BMW K 1300 S Review
Words & Photos by Mirage
Edited by webBikeWorld.com
Photos and Text Courtesy
Used with permission.
Motorcycle Reviews Directory
Since we as motorcyclists age like a fine wine as
the years go by, we tend to gravitate towards a more
balanced motorcycle rather than ride the razor’s edge of
a true sport bike.
Want proof? Look no further than the
sport touring market as that segment has exploded in
recent years. Most mature riders seek out a motorcycle
that maintains the performance they’ve grown accustom to
over the years without enduring an uncomfortable riding
position. Not to mention that the popularity of
exploring one’s surroundings is quite an enticing idea
for those of us who sit in an office cubicle for 10
hours a day (you know who you are).
Enter the BMW K 1300 S. What’s that, you say? BMW only
creates cars -- not motorcycles.
On the contrary my
fine freckled friend, as BMW Motorrad (the name given to
this German company’s motorcycle business unit) has been
producing motorcycles since 1923 when it produced its
first motorcycle - the R32.
Even though BMW sold over
100,000 units in 2008 alone, the company is designing new
motorcycles for a variety of markets (e.g., the
bike). If you do order a K 1300 S -- or any other BMW
motorcycle for that matter -- it will be manufactured at
their exclusive Berlin facility.
Style is always subjective, but I like the
sharp lines, angular fuel tank and large headlight
housing of the K 1300 S. The integrated front turn signals in the
mirrors along with the sculpted windshield create a
smooth profile and an aesthetically pleasing front view. Add in a well-designed cockpit and the K 1300 S won’t be
misconstrued as anything but a BMW.
Speaking of the instrument panel, someone in Germany
must have listened to my voicemails, as it has everything
(and I do mean everything) a rider would want to know
about how his or her motorcycle is performing.
analog tachometer and white face speedometer are easy to
read (backlit at night with an orange hue), as are
the turn signal indicator lights, the neutral indicator and
the ABS light. The K 1300 S has joined all of the UJM (Universal
Japanese Manufacturer) motorcycles too, as it now places
the turn signal switch on the left side of the clip-on
instead of BMW's customary independent left and right switches.
The other main items that you might come to expect from a dash
are clearly visible within the LCD, such as the clock,
air/coolant temperature and trip meters. Not only that,
but you also have readouts for fuel range, highest speed
traveled, TPM (tire pressure monitoring), suspension and
gear selection, heated grips and [wait for it] a fuel
Yes, finally a manufacturer has combined all the
relevant information into one clear and concise
instrumentation cluster. I think BMW owes the dashboard
team a few rounds of Weizenbock.
BMW is certainly known for using technology in its
motorcycles and the K 1300 S is no exception. Whether
it’s the ABS (Anti-Locking Braking System), ASC
(Automatic Stability Control), ESA II (Electronic
Suspension Adjustability) or GSA (Gear Shift Assistant),
this motorcycle has enough technology to make George
The fascinating thing about what BMW has
done is that all of the systems
work seamlessly together without one dominating the others. Not an easy task by any means when these types of
systems have to deal with complex situations including, but not limited to, varying road conditions.
All the fancy electronics will always take a back
seat to the one crucial part of a motorcycle: its tires.
here, too, the K 1300 S doesn’t disappoint.
aluminum single-sided swingarm and cast aluminum rims
mounted with a Bridgestone Battlax 120/70-17
front and 190/55-17 rear, the tires provide ample
grip and warmed up rather quickly, considering the fall-type weather I experienced while riding.
With a length of 86 in. and a weight of 560 lbs.
(road ready), this latest K 1300 S is slightly heavier
than the outgoing version; 14 lbs. to be accurate.
Although most manufacturers try to decrease weight for
obvious reasons, no doubt some of this added weight is
due to stricter emissions controls. The good news
is that this additional mass isn’t noticed while at
speed and there are a few more ponies (8 hp and 7 ft.
lbs. of torque)
on tap for 2009 vs. 2008.
Now normally I’d say that in order to ride a bike
like this you’d have to be graced with some decent
height but since BMW offers a low seat option that
lowers your at-rest position by 1.1 in. (31.1 in. vs.
32.3 in.), you don’t need to be a six-plus footer. Those
that fall short of that mark rejoice as you should be
able to flat-foot the K 1300 S without a problem. Whichever height range you fall into, between the
adjustable levers, high clip-ons and different seat
options, the K 1300 S should fit your statue perfectly.
