where do we begin? While I have no idea who was the first to put an engine into a bicycle, it could be argued that everyone else has copied that theme ever since. Since none of the other competitors in the Adventure class have bothered to use a horizontally opposed twin or used asymetric headlights, it's hard to see where the copying has been done, other than having two wheels.
That being said, I believe that Douglas Motorcycles used an opposed flat twin in 1912, long before BMW, so even that's not original, and neither is shaft drive.
Apart from asymetric headlights, can it not be said that BMW copied most, if not all Superbikes with the S1000RR?
No manufacturer is ever going to ignore a market segment that is growing, and unless they are infringing patent or copyright laws, to call them "copycat" is just wrong.
As an owner of just such a BMW, it's great to see that other manufacturers are joining in, if only to give BMW a wee kick up the arse to develop their bike a little faster. I agree, it's the market leader, but probably due to not only being very good at what it does, but also because it had the field to itself for so long.
Let's not forget that Triumph have responded to the market, and the market said that it wanted shaft drive. Yamaha had already responded similarly, but I have yet to see more than a handful of Super Tenere's on the road. Too expensive.
The market also said that it wanted more power, hence a 1200 triple.
Long haul bike, then cruise control seems apt. BMW have yet to offer that on the GS, but we'll see what comes with the water cooled GS next year.
I suspect that the Tiger Explorer will do very well, winning some converts from BMW, some new to the segment, and those that want the GS but are fed up with the frankly childish Carley and Ewan name calling. Also those that have Tiger 800's but want a bigger version and shaft drive.