By James Wong
It’s been a while since I got myself on a Class 2 bike (that’s any bike above 400cc in Singapore), so when the time approached for me to ride the K1300R, I was filled with equal parts of fear and exhilaration. Was I being reckless, riding a 173bhp bike that makes more power than even a Ducati 1198S superbike? Should I have had more time behind lesser, more forgiving bikes before I plunged to test ride the K1300R? These thoughts flooded my mind but there was a stable, underlying feeling that it was going to be OK, that modern bikes these days should be easy enough to handle. Time ran faster than rational thinking and there I was, with helmet in tow and planting myself on the 1,300cc urban road superhero.
The first thing I noticed (with relief) is that the riding position puts one in quite an upright position, which is great for giving more steering control and is infinitely more comfortable too. The clutch lever is heavy but not unbearably so, and the foot paddles are all within easy reach. This ride, at least, is starting to look like a plausible scenario.
Twist the key, press the ignition and the engine catches almost immediately, firing into a sweet-sounding warm-up phase that envelops the enclosed area of the underground car park. I teased the throttle a little and its sensitivity is quick yet predictably measured, sending an escalating crescendo from the exhaust pipe. Slotting my head into the helmet, I kicked the bike into first gear and moved off.
The really amazing thing about this bike, after the first few kilometres, is how easy it is to ride. Although it looks formidably large and weighs 243kg (with fluids), it feels agile and really manoeuvrable. Brakes are easy to modulate and are powerful, at least at the speeds I was going at – and ABS comes as standard too.
Because of the massive size of the engine relative to its weight, giving an equivalent of nearly 1000bhp in a 1,400kg car, at almost any gear the bike can accelerate effortlessly, allowing one to stay on a high gear in a majority of situations. Power is also linear, so it won’t result in an unexpected wheelie if you so decide to really put down all 173bhp.
But there really is no doubting the ferocity of the power. In a 0-100km/h acceleration test on a quiet road, it was as if the bike brought me on a momentary time warp, being so fast that it was useless making comparisons to anything I have driven or ridden in before. It was just in a whole different league, something that truly rivals ultra-supercars (pundits have clocked the K1300R in at about 2.8-2.9 seconds to reach 100km/h). That said, I wondered if the engine could have been a tad smoother, as racing towards its redline it seemed to vibrate more than I expected.
On the highway, the bike sat at a higher RPM than expected, so it felt fine at 100km/h but anywhere higher than that it could be a bit of a strain for a long distance jaunt. Again, this is where vibrations from the engine would come into play. Wind buffeting can get severe too with no plastic protector up front to cover the face.
The build quality on the K1300R is good. It feels well-made and worth its asking price, with some details like a small BMW logo on its tail and LED licence plate illuminators as notable delighters. Although its headlights are a subject of constant consternation, it did not bother me so much but it definitely feels more methodological than alluring. Perhaps to make up for it, the red illustrious paintwork offers a beautiful contrast to the black and silver detailing.
I wished there was more storage space however; a quick check beneath the seat cover yielded no result! Instead of a small space, there was none at all. Though, I am sure there are optional extras to get panniers fitted.
As time wore on, I enjoyed the bike so much that the initial fear ebbed away and I rode as much as I could over the weekend. Even dad came by to the garage and grinned widely as he throttled the bike a little to hear how it sounded like.
There is an adventure seeker in every one of us (probably more so for men…), and for a blend of both sensibilities and thrills, the K1300R feels like it balances both extremely well. For Singapore roads, I’d pick this over a typical superbike that requires you to lean forward uncomfortably and rev high to get any useful forward thrust.
Thank you to the K1300R for reacquainting me so well with the joy of riding again. I wonder how 173bhp can feel any friendlier on a bike.
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