Just over a year ago I posted about my first two years of BMW ownership, detailing a year of woes and 20,000kms / 12,500 miles on a K1200GT, then a second year and a further 27,000kms / 16,875 miles on a 1300GT. So what has happened in the year since that last report with my current K1300GT? Here’s an update.
Since the end of July 2010 I’ve ridden a further 30,000kms / 18,750 miles, and it’s now heading rapidly for 60,000kms / 37,500 miles on the clock. I guess this would quantify as high mileage in most peoples books, and given that this model seems to worry people as to it’s longevity, I thought if I shared my experiences, they may be useful for those trying to decide whether to hang onto theirs, or even whether to buy one.
I keep pretty extensive records of costs, parts, repairs, and fuel consumption, so real world running costs are easily accessible, so lets start with the most expensive element of ownership for me, tyres!
In 58,000kms / 36,250 miles to date I’ve had two sets of Bridgestone BT020s, the OE fitted pair which lasted 8,550kms / 5,343 miles, and a second set which lasted for only 5,500kms / 3,437 miles. Why an aftermarket set should last 3,000kms / 1,875 miles less is a mystery, but it helped me in my choice to change to Michelin PR2’s. These are a great tyre and create an impression of invincibility in the wet but turn a little too quickly for my liking, so I changed them early for a set of Bridgestone BT023GT’s at 5,752 kms / 3,578 miles before starting a 3000km / 1,875 mile tour of Andorra and Spain.
In total I’ve now had 6 sets of Bridgestone BT023GT’s . These tyres are not quite as fast turning as the Michelins, and are marginally less good in the wet, but suit the character and my riding style to perfection. Fronts tend to last anywhere between 6,500-8,000kms /4,062- 5,000 miles, and the rears a fraction over 6,000kms / 3,750 miles. These numbers are not too impressive on initial viewing, but I ride a massive amount of time in the Alps, and constant hairpins and low gear big throttle exits from hairpin bends take their toll, add to that the fact that 50% of my time is ridden with my wife Sue and with luggage, and that the road surfaces here are “variable” in quality at best, then perhaps a fairer assessment can be made. I have found their turn in, ultra stable roadholding, and their excellent edge grip and uniform wear right through to their eventual replacement, to be an acceptable trade off in the cost vs longevity equation. I’ve also had one rear puncture, luckily in a 3/4 worn rear.
I was surprised to find the OE pads lasted such a long time, the rears only needing replacement at 40,154kms / 25,096 miles, and the fronts just a little later at 40,927kms / 25,579 miles. I declined to spend the kings ransom BMW demand for their pads and decided to fit SBS aftermarket pads instead. This caused a problem as the SBS catalogue lists an incorrect rear fitment for the K1300GT, but an email to SBS advising them of the problem brought a new set of pads to my door within a few days, excellent customer service!
Unfortunately, I’ve not been so impressed with the pad wear or their performance. I found them to be a bit more grabby and less progressive then the OE Brembo pads and the rears barely had any material left on them after a mere 17,000kms / 10,625 miles, and although the fronts still had 2mm of life showing, I decided to replace the full set at 57,653 / 36,033 miles, opting for Brembo pads this time, but bought aftermarket at half the cost of that from the dealer.
Another pleasant surprise as the bike has averaged 50.5mpg with a low of 44mpg and a high of 58mpg. Perhaps this is in part due to the fact that the bike is a French model and limited to 106bhp, nevertheless, these figures are outstanding, as anyone who rides with me can tell you, it gets ridden hard!
This has proven to be something of a mystery. I have twice had the oil warning light come on; the first time only 1,044kms / 652 miles after a service, so I’m going to assume that the dealer didn’t fill it properly, the second time after 1,621kms / 1,013 miles requiring 350ml to top it up. There does not seem to be a pattern to usage, I have registered as little as 871kms / 544 miles requiring a 200ml top up, and then 2,600kms / 1,625 miles for the same amount! The only thing that seems consistent is that if it is thrashed it doesn’t seem to use much oil, but if I ride two up and with luggage and use the low end torque not high revs, it uses oil. Go figure!
I’ve had it serviced regularly as per the maintenance schedule at a cost of €1,122 for the 5 major services so far, the 60,000 / 37,500 miles is due in another 2000kms /1,250 miles , so this total will increase by another few hundred euros.
Yes it clonks into first gear and changes seemed to be extremely variable as to their smoothness of engagement, often times my wife would berate me for poor changes, but as a friend with the same bike was getting the same problems, I just assumed that was how it would always be? I did however fit Wunderlich Vario levers, and although I initially liked the closeness of the lever compared to the OE, I was never 100% convinced that the bite point of the clutch was always where I wanted it to be, so I took it off a couple of weeks ago, and guess what? now gear changes are much sweeter! Guess I shouldn’t have changed it in the first place!
I use the ESA a lot as I’m constantly switching between solo and pillion settings. I would have to say that it handles better with a pillion, the extra weight allowing the tyres to really grip the road surface giving plenty of feedback and stability. I normally ride in the Normal setting, using Sport for the tight twisty stuff and Comfort only for motorways or really poorly surfaced roads, as I find the Comfort mode way too wallowy for fast riding.
I looked back at my previous report from a year ago to see what had been the major changes or events during the past 12 months, and really there haven’t been any, it seems that if it’s going to go wrong it’s in the first 30,000kms / 18,750 miles!
At close to 60,000kms / 37,500 miles now and being over two years old, it is a few months past being covered by the OE warranty, and unlike other countries, BMW does not offer an aftermarket warranty extension program here in France, so if it breaks it’s going to cost me!
A year ago I was worried about such issues, but I have to say that with 30,000kms / 18,750 miles put on it since July last year, I’m starting to be more impressed with the passage of time. It still cleans up like new, plastics are excellent quality, it starts and handles like a good un, and with the addition of a Boosterplug (report to follow) things have only improved. I rode Honda’s for many many years and loved their reliability, and am hoping the GT can continue for the next 30,000kms without major issues and maintain it’s current level of reliability, but for those wondering how good they are now, I hope this report may put some minds at ease and give a feel for running costs. I accept there will be those with timing chains which jump their chain guards, and final drives which give up (I’ve had two bikes with failures on my tours so far, plus two of my own!), but if you ride them (hard) and service them regularly, perhaps you’ll find they aren’t as bad as some people make them out to be, but then again, I can only recount my own experiences!