Motorcycles are often viewed as statements of personality or character. But they are also about utility. We like to ride the highway for the twisties and the wind and expansive scenery, which puts us on cruisers and touring bikes. But the dual sport bikes give us access to the trails and backroads and places we might otherwise never go. And in many instances, a motorcycle is just an emotional expression of wanting to feel as close as possible to freedom, youth, hell, maybe even immortality.
Or maybe that’s just a bunch of bunk and all want to do is ride.
My personal bikes have been all over the board. I started as a 15 year-old on a Kawasaki 250 back in the sixties. And I’ve ridden most everything in the subsequent years. A little over five years ago, I decided on a spur-of-the-moment adventure and flew down to Australia to rent a bike and ride across the continent. In Perth, I rented a dual sport GSA 1200 BMW, and I fell in love with the bike. For almost a month, on all types of surfaces, the bike performed flawlessly. I was actually a bit amazed at how balanced and easily controlled it felt for a big bike. The center of gravity looks to be too high but sitting on the GSA you feel close to the ground and in complete control.
We crossed the Outback, the Nullarbor Plain, rode the Great Ocean Road, the soft beaches of SW Australia, the dirt tracks over the Snowy Mountains and the Great Dividing Range, and always had a sense of performance and power from that bike. I wanted to buy one when I got home to Texas. Instead, I ended up on an LT 1200, BMW’s king touring machine until the inline six cylinder GT and GTL models came out in 2012.
I chose the 1200, my first BMW, because I spend more time on the sealed roads than dirt, and I am a lucky fella whose wife likes to ride. Going two-up on a dual sport Beemer is less comfortable for the passenger, even with padding on the hard cases. The LT, however, let’s her charge her phone, lean on a padded back rest, and get a view of the road with the elevated pillion seat. Plus, the four-speaker sound system means she can hear all my Willie and Waylon and Kristofferson, regardless of ear padding on her helmet.
The LT is, for me, a dream bike for the money. When BMW came out with the inline six, the prices approached $30k very quickly, but as the new models emerged, and used 1600s became available, their prices on the resale market dropped. The bigger bike became more accessible for buyers that had been contemplating the 1200 LT. That abundance of availability and affordability pushed down prices on used LTs, and it is possible to find a great LT with low mileage for $3000-$5000. I found my LT through a friend; it had under 10,000 miles, cost me $4500 cash, and looks and rides like a new motorcycle.
For the uninitiated, the LT has cruise control, a power electric windshield, reverse, heated seats and grips, a six-CD player, and two charging outlets. The big LT is about 900 pounds wet but handles well and is much more appealing of a ride for me than the Gold Wing. But hell, I like both bikes because they are two wheels. The LT has my heart for now, though.
But when it comes to motorcycles, I am fickle.