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2009 BMW K1300S Comparison

Monday, January 25, 2010
BMW K1300S
2009 BMW K1300S
MotoUSA put the updated-for-'09 BMW K1300S and its state of the art suspension and braking technologies up against the tried and true Suzuki Hayabusa in order to see if the mighty German contender can take down the hyper-sportbike King.

We first threw a leg over the slightly updated Beemer back in March when it was released to the sporting press and found it to be an excellent motorcycle. While changes were minimal to the naked eye, the exception being the new 1300 sticker on the tail section. The fact of the matter is that there are a host of minor changes aimed at making the bike not only faster but easier to live with on a daily basis. This is what happens when BMW believes the U.S. market is now its primary target for motorcycle sales moving forward and will change models to fit U.S. rider’s requests when the demands require it.

For full technical details on the K1300S be sure to check out our First Ride, but the cliff notes version goes something like this: a 1mm bigger more (80mm) and 5.3mm longer stroke bump the displacement up to 1293cc, while inside the lump sits redesigned and lighter pistons along with updated engine-mapping. The objective was to achieve more outright power while making it more useable at the same time.

We’ve had issues in the past with the previous K1200S wanting to surge under partial throttle and actually still accelerating on occasion when the throttle was fully closed. Both of these issues were said to have been addressed by the time the production 1200 hit the assembly lines and like I said, we only rode the pre-production units. I can attest that the pre-production 1300s were a definite improvement, no longer scaring us under braking.

Though it makes almost 150 hp and over 90 lb-ft of torque  the BMW is no match for the Suzuki on the dyno.
While it's down almost 20 hp on the Suzuki, making 147.9 hp and 91.1 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheel is plenty of push for the Beemer.
That said, BMW did release a recall of over 2000 of its K-series motorcycles for problems involving their fueling systems, which included the 1300S and 1300GT. The recall revolves around the use of poor quality fuel that could leave deposits in the throttle bodies. According to the NHTSA, this could cause the bikes to stall due to restricted air flow during low rpm riding. BMW also released a recall for issues pertaining to the new for-2009 turn signal switchgear (more on that later). According to the German brand both have been, or are in the process of being addressed, at no cost to the consumer. Still worth paying attention to, nonetheless.

Though BMW claims 175 hp at the crank, once up on our dyno the K1300S laid down a solid 147.9 hp @ 9150 rpm with an even more impressive 91.1 lb-ft of torque at 7900 rpm. The machine also held extremely strong torque numbers from as low as 3000 rpm, where it produced nearly 80 stump-pulling pounds of grunt and only continued to build up to its 7900 rpm peak. It also holds strong through its over-rev to the 11,000 rpm redline, losing less than eight horsepower and 10 lb-ft of torque. And while the horsepower numbers are considerably lower than the 166.6 hp posted by the ‘Busa, some of this may come down to the power-robbing shaft drive.

Visually the K1300S bears little change to its predecessor.The ABS system is far improved over the previous model  eliminating a good deal of the pulsation felt through both the hand and foot levers.2009 BMW K1300S Review
2009 BMW K1300S: Duolever front suspension (middle) is good in the straight line but tough to get your head around in the twisties; BMW has finally adopted traditional switchgear after decades of doing it their way (bottom).
As for the performance numbers, the K1300 ticked the quarter-mile lights at an extremely respectable 10.16 @ 141.4 mph. We actually may have been able to get a few more tenths out of it, but the shaft started to overheat and shudder off the line, negating any further attempts. As for top speed, BMW limits it at 186 mph, much the same as the Suzuki. On our GPS unit it recorded a very close 185.8 mph in controlled testing, though felt like it was running out of pull and slowing down at that speed.

Though not what we may think of as ideal for a Hypersports bike, BMW has always stuck by its shaft drive system, using it across almost every motorcycle in its lineup – the new S1000RR Superbike being one notable exception. And while we found the shaft drive on the 1200 model to be jerky during hard performance riding, the updates on the 1300 have seriously smoothed out the final drive. With little-to-no driveline shudder other than what we experienced at the drag strip and nearly instantaneous throttle response, when it comes to comfort and logging some serious miles it becomes clear why the Bavarians put such faith in the shaft drive system.

