2005 Honda ST1300. I love red bikes.
In the end the final decision came down to typing a line in an e-mail to the BMW dealer: "John, about the R1200RT, I've decided to..." And I literally paused there and thought... "take the RT" or "pass on the RT". Believe me, I was that conflicted. A little Bavarian gnome sat on one shoulder whispering "You vant der ahRT, take der ahRT!" and a little soulless banker sat on my other shoulder whispering "Are you insane? It's FIVE THOUSAND freaking dollars more!!" As also noted by my occasional riding buddy, Tommy G: "What good is the BMW if you can't afford to ride it anywhere?" Make no mistake about it, I wanted the BMW R1200RT but in the end I had to balance moto-lust versus wringing another $5000 out of my emaciated wallet.
The Honda ST1300 is a fabulous machine, fast, smooth, excellent low speed handling, the fit and finish is equal to the BMW and in some areas like paint exceeds the BMW. The BMW had more goodies than I needed like the ABS, electronic suspension and cruise control. Perhaps all those add up to $5k but for me they didn't. Also, my son started his first year at Northern Arizona University this fall and there are limits to finances, even for famous international moto bloggers. The vast profits from Forty Years on Two Wheels could not be counted on to cover the extra five grand or even a quart of oil.
The ST1300 enjoys a long and well deserved reputation for speed, comfort, and reliability; those were a big factor in choosing the bike. I have a friend that has rolled up over 100,000 miles on her ST with scarcely and incident. Reading through the various Honda ST forums it seems clear that most issues with the bike are high mileage issues that occur with any machine. I don't know that the ST1300 is a bike that makes people wild with moto-lust but it does whoosh down the road like some sort of Japanese magic carpet and that's pretty darned appealing. The sleekness of the styling of the ST1300 is impressive to, it's a much prettier bike than the BMW. The only time the Germans have ever gotten styling right is when they hired an Italian or Spaniard to do it for them. I don't know who's resonsible for styling the ST, my guess is that it's an American, but the bike sits there with a presence that says "Go. No limits. Just go."
I plan to keep the ST a while (for me that's longer than one year) and run up some serious mileage trips or at least I hope so, as there are too many places to go that I've wanted to go for 40 years and have not gone. It's been too easy to let the years roll by and not do what I wanted to do although I've done more than I ever dreamed of as a skinny 16 year old kid bombing around on his first 60cc Yamaha. Often times we settle for a lesser goal and put off the greater one in deference to assorted work and family obligations. I think that's ok but should not become such a habit that they chisel on our tombstone "I wish I had done more."
I seem to have arrived at that point in life where I have the bikes, the means, and the vacation days to do some great rides back east or wherever I choose. Between the Aprilia Caponord and the Honda ST1300 I should be able to get wherever I wish to go in fine style. My immediate goal now is to find someone to go with me. After 38 years of mostly solo riding a comely passenger is needed.
Thanks to you guys who wrote and commented, made suggestions, and urged me to be true to my history of buying the to the extreme limit of my budget. I'm sorry I let you down and acted as sensible as one can be spending $14k on a new motorcycle.
My apologies if I didn't write back directly to all of you. Some commented anonymously so I have no e-mail address for you and I've just been a little behind on my e-mails also.
More pictures and comments to follow on the ST.