I think "soul" is very subjective. We will all have our own definition. Some of us may not be able to describe it in words, while others can go on about it forever. I think it has a lot to do with a combination of things. Looks, appeal, touch and feel, how you react to it, etc. Very hard to put a proper definition on it.
As to riding the R1200R, the next time I get to a BMW dealer that has one, I just might do that, if they let me. The closest dealer to me is not always keen on letting people do test rides. Heck, half the time I go in there they don't even really want to talk to me. I have to go and ask for assistance while the "sales representative" is getting another capucinno. Sometimes they can be a snooty bunch. Yet other times, they can be all charm and try to be as helpful as possible.
Now, I also have looked at the R1200RT as a replacement for my R100RT. That just does not cut it for me. Way too many bells and whistles. If the R1200R could have a fairing similar to the R100RT and get rid of that huge hump that is supposed to look like a gas tank, then maybe I might get more interested. Lots of people want all those bells and whistles, and that is great for them. Myself, I want it as simple as possible. Sure, on my old R100RT I have to adjust the carbs now and again, but have you ever tried to adjust your fuel injection? Most maintenance between the 2 is similar, but when it gets into computerized stuff, well, that is way beyond most of us. When we go touring, I seriously doubt that many of us would be dragging along a specialized laptop that can access the bikes computer system, along with the expensive software required to do it. But I can sure get a set of Bings working well enough to get home under some pretty adverse conditions. Not all of us ride where there are lots of BMW dealers around, even on supposed street bikes.
I am not saying that the new bikes are bad. I am just saying that for the type of riding I do, matched up with my mechanical skills, I prefer it to be as simple as possible.
Most maintenance between the 2 is similar, but when it gets into computerized stuff, well, that is way beyond most of us. When we go touring, I seriously doubt that many of us would be dragging along a specialized laptop that can access the bikes computer system, along with the expensive software required to do it.
(Actually, I have to admit that I don't carry a GS-911 with me; don't even own one. I have a Twinmax, but I've only used it a few times because all of my bikes that can be serviced with it go to the local independent shop for routine service.
In about 185k miles of riding three different Airheads, I've been stranded twice; in almost 340k miles of riding three Oil/Hex heads, I've been stranded thrice. That's roughly a once in 100k miles experience.
In four the five cases above, if I'd had a full Snap-On tool chest and a Moditec computer along, it wouldn't have mattered, the bike couldn't be fixed by the side of the road. I'm talking about a dead diode board, a broken final drive, broken drive shaft, and a completely blown motor. All of these components had serious mileage on them before they let go, and they owed me little if anything. The motor, for example, had 180k miles on it, was never babied, and I was doing ~6,000rpm and 110mph on the Authobahn at the time it let go.
Frankly, I think this "easier to fix!"/"never breaks!" argument (less filling! tastes great!) is a bunch of hooey. You get a bike into good operating condition and you do the routine maintenance, and then it runs well for a long time. I just don't sweat these very occasional big problems. Any motorcycle is far more highly streesed than just about any car, so if I get car-like reliability out of my bikes, I'm very pleased.)
Current Hottie: '00 R1100RT
Old Flames: FY K100RT, '80 XS850 with Vetter Quicksilver, '67 Bonnie, '66 Honda 90
I own older and newer bikes and each has merits so I offer this thought. For all who ask what to do when the new technology breaks and what then? How many of us drive vehicles with points ignition, heat our homes with wood/coal or use candles? Do we drive modern vehicles, heat with forced air furnaces, use light bulbs? My guess is very few in our modern societies use the former technolgies. We appear to accept newer things, even if I grumble about it at times and carry on. Hey, we would not be exchanging opinions were it not for computers.
I have been stranded with my '83RT (still own it) and somehow survived standing on the shoulder in the summer. I'm concerned with being stranded in winter which means my bikes are not a factor. I own an '07RT and there is no comparison (imho) between the two in terms of handling, braking, power and with help on this board, have done my own servicing too. If memory serves, think the weights on each bike are about the same. Should the '07 ever leave me on the side of the road, will make a call on my cell. Styling is a personal matter, few except for other beemer nuts have ever suggested the '83 is a good looking bike. However, non riders (& even Harley types) have said "that is a sharp looking bike" re the '07, even my mother in law likes it. I'm not taking a shot at airhead owners as one of my bikes is an airhead. I appreciate both bikes, recognize the strengths/weakness of each and consider myself very fortunate to own and ride them.
My R80RT is a darn fine machine.. I bought an R1100 RT because I wanted "the new stuff" but I just couldn't bring myself to give up on the Airhead. Its fun to ride, has that "old bike charm". From a practical perspective, the 80's luggage is the best, it fits a Full Face XL Helmet AND your sweater in one bag. I love the bike and ride it thousands of miles a year..
My Oilhead R1100RT is far and away my favorite bike of all time, out of all the bikes Ive ever owned.. I like it even more than the R1200RT I test rode, mainly because of the look and the seating position.
Anyway, the Airheads are just too cool, too much fun, and too easy to keep running to ever give up on.. The new stuff is great too...
so my reply is really one step closer to becoming "why you need multiple bikes" response..
Data panels, accessory and features lists included in a bikes description are objective. The experience of riding and or owning a bike is subjective. I currently have one bike because that is all my wallet will allow. I have ridden and own many different bikes over the years. Used for the right purpose on a given day each has been the best bike I have ever ridden for some reason. At another time each has been the spawn of satanÔÇÖs design board. In the end old or new, high or low tech ÔÇô I like bikes.
Hey Scott, spending time at the Ural dealer now?