New England High Country
New England High Country has recognised motorcycle tourism as worth pursuing and it’s now probably the most motorcycle-friendly destination in the country. The Motorcycle Trader team loaded up three BMW luxury tourers to investigate.
New England High Country (Northern Tablelands or also known as New England Tablelands) is a plateau in a region of the Great Dividing Range.
“What it means for us is the roads twist and turn, climb and dive and generally provide a fabulous riding environment.
“Getting to Armidale absolutely confirms the cliché that the trip is just as important as the destination,” says Spannerman. Read more about the journey here at Travel In
LUXURY TOURING – THE MACHINES
It’s a rare opportunity to get three of BMW’s touring bikes on one trip: the K1600 GTL, the R 1200 RT and the F 800 GT. While they’re not directly comparable in that BMW has different markets in mind for each model, they do offer interesting touring alternatives.
Priced from $37,590 (plus on-road costs), the K 1600 GTL (above) exudes grand luxury with its giant straight-six engine and overload of comfort features.
Dave Morley and his wife, Maree, spent most of their time on this although the jury is still out on whether the pillion comfort was actually better than that offered by the R 1200 RT, mostly piloted by Paul and Joan Newbold. The GTL features a topbox with a surround pillion support which all the pillions warmed to, partly as a result of the heated pillion seat.
If a topbox isn’t your thing then you can opt for the K 1600 GT and GT Sport (from $35,990 and $36,490 respectively), or go for the flagship GTL Exclusive (from $42,500) which distinguishes itself by its premium paintwork and seat trimming, among other things.
Dave and Paul are survivors of the ‘across Russia’ trip MT featured previously but they were on a Suzuki DR650 and Paul’s 1982 Yamaha Ténéré then. Needless to say, they no longer have any secrets from each other and were quite happy to be honest about the respective merits of the big Beemers.
ON THE ROAD
What you probably imagine from a six-cylinder motorcycle actually happens: sensational torque and great road presence. The low rider seat height of 750mm doesn’t disguise the size and weight of the bike, however, and the rider needs to keep this in mind, particularly with slow-speed work. The design of the 1600 has America written all over it so it wasn’t much of a surprise when, ridden with some spirit on a road like the Oxley Highway and trying to keep up with the more sporty R 1200 RT, it occasionally demonstrated some slight ground clearance issues.
This is ground clearance, not cornering clearance. It handles better than any bike its size and weight has any right to but it’s a genuine tourer, not a sportsbike in disguise. If your primary aim is ‘happy wife, happy life’ and you’re a ‘smell the roses’ rider, you’ll love it and so will she. Did I mention the torque?
Priced from $30,700, the R 1200 RT (above) appears to be almost perfectly sorted for both rider and pillion. Controlled suspension travel and the number of electronic options available to adjust this to the specific conditions you’re riding in make it hard to beat on the open road. It has lower gearing than the 1600 which, in top gear roll-ons, makes it almost as fast in the 140-190km/h bracket where most of our top-end riding is done when the red mist descends. It’s a fine bike and was everyone’s favourite.
Given it’s around half the price of the others at $16,300, the F 800 GT (above) shouldn’t be a direct competitor. Its limited standard equipment includes two important items: three-stage ride adjustment and heated grips. It was the least comfortable two-up but if most of your touring is solo, it’s a great performer.
It was probably the fastest in the tight stuff due to its relatively light weight and it was a pleasure to leave it in fourth gear and sprint from corner to corner without having to change gear. Gearing is high, generally, meaning some attention is required at low engine speeds if you’re packed with gear and a pillion. The upside is it will do an indicated 222km/h without feeling stressed in any way. If you’re between girlfriends or boyfriends, save yourself some money and maximise your fun!
Having ridden for years in parts of Australia where ‘bikers’ were treated with caution or suspicion, it’s a fascinating change to see a region like the New England High Country not just welcoming motorcycle tourism but actively promoting it.
“New England High Country roads offer riders hundreds of kilometres of motorcycling bliss. Tight hairpins, long sweeping curves, stunning scenery and bike-friendly towns make our region a must-ride destination.”
WIN YOUR OWN TOUR
Such is the commitment to motorcycle touring that a range of exclusive offers has been developed to encourage riders to take advantage of the region. All the details are on www.Travelin.com.au/MFC
Visit the site now and you’ll also have the chance to win a personalised motorcycle tour package which will give you and your partner sensational access to the best the region has to offer.
If you need further convincing to make the New England High Country your next touring holiday destination, check out the motorcycle touring video, coming soon on www.Travelin.com.au/MFC
Motorcycle Trader can modestly say the talent in the video is exceptional!
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