It’s a question I get asked all the time. Why did you get a BMW? Sometimes the question is “How come you didn’t buy a Harley?” Well first off there has yet to be a manufacturer that is able to make a motorcycle that suits every rider. And news flash, while Harley Davidson makes a very good motorcycle they are not the only company building motorcycles.
So here’s how I ended up with a BMW K1200LTE. In 2006 I wanted to get back into motorcycling. Like many motorcyclists there had been a break in riding in my life. Did I set out to buy a BMW? No I didn’t. Donna was on board with it. Donna had never ridden for any length of time on a motorcycle. She wanted to try but wasn’t sure how she’d like it. So between the 2 of us some guidelines were set. We wouldn’t spend a ton of money, it would have some luggage capacity, have a windshield and Donna wanted a passenger back rest. We decided on a 2006 Suzuki Boulevard C50T in phantom gray. It was a water-cooled, shaft drive V-Twin motorcycle. The “50” designated a 50 cubic inch engine which roughly converts to an 820cc engine. Because it was the “T” model it came with a windshield, hard leather saddlebags and nice big back rest. In the Suzuki lineup T meant touring. This motorcycle was basically a Harley Davidson Heritage Softail Classic with a smaller engine and made in Japan. It was a good, durable and surprisingly strong motorcycle. Well, Donna literally took to riding like a duck takes to water. If I backed the motorcycle out of the garage for anything, she was there with her helmet. We would go on day rides and even weekend overnight trips on the motorcycle. Then in 2007 we rode that C50T from home in north Georgia to Bike Week in Daytona Beach! We intentionally made the trip down in 2 days even though it is an 8 hour trip for us. But on that trip we also avoided the interstate as much as possible. It wasn’t long before we were both longing for a real touring motorcycle because no matter what Suzuki said, the C50T and its big brother the C90T were not really touring motorcycles. The search began for a true touring motorcycle.
Donna with the C50T in Flagler Beach, FL on our way to Bike Week in 2007.
In early 2008 we had narrowed our search to the Harley Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic, Honda Goldwing, Yamaha Royal Star Venture, Victory Vision, BMW K1200LT and a used BMW R1200CL. I had no specific brand in mind. An interesting note about BMW was that I didn’t consider them the first time around because I remembered black motorcycles with ugly bags being “old man” motorcycles. But riding again exposed me to newer BMW motorcycles. If I had looked at them in 2006 we probably would’ve ended up with an R1200R instead of the Suzuki. But let’s get back to the search. A later entrant into the search was the BMW R1200RT. In the late summer and early fall of 2008 we began searching in earnest and things were lining up. The Honda and the Yamaha were taken off the list pretty quick because we couldn’t find a dealer anywhere near us that would allow a test ride. We weren’t spending that kind of money on a motorcycle and not being able to test ride it. We even had a Honda dealer tell us that we wouldn’t need one and that under the law we had 3 business days after the sale to change our mind anyway and that could be our test ride. That left Harley Davidson, Victory and BMW; all 3 of which by the way not only allowed test rides but encouraged them. The next motorcycle to drop off the list was the Victory Vision. The reason the Victory was dropped was a simple statement from Donna: “It looks cool now. But will we think that in 2 years?” The R1200RT was the next to drop off the list because Donna thought that the way the seat looked, it looked like it would make her slide forward. I had to agree with her and after all she would not be an occasional passenger but a nearly all the time passenger. No I don’t want to hear that we could buy another seat, we already did that with the Suzuki. We test rode an Ultra Classic. It was about 1:oo PM and I asked how long a test ride we could take. I was told “We close at 6.” The Ultra was one nice motorcycle and could be very comfortable and eat up the miles. The next ride was a used BMW R1200CL at BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta. Donna really wasn’t pleased with the look of the motorcycle and it’s “bat wing” fairing like the Ultra Classic and even said from the side it looked like an ant the way it was segmented. I then went on a test ride on a BMW K1200LT by myself. One word: WOW! Since I was a police officer, I qualified to purchase a Peace Officer Special Edition Ultra Classic at a very significant discount from Harley Davidson. No, it’s not a police motorcycle but an Ultra Classic with Peace Officer “badging”, blue pin-striping and limited colors. We priced one out in preparation to order because you had to order them from the factory. Then one day we saw a used 2002 BMW K1200LTE on the BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta website. It was green! But we went to look anyway. Donna asked if they could take it outside in the bright sunshine.
Donna with the Magic Carpet at the Florida Welcome Center on the way to Bike Week in 2010.
The doors were opened and out she went. Donna made the comment, “It sure looks fast and sexy.” Her next comment was that even though it was green it look very good and very different. Then came the offer for the test ride. We took them up on the offer and went for over an hour test ride. By the end of the week we owned that green K1200LTE that later became know as The Magic Carpet. I called the Harley Davidson dealer to tell the salesman I would not be coming in to order the Ultra Classic because I had bought another motorcycle. He said he understood (the peace officer editions don’t count towards their allotment or sales) but asked what I had bought. When I told him a BMW K1200LTE he said “That’s a really great bike. You’re going to enjoy it. At least you didn’t call to tell me you bought a Goldwing!” When we bought the K1200LTE I kept the C50T for a while. But there was now no comparison. The BMW had servo assisted brakes (power brakes like a car) while the Suzuki had a drum rear brake and a single disc front brake. When I rode the C50T I felt like I wasn’t going to stop. We sold her to a good home. We owned the C50T just over 2 years and put 14,000 miles on her. When we bought the K1200LTE it had 39,000 miles on it and it now has just under 84,000 miles as I write this (our next day ride will probably reach 84,000). Very soon after buying the K1200LTE we took it on its first real trip. We went to Florida to visit my parents in the Daytona Beach area for Thanksgiving. We did it in one day this time with stops only for food and gas. We were going across I-10 in north Florida when I told Donna on the intercom that it was about lunch time. She said “We can keep going for a while, I’m fine.” I had to tell her it was me who was ready for a break.
Basically the BMW fell into our laps at just right time. Plain and simple. I didn’t set out for a BMW or any other brand in the beginning and they all started out equal.
Since I’ve owned the BMW I’ve learned 3 major things about motorcylists and the make they ride:
- Harley Davidson riders dress like pirates.
- BMW riders dress like armadillos
- Sport bike riders of any make dress like Power Rangers.
It doesn’t matter what brand you ride. Just find something you like and ride it!