It’s apparent that the engineers who designed this
motorcycle don’t live in a vacuum, as there’s plenty of
knowledge transfer across all the divisions of BMW. Case
in point: The M-Technik (or just "M" for Motorsport)
engineers surely gave some guidance when it was time to
create the new engine for the “K”.
The bore and stroke was changed to 80 x 64.3 mm (up
from 79 x 59 mm) so that the 1,293 cc liquid-cooled
four-stroke in-line four-cylinder engine with four
valves per cylinder, two overhead camshafts and dry sump
lubrication now produces 175 hp @ 9,250 rpm and 103 ft.
lbs. @ 8,250 rpm. The
compression ratio of 13:1 remains unchanged.
Big HP and tons of torque are available anywhere in
the rpm range and the only restraint this engine has is
your right hand. If left to its own devices it -- and you
will easily pass the triple digit mark and blow the
doors off of anything on the road. Perhaps a trip to
Germany to travel the Autobahn or a take a few hot laps
around Nürburgring wouldn’t be a bad idea if you want to
truly experience all of what the K 1300 S engine has to
The stock exhaust has a nice snarl to it but after
riding with another K 1200 S that had an Akrapovic
exhaust fitted, I’d most likely change to that. Not
only will the bike lose weight but it will also gain a few more
horsepower in the process. Of course, your fuel
consumption may spike since you’re going to want to hear
the bike sing like it was performing Beethoven's Fidelio
but with a 5 gal. fuel tank (1 gal. reserve) I think
you’ll find it’s worth the cost.
All that horsepower and torque is put to the ground
via a constant mesh 6-speed gearbox with multiple-disc
clutch mated to a shaft drive. There are many pros and
cons regarding shaft, chain and belt drive systems (many
of which I’ve discussed before), but BMW’s shaft drive is
as smooth as silk.
The shifting is exact and there’s no lag between
shifts. Incorporate the GSA (gear shift assistant)
option and clutchless upshifts and downshifts are a
breeze. You can literally click through 6 gears in a
manner of seconds without ever letting off the throttle. There is a bit more "clunk" in the gearbox while
shifting this way but it's a small price to pay for
keeping the power going.
Obviously with this much power you’re going to need a
braking system that’s up to the task. Although the K
1300 S doesn’t have radial mounted brakes it nonetheless
has a very capable braking system. Up front there are
dual 320 mm floating discs and 4-piston fixed calipers. Out back a single 265 mm, double-piston floating caliper
handles your stopping requests.
These ABS-outfitted brakes had good initial bite,
excellent feedback at the lever and overall worked well. Perhaps there might be some flexing with these
conventional units compared to a radial mounted setup
but you’d be hard pressed to notice it and if you did,
I’d have to assume you’re at the track doing your best
impression of Troy Corser.
If you’re one of the few that are lucky enough to do
a track day or stretch the legs of the K 1300 S on your
favorite canyon roads then you’re definitely going to
want to have a suspension package that can handle each
of those environments. The K 1300 S implements what BMW
calls a Duolever front suspension. BMW first introduced
this type of suspension in 2004 and it’s now standard
equipment on the S, R and GT versions of the “K” series.
As you’ve probably noticed already there are no
conventional sliding forks. Instead there are two
trailing links made of forged steel which are attached
via rolling bearings to the bridge-type frame.
spring strut, which adjusts the suspension and damping,
is linked to the lower of the two trailing links and
rests against the frame. A trapezoidal shear joint
mounted to the control head and the wheel carrier is
coupled with the handlebar. This shear joint transmits
the steering movements. The advantage of this type of
front suspension is its torsional rigidity, thus
equating to very precise suspension movements along with
enhanced rider feedback.
The rear suspension isn’t the normal piggy-back unit
either. The rear employs BMW’s Paralever system, which
decouples torque reaction as the suspension compresses
and extends, avoiding the tendency to squat under
braking and reducing tire chatter from the road surface.
In 2005, along with the introduction of the "Hexhead"
BMW inverted the Paralever and moved the torque arm from
the bottom to the top of the drive shaft housing which
increased ground clearance on the left side while in
Alright, you say, that’s all fine and dandy but does
it really work? Absolutely. The bike feels extremely
stable at high speeds and can carve a corner like a
middle weight sport bike. If you opt for the ESA option
then you can change the damper settings “on the fly”
(moving or not).
