at least my bib and boots, I am dry.  I wanted to stick with team green, but the C14 was too sporty, no cruise control and the Voyager was too heavy/underpowered.  If I was going to get another bike, I'd look at the Versys SE, C14, the GSA and RT. Thing is, I probably wouldn't by a new model BMW, meaning if a change just came out. Better to let them work out the bugs and that can take 2-3 years. I remember every member of the AZ Beemers that got a k1600 when they first came out had to replace at least one water pump. One guy went through four. The RTs have had their issues too in the past. Maybe the RTLC is better that way, IDK. You'd have to peruse that subforum to see what they say there. That said what impresses me with the BMWs is that the whole package is considered when designing them. Everything works together to make a competent package. That's where most other bike manufacturers fall short. Either they cut to a price point because they are heavily discounted or they cater to a demo that has certain preferences that fall outside of functionality. Have fun test riding and let us know what you think. 

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Pappy35
3 hours ago, dmozer74 said:

...most important and unfixable issues is the heat from the engine on the C-14 (mine is an '08). I know the first four issues can be fixed, but they're all aftermarket fixes and come with their own set of issues.  The heat is a big one for me...

 

I last had a 2005 Yamaha FJR and that bike, as amazing as it was overall, was horrible in terms of heat. I have galleries full of pictures I took of the various ways I tried to fix it so I am totally with you about heat being the enemy.

 

My 2013 RT (Camhead, -1.5 generations back), and the 2019 RT and GS I rode at the rally have ZERO heat issues. And I really mean ZERO. You'll find out for yourself but I am very confident that that is just not something that should be on your radar. You won't even feel anything from the jugs which surprised me given that your shins ride right behind them.

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AZgman
On 7/11/2019 at 8:52 PM, Ponch said:

 

The Triumph didn't stay long, eh? :)

 

About 25k miles. The engine is a BITCH to work on and I had enough of that! 

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mickeym3

Often dealers have ride events where you can sign up to ride multiple bikes. You’ll be amazed how capable and comfortable they both are. Have had RT and GSA and to this day I still have uncertainty about which I’d choose. But will say the GSA all around flexibility is hard to pass on. Rode mine to Alaska and can’t imagine doing it on a RT. 

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Surj

I went through similar exploration recently before ultimately buying a leftover 2018 RT. Previous bike was a 2016 GS (non-Adventure—project stories here if you're interested), and I've done thousands of miles on a couple different years of the Concours 14, including a Saddle Sore 1000 on one.

 

I bought the GS after several years and lots of miles on an '11 R1200R, which I loved, thinking it'd be a little more of everything I liked about the R, and set it up with a second 21/17 wheelset for "real" dirt riding, in addition to the stock 19/17. It was a very good bike, but ultimately, it was't the right bike for me and I sold it in early 2018, replacing it for a bit with a Buell Ulysses. Shortly thereafter, I was hit by a car while testing another bike, and spent a good six months not riding. Toward the end of that period, I began thinking about a new bike, and looked long and hard at the Connie, the Africa Twin, the RT, and the previous generation Versys 1000. 

 

To the comment about the Connie being close to the RT: I'd say it's not even close. The Connie is substantially heavier, and carries that weight high. It's a favorite of mine, but the water-cooled RT is head and shoulders above it in rideability and overall experience. It also has crap fuel range, especially when being ridden the way it wants to be ridden. The Beemer also beats it in luggage and modern electronics. 

 

The Versys 1000 is supremely competent but kinda heavy for what it is, and didn't excite me enough, so it came down to the Africa Twin versus the RT. By the way, I was put a lot of thought into weight combined with higher seat heights because my injuries left me with a really-screwed-up, weak right leg, and after some testing on my dirtbike, I was worried that I might end up dropping a heavier bike with a tall seat when making sudden stops where I had to put my right leg down. So I figured I'd put a 19/17 wheelset on the AT and make the "ultimate street Africa Twin" (I really like Honda's DCT) but there were a variety of things that left me scratching my head, and ultimately I bought the RT.


I recently did 1,500 miles in three days on the bike after a variety of shorter rides, and I'm very happy with my decision. I still have a lot of pain when riding, but the ergos are good enough for me at 5'10", even though I have a bit more knee bend than I did on the RT. The upper half of my body is very comfortable. A very fast friend with whom I've tested many bikes commented that he has only seen me ride maybe two other bikes the way I ride the RT—it just works for me, and my first ride, which started with "I'm hurt and haven't ridden in six months" ended with the tires scrubbed in to the edges. 

Back to the RT vs. GS thing: if you can ride both, do it. Rent both for some real riding, if you can. I really liked the GS at first, and I'm a huge fan of "tall-rounder" ergos, but over time, I fell out of love with it—even though I had some wonderful times on it. Maybe I'm simply just happier on more of a "traditional sport-touring" bike, but for me, unless you're gonna ride a lot of pretty serious dirt, the RT is where it's at—and I've done quite a few miles of fire roads and such on it, without issue.

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RandyShields

I went through a similar debate a few years back after riding a K1600 for several years.  The K1600 has weight and hp like the Concourse so this may be relevant.  I thought I wanted the new water-cooled RT, but ended up with a new GS after riding many bikes.  It was all about the ergos and what felt right.  (Still have the K bike.)  This (long) narrative was posted about my experience, but it no longer exists on the site after the migration to the new platform, so I will post it in full below.  YMMV.

****************

January 2016

 

Back in the fold

Well, after several years of luxury touring and falling behind the leaders in the mountains on my K1600 GT, that itch returned and I had to start looking at a new ride.  Here is my saga of eight test rides, and the surprising conclusion I arrived at.  Hopefully, this will be instructive for others who may be struggling with the same mid-life crisis ride issues I did.

