First Ride: 2003 BMW K1200GT

The Jackalope Sheds Its Antlers

From where we sit, the K1200RS has always been something of a jackalope. You know, the beast immortalized on wacky roadside postcards: a composite creature with a jackrabbit chassis grafted to the top half of a puzzled antelope.

The K-RS has the swoopy look and semiaggressive riding position of a corner-hungry sport-tourer. But its slow-revving-albeit-torquey engine, soft, tall suspension, clunky controls and prodigious mass make BMW's muscle bike reluctant to cash the checks its zoomy profile keeps writing. You can make one go fast, but we often get the sense it would rather slow down and graze the edelweiss.

Enter the new K1200GT. It's the bike BMW faithful have been clamoring for-the same engine and chassis as the K-RS, but with a more upright riding position, comfortable seat and protective fairing. A bike to ride all day, but without the heavy baggage, both physical and emotional, of a full-boat tourer like the K1200LT.

The flopped four remains in RS tune-a claimed 130 horsepower at the crank, which should translate to a real 110-115 hp at the rear wheel.