Go ahead. Say it. We have an unreasonable man-crush on anything with BMW’s new liquid-cooled boxer engine. We gush endlessly about the GS and now we’re giving the similarly powered BMW R1200RT the nod a second year in a row, as a touring bike. What’s up with that?
There’s a simple explanation. As motorcycle enthusiasts who bias toward fun and frivolity, our definition of a touring bike is one that includes the ability to pound out the miles as well as dance from apex to apex. And while we appreciate the four decades of Honda Gold Wing dominance in the traditional touring category and the great benefits Harley-Davidson has brought to its Project Rushmore interstate burners, we’re still suckers for bikes that can go the distance and are a hoot to ride.
It’s true. BMW had not changed the RT for 2015. But it also hasn’t gained any new challengers—the Japanese sport-touring machines are holding station, and BMW’s own über tourer, the K1600GTL, is, while still magnificent, getting long in tooth. For now, it’s time for the RT to shine, combining rare sporting character in a bike built to leap state lines in serene, weather-protected comfort.
ALTERNATIVE TAKE // KAWASAKI VERSYS 650 LT
Maybe Kawasaki’s smaller Versys (see First Ride review here) seems an odd choice for mention in the touring category, but it’s an amazingly good machine for chasing the horizon. Compact and inexpensive, the new 650 LT version, just $8,699 with excellent hard bags—and now, much less divisive styling—reflects a host of small but useful improvements to the Versys platform. A staff favorite.