First, some history.  After a previous RT (2001 1150) and GS (2005 Oilhead), I made the jump to the K bike.  The power, ride quality and build were unbelievable, and I plopped down my money in 2012.  It now has 15,000 miles on it, and is just getting warmed up.  The only downside is heft.  As others have reported, it’s a load in the garage, and just not that nimble when chasing lighter bikes on some of Ken Insley’s SR routes through technical turns in the Appalachians.  After this year’s START, I finally had to bag the group Saturday afternoon and stay on the general routes.  So the search began.

The goal was to find a lighter bike that could handle the trips to the mountains comfortably, and let me regain my twisty confidence.  The target was somewhere around 200 pounds lighter than the 735 lb wet weight of the GT.  I did a lot of research, and also examined carefully other sport tourers that I encountered on my rides. 

  • ·        I first tried the RT.  I had been pining for an RT with all the goodies that the GT had for many years.  Then, they came out with a similar design in a boxer version, and similar if not better acceleration!  I had no doubt that I would be trading in the GT for the RT when I did the test ride.  Unfortunately, the ergos were not as good as I had expected, and the weight just a bit better, but not the significant jump I was looking for.

·        The next obsession was a Yamaha FJ 09.  The lines looked modern and the write up in MCN was very positive.  After delaying a few weeks for the summer heat, I couldn’t take it anymore and hopped on a demo one Saturday under the sun.  The engine was nice, and it certainly was nimble, but the comfort level just didn’t feel right.  I knew it was a no go when I hopped back on the GT for the ride home.

·        Next up was a Triumph XCX.  Really more of an ADV bike with great WP suspension, the engine was pretty good, but it didn’t move me.  Also, being another warm day in the Carolinas, there was some surprising engine heat on the right side at stops. 

·        To be thorough, I also rode the Triumph’s sibling, the new XRX.  Same nice engine, pretty good ergonomics, but almost zero protection from the elements on the highway.  I knew it would not do for the mountain commute.  Triumph ruled out, even though the triple was pretty special.

·        Next, I fell in love with the magazine raves and internet videos of the MV Agusta Tourismo.  This was to be MV’s first foray into the sport touring realm and, at 460 lbs wet, the size of the bike was intriguing – at least on paper.  The dealer did not have Tourismo, as they just started shipping to the states, but he did have a Stradale on the floor.  He suggested that I ride that to see if I really liked it, as the frame and engine were roughly comparable to the Tourismo.  Walking around the bike revealed a real bit of eye candy.  The design and build of the MV’s is special.  Unfortunately, after less than 5 minutes.  I knew it was not for me.  While the engine revved nicely and it was quite flickable, the cockpit was extremely confining and I felt that I was riding on top of the front tire.  The dealer was happy I added very few miles to an expensive machine.  Next.

·        All these rides except for the Yamaha were staging out of Motorcycles of Charlotte, where they maintain a nice selection of MVs, Triumphs and BMWs.  After noting the issues I was having with these other brands, Charlie, my very knowledgeable and patient salesman, suggested I try a GS.  No thanks.  Been there; done that.  I wanted to stay with the sport touring class.  OK then, how about the new BMW 1000XR.  Like the GT, 160 hp, but only four cylinders and a nice new design.  I had just read the review of the XR in MCN and was game.  Charlie said there was one consistent observation about the bike from other test riders, but he didn’t want to tell me until our ride was over.  The bike had great power and a nice feel, with wide bars and well distributed weight.  It felt much lighter than its 500 lbs.  But, what was that through the handlebars?  As noted by a couple of MCN testers, the buzziness was unbelievable.  When I mentioned that as I dismounted, Charlie said, yep, that’s the issue.  It is not just an annoyance, but a real issue with this bike that BMW will have to address if they want to sell them.  Scratch another one.

·        We next tried the new RS.  I really loved the redesign, and had ridden a friend’s years ago and was quite impressed, so was excited to try the new incarnation.  The boxer engine was outstanding, but the forward lean was more than I expected at an advancing age, and was just too much.  It had a more comfortable cockpit than the other bikes, and I was very comfortable with the dash and controls, but it still just wasn’t right.

·        Charlie persisted.  “I think you really need to try the new GS.  It sounds like just what you are missing in all these other bikes.”  Thinking that I might have been too premature in rejecting the GS because of the desire to find the perfect sport tourer, I relented.  They pulled out their 2015 demo and fired it up.  After I got on, sitting up straight, and put my hands out to the wide bars, I let out an audible gasp.  Oh my gosh, this feels just right, I thought.  Then, on the ride, I was blown away with the new water cooled boxer.  I felt a wide grin under my helmet.  This one was perfect. 

Being the conservative bargainer, I said I would sleep on it, which really meant I needed to talk to the wife.  She was all for it and I told Charlie I wanted the new (2016) Light White GS they just got in and hadn’t even uncrated yet.  It had all the add ons, except spoked wheels, which they threw in to cement the deal.  After a weekend in the mountains chasing Chris Kinney, Slumgulian and Foot,  I can finally keep up again and feel like I’m back home.  What an amazing machine.   I don’t think I’ll ever need another motorcycle.  See everyone at START with a new set of wheels!

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Lowndes

RandyShields:

"After a weekend in the mountains chasing Chris Kinney, Slumgulian and Foot,  I can finally keep up again..."

 

I can vouch for that!!

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Bill_Walker

The only heat issue on the wethead RT is the lack of airflow behind the fairing on hot days.  It'll keep you dry in the rain, though!  I hit some rain at freeway speed back in May, and the only thing that got wet was the top of my helmet.  I might have avoided that by raising the (stock) windshield.

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