“The driveshaft isn’t what I would want for something around town or racing from stoplight to stoplight, but when it came to hammering out the miles it works alright,” said Road Test Editor Waheed. “It’s extremely smooth on and off throttle and doesn’t hamper suspension action much and the roll-on response is right there – no lag at all. Just don’t try and do a burnout or wheelie with it!”

Another plus in the ‘distance and comfort’ category is the BMW’s eccentric suspension. The Duolever system up front and Paralever in the rear elevates the use of a traditional fork and as a result there is limited front-end dive under braking. Add into the equation that the K-bike offers an extremely stable ride during the high-speed straight line freeway mileage and this bike starts to really make sense for riders geared toward the touring side of the equation.

Furthermore, the on the fly adjustability of the suspension adds another comfort feature the Suzuki simply is not prepared to offer. Our test unit came equipped with the optional ESA II – Electronic Suspension Adjustment – system. Like the previous model this an option, only now the second version of the system has been updated for more adjustability. Featuring nine distinctly different modes the rider has the ability to alter shock damping, spring rate and spring preload, all at the touch of a button. Sport mode was overly stiff and jarring at times, while the Normal setting was optimal for most situations, as it provided good damping and stability without being excessively rigid. The final mode, Comfort, was the setting of choice for long-distance freeway miles, especially when the road got rough, making things more bearable on one’s rear end.

Same could be said for two-up comfort, as the BMW not only gave the passenger a slightly larger seat area but it’s less aggressive riding position allowed for substantial more distance to be covered before the pillion was aching to get off.

The suspension’s major downfall? The twisties! As the corners tighten, the Duolever lacks the feel and rider connection to the road compared to that of a traditional fork and single-shock setup of the Hayabusa. Improved for 2009, the 1300S Duolever features an updated front lever ratio in an effort to give the suspension slightly more ‘dive’ under braking which was intended to improve feedback. Did the changes work? While no doubt a step in the right direction, the system seems inherently doomed to always keep the rider seperated from the road and that is simply a byproduct of its design – no matter the setting. As a result, consumers must choose between the ultimate straight line stability or the ability to really feel the road while blasting through the turns.

Straight-line stability was the BMWs strong point.
Long-distance straight-line touring is the BMW's domain, but when it comes to the tight corners it falls behind the Suzuki.
“There’s no question when you get to the twisties the Hayabusa leaves the BMW in its wake,” Waheed added. “The unconventional suspension of the K1300S makes the machine hard to turn-in and want to stand up mid-corner. It also lacks the feedback needed to really push. The rider is never really in tune with the road like he is on the Hayabusa. Kinda of strange, too, as looking at the two you would guess the smaller BMW would run circles around the rather larger ‘Busa, but it’s not the case at all.”

In a further aim to please the American market, the BMW’s switchgear is now of conventional fashion, which we quite like. Almost ironically, though, BMW already had a recall on the system. They tell us everything has been fixed and they will continue to use the traditional set-up on all new motorcycles. Never thought I would see the day, though it shows the German’s commitment to respond to U.S. consumer requests. As for our test unit, the switchgear system would stumble and delay on occasion, but nothing too major. Still enough for a recall though.

While the big K-bike looks nearly identical to the previous 1200, it’s actually now 18mm slimmer in the upper fairing, has new side cowls and a black-face split on the upper fairing headlight, all aimed to improve its image. A revised speedo, tach and clear LED taillight round out the changes. In other words, to the untrained eye they are nearly identical. As for whether we rate this as a plus or minus, that’s a question always taken in context. Sitting next to the bulbous Hayabusa the BMW looks angular, modern and sleek. I can hear the cult clanking their pitchforks and assembling the mob now, but in this comparison we give the aesthetic vote to the Beemer.

