I got a chance to test ride the 2016 R1200RS on Saturday. The salesman gave me the keyless fob and said to take it as far as I wanted and for as long as I wanted. He didnít say anything, but since they closed at 5pm, I thought it best to bring it back before then.

Most of our GT's came with the full package of options. Iíve used the ASC and ABS, so I value these, and the ESA is handy though I usually just leave mine on Comfort. This RS also had the Premium package, but in this case the ESA is Dynamic and there are also options like the Ride Modes Pro, Gear Shift Pro and Cruise Control.

I've never ridden a bike with a "boxer" engine before. It's a great engine. The bike has a different vibration at idle, going back and forth from side to side. I found it actually slightly rougher at idle than the GT's. Nothing bad, just something I noticed. The power was surprising. Roll on in even higher gears at any speed had an immediate response. The GT picks up speed also, but less abruptly and more smoothly. Taking it on the freeway, I found no vibration till I downshifted to get the rpms up to 4000...and then it was about the same as the GT, which is also at about 4000 rpms but in 6th gear. The point is though, that the RS is at lower rpms at a given speed, so at 60-70 mph, it was totally smooth. Nice.

Shifting was different on the RS. First, it has a hydraulic clutch and the pull on the lever is much easier. It also has the Gear Shift Assist, which means you don't have to use the clutch if you donít want to in anything from 2nd and up. If you have problems with pain in your hand from shifting, this option is for you. I tried the Gear Shift Assist and it worked as advertised. However, I enjoy shifting and while the option worked flawlessly, I find myself liking the control I have with operating the clutch myself.

I did find some driveshaft lash occasionally. Small, but it was there. I found that interesting, since my Honda NT700V never showed any in the 30,000 miles I owned it.

The RS has an interesting windscreen. It's not huge, but does adjust up and down some, and can be adjusted on the move. The effect is about what you get with the GT's OEM screen. I'd be looking for some kind of aftermarket screen I think. The Madstad on my GT is just sweet. Given the choice of which to take touringÖIíd take the bike with a Madstad, if they make one for the RS.

Handling and ride were what surprised me. I expected with a more sophisticated suspension to feel a big difference. Maybe I didn't have the suspension adjusted properly, but I didn't find it to be any better than the GT's. I adjusted it to Dynamic and it was rougher. Adjusting the preload to two passengers while I was stopped, actually changed the height of the bike! Cool! There is a setting for Soft, Normal and Hard, but I didnít see that reflected on the dash and so Iím not sure what setting I had it in for that. Maybe thatís what was wrong. Maybe I had it in Hard. In any case, the ride was no smoother and perhaps even rougher on the bumps.

Ergonomically, this is where the RS didn't make it for me. And I suspect itíd do well for someone who was taller. If I was taller, it would fit perfectly and the situation would be reversed. At 5'6" though, with a 28" inseam, the GT fits like a glove. And I realize I have bar risers installed on my GT. I'd need bar risers and something done to the seat to make this bike work. I was fully stretched out it seemed and sitting only in the front of the seat, not the middle. Rolling on the throttle was fun...but tended to move me into the hollow of the middle of the seat. Itís quite unnerving to roll on the throttleÖhave the bike respond nicely and feel your butt moving down and away because the force was pushing you into the hollow of the seat. I had to grab the handlebars hard to to keep my position. Forget about accelerating hard out of a corner...I'd lose my grip and crash. All that is fixable and doesn't change the fact that this is a great bike...but probably not a good fit for me.

Overall feelings? My desires for a replacement bike for the GT are without any intended order:

  • Sub 1000ccs.
  • 500 lbs or less.
  • Fairing to keep the elements off you. Rain and cold, especially.
  • Good handling.
  • Comfort.

The RS didnít do it for me. The engine is a delight, but doesnít fit the sub 1000ccs requirement. Iím not convinced you need that much power and in fact, I was wondering how I could ever use more than the 125 hp the RS has. I came to the conclusion that it is senseless to chase the horsepower of one bike over another. I donít use all that I have now. The handling was good, and I suspect the comfort can be made good as well with the right mods. I donít feel the need for all the electrical accessories like the Gear Shift Assist. I want a bike that will take me on a commute during the week, and then double for using on a trip with some comfort -- but not insulate me from the experience of riding a motorcycle.

As I told my wife later Saturday night, the only way Iím selling my GT, is if either it bakes my legs or my hands fall asleep on the trip. I donít see either happening.