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BMW K1300S Sport Road Test

By Bob Arnett

BMW K1300 - 1
BMW K1300 - 2

Specifications

Power: 175bhp @ 9250rpm   Torque: 140nm  @ 8250rpm   Weight (Wet):  255kg   Wheelbase:  1585mm 

K1300S Sport Equipment

ESA (Electronic Suspension Adjustment)   ASC (Automatic Stability Control)   GSA (Gear Shift Assist)  ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System)   Heated Grips   Tyre Pressure Monitoring

After 8 yrs of owning a Honda CBR1100xx3 Super Blackbird, it was time for the old girl to fly the nest and a new model beckoned. After a few test rides the bike I chose was a BMW K1300S. As a self-confessed Honda man, I felt it was time to try other wares and as I have owned the K1300 for 18 months, I thought I`d give you an insight to my time with her.

This is by far the most comfortable motorcycle I have owned. The seating position feels fairly normal to me for a sports tourer. The arms, feet, backside triangle fits my frame perfectly, but it’s the backside on the seat comfort that I find so good. This is due to both the ESA and the seat being manufactured from some very malleable foam.

I can be sceptical of rider aides that manufactures spend loads of revenue developing, but the most useable systems that I personally like are ABS and the Electronic Suspension Control. The ESA is adjustable for both Preload and Damping. The preload is only adjusted at a standstill. Press the button to have either; single rider, single rider and luggage or rider and pillion. Then once you are on the move a dab on the same button gives you three options of damping. These are 1. Comfort (soft) 2. Normal (medium) 3. Sport (hard). Maybe it`s my bones getting older as a few years back I never really gave much thought to the comfort side of riding a motorcycle but now there`s instant respite from a rough section of road. Ride through a village or town with a myriad of past road excavations, inspection covers etc, and then choose the Comfort setting. Head back onto the open road and select the Normal position and if you want a sportier ride there`s the harder Sport mode which stiffens the ride up to track round the curves nice and firm. The change from each setting is instantly noticeable.

Although the K1300S weighs in at a rather hefty 255kgs, she carries the weight well. The bike sits low and long and has been well designed to keep the      C of G low. For a bike that is around 50kgs heavier than a Honda Fireblade she tips into corners with ease but I imagine if attacking the alpine roads on the continent, then it could get a little tiring.

Synonymous with the BMW marque is the Paralever (rear)/Duolever (front) suspension which this model wears. It is the first bike I have ridden with this system and I must say it`s taken a bit of adjusting to. The fact that she squats rather than dropping the front end whilst braking hasn`t really bothered me. This feels more stable than the conventional telescopic fork design. However the front end of the bike has a `vague` feel to it whilst cornering. There just isn’t the same feel as the conventional telescopic fork set up. The jury is still out with me on this one.

I have become a fan of shaft drive as my hands are a lot cleaner now when washing or working on the bike. Aesthetically this looks very nice and adds to the clean flowing lines of the design. Also there is no routine chain adjusting or lubricating.  I think the main down side of a shaft drive is the weight and power losses in the drive train due to frictional losses. These are unnoticeable to a road rider and I think it is a positive addition to the bike.

The OE tyres supplied were Metzeler ME3 - more of a sports tyre. For my style of riding these were excellent but the rear only lasted 3000 miles and the front 3800 miles. I don`t do track days, only commuting, leisure and few miles two up.  This is an expensive choice for a family man, so I have replaced them with a pair of Bridgestone BT023. I used these on the Blackbird and was getting a return of around 6000 miles, so I`m hoping for more longevity from the Japanese tyres.

As you would expect from a 1300cc power plant with 175bhp on tap, things are quite lively when you want some fun. There is no discernable power band just smooth progressive linear acceleration. Tell her how much you want and she gives it to you!

The K1300S Sport model is supplied with GSA – Gear Shift Assist, or otherwise known as a `quick shift`.  Whilst changing up through the gear box, without using the clutch, putting pressure on the gear lever cuts the revs for a few milliseconds and snicks it into the next gear giving a very smooth transition into the next gear.  The GSA works at its best and smoothest under load, but if you are just feathering the throttle it can feel notchy and this is when using the clutch is preferable. It is the first time I have had this feature on any of my bikes and it`s certainly a nice to have accessory.

ASC – Automatic Stability Control is another rider aide provided on the Sport. The front and rear wheel speeds are compared and the engine torque is adjusted to suit the conditions. What this means is the engine revs are cut to stop the rear wheel spinning or preventing a wheelie. The default setting for this is “on” but it can be switched “off” whilst on the move. It can be a useful feature on a machine with this sort of power when riding in wet, salty and muddy conditions but I have found that when going over a small roundabout with a pronounced camber on the road, the front end can momentarily lifts, causing the engine to cut out for a split second causing the tank to hit the nether regions. Likewise accelerating over a small crest in the road produces the same effect. For this reason I occasionally turn it “off”.

Not everything is hunky dory however, and I suppose we can always find a few gripes with our pride and joy.

The fuel tank has a total volume of 23 litres. This will give a tank range of around 200 miles on a steady run whilst getting a return of 54 mpg – ish. Brisk riding can drop this to around 47 mpg. These returns are quite good considering the performance on tap. My issue is with filling the tank. The fuel flies in until there is about a gallon to go. There is a long filling neck and when the fuel reaches this, the petrol starts to foam causing the filling nozzle to cut out, so the last gallon can only be trickled in which takes ages.

I have also had an issue with low battery voltage. Twice I have gone to start the bike after filling her up with fuel, only for the starter to click. I had to be bumped off on one occasion. I had given it a bit of charge myself, and was thinking there may be a dead cell on the battery. However the main dealer told me this wasn`t the case and I needed an Optimiser/Charger due to the battery loads on modern bikes with all the electronic accessories. I had a look in the riders’ manual and it specifically says that a flat battery will not be covered under warranty if it hasn’t been conditioned with a float charger. For something as important as this and supposedly required on many modern bikes, I believe this should have been pointed out to me when I bought the bike.

So overall this a superbike with a quirky edge due to the suspension, stonking power which is as good at walking pace as it is when given a bit of head on the open road. Touring, bring it on that’s the main course, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding – with plenty of gravy. Hit the switchbacks in the mountains and the dessert could be like a treacle sponge and custard. Very tasty, but a bit heavy after a while…..  I like it.

Bob Arnett Jan 2014