Summing the K1300S up quite well, Waheed said: “It’s the ultimate Autobahn machine. Considering the road restrictions and laws in the U.S. it feels somewhat out of place. This machine is all about being tucked behind the windscreen at 140 mph covering mile after mile of the German countryside, beautiful mountains one side and smart drivers to the other, all the while never worrying about ending up in jail. That’s what the BMW K1300S all about.”

2009 Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa
Many have tried, but none can stay in front of the all-conquering Hayabusa. Its monster motor and ability to hide nearly 600-lb mass makes for an awesome combination.
And The Winner Is…

While we hoped BMW had done enough to give the Suzuki a run for its money, the truth is that it’s not even close.

When riding the BMW by itself the Germanic instrument performs quite well, especially for its intended purpose – long-distance high-speed touring. Furthermore, we experienced only minor blinker issues with our test unit and none of the other recalled items were a problem, so in a standalone test it would have rated relatively well. But within one minute of getting off the BMW and onto the Hayabusa, the decision is plain as day. There’s good reason Suzuki has sold so many of these bikes: Whether you like its appearance or not, the combination of fearsome speed and wild looks is utterly addictive and is mated to a chassis that hides the 579-lb curb weight well. As such, the decision is simple.

The monster Suzuki just barely defeated the Kawasaki ZX-14 in our ’08 comparison and has now easily retained the top spot by defeating the contender from BMW. Many have challenged the ‘Busa, but so far none have succeeded. Considering the levels of legal intervention that loom on the horizon, who knows if any ever will? For now, all hail the mighty Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa, the undisputed Hyperbike King.

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BMW K1300S Spec Chart
The fully-faired BMW K1300S is a road-going BMW sportbike  with Beemer traits like heated grips  shaft drive and multiple electronic amenities.
Engine: 1293cc liquid-cooled, Inline-Four
Bore x Stroke: 80mm x 64.3mm
Compression Ratio: 13.0:1
Fuel Delivery: Fuel-Injection
Clutch: Wet multi-plate, cable actuation
Transmission: 6-speed
Front Suspension: BMW Motorrad Duolever, 4.5 inches travel
Rear Suspension: BMW Motorrad Paralever, 5.3 inches travel
Front Brakes: 320mm dual disc, four-piston calipers
Rear Brake: 294mm disc, dual-piston caliper
Tires: 120/70-17; 190/55-17 (Metzler or Continental) 
Measured Wet Weight: 521 lbs.
Wheelbase: 62.4 in.
Length: 86.0 in. 
Width: 35.6 in.
Height: 48.0 in.
Rake / Trail: 60.4 deg.; 4.1 in.
Seat Height: 32.3 in.(low); 33.1 in. (high)
Fuel Capacity: 5.0 gal. (1 gal. res.)
MSRP: $15,259 (Base)

