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Old 12-31-2012, 05:47 PM   #35
Royal Tiger
Sd Kfz 182
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Joined: Sep 2006
Location: Lehigh Valley, PA
Oddometer: 1,640
I did a review of my former Ducati ST3 to my new (to me) BMW R1200ST. I prefer the BMW.

I had an aprilia RSV 1000R and loved it. I was looking for a Futura when I decided on something close, but different and went with the Ducati.

The Triumph Sprint ST 1050 (not the heavier GT) was one of my favorite sport tourers and would recommend it highly, based on a few rides and a friend who loves his 25k later.

I'll re-paste my review here:

The Bikes:
2004 Ducati ST3
2005 BMW R1200ST

Fit & Finish:
I would call this close to a tie, with a slight edge going to the BMW. Both bikes are very well put together with no wide panel gaps or squeaks & rattles.

Comfort & Ergos:
This one goes to the BMW. The stock Ducati seat wasn't bad, but the BMW seat is a lot more comfortable, and I prefer the 2 piece design over the huge banana style Duc seat. The BMW has the High/Low riders seat and I have it in the High position. Very cool feature. The faux carbon fiber material on the BMW seat feels thicker and of a better material then the one on the Duc. I can't say if the BMW seat is the stock one as I bought it used and am still learning about it, but I would assume it is as the bike is just about completely stock. As far as riding position, the BMW is slightly more upright while still being sporty. The BMW places less weight on your wrists and has more leg room. I'm just under 6' 2" and am mostly arms and legs (34-35" inseam). I could flat foot my KLR650 and swing a leg over without mounting the pegs first. I definitely prefer riding the BMW so far. The wife has ridden on both and prefers the BMW hands down for comfort.

The BMW came with genuine BMW side bags and top case. I had to buy the brackets and side bags for the Ducati when I got. Absolutely NOT the Ducati's fault. The BMW bags are bigger and A LOT easier to use. You can close and secure them without locking them so if you want access, just push the button. Big time plus! Mounting and dismounting are easier on the BMW as well. The Ducati didn't have a top case so no direct comparison, but the one on the BMW is superb in every way. The guy I bought my ST3 from had another ST3 with the matching top case and it wasn't as nice as the one on the BMW.

The Ducati had great stock lighting. I found it easy to ride at night compared to some previous motorcycles I owned. I did have an issue with it's 2 headlight setup with one high and one low with no option to have both on. It always looked like one was burned out. I see just about every new Japanese bike has this layout now, and to me it's annoying. Everyone picks on the "tombstone" headlight on the R1200ST but DAMN this thing kicks ass for night time riding! Both lights illuminate on high, and even with stock bulbs it's BRIGHT! Both bikes had front turn signals integrated into the front fairings with amber bulbs under clear glass. For rear lights, both stock tail/brake lights are sufficiently bright and easy to see. The Ducati had amber rear turn signals on goofy stalks that looked out of place with the side bags removed. The BMW has clear rear turns with amber bulbs on mini stalks that are nicely styled into the rear of the bike that look fine with or without bags in place.

Ducati - 992cc L-Twin, 102hp @ 8750rpm, 68.6 lb-ft @ 7250rpm
BMW - 1170cc Boxer Twin, 110hp @ 7250rpm, 84.8lb-ft @ 6000rpm

Both bikes fall more on the sport side of the sport-touring compromise. Neither are sport bikes with bags, but they are nowhere near slow or underpowered. The Ducati felt a little more lively leaving a stop, but the tractor like torque of the BMW is intoxicating. You can forget to downshift and the BMW just pulls you through curves like a Kenworth. Both have been into the 120+ mph club with me and neither one had any problems getting, or staying, there. The BMW seems less affected by strong headwinds and both were about the same with strong cross winds. The BMW is being ridden like I stole it, and is getting excellent fuel economy. Probably around 55mpg-ish. The Ducati was always steady in the mid to high 40's. Overall in terms of power as an attribute, they are both amazing machines, but I prefer the BMW. The Ducati was EXTREMELY touchy in terms of RPM. Get it under 4k and it felt like an old dump truck bucking and heaving. The BMW has been down around 2k under load and not one ounce of "jitteriness". Both applied power in an almost electric like fashion, but the clear torque advantage of the BMW is very tough to overcome.

This one is a clear win for the Ducati. Both are 6 speeds with adequate spacing, including a high enough 6th gear to allow 90+mph slabbing to be drama free affairs, but the Ducati is in another league when it comes to smooth gear changes. The BMW is decidedly "clunky", which upon some research seems to be a BMW trademark. I have read A LOT of "they are all like that" comments on various forums. I don't doubt it's ruggedness though, as there are thousands of R1100/1150/1200 bikes with over 100k miles out there and no one seemed to have specific transmission issues. Not counting the spline issues that seem to have hit the 1150's the most.

Final Drive:
The Ducati is chain drive while the BMW is shaft. All I can say is thank heaven for shaft drive as I am SO tired of cleaning chains.

Ducati - 447.5lbs "dry", 499.7lbs "wet"
BMW - 451.9lbs "dry", 504.9lbs "wet"

I found wildly different numbers in researching this. Both seem about the same to me, but I would say the Ducati was a tad lighter from having to push them both around the garage, although not back to back.

The Ducati was available with ABS latter on, but the one I had did not have it. My BMW has it and is my first ABS equipped bike. The BMW also has heated grips, adjustable windscreen and cruise control. Both bikes brake very well and although I have tried to get the ABS to kick on in ultra hard panic stops, I have felt no pulsing or vibrations in the lever or pedal.

The Ducati had a dial tachometer and a digital speedometer, a layout I prefer. The BMW uses dials for both. The Ducati had a digital engine temperature gauge, the BMW uses a digital bar graph. The Ducati had various functions to display on the screen, but always defaulted back to the odometer when restarted. Every time you got back on it was scrolling through menus using buttons on the dash. The BMW has a digital display as well and scrolling from Trip I to Trip II to the odometer is done via a button on the left handlebar. A lot easier and more comfortable to do, especially while moving. They both have a digital bar graph fuel gauge. The BMW actually has a "count down" feature when you reach 1/4 tank, where it takes your current average fuel economy and available fuel level and counts the miles down to empty. It was fascinating watching it go 48 miles, 47 miles, 46 miles, etc... Another really great idea. The BMW has a gear indicator which the Ducati did not. I like having one I have to admit. Both had digital clocks. The Ducati cluster was a tad better lit at night.

Overall Impression:
As of right now, I have to say I like the BMW better. The wife says it's no contest as a passenger. Service on the BMW seems to be a lot easier and probably less expensive as well. The shaft drive and single sided swingarm are beautiful to look at. The Ducati had the carbon fiber exhaust can without baffles so you knew it was coming! The BMW has a stock can and sounds like a sewing machine. That has to be fixed ASAP!!! The non-dive feature of the Telelever front suspension is wonderful. Not as good at communicating road surface "feel" as conventional forks, but you get used to it. I have to say I'm very happy with the decision.
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