Considering an R12GS but have some concerns

Discussion in 'GS Boxers' started by FireDog45, Sep 22, 2013.

  1. FireDog45

    FireDog45 Mid-life crisis sufferer

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    I've been researching different bikes to replace my recently sold ST1100 and the R12 GS has been at the top of the list. The bad press these seem to get has me a little nervous and I wanted to get some feedback from the forum.

    When I mention this choice to my riding friends I get responses like "if you love doing maintenance then go ahead", "I'm really concerned that your bike will break down during a trip", "aren't you worried about the (fill in the blank) conking out on you", "those are so unreliable/expensive/etc."

    My budget is around $10k USD so MSRP is not considered as I'll be buying used. For this discussion I'm also considering the Tenere, Tiger 800XC and V Strom.

    I'll be using it for commuting, day trips and extended trips. I won't be riding 2 up but would like to start camping from the bike at some point.

    Are these fears overblown or do they have some merit?
    #1
  2. gSreen

    gSreen Adventurer

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    The r1200gs is the most reliable bike I ever had. Take the GSA. You will not regret it. Otherwise sell it and you get even years later a good price back.
    #2
  3. Brahma

    Brahma Been here awhile

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    Machines of all types require maintenance. In thirty years and almost 150,000 miles on BMW's, I was only left at the side of the road once, for a recalled part I didn't have replaced. I still have my first bike- a 1985 K100RT I bought over half my life ago in 1986 and have put 90,000 miles on, and it has yet to leave me at the side of the road.

    Friends who infer they don't like or just plain don't maintain their bikes are not giving you sound advice.

    BMW maintenance is nothing out of the ordinary, but it can be expensive to have performed at the dealer, just as any bike. Not spending money to maintain a bike is not a fair justification for blaming a bike for breaking down. Many of us do our own to save money and spend quality time with our bikes. A well maintained bike is a safe bike, bound to pass many another at the side of the road, no matter who made it.

    Buy the bike, then have the dealer do an annual service on it if it has no service record. If it does have a record of service, pick up the schedule where it was left off. Feel free to learn from the forum inmates, and enjoy!
    #3
  4. FireDog45

    FireDog45 Mid-life crisis sufferer

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    Doing maintenance is something I enjoy and I feel pretty confident in my abilities to perform most, if not all, of that maintenance.

    The Boxer motor just hits an emotional chord with me that goes back 20 years when I worked the medical crew at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. That's where I saw my first boxer up close and just loved how they looked and sounded. It was out of my price range when I got back to riding but it was always on my radar.

    Thanks for the feedback!
    #4
  5. Norhasken

    Norhasken Tryin' to find my way

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    If you bought a GS and anything were to happen, like you had to change the oil at some point, your friends would say they told you so so much you would question their decision to let you have a GS.

    Just get what your friends say is Ok for you to have.
    #5
  6. trc.rhubarb

    trc.rhubarb ZoomSplat!

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    The boxer motor is by far the easiest motor I've ever serviced. One day, when I need a clutch... well that isn't easy but everything else is so simple and on the GS it's all just hanging out right there. Very little plastic to remove.
    #6
  7. Schlug

    Schlug JockeyfullofBourbon

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    put something on and stay in that position.

    Heya Firedog.

    Been a long time but I rode with you and Howboucha and Badtraindriver and those fellows out of Columbus back when I had my V-Strom.

    I've had a great time on my GS, but I'm biased.

    If you can go back to the V-Strom you know what you're getting. If you haven't test ridden a GS and really, really liked it I'm not sure you'll be convinced.

    I don't know that's more maintenance-- if you've checked or done the valves on a Strom at 15,000 then you know what a PITA it is, I can do the valves on my GS in about 2 hours start to finish with a 4 beer stretch.

    But there is more to go wrong. Final drives, driveshafts, ABS, clutch splines, gear indicators, the potential for work and money is higher.