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k1300s -rubbish  April 12, 2010 04:38 AM
what a rubbish article. writer, how much suzuki paid you to write it? BMW is better in every aspect expect quarter mile and when u add that 2k revs more like in Busa to BMW to make it rev to 13k u will get 200bhp.
illdog -Amazing opinions out there...  March 11, 2010 11:34 AM
You can read all you want and find any view point or data to support or reject your beliefs...Your going to have to ride them both, then make up your own mind...
MmmmViscious -???  February 18, 2010 08:57 AM
2010 MV Agusta F4
Beemer Boxer -What  February 2, 2010 05:38 PM
The Busa out handles the BMW...as a courtesy when I ride with a group from work I always choose to start out following the pack. I am ALWAYS waiting for the "Busa Boys" by the time we get to the top of the mountains! I have a K1200R Sport without the ESA and lazily spank any suzuki product I encounter. I think who ever rode the K1300S in this test was a little bias...attempting to sound sincere. The only thing that was accurate was reporting on the differences for touring and it is ridiculous to compare a shaft with a chain for top performance...put a shaft on the Suzuki and see what happens...if they could design on on their own that performs as well as the beemers. BMW did make a moronic move by going away from the traditional turn switches. I think the deviation from the old style switched was based on complaints from folks that don't have the mental ability to use both thumbs. The only thing I have found that the Suzuki is the absolute best at is burnouts and wheelies...you can teach a monkey how to do that.
Melody -Comfort - Tom  January 31, 2010 12:36 PM
As for the comfort on the Busa, there are a number of mods one can do to help. I'm 5'10" with fairly long legs and by changing out the footpegs, I gained half an inch (doesn't seem like much but it really did help). I also swapped out the stock handlebars for HeliBars which sat me up and back just a little bit. It makes my Bus the ultimate hyper-touring machine for me.
If you're considering it, check out this Hayabusa website for tips and tricks: www.hayabusa.org. There you will find a lot of loyal Busa owners who use their machines for everything from iron butt rallies to everyday riding, like myself.
On a side note, I have not ever ridden the K1300S compared here, but I have ridden the K1200R and now my Busa stable mate - the F800GS. I loved the K1200R for its smooth power delivery, but it's not a replacment for the displacement of the Busa. If you gear down the Bus just a little (I haven't found anywhere to do the top speed safely anyways) the power is then always right there.
Andre -K1200S  January 27, 2010 07:38 PM
When I was looking for my last bike it was between the Busa and the K1200S. Given that I wanted a mix of the curves and straight road I settled on the K1200S...... I have not been disappointed. Outstanding all around bike.
Tom -@TG  January 27, 2010 12:30 PM
Just commenting on the balanced nature of an R1200R. I don't necessarily need the RT is what I'm saying, and for that kind of bike, 90HP is just fine. A bike to live with every day

That's not to say I wouldn't want to experience the crotch rocket/sportbike feeling so many can enjoy without thinking twice about it. Would like to do some trackdays, learn to put my knee down, etc... The two remarks were unrelated.

Nevertheless, the ZX14 seems like the way to go? Maybe with some adjusting of the pegs and such... I'll check it out when I have the chance.
TG -Tom & Splatt  January 27, 2010 09:46 AM
Comfort is relative. Coming from a ZX10, the 'busa, 14, and K bikes seem like a couch. However, I can see coming from a R bike how any of the three in question would seem cramped. I'm a bigger guy too, but I manage. Tom, you said yourself that 90hp does everything you want to; if that's the case keep what you have. Splatt, you say the 'busa feels like you need to rev for more power, yet the dyno disagrees (big torque off idle all the way to 10k). My best guess as to why you've been fooled into thinking the beemer has more torque would be gearing. I would certainly prefer to shorten the legs of first through fourth gears on my ZX10, but changing sprockets unfortunately also changes fifth and sixth, which I think are properly geared by the manufacturer. It's an unfortunate side effect of 'race replica' bikes that the gearing is often set more for the race track internally, then lengthened in the sprocket set to keep people from flipping the bike over on themselves and from riding hwy speeds at 8+k rpm. To be clear, none would be terrible, but for the money and speed, the Japanese are clearly better values (and I think the ZX14 would close the comfort gap a bit).
splattmonster -Sorry to disagree, but ........  January 27, 2010 02:19 AM
I've recently swapped my Hayabusa for a BMW K1200S. I had wanted a 'Busa from the day they came out, but only managed to get one about 2 years ago. I found that using the 'Busa on a day to day basis you couldn't use its power and it was very uncomfortable. I also found that it had less torque than I was expecting and you have to use the gears more, no roll on power in top. It was more like riding a 600. As for the beemer, it has torque in every gear. I found that on one of my particularly favourite, twisty roads I could ride quicker on the Bee Em than I could on the 'Busa. For my money the bike I'd ride every day would be the Beemer.
Tom -@TG  January 26, 2010 01:35 PM
On a sidenote... I don't really consider the R1200R to be the stripped version of the RT which supposedly everyone wants. I for one don't really care about touring and would not buy the RT. Not because is it more expensive and I couldn't afford it, but because I find the R1200R to be one of the most beautiful and balanced bikes on the market today. It especially appeals to my Euro-sensibilities, and I just like the naked roadster look of the bike, with the upright handlebars, classic speedo, round headlight and no windscreen. That's how we roll, a perfect blend of timeless, modern and balanced, 90 horsepower is more than enough for the bikes it wants to be.

