Used Bike

Buyer Guide: BMW K1200 & K1300

BMW’s big bastid K1200/1300 bikes reviewed and rated by the people who actually own them. If you want the lowdown, here it is...

Click to view: BMW K1300 owners reviews, specs and image galleries.

Click to view: BMW K1200 owners reviews, specs and image galleries.

BMW don’t make brand new engines for their bikes very often. The last one was the original K-series flat four in the early ‘80s. So when they released the first of a series of new bikes in 2005 with an all-new 1200cc parallel-four powerplant, it was a big deal. And it was a belter. BMW released three bikes with this engine – the super sports touring K1200S, the naked K1200R with distinctive, aggressive styling and finally the luxurious but rapid K1200GT tourer.

Like so many new BMWs, they’re great machines which either plough their own furrow or have class leading potential. The S is the only bike offering so much sport and tour in one package. The R is a crazy cocktail that’s hard to justify but easy to love and with neat looking optional screens and lower bars than most nakeds, it’s practical too. The GT’s got all the refinement and comfort of an ocean going tourer but it’s more powerful and handles better than most.

Then, in 2008, BMW increased the capacity by 100cc. This small change had a huge impact on performance. From being merely rapid, they turned into rocketships. The K1300R has gained notoriety for its outrageous straightline performance while the S turned into an Autobahn-basher and the GT became the fastest way to swish your way in total comfort from A to B.

When the bikes were launched there were rumours of heavy oil consumption and vibration. More recently, internet forums mention fast idle and stalling issues. Some of these are easily fixable with a quick ECU tweak, other problems are less easy to pin down.

A whopping 119 owners of these bikes filled in our online survey telling us all about what they’re really like to live with. They’ve covered about one and a quarter million miles on these bikes so believe what you read here. If they’re great or greasy to live with in the longterm, this is where you’ll find out the real truth.

The nuts & bolts

Running costs

Overall for big, fast, premium motorbikes, running costs are pretty low. Fuel consumption’s fairly frugal. Here’s the average for each model in the survey: K1200GT; 48mpg, K1200R(inc Sport); 43mpg, K1200S; 43mpg, K1300 (all models); 45mpg. As the engines are fairly similar much of these differences are probably down to riding style although at high speed we imagine the aerodynamic K1200S will be more efficient than the R or GT models. These bikes do prefer super unleaded or the equivalent so that adds a little onto running costs.

The average price paid for a minor service in our survey was £160 and £342 for the major one.

What goes wrong?

Of 104 K1200 owners, 47 reported no problems, 27 had just one, 24 had two or three and two had loads. The 1300s were somewhat worse; of 15 owners five had no problems, six had one and four had two or three. Overall these aren’t not very good scores for such new bikes, particularly the 1300S. So what’s causing the problems? Starting with the 1300S, the most common is switchgear failure with six owners suffering. Two had issues with stalling and one with a self discharging battery; all fairly minor if annoying on a new, expensive bike. The 1200s problems are less common and more diverse. Clutch issues were the most common with nine (of 104) owners suffering. Eight had the immobiliser fail, typically the antenna ring – a known problem on 2006-2008 bikes.

Seven had issues with the airbox, typically causing a fast idle which BMW acknowledge and typically rectify with a new idle control valve and airbox. Six had cam chain tensioner problems, four fuel gauge issues (often the sender), three gearbox problems, another three leaks from the shaft drive and another three faults with the suspension.

There were plenty more faults, mainly minor and often electrical but one owner’s engine did lunch itself and needed replacing. Overall the faults are fairly minor and reasonably easy to rectify and dealers seem to sort most of them sometimes free of charge outside the warranty period. The consensus seems to be that the first (2006) bikes suffer the most niggles and 2007 onwards machines were better.

Finish

Some people say BMW finish isn’t as good as it used to be but a whopping 79 people (66%) said they had no complaints about their bike’s finish, including all the K1300 owners. That’s the best of any bike we’ve surveyed. 14 mentioned fasteners corroding, five (four of whom were K1200R owners) said engine paint was flaking or poor and there were a few other minor grumbles but overall these bikes seem to be some of the best finished you can buy.

Dealers
Some people really rate their dealer but others are much less impressed. Unfortunately in our survey nine people complained about their official BMW dealer and only one praised theirs. It’s more of an issue on these bikes than most as quite a lot need some attention to sort out any niggles. Plus as they’re new, expensive machines, most owners take them back to the shop for servicing (just 6% do all their own work on the bikes). As is often the case, there’s some great specific websites with loads of useful advice such as the excellent www.EuroKclub.com

Tyres

GT models come with a 120/70-17 front and 180/55-17 rear. S and GT models had an option of a wider rear wheel to take a 190/50-17 tyre. A huge range of rubber’s available in those sizes but for the best sports touring choices, the 180 rear’s better catered for than the 190.

We’ve grouped the 1200s and 1300s together for tyre life. GT models averaged 8,018 miles front, 6,893 rear with best of 15,000/10,000 and worst 4,000/3,000. R and R Sports averaged 6,480/4,479 with best 14,000/12,000 and worst 1,500/1,200. S models must get ridden the hardest or fitted with the raciest rubber as they averaged 5,921/4,102, best 10,000/8,000 and worst 4,300/3,100.

Favourite tyres for the GT models is Michelin’s Pilot Road II with 23% of owners preferring them. For R and R Sports the top choice is Michelin’s Pilot Power while the Pilot Power and Pilot Road II are joint favourite of S riders.

Modifications

Hard luggage is very popular on the GT models with BMW’s own the most popular by far. R and S owners favour BMW’s semi rigid ‘Sport’ panniers.

Remus is the most popular exhaust followed by Akrapovic, then Lazer. AC Schnitzer exhausts are made by Remus. Larger screens, GPS, communication systems and after market seats are popular on the GT models. R owners are more performance orientated. Raised suspension plates that quicken the steering offer the best inexpensive mod according to Alan Jack. MRA Vario screens reduce windblast and BMW’s own performance air filters release induction growl and smooth power. Power Commander IIIs make the throttle response smoother. S owners go for a huge range of extras and everyone likes HID light conversions (Nippy Norman does quality ones, eBay for cheapies).

Yours Reviews

We'll still looking for owners' reviews of the BMW K range and the rest of the German manufacturers collection, head over to the BMW Reviews section to log your thoughts and opinions.

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