On Monday May 6th I traded in my H-D Electra Glide for a 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14. I had a pretty short list of bikes that I’ve been looking at for a while and finally settled on the Connie. In a previous blog entry I had made up my mind that I was going to get the BMW R1200RT, as is evident I didn’t go with that bike. Let me explain.
What I’m going to say would start a pretty good flame war in most of the forums that I visit but when it comes down to it the bikes I was looking at are pretty much the same. They are the Yamaha FJR, Honda ST1300, BMW R1200RT, and the Kawasaki Concours 14. They all have the following items standard: Hard Bags, Power (in HP – much more than my H-D), large gas tank, upright seating, electronically adjustable windshield, Sport style riding position, and informative instrumentation for touring. There are a lot of specific items that one bike has that the others don’t, but the core elements have all been checked off. So, I vacillated between these bikes for over a year. I’d get attached to one and then another all through the year. What finally convinced me to go with the Connie was pretty simple.
Knowing that these bikes are basically the same, at least as far as core touring elements where concerned, I needed to find a way to see their differences. It dawned on me that I could read reviews and spec sheets all day long and still not be able to choose which bike I liked best. I needed to test ride the bikes. This is one of the biggest challenges when looking at Japanese bikes (or most bikes for that matter), you cannot test ride them. Luckily there’s a BMW dealer close to me, and they do a good business in used bikes. A little known secret in the motorcycling world is that BMW dealers will let you test ride almost any bike on the floor. I kept and eye on their used bike site and when a bike on my list showed up I went in and test rode it.
The Honda ST 1300 was the first to be taken off the list. It’s styling isn’t too dated but the instruments are. It’s also a little sedate. While that’s not bad, it’s not what I wanted. I think if Honda wants to play in this space they really need to at least bring the ST1300 up to the relatively modern functionality and look of the Yamaha FJR. And while the FJR hasn’t had a face lift since about 2004 the ST1300 is getting a little dated in the technology department.
The FJR was next to get dropped off the list. It was a serious contender for a long time. This one came down to how the bike and I fit together, and in this case we just didn’t click. I was actually sad during the test ride (a first for me when riding a bike). I really wanted to like the FJR, but it just didn’t fit me. There have also been some pretty interesting and hard to fix mechanical and electrical issues that I just didn’t want to have to deal with.
The left the BMW. This one was easy, it’s too expensive. Simple as that. I paid almost $7,000 less for my Connie then I would have for the BMW and got pretty close to the same level of tech and features. The BMW is a fantastic bike, but it’s not $7,000 more fantastic than the Connie. If the BMW where priced even a few thousand more than the Connie I might have gone for it.
There where a few other bikes that caught my attention but where discarded pretty quickly: Moto Guzzi Norge (no dealer network and lots of issues with the Gen 1), BMW K1300 (too expensive, even used), BMW K1600 GT (WAY too expensive). One by one they all fell off the list and only the Connie was left.
So far this bike is more than I hoped for. I’ll write more once I get through the break-in period (should be this week).