I have had various motorcycles from 1968 to present day. From '94 to '98 I had a GL1500. Loved it and more importantly, it was her favorite bike of mine. Today I am on a 2005 LT. 2012 will be its replacement year. So, after reading this months MCN, I was just contemplating the new GTL and our previous fondness for the Wing.
I rejoined this forum today so that I could better educate myself on today's version of the Wing as I contemplate purchase next Spring.
Contrary to what you may read, there is no significant change in the front suspension of the 2012 Wing, just some bushings. The biggest improvement is the addition of the Bridgestone tires as far as the handling goes. The GTL is much quicker in a straight line than a Wing due to the 40 hp advantage it has, but I'd rate it as a sport tourer in the category of FJR, Concours, ST1300 bikes, with a big advantage in luxury bling. BMW has outright stated that it is not a competitor to the Wing, Ultra or Vision tourers. My personal opinion of them is limited to just sitting on them (never actually rode one) but the passenger accomodations are in a word 'poor'. Cornering clearance is severely lacking on the GTL for what I was expecting (better on the GT btw) as well, so the marvelous motor looses out in the bends. The sound the GT and GTL make when the tap is open is goosebump quality from what I'm told though
I came very close to pulling the trigger on the GTL. It is an incredible machine. Performance wise, I found no faults; acceleration/throttle response was flawless, handling was flawless, cluth/trans were flawless and ride was flawless. Electronic windshield and on the fly suspention change are great. IMO it is the premiere sport-tourer. However, it simply is not a touring bike by any stretch of the definition. The passenger on the GTL is an after though. The pillion seat is narrow and very high, the pillion foot rests are pegs-with little room to expand or up grade, and the back rest/top box moves significantly during the ride. There's no way the pillion can be confortable in a touring situation on this bike;read that distance.
Having said that IF one is looking for a sport tourer the GTL has it hands down. I suspect (don't laugh) the next Goldwing will have Electronic wind screen, blue tooth, interchangeable GPS, on the fly suspention, and loose 100 pounds.
I spent over two-hours on a K1600 GTL and I have to say I was expecting more. The handling is fine, tight, and very quick but the throttle has a lag in every setting, so it's a little unpredictable. The comfort setting on the EAS system is ok but really effects the handling. The other setting are great on smooth pavement but give a real hard on rough roads. I ended up buying a 2012 Wing and couldn't be happier. It was the right decision for me.