    But as I recall you were a very handy mechanic. Putting a clutch in a BMW has got to be easier than a clutch in a... Nissan, was it?

    Here's the deal, if you get a well sorted one and it has few or no problems, you'll love it. If you have a rare issue it can be expensive and involved, you may not love it so much. The fear is overblown for a number of reasons:
    The internet magnifies the number of issues by quite a factor.
    BMW sells a LOT of GS's. Something near 60,000 GS's in 2008 IIRC and it is the number one selling model of all bikes in many countries.
    BMW is a premium brand which attracts a lot of pissy attitudes from other model riders.
    BMW riders often act like toads.
    I only test rode a BMW in 1991 and upon walking out of the store I immediately felt like other motorcycle riders were beneath me.

    I found the ST to be a very heavy, sluggish pig. I'd rather have a V-Strom. There certainly are a lot of them in the flea market, which seems odd given the number sold. Probably the fact that it's 50 lbs. heavier than a GS and about even with the GSA which carries nigh 10 gallons of fuel.
    #7
  8. FireDog45

    FireDog45 Mid-life crisis sufferer

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    It's not so much getting their approval it's more about what do they know that I don't. I like to be as informed about issues as I can so any decision I make can be an informed one.
    #8
  9. Bill-66

    Bill-66 Hencho in Kansas

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    If you get a good one..all will be right with the world..if you don't..well..like several others here..or, at this point in the Tenere thread..you will hate life..not because YOU can't fix it..but because you can't get the parts to fix it..the dealer has "never, ever heard of that before.." or something as silly..

    BobbySands shot you pretty straight..:clap

    I've had a couple issues with my current one..mostly under warranty..but for one of them, it sat nearly three weeks at dealer, it had 7800 miles on it at the time..parts had to come from Germany. There is currently an inmate sitting IN GERMANY with a blown final..on a NEW bike..and can't get parts..being told 4 weeks..

    I agree with you on the soul and character thing..I love my boxer..but not enough to buy another one..probably..I can have all the same fun, travel all the same roads..for many monies less per mile with another brand..

    I also think..a boxer is something every motorcyclist should have..at least once..there is a certain....feel about them..and while you ride them..they're just different enough to be noticed..and some folks like that..I had a guy walk up to me in a grocery parking lot last week..old timer..we talked bikes for 30 minutes, standing in the sun..laughing about him being a hooligan on an old boxer...you aren't going to get that on a a Tenere...

    That being said..with your $10K budget..add $1500 and buy a brand new Tenere..some guy just bought one in Indiana for $11,200 out the door...breaking down, will be the last thing on your mind, they just don't..:dunno

    Boxer is like any other machine..When it works..it's great..when it doesn't you wanna fire on it from orbit..interestingly, it isn't the bike that makes you want to do that..it's the dealer and corp philosophy..Never heard of it, never seen it, you're the first..etc etc.
    #9
  10. FireDog45

    FireDog45 Mid-life crisis sufferer

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    Hey, been awhile! Thanks for the insight, I addressed some of your points below.

    #10
  11. JM

    JM Been here awhile

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    If you do end up buying a GS I'd suggest getting a GSA. The extra range of the larger fuel tank is a huge plus. I'd also suggest looking for the newest model your budget will allow. I don't mean the lowest mile bike you can find but the newest production year your dollars will buy. BMW has made changes to problem areas through out the model years.

    Go to a dealer and test ride a few used ones to see if it's the kind of bike that makes you want to wake up, throw on your gear and ride.
    #11
  12. FireDog45

    FireDog45 Mid-life crisis sufferer

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    I'd be lying if cost wasn't part of the conversation. I do like what the Tenere brings to the table, though.
    #12
  13. Bill-66

    Bill-66 Hencho in Kansas

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    My local dealer offered me a new '13 for $13,000 yesterday..(Tenere)before we ever really talked...I could buy that bike for $12Kish..put an ECU Unleashed flash on it..and it makes within 10 horsepower of a waterhead boxer...yes, it weighs more..but less than a GSA and certainly less than a waterhead GSA..