That being said, I have only one question. Will the busa be suitable and 'comfortable' (if anyone would call a sportsbike comfortable at all) for a 6'4" guy like myself. Have tried many other bikes I really likes, but almost all of them feel VERY cramped (heels in ass and knees under armpits), with difficult to handle shifters and such. So, anyone has a suggestion for me? (R1200R fits me fine, being a large bmw, but I would like to take out a sportsbike for a spin as well, but I feel limited in my possibilities, and don't want to spend 15k euro for something I can hardly sit on for 20 minutes)
TG -S1000 Busa & K Bikes  January 26, 2010 11:13 AM
The S1000RR isn't a hyperbike either, it's a literbike. Beemer doesn't really make a true contender in the zx14 - busa battle, as noted by the shaft drive, the upright position, and unconventional front end (by the way, if the k bike's setup is so great, why not put it on their supersport s1000?). The K1300 really should be side by side with the fjr and concours, as the 1300S is much like the R1200R - just a cheaper, stripped version of the bike everyone really wants (the GT or RT, respectively). I wrote sportrider about their comparo, glad to see mc-usa still has their feet on earth.
WhopperTom -Can't Buy A Suzuki  January 26, 2010 07:08 AM
I doesn't make any difference to me as the local Suzuki dealer is also a Harley dealer. Try going in to look at a Suzuki. As soon as the salespeople find out you are not interested in a pig Harley they disappear. I have to travel about 90 miles to the next dealer. No wonder Suzuki's sales are down with selling there bikes at moron Harley dealers.
Mxster -Betty  January 26, 2010 06:18 AM
No unfortunately Suzuki has haulted all production of their powersports products such as the busa. I'm not sure when they will restart production but there will be no new units for 2010.
Stephen -Wrong Bike Pick  January 26, 2010 05:31 AM
Dougerator is absolutely right. The BMW K1300S does not belong in this comparison. They should have used the S1000RR which is a true super sport bike and not a touring bike like the K1300S. The new S1000RR is going to rule the streets.
dougerator -apples to oranges really  January 25, 2010 09:45 PM
I know that BMW upped their flagship sportsbike's displacement from 1200 to 1300 CC's-closely matching that of the 'Busa. But I can't believe that they ever intended it to be a direct contender for the Hyper-bike throne. First, they obviously know that chain drive is the way to go for sheer power to the wheel, seeing how they used it on their Superbike. The shaft drive, the suspension, the ergonimics....they all add up to one thing: This is a sportsbike intended for riders with no intention of ever using it in sporting competition. Face it, it's a tourer. It has long-haul suspension and a seating position that is almost upright for me (6'3" tall). It even has optional luggage. That said, I believe making the K1300S a sports-tourer in hypersport clothing is absolutely the correct thing to do.. BMW has tried for years to make their new bikes appeal to a younger base. And they have done a great job. But for BMW, that means that they now have some 30-somethings choosing Beemers instead of just the 40 and 50-somethings who have found all kinds of time to ride with retirement and the kids moving out. I am 35 years old and I currently ride a BMW F800S. I love the bike, but I only chose it because my wife allowed me a 10K budget when I purchased it. If money was no object, I would have chosen the K bike. I wanted something sporty. I could have bought either a Busa or a ZX-14 at the time. But then again , I don't want to be the old guy on the hypersport bike. It's people like me who BMW is targeting with the K1300S. It's apples and oranges to compare the two, in my opinion.
Shannon -On "feel"  January 25, 2010 07:25 PM
I wonder if the always-present complaints about a lack of front-end feel on unconventional front ends is really the rider mistaking suspension compression under braking (which, no matter how used to it we are, is technically a flaw) for front-end feedback. We're used to using front-end dive as a proxy for front-tire grip... they're not really the same thing. In other words, is the front tire really not communicating it's state of grip, or is it simply speaking a different language? Is this really a valid criticism? --Shannon
