2 Weeks in the Northeast – Day 15

In Travel by AbhiLeave a Comment

Day 15 – July 6th, 2019 – Brooklyn, New York to Brooklyn, New York: ~120 miles

The end of the trip.

Missed Day 14? – Day 14 – July 5th, 2019 – Boston, Massachusetts to Brooklyn, New York: ~250 miles

After two weeks together, Vy and I split up for a bit. I wanted to meet a couple of motorcycle folks and presumably spend hours talking about bikes, so Vy stayed in New York City to see a couple of friends. First, I headed out Oyster Bay to visit 20th Century Cycles.

Did you catch my Picture Intermission from my visit there?

While I was chatting with Alex Puls of 20th Century Cycles, he mentioned that there was someone about 20 minutes away who had a collection of BMWs that would blow me away. In fact, he said “You’ll forget about everything you’ve just seen here once you go to Peter’s.” So he made an introduction, and I headed out to the Nettersheim Museum.

Did you catch my Picture Intermission from my visit there as well?

While I was at Peter’s place, Vy sent me this photo of her in a huge bubble while she was hanging out with her friend. Something about it resonated with me, and it immediately became my phone background.

That pretty much wrapped up our trip. I rode the RT back to BMW’s headquarters to return the bike, and I was surprised to see that the lobby display had already been changed up from when I picked the bike up two weeks beforehand. Here’s what it looked like two weeks ago – a 1946 Rolls-Royce Wraith (the first post-war Rolls Royce model) and a 2019 Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge (this one has a MSRP of $442,100):

Today there was a Pride-themed 8 series convertible that carried a grand marshal in the WorldPride New York City parade.

While I waited for a Lyft driver to pick me up and get me back to Vy and then off to the airport to go back home to Los Angeles, I had some time to reflect on the RT.

My incredibly-abbreviated review:
The BMW R1250RT is a tremendous touring bike – and it damn well should be, considering my loaner was $25,595 as equipped (without a trunk). The base price is $18,646 but you’ll never find one at that price unless you special order. If I was buying one, I’d pony up $23,795 to get one with the Select Package – Dynamic ESA (Electronic Suspension Adjustment), keyless ignition, adaptive headlights, quickshifter, multiple ride modes, hill start control, audio system, GPS prep package (my loaner had a GPS unit), chrome exhaust, central locking, heated seats, tire pressure monitors, LED auxiliary lights, anti-theft, two accessory sockets, cruise control, and “Dynamic Brake Control”. It’s not cheap, but if you’re willing to spend $19k on a bike then I suspect you’re willing to spend a few more grand to get some excellent touring features.

Part of this is BMW North America’s insistence on bundling options – it’s pretty infuriating that you don’t get cruise control on a $18,646 touring bike and that you’re forced to add Bluetooth, Traction Control, and $5,150 on a bunch of other features just to get it.

This is insane. I could buy an entire Kawasaki Z400 (and have $151 left) for the price of cruise control on the RT.

Once you pay to play, the touring experience is generally hard to fault. It weighs a hefty 642 pounds but the weight is kept low and it’s well-balanced. The RT is supremely comfortable for rider and passenger – Vy loved the feel and the width of her seat, and the adjustable heat was a huge plus to her on cold New England mornings. I felt the same way about rider accomodations, plus I had the benefit of heated grips. That’s one thing BMW does better than most companies: the hottest setting is enough to heat up a studio apartment, so it’s great to get the grips up to temp quickly and then back off to a lower setting for maintenance heat. It’s absolutely glorious when the weather is inclement or it’s cold outside.

It offers some of the best wind protection I’ve ever encountered, though I would have liked an additional inch of height to the windshield as in the highest position it would direct wind right to the top of my helmet (I’m 6’2″). I have that complaint with just about every bike, though. My only other gripe is mostly superficial – BMW’s been using this dash for about a decade now, the RT needs the new TFT dash as found on the GS, S1000RR, F900R, etc.

Realistically, almost all of the above has been true of the RT since its introduction. The most significant update for 2019/2020 is the ShiftCam 1250 engine, which is an absolute jewel. There’s a ~4% bump in displacement but a 9% bump in peak power (136 hp) and 14% bump in peak torque (105 lb-ft).

While it’s down on power compared to offerings from KTM and Ducati, it’s definitely easy to tell that the new motor has more oomph throughout the revband than the old one. What really blows me away is how smooth the transition between the partial-load and full-load cam lobes is. I kept trying to confused the computer by playing with different throttle loads and flirting with the 5,000 rpm cutoff, but there were no troubles – just more power. I guess we’ll find out in a few years if the system is reliable, but in the short term at least, it’s fantastic.

So overall, I like the RT as a sport-tourer, and I think it provides an interesting stop gap for people who don’t want to go full tourer with something like the K1600. Objectively, I understand why people riders love this motorcycle…and yet, I was never excited to walk out to the RT on any given morning of this trip. It’s just too big for me to be happy with, which is more of a reflection of my personal tastes in motorcycling than it is about the bike itself seeing as it’s 100 pounds lighter than the K1600GT and 140 pounds lighter than a Gold Wing. I mentioned that if I was getting a RT, I’d get one with the Select Package. But I wouldn’t get a RT, I’d get a XR or a GS.

With all that said, I was on a 2019 RT. The 2020 model was unchanged, but the upcoming ’21 bike has some updates:
– the front fairing has been restyled with a new LED headlight

– optional active cruise control, which keeps a set distance from the vehicle in front of you via radar
– traction control goes from optional to standard
– the old dash is finally gone, replaced with a 10.25″ TFT screen

I’ll still lean towards the GS, but the ’21 RT sure looks like it’ll be a step up from the current model.

Thus concludes my quick thoughts on the RT as well as our Northeastern US trip. As always, thanks for reading!

The end.