Looking for Help From Afghanistan

Discussion in 'GS Boxers' started by usmcshepherd, Dec 21, 2012.

  1. Warin

    Warin Retired

    Aug 30, 2012
    Don't know how much dirt riding experience you have?

    But if you are starting out without much experience, then weight of the bike is the biggest thing. The singles will be a lot easier to learn on, and even easier to pick up. I'd advise you to get the single. And find those small country roads rather than inhabit multilane mindless transport corridors that will disappear when 'beam me up Scotty' becomes available :1drink

    The KTM (or Husky etc) has better suspension than the Yam (or Suzi, Honda for that matter). However the KTM will be more maintenance that the Yam (etc). Don't worry about power output, you'll use what you have and have fun with it. Suspension on dirt is where you get safety and speed.

    Welcome to the dirty side :D


    The photos and old ride reports I've seen of Afghanistan are really good and make me want to go ride there. Fortunately there are quite a few other places with similar qualities to go see, ride and experience. Get home safe.
  2. luckygrownup

    luckygrownup Been here awhile

    Apr 22, 2011
    the suburban wasteland of Maryland.
    I am 6' 5" and 205lbs. I bought a new 2013 GSA a few weeks ago myself after riding a RTP as a daily commuter. On the street in comparision the GSA feels like a mountain bike with a rocket attached. I didn't test the tenere or the KTM, but I think my wallet may have been happier with KTM. The Japanese always seem to make tiny bikes. I would have been just as happy on a KTM 990. But, the goofy gas tank and color would take a little while to get used to. The GSA fits tall people perfect. The torque is awesome. The gas tank is big holding 7.8 gallons. My only complaint with BMW's GSA is the price and the windshield. Also, the plastic gas cap annoys me after using an aluminum one for so long.
  3. vagueout

    vagueout Long timer

    Mar 3, 2010
    sydney, east
    USMCSHEPHERD, I reckon bike choice is easy, doesn't really matter, just make it home intact buy the bike and see a big big chunk of the USA. Stay safe ride safe.:freaky
  4. Ulyses

    Ulyses Long timer

    Mar 30, 2012
    Portland, OR
    Master Guns,

    You're right, Afghanistan is/could be a great place for riding. You really should avoid getting any of the bikes that you mentioned. What you really want is riding by your Camp/FOB/PB/COP everyday:


    That's right, an Iranian made 125cc Izmaray, complete with bubble wrap bling. Just go roll up a few sh*t heads, confonscate one of their bikes, and throw it in your quadcon with all of the COC gear you're going to be shipping home in a month or so. :D

    So, who are you with? Where are you at? I'm guessing that if you are on a 12 month deployment you're stuck at LNK. Or maybe Deleram?

    I was in a simliar situation as you last year at this time; getting ready to come back and wondering what kind of bike to get. I also have a Harley for what it's worth.

    I really can't help you with your choice. I've ridden a BMW 1200 GSA, but that's about as far as my knowledge goes. If I had a choice (and the money) I would go for the KTM.

    I was with 3/7 in Sangin. You were probably just arriving in country as I was leaving. I just got back in April. Went on Terminal in June and promptly started riding my Harley around the states. In October I jumped on my Honda and headed south of the border. I'm using all of my deployment money to fund a trip from Oregon to Ushuaia, Argentina on my bike. I'm currently writing this from a bar in Medellin, Colombia. I opted for a used XR650L. It's a great bike for Central/South America, but not very good on an American style freeway.

    Good luck over there.

  5. usmcshepherd

    usmcshepherd Master Guns

    Sep 12, 2008
    Denver, CO
    Thanks again to all the great responses. I will probably be using this largely as a daily commuter; at least until I am retired. I have hopes of making it back out west and possibly to Alaska with other motorcycle enthusiast someday. So, for the near term I don't think that I'll likely be doing a significant amount of off road work, other than those occasional runs down a forest trail to access more remote places to camp once in a while. I also will probably be solo the majority of the time with the occasional ride with the wife or one of the kids. It sounds like the GSA would probably give me the most room overall, especially considering any long hauls in the saddle.