Betty -TourMan  January 25, 2010 05:00 PM
Wow, bad news. Who is your source? Are they reliable?
TourMan -No 2010 Suzuki  January 25, 2010 04:19 PM
No, Suzuki is not importing any 2010 bikes to the U.S. My source did indicate that one can be special ordered. The rep indicated that the U.S. sales is more and more leaning towards the cruiser market and Suzuki is deciding on which sport bike models, if any to import. This is sad as the U.S. right now just gets a fraction of the motorcycles manufactured. It is just the opposite in England and Europe. Sport and sport touring bikes in the 600 to 800cc range are the too sellers. People in the U.S. just want to get on a cruiser and take a short show off ride thru town. I would not want any of the hyper bikes. I think if I was in the market I would be looking at a 600cc bike.
Betty -2010 Suzuki  January 25, 2010 02:34 PM
Now the question that all enquiring minds want to know…is Suzuki going to import any 2010 bikes to America?
Mark -good point Ryder  January 25, 2010 02:25 PM
Something that hasn't been covered very well by any moto journalists is the cost of ownership and the longevity of the machines .The Busa is cheaper to buy but is it cheaper to own? How about adding a break down of the maintenance schedule and it's projected costs.A buddy of mine nearly had a heart attack when he went to buy plugs for a early generation CBR and found that the "special plugs" it used cost $22.00 each, any of those kind of surprises on these machines? I have a old R75/5 that I bought back in high school that still runs and is a breeze to maintain over 300k miles later. BMW motor cycles have enjoyed a reputation for reliability but I don't know about the newer bikes and what out sourcing has done to them . If you ride less than 10k a year than most any bike will do but if you do high miles a year and don't trade in your bike every three or four years how do they stack up? At my age my next bike will most likely be the last street bike I own and I want to ride not wrench.
Jake -Too Fast  January 25, 2010 02:20 PM
I'll take the BMW. At least it is more comfortable and I could use it for some 2 up riding and touring also. Don't much care about the drag racing. The Busa is a little long on the tooth but still fast. I would take the Kawasaki as 2nd pick.
Ryder -Nice compro  January 25, 2010 01:29 PM
Data seems to line up with my assumptions. I've ridden an older 'Busa, but never the K-bike. Seeing as bikes with these kind of power levels are mostly good for bragging rights (at least on public roads), and the difference in price isn't academic for someone of my income, I'll take the Suzuki!
Speedster -Good Report  January 25, 2010 01:28 PM
I really think you guys got the wrong BMW. The K1300S is more of a touring bike. If you want performance you should have tested the S1000RR. From what I have been reading that bike is going to be the new king of the hill. Will have to wait and see.....
Steve -Conflicting Opinions  January 25, 2010 12:45 PM
Desmo, thanks for that link. Thats crazy that Sport Rider magazine rated the K1300S higher in chasis, suspension, brakes, power, & power delivery while seemingly the only categories it won here were comfort and straight line cruising. I tend to think I'd be happier on the Hayabusa but with such different opinions I guess I need to test ride them to really know. Too bad Suzuki dealerships don't allow test rides nor do they participate in the IMS Show demo rides. Steve, any ideas as to why you and Troy came to such different conclusions? Great article/video by the way.
Desmolicious -Sport Rider has the exact opposite result..  January 25, 2010 12:02 PM

So which one are ya gonna believe, mo-usa or sport rider magazine?
MotoFreak -LOLOLOLOLOL  January 25, 2010 12:01 PM
A Hayabusa is the ultimate "sport touring hyper machine". I never though I would hear it called a sport tourer. It's just not. Hyper bike it is though.