There are a number of things which you need to get used to with these BMWs if, like me, you have been accustomed to Japanese machines. After my 2 hour test ride I was impressed with the handling and comfort below 50mph but still unconvinced that it was the bike for me. Bolstered by all the glowing reviews and the knowledge that 2 hours wasn‘t enough to adapt, I decided to buy one and see if I could get used to it.
The bike was very tall which made it and unwieldy when moving it round the garage. The height also made getting on and off difficult - the overall impression was that the bike is too big. I am 5’11’’ and had the standard seat on its lowest setting. I wanted a lower seat but the BMW dealer advised me not to get one as this would have less padding, so I didn’t bother. I found it difficult to get used to the indicators and always felt that having to use my right thumb to cancel robbed me of proper throttle control in a series of corners.
Riding smoothly is the key to enjoying these bikes. This is difficult on a neutral throttle as the engine feels lumpy but is ok when accelerating except when you forget yourself and try to change up too sharply and let the revs drop too much, which results in an unsettling lurch to the right as the clutch engages. The front suspension set up keeps the forks from diving, but makes it feel that the rest of the bike pivots up and down behind the headstock. This means that on rough roads your body is bouncing up and down but your hands are not, which makes throttle control difficult, and given the snappy throttle response, a bumpy corner can be a bit of a nightmare without good clutch control.
Having said all that, the handling was otherwise excellent, but I cannot say the same about long-distance comfort on the motorway. The wind buffeting and noise caused by the standard screen can be lessened somewhat (but not eradicated) by the use of Tobinators, but I think that BMW should have addressed this problem rather than let owners trying to solve it - chat rooms are full of talk about this issue and as far as I can see there is no universal cure. The bike also seems to be very prone to turbulence from other vehicles, so the bars often shake at motorway speeds. I found the seat no more comfortable than my previous GSX1400 and ZRX1200.
Whatever the shortcomings of my previous bikes, they have all had some redeeming quality - style, performance, chuckability, exhaust note etc. which made them fun to ride. After a year I realised that I couldn’t use the word fun when describing the BMW, so I sold it.