    One of the most encouraging things several folks have said is the simplicity of maintenance on the BMWs as well as the availability of parts....that in itself is a plus. Being in the military and not yet settled in one area (nor knowing where that is likely to be anyway) dealer support is a concern. I know most big cities have BMW and usually KTM, but the more out of the way places usually only have the Japanese bikes and Harley's (which was a reason I rode Harley's). But if the maintenance on the BMWs isn't as big of a concern and some of its easily done on my own or with experienced help from other GS rider's than that certainly tips the scales toward the BMW I think.
  6. Happy BMW

    Happy BMW Litter Box

    Mar 15, 2009
    Whitefish MT
    Greetings from Kandahar I've got a 1200 GSA that I got in 09 while on another tour in Iraq. Love the bike and flog it in the woods all the time. It is heavy but handles it well. I got it because it's the biggest bike I liked, I'm 6'9" and was about 230, have lost a bit of weight over here. When loaded it a pig off road and if you are new at the off pavement will be a hand full.
  7. MGB

    MGB ex. BmwDuc

    Jan 30, 2005
    Hampton and Forks of Buffalo, VA
    But after 30 years of riding BMW's (airhead, kbikes, and oil heads to include an 1100GS) I think the Japanese are presenting better, less expensive, lower maintenance choices.

    I had an '03 VStrom, '08 FJR and now a '12 Super Tenere, enjoying them much more than anything I've ridden in the past. No need to upgrade suspensions, seats, etc. like I did on many BMW's. That said, I still have an older BMW in the garage. Japanese dealers are on every corner. BMW dealers, not so much. When I had a final drive failure, cheapest option was rent a uhaul and drag it home 700 miles. That's make you a fan of chains (out with the GS, in with the VStrom). I quickly discovered chains have come a long way - in 50K miles on my VStrom, I only put on one set of chains and sprockets.

    Recommendation: shop used. For any of your choices, there are good selections of used, low mileage bikes - many with a lot of extras - just take you time to shop around. And if it's not local, use it as an excuse to fly and ride.
  8. SR1

    SR1 Going to America!!!!

    Apr 6, 2006
    I don't Seoul U anymore!
    I agree with many here. I bought my GS on the way back from Baghdad moons ago...I was in the same situation you were in, shopping from a deployment.

    Based on what you say, yes, a GSA may work best for you (though I like the GS more 'cause I'm short). I love the KTM but it is a more dedicated machine, meaning it's more like a sportbike on a dirtbike suspension, fast and very offroad capable.

    Definitely check the used market constantly.
  9. Mr B

    Mr B Been here awhile

    May 16, 2009
    Merced, CA
    Semper Fi bros..... No marine here but I love what you do!!!!
    Be safe!!

    As far as bikes, I ride a F800GS but am planning I. Getting a GSA once I return from my next deployment. , contract work In Baghdad.
    The F800 is nice and I have had mine almost 4 years, but I really want the added HP and stability if the 1200. I agree thatitneeds a bigger front wheel and I might tie the bulley and get a set of Woodies Wheels (21/18) as I am sure thatwill make the bike much better in th dirt!
    Good luck and be safe!!!!
  10. usmcshepherd

    usmcshepherd Master Guns

    Sep 12, 2008
    Denver, CO
    The used option is certainly one I am willing to consider especially with the GSs, as there aren't any Tenere's out there used. I've found a couple nice used GS/GSA's but wonder if I'm not getting myself into bigger trouble when it comes to parts on the bike starting to fail (so new Tenere is $13k, new GSA $21k, while there are some well equipped used GSAs out there for $10-12K but they have mileage on them). Thoughts?

    What is to many miles for these GS/GSAs? What are the mileage marks for concerns (15k, 30k, 50k etc). I understand and expect that a lot has to do with the way the bike was cared for and how it was ridden, but in general?
  11. MoxNix

    MoxNix Ex-ExPat

    Oct 28, 2007
    O'Fallon IL
    Master Guns, I am a retired Marine living in Stuttgart germany working for AFRICOM.

    All of my comments below are based on GSA purchase.

    As for military sales go, you have to be TDY to Germany for a day but the challenge is BMW does not ship the bike to the US. You can ship a bike on your own dime, but it'll eat up some of the $2010 savings.

    Having said that if you happen to get a day a Ramstein post-deployment, I'll swing by and pick you up to see Uwe (military sales guy in K'town).

    I am heading to AFG in April, but I'll answer any specific questions you have via pm or email bolingcs{atsign}gmail{dot}com

  12. tlwood99

    tlwood99 Been here awhile

    Sep 30, 2009

    Nothing to add on the 'which-bike-to-get' question although my .02 is that the regular GS is a mighty fine bike.

    I would imagine you are wanting to get back home, but if you can stand it I would encourage you to take advantage of being overseas and any opportunities that affords you to ride in places you may never get the chance to otherwise. Now I'm not saying riding around Helmund Province (although I think the Marine Recons are somewhat known for doing just that on Chinese 125's) but riding in Europe or elsewhere on anything would be life long memories made regardless of what bike you are on. And if you have the cash Craigslist is your friend.

    Good luck to you and stay safe.

