It's BMW's best-kept secret. The K 1300 S is powerful, safe, fun, comfortable, practical and, in HP (high performance) trim, it's also sexy.
It's a sportsbike that you can take to a track, ride to work, carry a pillion and even take on tour with the addition of optional tank bag and sporty, expandable panniers. The HP will also draw admirers at your favourite biker cafe.
Prices start at $26,390 which is less than the Italian exotics, but more than the Japanese sports tourers. Yet it comes with heated grips, on-board computer and ABS as standard. You can also get a "dynamic" package of extras including electronic suspension adjustment, quick-shift gears, tyre pressure monitor and traction control for $27,890 which represents good value for the amount of safe and performance technology included.
Or you can go the whole hog and buy one of the limited-edition HP models for $32,390, which includes the "dynamic" extras plus special paintwork, tinted windshield, Akropovic muffler, paddock stand, rear-set and pillion footpegs, and a host of sexy carbonfibre bits and pieces. It also has a limited edition numbered plaque which should boost resale value.
This bike fairly bristles with technology. At its core is the high-revving but grunty 1300cc transverse four-cylinder engine with power that nudges the notorious Suzuki Hayabusa. Drive is through a no-maintenance shaft and there is a slipper clutch to prevent rear wheel lock-up under heavy downshifting. The best of the optional technology is the quick shifter and the electronic suspension adjustment that adjusts the preload for pillions and luggage and the shockers for sport or comfort riding.
It seems ridiculous to talk about safety in a sportsbike with this much power. However, you are not flying without a safety net. This bike features adjustable traction control, ABS "linked" brakes, a slipper clutch and the dependable anti-dive "duolever" front suspension. Add in the electronic supension adjustment that quickly corrects for riding style and load and you have a bike that will safely handle most tasks from the track to touring.
BMW has dispensed with some of the odd design cues that polarise opinion such as mismatched headlights and slab fairings. This bike looks young and smart. It's also highly practical with the most comfortable seat on a sports tourer I have experienced and a relaxed riding position, even with the rear-set footpegs. The windscreen provides plenty of protection, but the fairings will dig into the knees of tall riders.
I rode the HP for several days in the recent BMW TS Safari which meandered from Bathurst to the Sunshine Coast. The combination of quick shifter and slipper clutch made short work of the complex twisties of the Oxley Highway, while the 140Nm of torque made light work of roll-on overtaking maneuvres in sixth gear on the open roads. And the combination of the quick shifter and Akropovic muffler provides a joyous soundtrack like an F1 car whipping through the gears.
BMW's duolever feels unusual on a sports-oriented bike, but it works well to isolate the shocks from the scandalous condition of some of NSW's country tracks that pass for main roads. After plenty of hard charging with loaded panniers, the bike returned 5.7 litres per 100km, but most riders will get closer to the claimed 4.7 figure. Tourers may want to add handlebar risers, but the riding position is a good compromise between sport and touring.
It will do almost anything on road from commuting to touring and even handle a track day. Get at least the optional quick shift and ESA package.
BMW K 1300 S
Prices: $26,390, $27,890 (dynamic package), $32,390 (HP)
Warranty: 2yrs/unlimited km/roadside assist
Resale: 58 per cent
Service: 10,000km/12 months
Engine: 1.3-litre 4-cyl, 129kW/140Nm
Transmission: 6-speed, shaft drive
Body: 2182mm (L); 905mm (w); 1221m (h), 820/790mm (seat) Dry weight: 228kg
Tyres: 120/70 ZR 17; 190/55 ZR 17
Thirst: 4.7/100km (98 RON), 19-litre tank