BMW K1300S HP | First Ride

The Ultimate Riding Machine?

By Bradley Adams, Photography by Joe Neric

They say: “The perfect package.”
We say: “For the wealthy sport-touring speed-junky.”

Traditionally, BMW motorcycles have been marketed toward silver-haired riders. That changed with the introduction of the S1000RR, aimed not at mature touring aficionados but at younger, performance-oriented sportbike enthusiasts. And while the success of the Bavarian manufacturer’s first true, race-ready superbike has grown its customer base, that has come at the expense of models further down the lineup. One such machine is the K1300S, which is now back with a vengeance, equipped with BMW’s own HP (for High Performance) package.

Limited-edition motorcycles are generally characterized by bolt-on goodies or a one-off color scheme; the K1300S HP gets both. The most appealing upgrades are an Akrapovic slip-on muffler and white/blue/black paint, but farther down you’ll find billet-aluminum rider and passenger footpegs and plenty of carbon-fiber body panels. An aluminum serial-number plate on the gas tank signifies the bike’s position in this 750-unit run.

Structurally, the 2012 K1300S HP is identical to the 2011 model that impressed us during last year’s sport-touring shootout (“Long Distance Calling,” MC, May 2011). The forward-inclined, 1293cc inline-four is unchanged, but you won’t hear us complaining! This bike’s road-eating capabilities are enhanced by BMW’s full electronics suite, including heated handgrips, ABS (Anti-lock Brake System), ASC (Anti-Spin Control), GSA (Gear Shift Assist), TPM (Tire Pressure Monitor) and ESA II (Electronic Suspension Adjustment). Considering the K1300’s long-standing record as a long-distance hauler, it’s hard to fault BMW for leaving the basic platform status quo.

From the saddle the K1300 feels as big as it looks, but a low-seat option is available free of charge for shorter riders, and the beautifully machined rearsets are three-way adjustable. The bike’s outsized stature, tall seat and Duolever front end make it feel cumbersome and top-heavy at parking-lot speeds, but it actually handles quite well around town, and comfort is impeccable. The lengthy, 62.4-inch wheelbase doesn’t turn the Beemer into a slow-steering land yacht in the canyons, and side-to-side transitions are easier than you’d expect. In general, the bike hides its claimed 560-lb. curb weight quite well.

How the K1300 handles on a twisty road corresponds directly to the suspension setting you’ve toggled via the ESA switch on the left clip-on. Sport, Normal and Comfort are your three options, with Comfort offering a plush, Cadillac-esque feel and Sport a firmer suspension action. Normal splits the difference, taking the edge off bumps while still offering good support, making it ideal for most of our semi-spirited passes through the canyons. Sport is borderline too firm and makes small bumps feel sharper than they are, although the aggressive damping does keep the heavy machine more stable mid-corner.

A perfectly sculpted windscreen diverts air away from your torso, and the lack of vibration through the seat, clip-ons and footpegs is impressive. But back in town, the K1300 shudders a bit when leaving the line below 2000 rpm. The solution is more throttle, which has the added benefit of letting the Akrapovic pipe belt out its throaty song.

The motor builds power in a surprisingly lax manner up to around 7000 rpm, without that in-your-face feel of the Kawasaki ZX-14R or Suzuki Hayabusa down low. Midrange power is more than adequate, however, and once the engine gets spinning it really impresses. Especially up top, where jail-worthy speeds are reached within seconds of clicking through the flawless electronic quick-shifter. Thankfully, that long wheelbase keeps the K1300 stable when stupidity overcomes logic.

The non-adjustable ABS and traction-control system (both systems are on/off only) similarly save you from yourself, although their thresholds are very conservative. Wheelies are basically a non-option with the TC on, and you can feel the power being restrained as you drive off of corners. That’s a good thing in most scenarios, as the stock Metzeler Sportec M3 tires don’t offer much side grip when ridden aggressively. As far as the brakes are concerned, there’s an adequate amount of power coming from the four-piston calipers biting on twin 320mm rotors, but feel from the linked system is best described as vague.

As one would expect, these upgrades come at a cost: $20,255 to be precise, up $4700 compared to the base model. Assuming your eyeballs haven’t popped out of their sockets and you’ve continued reading, we’ll add that springing for the HP saves 40 percent compared to purchasing all of the upgraded parts and accessories individually. Whether that’s worth it to you depends on the size of your bank account, but in terms of comfort, refinement and performance, it’s hard to beat the BMW K1300S HP.

By Bradley Adams
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