The German firm's latest mile-muncher gives Tim Luckhurst a comfy, fast, ride. But it munches pounds, too

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Engine: 1,157cc liquid cooled DOHC four-cylinder
Maximum power: 152bhp @ 9,500rpm
Maximum torque: 130Nm @ 7,750 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed gearbox, shaft final drive.
Brakes: Front twin 320mm discs, rear single 294mm disc, part-integral ABS
Weight: 249kg
Seat height: Adjustable between 820mm and 840mm
Tank capacity: 24 litres
Price: From £11,995

It was cunning. BMW invited me to the Aras de los Olmos Enduro Park to ride motorcycles on dirt tracks. Then, when I was bruised and mud-drenched after a hard day scrambling, they presented me with a K1200GT. The GT stands for Gran Turismo. This collation of comfort and technology is as distant from off-road motorcycling as you get without adding two wheels and a chauffeur. With my back aching from 60 miles standing on the footpegs any touring motorcycle would have felt good. Were they hiding something?

Aras de los Olmos is 55 miles from Spain's Orange Coast and the road winds for most of the way. Narrow straights through cherry orchards are broken up by tight bends cut through rock. It is the sort of riding a holiday tourer can expect to encounter after a day spent covering 500 miles on motorways. I was at least that tired and I wanted to know if the bike would forgive the type of errors an exhausted rider can make. So I blasted too fast down straights, braked late into corners and threw the machine about aggressively.

At a class-leading 152bhp the 2006 K1200 GT is 17 per cent more powerful than its predecessor. It generates 11 per cent more torque and is 6 per cent lighter. If the attractive, aerodynamic fairing did not reduce windblast so effectively, acceleration would be sharp enough to pull arms from sockets. The six-speed gearbox is smooth and fast, and lever travel is attractively short. Humbling sports cars on steep inclines is a breeze, even two-up with luggage. I apologise to the Spaniard in the Audi TT. It is all about power-to-weight ratio.

But the K1200GT's vast reserves of power would not matter much if it was not agile as well. Its predecessor was not. The 2006 version is much improved. This time the comfort required to sustain long motorway journeys has been achieved without clumsiness. The K1200 GT takes its Duolever front-wheel suspension and Paralever rear equipment from the K1200S sports bike. Dry sump lubrication and the inherently compact design of BMW's 1,157cc, in-line, four-cylinder engine permit a very low centre of gravity. The overall result is light, accurate handling. Heavily laden it is still more stately than agile, but unencumbered this tourer turns nimbly and deals with rapid direction changes with alacrity.

A part-integral ABS system is fitted in which the handlebar lever activates both the front and rear wheel brakes and the foot pedal works the rear brake only. I usually detest linked braking systems, but this one works well.

I was impressed by the electrically adjustable front windscreen. It did not rain, so I cannot guarantee that it keeps the rider dry in wet weather. But I found the windblast on my helmet and upper body significantly reduced even at 120mph. The screen can move a full 10cm up or down and is controlled by a press button on the handlebar.

The look is compact and modern and serves to emphasise this bike's dual-purpose role as a tourer capable of sporty antics. But it is as a passenger-carrying tourer that it really excels. The seat is long enough to accommodate two large adults in day-long comfort and luggage-carrying capacity is good. Range has been extended. It now exceeds 200 miles at realistic motorway speeds. A big, bold, electronic flat-screen display in the middle of the cockpit gives clear information on fuel level, coolant temperature, time, gear selected, overall mileage and trip mileage.

The BMW K1200GT is a luxurious, state of the art, distance-muncher and its price tag confirms it. The base model costs £11,955. Add heated grips and seats, electronic suspension adjustment and satellite navigation and the bill soars past £13,000. Is it worth it?

For riders who cover very high mileages it will repay the investment with sumptuous comfort and thrilling performance. But beware of buying for status. Most riders will find BMW's own boxer-engined R1200RT more than adequate. Those willing to look beyond the German manufacturer know that Buell, Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Triumph and Moto Guzzi all produce good touring motorcycles that cost less than this one. Try a Honda Pan European, a Buell Ulysses, a Suzuki DL1000 V-Strom or a Moto Guzzi Norge. For greater agility test a Triumph Sprint ST. The days when BMW alone made reliable long-distance bikes are gone. But this one oozes class and goes like the clappers.

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