Three settings are available: “Comfort”, “Normal” and
“Sport.” You can also adjust the preload (when
stationary) by holding down the ESA button and selecting
three additional settings represented by small icons–
one helmet (one rider); one helmet and luggage or two
helmets (one rider and a passenger).
I sampled all of
these settings with and without a passenger and I
certainly noticed a difference. Each setting is
distinctive and best of all you can change into these
modes by just a push of a button. No tools required; but
don’t let your spanner wrench hear you say that.
All of that technology doesn’t come cheap though and
for that kind of money you expect a lot from a
motorcycle. BMW recognizes this and is solidifying their
status as a technological leader by investing heavily in
R&D (as it’s apparent with the “K” series) and producing
systems that aid you as a rider rather than isolate you
from your ride entirely.
Luckily for us, BMW has struck
the right balance of embedding technology into their
motorcycles to not only make us better riders but also
make the ride more enjoyable.
The 2009 BMW K 1300 S has three color choices: light
grey metallic, lava orange metallic and sapphire
black/granite grey/magma red. If you really want to
stand out from the crowd then I'd suggest the lava
orange otherwise either of the other two color schemes
would be my choice.
The “K” has a manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP)
of $15,250. Choose the standard package (adding
heated grips) and the price rises to $15,500.
package, consisting of heated grips, GSA, ESA II, ASC,
and TPM will set you back $17,500. Add in an alarm,
luggage grid and the sapphire tri-color scheme and
you’re fully loaded at $18,695. Visit BMW’s web site for
Motorcycle Reviews Directory
K1300S - Specifications
Water-cooled 4-stroke in-line
four-cylinder-engine, four valves per
cylinder, two overhead camshafts, dry sump
||Bore x Stroke:
80 mm x 64.3 mm
175hp (129 kW) at 9,250 rpm
||Max. torque: 103
ft. lbs. (140 Nm) at 8,250 rpm
13.0 : 1
||Electronic intake pipe injection/digital engine
management including knock sensor (BMS-K)
||Emission control: Closed-loop 3-way catalytic converter,
emission standard EU-3
||Maximum speed: Over
125mph 200 km/h
||Fuel consumption per
100 km at constant 90 km/h: 4.7 l
||Fuel consumption per
100 km at constant 120 km/h: 5.3 l
||Fuel type: Unleaded
||Alternator: three-phase alternator 580 W
||Battery: 12 V / 14 Ah,
clutch in oil bath, hydraulically operated
||Gearbox: Constant mesh
||Drive: Shaft drive
frame, cast aluminum, load-bearing engine
||Front wheel location /
suspension: BMW Motorrad Duolever; central
||Rear wheel location /
suspension: Cast aluminum single-sided
swing arm with BMW Motorrad Paralever;
central spring strut with lever system,
spring pre-load adjustable hydraulically
(continuously variable) at handwheel,
adjustable rebound damping
front / rear: 4.5 inches (115 mm) / 5.3
inches (135 mm)
||Wheelbase: 62.4 inches
||Castor: 4.1 inches
||Steering head angle: 60.4°
||Rim, front: 3.50 x 17"
||Rim, rear: 6.00 x 17"
||Tires, front: 120/70 ZR 17
||Tires, rear: 190/55 ZR
||Brake, front: Twin
disc, floating brake discs, diameter 320 mm,
4-piston fixed calipers
||Brake, rear: Single
disc brake, diameter 265 mm, double-piston
||ABS: BMW Motorrad Integral ABS
(part-integral) standard equipment
||Length: 86 inches (2182
||Width (incl. mirrors):
35.6 inches (905 mm)
||Height (excl. mirrors):
48 inches (1221 mm)
||Seat height, unladen
weight: 32.3 inches (820 mm) (low seat: 31.1
inches [790 mm])
||Inner leg curve,
unladen weight: 71.2 inches (1810 mm) (low
seat: 68.9 inches [1750 mm])
||Unladen weight, road
ready, fully fuelled: 560 lbs (254 kg)*
||Dry weight: 503 lbs
weight: 1014 lbs (460 kg)
||Payload (with standard
equipment): 454 lbs (206 kg)
||Usable tank volume: 5
U.S. gallons (19 liters)
||Reserve: Approx. 1
U.S. gallon (4.0 liters)
||* According to
guideline 93/93/EWG with all fluids, fuelled
with at least 90% of usable tank volume.
||** Unladen weight
Publication Date: November
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