Buying advice: Paralever or Monolever (GS)?

Discussion in 'Airheads' started by Lesser, Dec 4, 2012.

  1. Lesser

    Lesser Adventurer

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    Looking for any gutshot survey data I can get to help swing a decision on a 91 r100GS for sale.

    Here's the backstory: I want a GS. Always wanted a GS. Picked up an 83 r80ST last spring because I got a smoking deal on it, and rode it all summer. Time constraints didn't allow much time for a conversion and she sits as I got her -- pretty much bone stock except for a dual-pot front Brembo upgrade. And the bike is a hoot on the road and really good for scooting around the city.

    But it's not the GS I want and I've got another street/touring bike.

    I've realized it will be faster/cheaper/easier to sell it and start with a bona fide GS and there's a 91 R100gs I've got an eye on but have heard the Paralevers can be a bit tricky to deal with out in the middle of nowhere compared the the relatively simpler monolevers.

    The bike I'm looking at has low miles and price is right -- anything to be afraid of with a Paralever? For a "forever" bike that hopefully I'll get outside of the continental U.S. with one day -- what's the best chassis, mono or para?

    I've asked two trusted mechanics and got one vote for Mono, and one pretty much ambivalent between the two. Any opinions?

    Thanks in advance for any input!
    #1
  2. Airhead Wrangler

    Airhead Wrangler Adios Mexico

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    I have both. I vote mono for long distance bomb-proofness.
    #2
  3. bmwloco

    bmwloco Long timer

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    If it is not in an oil bath, plan on walking at one juncture or another.

    Another monolever vote.
    #3
  4. Box'a'bits

    Box'a'bits In need of repair

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    I vote Paralever.

    There, where did that get you....

    Airhead Wrangler has both mono & paralever bikes.

    BMWLoco has a real thing about Paralevers due to issues in Aus...

    Really depends on how you are going to use it, & if you are going to load it up.

    • G/S's are getting rare, collectable, & are getting old now. They are lighter, but the forks are a bit light & get tied in knots.
    • I had an ST & it felt physically too small for me & a pillion. I'm guessing that the G/S is similar (I've ridden them but not owned one)
    • The Paralever is slightly heavier, but has a bunch of improvements, including better forks, & is roomier, stronger subframe etc but has a reputedly less reliable drivetrain. The swingarm is longer, so its more stable to ride. You can get an after market driveshaft with replacable/serviceable u-joints. I punt mine around offroad no issues (well, the current broken ribs & punctured lung aside).

    You could look at the Unholy Union Threads if you want to start modifying the ST or G/S

    Do a search. This subject (G/S or GS) has really been discussed to death. Here & here are examples
    #4
  5. Mark Manley

    Mark Manley Been here awhile

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    I have both and if you plan to regularly take a passenger get a para, if not a mono, the subframe and seat on the para are longer and more comfortable.

    If you plan to regularly use them on rough roads and get a mono then think about upgrading the front end, I know of two that after trans-Africa trips have fractured fork legs below the bottom yoke, nether were accident related just stress fractures.

    It is my opinion that the driveshaft life on a para can be extended by fitting the shorter rear shock from the R100R, I have done this to both mine and a friends and both have had over 100,000 miles from a shaft, otherwise 50,000 seems to be the limit to shaft life..
    #5
  6. squish

    squish Out of the office.

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    I've got an r80st and a paralever r100gs.
    The gs is easier and way more comfortable to ride on the street.
    The st has more shaft jacking but is more simple and feels a little better off road.

    There are some who think there are issue with the drive shaft and there are some who don't.
    My drive shaft needed to be rebuilt at 20k miles.

    Honestly if I was heading out on an around the world trip
    I'd take a different newer bike. But for local trips it would depend on how I saw myself riding. More off road and it would be the st more street and it would be the gs.

    If I had to keep one I'd keep the st but that has more to do with the fact that the gs is in nicer condition and I'd get more for it.
    #6
  7. norton73

    norton73 drinkin'

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    G/S vs GS are almost like oil threads :lol3


    Both have their proponents. IMHO, GS if you are going more street/commuting/touring. G/S if more off road.

    The GS is roomier, carries more, starts with better suspension.

    The G/S is lighter, lower, handles better.

    I'm 5' 10" 220 lbs, and a G/S or ST feels like a toy bike under me on the street, but much better offroad.

    I like the stability on my '92 GS on the road, but wish it was lighter off road.