    It doesn't have a three year warranty..it is more involved to pull maintenance on..thankfully, it only needs it one sixth as much..24,000 mile valve checks versus 6000 for a pre water heads..looks are a lov ehate thing with them..I dig the look..especially the white..

    Good Luck in your quest..something I read in here..and it struck a chord with me..is it about the motorcycle, or the motorcycling...?
    #13
  14. Hikertrash

    Hikertrash Wasted Rock Ranger

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    I purchased a 1200GSA because its so easy to do your own maintenance. I bought it knowing I wouldn't be having the dealer service it since they charge so much. I never read all the "horror" stories of the final drive failure and other nit picks so I guess it was good that I went in blind. I've only had a couple minor warranty issues that were fixed at the dealer. On the other hand, my buddy purchased a '11 GSA just before me and his spent a a month at the dealer waiting on parts from Germany. His bike was never right and he was resentful towards it. He has since wrecked it and purchased a '12 GSA which he loves. My only complaint with the 1200GS is that I've come close to overheating it 3 times and that's had me frustrated. The other thing is I hate the BMW dealers. This is probably the sole reason i don't wish to own a BMW anymore. I have dealt with 3 other dealers who were involved with repairing my bike in some way or another and they were all liars. Unfortunately I had to deal with them for warranty work. I do like that wherever I go, I get people walking up to me asking about the bike. It's unique and draws a lot of curiosity. I don't think I'd get that with a Tenere. I think the 1200GSA is the top of the food chain of adventure touring bikes and that's evident with bike magazines comparing other bikes to it. Honestly though, when my bike is paid off, I may trade it in on a Tenere. They weren't available when I bought my bike or else I know I may have bought one. I like the looks of it, too and hopefully they'll be a reliable long life bike. If I had $10 or $11k I would certainly look into buying a near new Tenere.
    #14
  15. Schlug

    Schlug JockeyfullofBourbon

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    put something on and stay in that position.

    Stop comparing the GSA to the ST unless you plan on adding the weight of four one-gallon rotopax to the equation

    I hope you get an ST just so I can wheelie by it on my 1150 with a GSA tank! :wink:

    (and roost you)
    #15
  16. FireDog45

    FireDog45 Mid-life crisis sufferer

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    The only comparison I want to make regarding the ST is the touring aspect. I have no plans to go back to a sport touring class if bike. Been there and found it's not my thing
    #16
  17. Bill-66

    Bill-66 Hencho in Kansas

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    I'll give you the 20 lb advantage the GSA has..as long as the difference is in a swingarm that makes a difference in final life..a cassette transmission that shifts like butta..and takes 20 minutes to put a new clutch in..and valve covers that only come off once year..or so, if then..steel, non leaking, cracking tank..etc..etc..


    I do see I reversed my bike to weight statment above..my bad..the STen outweighs the GSA...

    :beer
    #17
  18. FireDog45

    FireDog45 Mid-life crisis sufferer

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    I just realized there may be some confusion. When I mention ST I'm referring to the Honda ST1100 not the Tenere
    #18
  19. Bill-66

    Bill-66 Hencho in Kansas

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    I figgered....but knew what Bobby meant too....
    #19
  20. VolInGA

    VolInGA Been here awhile

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    The issue with that theory is that your friends probably don't have a damn clue what they are talking about. How many of them have actually owned a BMW?? My guess is very few. Probably a lot of "I knew a guy that had one.....". Every bike has it's issues from time to time, and BMW is no different. When you factor in the very high miles that most owners put on these bikes and the abuse they take, I'd say they are probably one of the more reliable bikes you can own.

    I'm on my third BMW and have never had any issues.......which will surely mean mine will leave me stranded on the way to work tomorrow.
    #20