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Old 02-10-2011, 03:00 PM   #1
jehicks87 OP
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Old BMW GS?

So, I'm really interested in picking up a dual sport bike. I've always loved the old airheads (love the /5's ESPECIALLY). Now, I know they didn't make dual-sport bikes back then. Got it. But... the airhead engine is basically unchanged all the way up until, what? The mystic?

My question is, on the merits of a DS motorcycle alone, how do the airhead G/S and GS bikes from BMW stand? Like, how good are they REALLY?
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Old 02-10-2011, 03:04 PM   #2
SOLO LOBO
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jehicks87 View Post
Like, how good are they REALLY?
How good at what specifically?
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your bike is suitably dirty. Well done.
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Old 02-10-2011, 03:07 PM   #3
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They are durable engines if sorted out. Pretty easy to work on w/ basic knowledge. As they are quite old. But there are bike out there which are better...lots better, cheaper too.

Depends on what you're expectations are.

Imagine, compairing a Triumph TR6 to a Miata. If you'd prefer the TR6 then you will be up for an airhead. If you'd prefer the Miata, then you're not ready for an airhead.
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Old 02-10-2011, 03:07 PM   #4
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Lets put it this way;

I have bought 3 tickets for the BMWMOA r1200GSA raffle. I did this for one simple reason, if I win that bike I will be promptly selling it and buying a fully equipped g/s and using the rest of the money to last 6-8 months in central and south america.

I personally think any GS of the oil head persuasion is a complete piece of over computerized, over priced crap. I had one, and only one.

This line of thinking should tell you something;

Airhead GS-G/Ses are simple, strong and reliable. You can fix them anywhere. That being said...you must know how to work on them to own them...not so with an oilhead. Those guys have BMW assist and a credit card.

PS. How are the USDA-FAS AgSpecs making out down there? Any progress?
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Old 02-10-2011, 03:07 PM   #5
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How good at what specifically?
Being on-and-off road Motorcycles. Tearing up fields and twisties. Traveling from Calgary to Machu Pichu, from Las Vegas to Berlin.

How good are they at "all you ever need on two wheels"?
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Old 02-10-2011, 03:10 PM   #6
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Being on-and-off road Motorcycles. Tearing up fields and twisties. Traveling from Calgary to Machu Pichu, from Las Vegas to Berlin.

How good are they at "all you ever need on two wheels"?
Properly set up...perfectly. To set up perfectly is up to you.
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Old 02-10-2011, 03:13 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jehicks87 View Post
Being on-and-off road Motorcycles. Tearing up fields and twisties. Traveling from Calgary to Machu Pichu, from Las Vegas to Berlin.

How good are they at "all you ever need on two wheels"?
In my eyes, as close to perfect as you can get. Not fast, but not slow. comfortable enough to sit in the saddle for hours, will go off road through gnarly stuff you wouldn't expect it to go through. Easy to repair and maintain, but you MUST maintain your airhead. Longevity is key with these bikes, they'll run forever if you treat them right. And, they can carry a pretty good load. I love my ST/G/S, it is the best bike I've ever owned and I've had quite a few.
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Old 02-10-2011, 03:13 PM   #8
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I am fine with an answer like that. Absolutely fine.

But, If I may press you a bit further...

What kinds of things do you suggest doing? I know you can do damned near anything with the suspension you want, it's just a matter of changing oils/valves all the way to having a new suspension grafted on. But what can you do to that visually stunning lump of an engine to make it chew dirt like an angry bulldozer and still ride curves like Cassanova at the Playboy mansion?
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Old 02-10-2011, 03:15 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by jehicks87 View Post
Being on-and-off road Motorcycles. Tearing up fields and twisties. Traveling from Calgary to Machu Pichu, from Las Vegas to Berlin.

How good are they at "all you ever need on two wheels"?

If you ask the KTM or KLR guys, they would say no, and argue that their flavor is the best.

I prefer BMW's due to the history, capability, parts availability (vast majority still at the dealer still), aftermarket parts (great selection, most well tested), the dealers (the majority understand and support riding and go out of their way to help an out-of-town rider in times of need, can't say this about Kawasaki and KTM) and mostly the BMW community as there is a wealth of knowledge and support out there.

Don't forget about value... BMW's costs more than other uses bikes, but airhead GS's hold value (G/S's are gaining value).

But back to capability.... search for Airhead Wrangler's trip though SA, and then see that there are tons more who have done the same....

in the end, capable enough for me!
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your bike is suitably dirty. Well done.
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Old 02-10-2011, 03:16 PM   #10
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Its not really a off road motorcycle its a multi surfaced road motorcycle i.e gravel dirt type roads, they will work you to a sweat off road.
If i know i will be for sure off road i ride the DR650, its my go to bike, you dont work up a sweat till it gets real bad.
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Old 02-10-2011, 03:18 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by jehicks87 View Post
But what can you do to that visually stunning lump of an engine to make it chew dirt like an angry bulldozer and still ride curves like Cassanova at the Playboy mansion?
In a word, throw a ton of money at it and make it less reliable and not that much more powerful... no, I am being serious!

BMW pretty much got it right from the word "go". You can make airheads faster but the price is huge, the gains small and the losses in longevity serious...

Supershaft will chime in shortly to say I am wrong, I am sure
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stagehand
your bike is suitably dirty. Well done.
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Old 02-10-2011, 03:20 PM   #12
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It's not a dirt bike, not going to eat dirt and have any fun. It will take you anywhere, but is not much fun going nowhere.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChromeSux View Post
Its not really a off road motorcycle its a multi surfaced road motorcycle i.e gravel dirt type roads, they will work you to a sweat off road.
If i know i will be for sure off road i ride the DR650, its my go to bike, you dont work up a sweat till it gets real bad.
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Old 02-10-2011, 03:22 PM   #13
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Supershaft will chime in shortly to say I am wrong, I am sure
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Old 02-10-2011, 03:24 PM   #14
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checked your profile....thanks for your service!

There are weak points which need to be sorted out if thrashing these things for months on end.

Guess it depends on how far you want to take the modifications. Here's a recent post on a real world test
All those mods are quite extreme, just depends on how much money you want to throw at it.


For a G/S, front forks upgrade is essential.




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Old 02-10-2011, 03:29 PM   #15
jehicks87 OP
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I'll be honest, not the sort of answers I was expecting... which means that they must be truthful answers. I like that.

I was (have been, actually) checking out alot about the gs's and saw they won a few Paris-Dakar races in the early 80's... that's no slow-go race, either. Not motocross, which I've never ridden in the first place, but not slooooow either.

Hmmm... what to do, what to do. I don't like the Tenere', not sure I want such a big thumper (though I did look very closely at an XR650L not more than a month ago) and don't have the cash for a new F800 (which is on the top of my dream-bike list... rool:).

Thought I'd see what the sages here at ADV had to say about 'em.
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