    Wish I had one of each, but there's too many bikes knocking around the house now.
    #7
  8. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    it's a given, gears/bearings that lives in an oil bath are more durable. what that's worth to you is another matter. but it does eliminate one potential breakdown that could financially end a trip.

    to me other considerations makes more of a difference. like are you planning on riding much off-road? does 50lb or so lighter on G/S makes a significant difference? that depends on how heavy one is loaded... are you planning two up? R100GS would be better, etc.

    longer wheel base of GS is a definite advantage. HPN extended G/S monolever for good reason. stock G/S front shock re-valved and braced, holds up quite well if one is not beating the hell out of it.

    here's my G/S with stock front end re-valved and braced at race speed at Zombie Apocalypse Training Camp III
    [​IMG]
    #8
  9. Rob Farmer

    Rob Farmer Long timer

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    Paralever vote here,

    The mono g/s doesn't handle or brake as well as your ST or have as good a headlight. Keep the ST and buy a 100 Paralever, it's a grown up GS and much better as a long haul bike. everything works better than the mono. The only real weak spot is the driveshaft and there are alternatives out there to remove the issue. To be honest I've run up tens of thousands of miles on Paralevers and have yet to have a driveshaft problem so it's not like they're breaking every five minutes.
    #9
  10. Lesser

    Lesser Adventurer

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    Thanks for the feedback all.

    And Box'a'bits those previous thread links were super helpful. Thanks. I didn't meant to post a question that's already been asked/answered but time is tight here.

    Seems two votes for Mono, one for Para, a couple philosophical cul-de-sacs.

    With an ST -> G/S conversion, I'm looking at new front end, new tank, new seat, new rear fender, subframe, and shock.

    Seems easier to go from GS -> G/S with only worrying about the rear end


    • Honestly most of my miles will be on road, but in NYC "paved" can be a relative term. And I want off-road capability in the back pocket.
    • I know, the GS forks are maybe not the best, but a damn sight better than the R65/R80St forks I have now. And seems a better staring point than an ST.
    • Not planning a lot of 2-up riding although I would like the ability to carry way too much gear, and I'm 6/2 225 so the stronger/longer frame sounds good. (Already cracked the stock rack on the ST)

    Dumb question: If I can pick up the 91 GS now, how easy would it be to retro-fit a Mono later down the line. IE: For that ultimate bombroof setup to go to South America with?
    #10
  11. Rob Farmer

    Rob Farmer Long timer

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    You can buy a bolt on kit to get a mono back end in a paralever but it isn't going to be cheap.

    As long as the UJ on the standard shaft is checked out before you go theres no reason why it should fail. but you could Just fit a rebuildable driveshaft in the paralever if you're worried about it. http://www.bmwboxersupplies.com/driveshaft-paralever-p-336.html?osCsid=72d9pmpd80qvpdk274fdhgg2f2
    #11
  12. igormortis

    igormortis Cafe Reise

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    I grew up riding a monolever and only got a paralever bike relatively recently.

    I love the mono for short solo blasts, it feels kinda lively to me compared to the later bike, and I ride it accordingly. For longer, loaded, or 2up trips, it's the paralever for me - no question.

    I'm currently gearing up for my longest ride ever, and it will be on the paralever. As said earlier, get the re-buildable shaft if you're worried, or even just a new OEM one.
    #12
  13. bereahorn

    bereahorn Long timer

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    :lurk
    #13
  14. Box'a'bits

    Box'a'bits In need of repair

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    Stephen Bottcher did a Paralever frame with monolever rear end. There would be some expense in that. If you go into his site, crank up the volume as it initially loads for a very cool sound bite.
    #14
  15. Lesser

    Lesser Adventurer

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    The bike I'm looking at has sub 15k miles. But yeah, a re-buildable shaft pre any international adventures seems well advised.

    The conversion seems maybe a bit too involved. I would rather risk the ground clearance. And isn't the whole point of the extra link in the GS/paralever to provide a more sophisticated suspension platform?

    FWIW, here are some photos, both of the current ST and prospective GS...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #15
  16. SPO

    SPO Been here awhile

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    I did the ST to G/ST conversion earlier this year. "La Suerte" is a 1983 ST with the following mods-

    R100gs tank
    R100gs front end
    Baja Designs headlight with boatman conversion
    Acewell gauge
    Enduralast Alternator upgrade
    Pivot pegz

    Bike works fantastic as a tourer, a long distance bike, and as a fire road bike. Completed a 6k mile trip around the west including the CDR from S to N.

    Great bike. Still gotta finish my ride report...man, there's a lot to write about...

    [​IMG]
    #16
  17. supershaft

    supershaft because I can

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    I would rather have a Mono any day but they are my favorite airheads.
    #17
  18. Box'a'bits

    Box'a'bits In need of repair

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    Looking at your ST, all the bits it already has on it, & its current condition, I'd keep it, and convert it over time. :wink:
    #18
  19. igormortis

    igormortis Cafe Reise

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    :nod Yeah, I'd be inclined to do the same. But only if your goal is further on from a standard GS. If you just want a starting point, then you already have a perfect one.
    #19
  20. Airhead Wrangler

    Airhead Wrangler Adios Mexico

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    Looking good.
    #20