Trekking on the Mothership - BMW LT1200
BMW'S K1200LT is a showcase of techno-wizardry. If you were travelling to somewhere a long way away, and wanted to go by bike so you could smell and feel the place better, this is one of the bikes you would consider. Satellite navigation, an awesome sound system, heated grips and seats, a torquey, economical 1200CC motor and a suspension and brake package which matches the weight. There's even a reverse gear.Satellite NavigationEvery bike should have one, particularly when being ridden in parts unknown. Once you've mastered the two-button interface, which was possible even when being ridden (we're not sure if this skill shows extremely high intelligence, or the opposite), it interupts themusic momentarily to give clear, precise verbal instructions in a soothing female voicethrough the speaker system, with the tankmounted display offering directions in writtenand diagram form. Bloody marvelous!
BrakesThe four-piston Brembo brakes are linked, with the foot operating some of the front brake and lots of the rear, and the hand doing some rear and more front. They're also servo-assisted and anti-lock and while it takes a while to get dialled in to them, they do a great job of hauling this huge motorcycle to a stop safely.
SuspensionNon-traditional at both ends and pretty remarkable given how well it keeps nearly 400 kilos pointed in the right direction when the rider gets inspired. The rear end is BMW's Paralever singleside set-up and the front-end is BMW's Telelever single-shock forks. Between them, they offer a firm but compliant ride, with enough feel to tackle Australia's unsealed and unkept roads with confidence.
LuggageThe luggage areas are more than large enough to fit the weekly shopping, or an experienced rider's gear, even if packing for a crosscontinent trip. They will even fit most of the gear required by a female pillion's, it'll-come-in-handy-if-we-never-use-it mentality, so long as you stay in hotels. Gals just love the vanity mirror in the top box. It's a bit unfortunate that the left pannier contains the Satnav ROM-drive and the right one contains the six-stack CD-player cos they really do eat into luggage capacity.
Comfort & ProtectionAbsolutely fabulous when it's cold, when the heated grips and seats allow you to thumb our nose at Jack Frost, as the fairing-mounted temperature read-out tells how cold it is, yet you are still snug and warm. Riding in the rain is almost comfortable. The electro-adjustable screen is the main secret to the comfort - just dial it to the conditions. Similarly, the adjustable seat height and readily-reached suspension adjustment easily. Downsides to comfort are few, but we suspect it might get a tad warm when the ambient climbs past 25. Finally, the weight never lets you relax at low speeds, for fear it will wrestle you to the round.
EntertainmentThe sound system is great, with all controls falling easily to hand, the pillion able to adjust the rear speakers, a seeking radio, a six-disc CD, a tape-deck, a cruise control and the comprehensive trip computer capable of entertaining the most active brain for long periods. The worst aspect is being found at traffic lights singing along to 1970s bubblegum music. There's a mute button right next to the (very loud) horn for such moments. We suspect this is also why God invented full-face helmets and dark visors.