First Ride

2009 BMW K1300S launch report review

BMW is taking the fight to the Japanese hypertouring behemoths. The K1300S brings a touch of European class to the party

Click to read: BMW K1300S owner reviews, BMW K1300S specs and to see the BMW K1300S image gallery.

The K1300S doesn’t need to cover as many bases as the R model to succeed in the market it’s intended for. Competition in the hypertourer league is limited to the Suzuki Hayabusa and the Kawasaki ZZR1400, both of which have a long line of evolution, sales success and loyal followers. The new K1300S is more than up to the job of competing with them.

The S model forms the basis for the R incarnation. It has the same 1293cc liquid-cooled inline four, but for some reason you get an extra two horses, pushing peak power to an extremely healthy 175bhp. As with the R you have the option of having the quickshifter, the ASC, ESA, the heated grips and the 2D WSB spec instrument panel. Basically, this bike comes with everything you need to make smashing high mileage at high speed as easy as possible.

Looks-wise, the S is more reserved than the competition, some might even say it’s bland. I wouldn’t argue. But at the same time, if looks are at the top of your list then you should probably just stop reading this and skip to Niall’s R1 review instead.

BMW have worked hard with mass centralisation principles to make the bike’s not inconsiderable 254KG (with fuel) seem like a manageable weight. By tilting the engine forward slightly and fitting a dry-sump oil supply BMW have been able to make the engine sit around six cm lower than a conventional unit. Combine this with a cassette-type gearbox that makes changing ratios easier and is lower in weight than a conventional gearbox and you’ve got a power unit that is as low and light as possible.

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Overall and specs

The Germans are also proud to state that they have stuck with a shaft drive delivery system with all of these bikes, rather than opting for the chain drive you might expect. Although they accept that there is a degree of power loss through the drive train, the “maintenance free” shaft maintains a higher level of efficiency through its lifecycle. I did feel an element of drive-train shunt, particularly when the quick shifter wasn’t quite ready to play ball. But it was nowhere near as bad as other shaft-driven BMWs I have ridden with similar mileage. It’s a comfortable bike, definitely more so than the ZZR1400, and seemed to suit my 5’11”, 13 and a lot stone frame perfectly.

One area where this bike and the other K1300 models excel is in braking. The EVO system with integral ABS is standard on all of them. The EVO system has been refined, losing the grabby over-servoed feel the system previously displayed, replacing it with bags of feel and progression. The most impressive display of the brakes I came across was when riding way too fast down a terrible road in the rain and having to brake hard for a blind bend.

Coupled with the weird but wonderful suspension, the brakes hauled the bike down with no problems, the ABS cutting in and out while I held my breath. As well as being a useful safety feature, I found myself relying on the system to make up the ground that I was losing by not being able to get on the gas because of the damp roads. The system feels the same on all bikes despite the fact that they have different riding positions.

As good as the brakes are, they have to play second fiddle to the trump card that all of the K1300 models have: acceleration. It doesn’t feel in-your-face fast because there is no spike in delivery, but this bike is properly fast. From 3,000rpm all the way to the indicated 10,500 redline the S propels you along with what can only be described as clean, linear propulsion. It feels good, but you only get a real idea of how fast you’re going if you keep one eye on the road and the other on the clocks. It would hang onto the taillight of a Hayabusa, only losing out once you get over 150mph.

The parts-sharing scheme adopted by most manufacturers has been used with great effect on this series of bikes, partly because the parts that have been shared are all good. The K1300S feels as strong as the competition, with only the price remaining an open question: on the road price of £11K is salty. Granted, you get much for your money, but I can’t help feeling that with the current economic situation those who want to travel far and fast will be doing so with more of an eye on the budget. Be interesting to see what finance packages BMW come up with.

Specifications

Price: £11,060
Engine: Liquid-cooled, 16 valve, inline four, 1,293cc
Power: 175bhp @ 9,250rpm
Torque: 103ft.lb @ 8,250rpm
Front suspension: BMW Duolever
Rear suspension: BMW Paralever
Front brake: 320mm discs, four-piston calipers
Rear brake: Single 265mm disc, two-piston caliper
Dry weight: 228kg
Seat height: 820mm
Fuel capacity: 19 litres
Top speed: 165mph
Colours: Light grey metallic, Lava orange

Visordown rating: 4/5

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