I've had my Wing now for a few months and 4,000 miles. It replaced a 2005 BMW K1200LT. I thought it might be interesting to some of you guys/gals to see what some of the differences are and where one bike might be a little better than the other, for me anyway.
Since both of these bikes are probably the only real long-distance luxury machines available on the market, they both come with just about everything under the sun. They compare well against each other but there are differences. After owning and riding both I believe I'm in a decent position to review and compare the machines. I hope everyone who reads this long post finds it worth their time.
SIZE MATTERS - The BMW sits high and short riders need not apply. Unfortunately, once a tall rider mounts the machine, he finds that the foot pegs are too high and placed too far back for any long distance comfort. I had to buy lowered pegs in order to get comfortable on the bike. The Gold Wing is comfortable for pretty much any size rider and I have no problems with peg location.
SEATS - I had trouble getting comfortable on the BMW but after a few thousand miles it became acceptable. Same with the Wing. I think anyone who owns a new Wing should give the seat a chance to break in before you spend any serious money buying a replacement.
FEATURES - Both bikes come with heated seats, heated grips, stereos, cruise control, etc. The Wing has the better sound system if you have the premium sound. It is much better than the sound system on the BMW. The BMW has a power windshield and it is obviously more convenient than the manually adjustable windshield on the Wing. However, when I was riding the BMW I rarely adjusted the windshield. I think once you have it set in the right spot, chances are you won't be changing it much at all. Therefore, the manual adjustment on the Wing is fine.
However, the BMW wins in the features catagory with its hydraulic centerstand. It is a feature that comes standard and I used it almost on a daily basis. Actually, I was looking to buy another BMW partly because of the convenience of the power centerstand but in '08 they were only available in black and I didn't want black. Also, a buddy of mine owns an '05 Wing and it has been an enjoyable trouble free machine. I thought the Wing was worth a try and I'm glad I bought it.
RIDE - The BMW has better cornering clearance and is a sportier machine. The Wing can be flicked through the twisties and can be quite sporting but you have to work it a little more and clearance becomes a factor. However, the Wing has a great ride and inspires confidence over time on the machine.
ENGINE - Motorcycle Consumers Reports had a comparison back in 2005 between these two bikes. They had almost identical 0-60 and quarter-mile times. They were 1 mph apart in top speed. But don't believe what you read in all these magazines. The Wing had many more horses, much more torque and is just plain faster in every regard. The engine never struggles and power is available at all rpm's. The BMW can be lugged if you don't pay attention to the rpm's all the time. It needs to be ridden in the upper band of the rev-counter and this doesn't always translate into an enjoyable ride, with more shifting required. The Wing wins this easily.
TRANSMISSION - The BMW shifts much easier than the Wing. It snicks into any gear at any time with almost no "clunking". The Wing clunks from time to time. It has a sweet spot where it will snick right into the next gear also, but the sweet spot is small and you can expect a little clunking with the Wing. No need to respond by telling me your Wings transmission never clunks.... I'm sure it's me and not the bike, but I never had anything but smooth shifts on the BMW. Therefore, in my book the BMW has the better transmission.
BRAKES - Both bikes have great brakes, but ABS is standard on the BMW and the BMW also has power-assisted brakes, just like in a car. I have ABS brakes on my Wing and they are great, but the power-assisted ABS brakes on the BMW were better.
MISC. - The BMW gets much better gas mileage, but requires premium fuel. I guess that makes it a push. The Wing is the better long-distance tourer. I only say this after having ridden both bikes over distances that were between 1,000 and 2,000 miles spanning three or four days. But I can't imagine the BMW being more comfortable for crossing the country. I think the Wing may be the better really long distance touring bike for overall comfort.
Both are great bikes but at this point I don't think I would trade the Wing for a BMW anytime soon.