MCN Test BMW K1600GT, BMW R1200RT and Triumph Trophy!

There is a detailed review of three touring bikes in the MCN this week, Monaco or Bust. The review was interesting reading so as the owner of two of the review bikes (R1200RT and K1600GTL) I have summarised the discussion – for the winner see later!

K1200 and K1600 at Newbury

The aim was to compare the  new Triumph Trophy with the most popular tourer, the R1200RT.  To add interest and spice to the comparison, they also took along the K1600GTL.

Triumph Trophy available in Silver or Blue

The RT scored heavily with its lighter weight and low centre of gravity.  This showed itself in higher scores for handling, fun factor and manageability,  which cost the Trophy dearly in the scoring.  These issues cost the K1600 some points too, but it had the power, torque and smoothness to compensate for this.

The use of the gears was not mentioned at all.  I find that there is so much torque on the K1600, that up to about 50 mph, and even more, you can leave the K1600 in 3rd or 4th, including going round roundabouts without thinking about the gears.  It is a bit different on the RT where you use the gears a bit more, but I do not know what the Trophy is like.

The trophy is nearly as heavy as the K1600 and weighs quite a bit more than the RT.  I was a bit surprised that the Trophy engine, with 22 BHP more than the RT, only had the same 89ftlb maximum torque as the RT.  That implies that the RT has its maximum torque at lower revs than the Trophy.  I guess that this helps make the RT more enjoyable to ride. On the other hand the K1600 has 129ft lb torque which is much greater than the 89ftlb of the other two.  This 45% greater torque lets the K1600 sing on major roads, and it is not bad on smaller roads. The lighter weight of the RT lets that fly round the bendy roads.   I do not know how the centre of gravity stands with the Trophy, but it is good and low on both the BMWs.  So maybe the Trophy has a centre of gravity that is a bit too high, and is a bit too heavy for its torque?

The K1600 was reported as having a clunky gearbox.  I have found this too, which is a shame, because the RT seems to have pretty smooth gear changes, so why not the K1600.

The pillion passenger was not happy on motorways on the Trophy, but thought that on windy roads it was great.  She thought that the RT was better, but the smoothness of the K1600 won it for her. The trophy just won on weather protection, for the rider, but not for the pillion passenger  who was won over by the K1600.

One of the testers said that the radios on all the bikes could not be heard at high speeds, and that it might be worth not having the radios at all.  I was a bit surprised, because I think that for both the rider and the pillion, the radio might be quite useful on long runs, especially if the radio goes quiet when the rider and pillion are speaking to each other.  I suppose that they had not tried a blue tooth link.  Helmets like the BMW Systems 6 with bluetooth can connect to the stereo by bluetooth, but this might not give the best sound quality? Not sure if this would work with non-BMW helmets.

The reflection on the “dials” (you know what I mean!) was disliked for the Trophy, but in the sun I have found this difficult on the BMWs too.  On my last trip I found I was monitoring my speed on the GPS, which, being mounted vertically did not seem to have this problem. The K1600 integrated GPS was not mentioned although with the automatically locking screen it is very functional on a long trip.

Undesireable Reflection in the Dials

The operation of the controls were considered equally good for the BMWs, but was marked as less good for the Trophy, they were considered to be too complicated.  The K1600 thumbwheel looks complicated but works very well. An undocumented tip is to push to the ‘left’ which will reset the menu, saves a lot of pressing the menu button!

Right Controls for Trophy
Left Controls for Trophy

The mirrors were mentioned.  The testers did not like the RT’s or the Trophy’s mirrors much, which view the traffic  below the handlebars.  However they liked the K1600’s which are conventionally above the handlebars.  I agree with them.

The fuel consumption was variable on the different types of road for the bikes.  The RT was best on Motorways, the K1600 on A roads, and the Trophy on wet A and B roads.  It is difficult to make anything out of this as it is too dependant on the gear the bike is in, rapidity of throttle opening, braking instead of slowing on the gears etc.  Anyway the worst consumption was 41.29mpg, and the best was 58.8mpg, both for the Trophy.

Fun Tourer and Supreme Tourer

The MCN conclusions were that the K1600GT (L) was best due to its Engine Performance, Equipment, Smoothness and the Pillion comfort.

Monaco or Bust! Winner – BMW K1600GT

But this machine was more expensive and more luxurious than the other two, so the real comparison was between the RT and the Trophy.  They thought that the RT was the better of the two bikes.  The Trophy was let down by wind buffeting, cruise control, reflective dash, switchgear and its weight, and the Pillion’s numb backside.  If they had copied the BMW controls, and provided the pillion with decent comfort, the Trophy would have scored near to the RT.  I wonder if Triumph did this MCN test during the Trophy development, because these last two issues are easy to change.

Still the Trophy has come a long way in a short time and some competition to the all conquering RT is healthy for customers. The water cooled RT with 130+ bhp should be a very good bike indeed!


Originally posted 2012-11-25 23:01:22.


Author: bmwk1600gt

3 thoughts on “MCN Test BMW K1600GT, BMW R1200RT and Triumph Trophy!

  1. When I had a sit on the new Triumph Explorer at BSB Silverstone it felt a very good copy of an R1200GS, but the detail was not as good as the BMW. It looks like Triumph has decided after markets that BMW pretty much created. It is going to take them some time to get really good. Steve

  2. Thanks for your efforts Steve….a good summary.
    I’ll try and have a test ride on the Triumph as soon as it’s available, more out of curiosity than anything.
    When I test rode the 1600 it left me thinking that although it was stunning, in most departments, I didnt want one.
    I might think twice if it was a V8 though.

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