Pig in a blanket couldn't be cozier
First of all, Riding the Wild Pig has nothing to do with ill-handling Harleys.
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First of all, “Riding the Wild Pig” has nothing to do with ill-handling Harleys.
“The Pig” is a 500 km loop of twisty, two-lane roads through central Ontario cottage country.
Two friends and I hooked up to ride The Pig in late fall, figuring it might be the last kick at the cat (or swine) before the snow flies.
It was also a perfect opportunity for BMW’s new K1200GT sports tourer to mollycoddle me through a full day in the saddle in single-digit temperatures.
The GT, the third variation of BMW’s K-bike platform, is the best of the lot. My tester came with heated grips, heated seat (mmm, warm buns), cruise control, hard bags, Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA) and the on-board computer.
Ron Peter was on his trusted FZ1 and Tony Vinent was aboard his 650 V-Strom. The day started auspiciously enough when one of our group (who shall remain nameless), had his V-Strom wrestle him to the ground in Ron’s driveway.
The Pig starts with Hwy. 507, zips east to Tory Hill, takes a turn around Cardiff and Harcourt, does the Wilberforce “loop,” back across to Haliburton, jigs around Fort Irwin, Carnarvon, Minden and down to Norland. Outline the route with a highlighter and it loosely resembles a hog’s head with two ears and a snout, hence The Pig.
It’s a good day’s ride if you do the stops for coffee in Bobcaygeon, lunch somewhere and the obligatory (in summer, anyway) ice cream stop in Minden.
The GT’s ambient temperature gauge showed 6C, the grips and seat were on “high” and I was looking forward to coffee, when we hit fog and drizzle all along the Pigeon Lake bypass. No worries. The GT’s wind and weather protection is second to none â€“ even my lower legs were dry.
After the stop in Bobcaygeon, the fog lifted, the roads began to dry and it was time for The Pig.
The previous generation GT had a reputation of steering like a truck (a sentiment I didn’t share), but nobody can fault this one as the Telelever steers lightly and predictably. The Paralever hind end likewise works well and, other than a bit of lash from the shaft drive system, the entire drivetrain is smooth as a frog’s bottom.
The powerplant is basically the same 1,157 cc inline-four found in the other K-bikes, but with cams and injection mapping favouring torque more than peak power.
That said, 150 hp and a torque curve reminiscent of Saskatchewan should keep everyone happy.
I’m iffy on BMW’s servo-assisted linked brakes. They’re powerful, linear and the ABS is great, but they’re still spongy at the lever and lack the feel of a good standard brake system. There’s also a teeny squeal just as you come to a stop â€“ annoying on a motorcycle listing for 25K.
When the motor’s off, there’s no assist, meaning almost zero brakes â€“ the root cause of one heart-stopping moment when I almost backed a $25,000 motorcycle into a 1.2 m ditch when moving it around for pictures.
Love the brakes, hate the servo.
The ESA is a wonderful option and not a gimmick. You can select three pre-determined settings (comfort, normal and sport) that alter spring and damping rates.
If you’re on bumpy, choppy pavement, hit “comfort” for a plush ride over the potholes.
If the pavement gets smooth and twisty, dial “sport” and the bike immediately feels much more stable and planted.
BMW’s hard bags are among the best in the business and (finally!) you can access your stuff without taking the key out of the ignition.
They’re lockable, waterproof, cavernous enough to hold a full face lid, and remove quickly and easily from the bike. They go back on just as easily, too.
You can’t use the optional cruise control on The Pig, but on the 401, it works well.
Click the switch on the left pod and, once you’re up to speed, hit “set.” To disconnect, touch the brake or chop the throttle. Hit “resume” and the unit accelerates back to speed gently â€“ not abruptly like other systems I’ve tried.
The 24-litre fuel tank, along with the surprising way the GT sips dead dinosaurs, gives a range of 500 km or more. Bravo BMW!
The optional on-board computer displays ambient temperature, distance remaining on the current tank, average fuel economy and average speed.
But other than confirming how cold (or hot) it is, I find most of that information as useful as a cement mixer full of owls.
The basic instrumentation consists of lovely analogue gauges, twin trip meters, clock, fuel gauge, a surprisingly helpful gear position indicator and an LCD display showing suspension setting and the degree of toastiness selected on the heated seats.
The GT checks in at 282 kg (620 lb.) with a full tank, but it handles like a middleweight. The engine is mounted low in the frame to optimize mass centralization and even moving the GT around in the driveway isn’t intimidating.
Over a couple of chilly 600 km days, the GT was the perfect travel companion, devouring the road while keeping me toasty.
This bike extends your riding season and sets a benchmark for sport-touring â€“ even when taking a poke at The Pig.