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Bike Profile - Posted 14th February 2011

BMW K75RT Part 6 - So What's It Like?
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Steve MacGregor has finally fettled his 750 into fine riding condition. So what's it like to own and ride? He explains that good things come in threes...

Most of the articles in this series have described problems with my K75. From these you might assume that the bike has been unreliable or that I haven't enjoyed riding it. Both would be wrong - most of the issues encountered were inherited from previous owners and once these were fettled the bike has generally been very reliable. In this instalment I thought I'd try to provide a more balanced overview of the last eighteen months of K75 ownership.

Even K75s can look pretty in the right surroundings...

I had read a number of positive reviews of K bikes before I bought the 75, and I have to admit that initially I was a little disappointed. It didn't deliver much in the way of performance and it was, well, not terribly exciting. It took me a long time to understand that, in its own way, the K75 is just as uncompromising and single minded as a tuned two-stroke or a single-seat Italian superbike.

The difference is that the K isn't designed to excel in power, handling or styling, the criteria by which we most often judge motorcycle excellence. Instead it provides a complete package for the relentless, reliable and safe accumulation of miles. Nothing is allowed to intrude into the design which will deflect from this purpose. When you understand this, and when you judge the bike against the standards of this very narrow focus, it's actually a supremely competent and assured motorcycle. This isn't a bike that will impress on a quick blast round the block, but take it on a continental tour, and you may change your mind.

So what are the elements that go to make up this package? First, the engine. It's a triple, but not as we know it, Jim. I have owned a few triples in the past, both two- and four-strokes, and all have been characterised by a distinctive power delivery. Not as smooth as a four or as lumpy as a twin, triples nevertheless manage to feel quite distinct.

Except this one. It's turbine smooth, and I don't believe that someone riding it who didn't already know would recognise it as a triple. I don't know if this is because of how it's mounted in the frame (longitudinally and laid flat) or because it has a balance shaft, but this engine is actually smoother than many fours (smoother in fact than its own big brother, the four cylinder K100).

Although the engine doesn't make a great deal of power (75bhp is claimed), delivery is completely linear with no steps or flat spots. In top gear the engine produces good useable power in the 50 to 80mph range where most real world riding happens. Top speed? I have no idea. I'd guess somewhere in the region of 110 to 120, but it isn't really relevant on a bike like this.

The gearchange requires a firm foot, and even then it crunches and crashes. A tentative dab at the lever will usually just find another neutral. Standard BMW gearbox then.

On Steve's way to work.  Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle in the background. You can go off some people...

The controls are good. From footrests that are slightly angled to match the natural position of your feet to logical and well placed indicator switches, everything is just where it needs to be. However, this does also highlight one possible source of irritation. I have come to realise that there are two ways of setting things up on this bike: the BMW way and the wrong way. I first became aware of this when I tried adjusting the angle of the handlebars. I often do this on a new bike to find the optimum position. The bars are retained by conventional clamps, which can be loosened and the bars rotated back or forwards. There is a distinct notch in the 'correct' position.

I tried rotating the bars forward slightly, and found that my knees were coming into contact with the fairing. I tried rotating the bars back slightly and found that the thumb operated indicator switches were inaccessible. I moved the bars back to the original position and everything was well again. Not a problem for me - at six feet tall I find the bike very comfortable even for extended periods, but it might be a problem if you don't fit the human template around which it was designed. Overall, this isn't a motorcycle which rewards speculative tinkering.

Most elements of the bike exude an aura of quality and competent design. The only thing which really lets it down is the suspension, which is crude by modern standards. Pre-load adjustment only on the back and no adjustment on the front don't give much scope for dialling in the ride. I also find the suspension quite harsh for one-up riding, tending to crash over bumps. However, the bike tracks accurately through corners and the handling is stable. It does take a firm shove on the bars to tip the bike over - this isn't a bike you can just think through corners. The brakes are adequate and the ABS really works too - I tested it mid greasy corner last winter.

The fairing is outstanding, deflecting wind and rain away from the rider and passenger. It doesn't make the bike sensitive to sidewinds, and is claimed to generate downforce at speed - the bike certainly has a very planted feel at anything over 70mph.

The hard luggage turns the bike from weekend amusement into practical everyday transport. The panniers are waterproof and QD. The topbox, lockable pockets in the fairing and under the seat provide ample additional luggage space for two people. On a two-up trip to Europe the K75 was comfortable, reliable and provided plenty of room for all our gear.

Spares availability for this bike is good. Many new parts are still available and a vast array of secondhand bits can be found on the Net. Which is fortunate because the cost of some new parts is eye-wateringly high.

I get most of my parts from the nice folk at Motorworks in Yorkshire. A business staffed by helpful, courteous and knowledgeable people who are always able to translate my incoherent ramblings into the right part (see www.motor
works.co.uk
)

K75 bits on Right Now......

Overall, I think the best thing I can say is that I always look forward to riding the K75, even if I'm not entirely sure why. It doesn't provide the excitement or adrenaline rush of many other bikes, and it doesn't have lots of 'character' in the generally accepted sense of the word. I suppose I have come to appreciate the reliable solidity of the thing. As an example, I'm writing this in winter. The weather today is cold, blustery and damp. I have a perfectly serviceable car parked outside my house. And yet I chose to take the K75 on my 50 mile round trip commute to work.

I can't think of any other bike I have owned that I would have used in these circumstances. Long after pampered sportsbikes are tucked up in the shed sucking on an Optimate, the Beemer continues to provide reliable, enjoyable transport.

Misty mountains. At least the snow from previous episodes has finally gone..

I generally have the attention span of a gnat when it comes to bikes - I have no sooner finished building one before I'm on to the next. But I think this one may be a keeper. I'll probably have other bikes on which to be silly, but for sheer practicality, I'll be hanging on to the BMW.

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