    Tom W.
  13. Jim Moore

    Jim Moore The Real Deal

    Dec 24, 2001
    Jax, FL
    Here's another tip. If you buy from a dealer don't be embarrassed to ask for a military discount. Most dealers are more than willing to help you out there.
  14. Kawidad

    Kawidad Long timer

    Jul 9, 2005
    Central Coast, Cal
    Master Gunny be safe from another former jarhead. :devildog

    I used to own a GS and now own a Triumph Tiger, not that I recommend that for you. The new 1200 Tiger is amazing, but dealer support might be too thin, however, you might consider it. :deal

    I also used to own a KTM Adventure, but would not recommend that one. The KTM's are really hit and miss with their quality control, but in any case they are VERY dirt oriented and have poor fuel range because they do not get good MPG. Also, they are difficult to work on because of the way they are put together.

    My GS ownership experience was not all that great. I bought it used and it was low mileage and appeared to be lightly used only on the road. However, once I dove into it as things broke, I quickly discovered it had a hard life and had been trashed pretty good. By the time I got it all fixed up I was tired of it and decided to move on. I narrowed my choices down to the Super Ten and the Triumph Tiger 800. I chose the Tiger, but the Super Ten is amazing and is receiving really good reviews on the forum (Beasts) from real world owners. If I were to do it over again, I might go this direction instead since they are such good bikes. :evil
  15. CheckerdD

    CheckerdD Long timer

    Apr 30, 2005
    Dave Rankine, Reno NV
    I have a f800 GS and a 1200. I think the 800 is the better all round bike, but a bit small if your riding 2 up. I will tell you my favorite Afgan story. In 1976 I rode a Honda 125 from Indonesia to Europe. I actually got into the NW frontier part of Pakistan. Back then they were not radicalized - but very well armed as ever. Then I rode to Kabul. Kandahar, Herat and into Iran. In those days, before the Russians rode in a ruined everything, Afghanistan was a republic. The problem in crossing it was bandits. What you would do is go to the edge of town early in the morning and park. There would be others there. Then when something armed and official drove by, you would pull up behind it and go to the next city. From Kabul to Kandahar, I followed some government truck with a couple of armed guys in the back. Getting out of Kandahar was trickier, after a long wait we all tailed a official looking Mercedes Diesel bus. As you may know the road goes from about 2000 ft to about 6800 ft on that stretch. The convoy just walked away from me going up the hill. I have never been more scared shitless. I was just lying down on the tank of the moving bike going as fast as I could, and waiting for some bandit to pick me off. Anyway the convoy stopped for prayers and that is how I caught up. So you see the place does not change much over time. Dave
  16. seniorasi

    seniorasi Banned

    Mar 23, 2009
    Edge of the light
    I purchased a 2012 GSA in June. Although I have not ridden it as much as I'd like, the BMW is a quality machine and the one I chose after years of dual sport research and hand wringing. I don't regret it. I've worked on and built numerous bikes with factory and after market parts. The Beemers have their good points and bad like all the rest, quality of parts is among the best in the world. It boils down to inseam, terrain, load, and endurance. Sort out how you want to use the bike, your physical limitations, if any, and that will help narrow the choices.

    Enjoy the search. The start of a journey is sometimes the most exciting part.
  17. usmcshepherd

    usmcshepherd Master Guns

    Sep 12, 2008
    Denver, CO
    CheckerD that is an amazing story. While I was traveling around the country I saw numerous motorcycles scooting around the terrain and my first thought was about what a great place to ride. I don't know if this place will ever be safe to ride through again like you did back in the 70's, but it sure would be a trip. Actually, if you could avoid the big cities and stick to small towns and villages you'd probably do ok...although after us being here a western looking individual might not be very welcome....I guess it will depend on their take of our departure from their country and how graceful we do it.

    Well thanks to everyone for the additional thoughts. I am really leaning towards the 1200 GSA for a couple reasons, size (I'm 6'4" so should fit nicely), windprotection (big gas tank acts like a fairing from what I've heard, plus extended range), factory installed options I think everyone adds to their GS shortly after purchase and I like a clean factory install so why not.

    Unless a fabulous deal comes along that I just can't pass up I'll probably wait to pull the trigger on something until I can ride the Tenere. Its reviews and the fact that its water cooled (having had Harley's I'm sensitive about the oil cooled bikes) so I won't have to worry about overheating, easy of maintenance/dealer support, and about half of a 1200 GSA new lends one to stop and take a look. If anyone has ridden the Tenere and given it an honest evaluation, but still went with the GSA or has just ridden one I'd be intereted in your comparisions (pluses and minuses) between the two.
  18. LaurelPerryOnLand

    LaurelPerryOnLand Long timer

    Jun 9, 2009
    Denver, CO
    Start savings those greenbacks...GSA owners farkle their's, too!
    There is NO saying "NO" to the Touratech catalog!:clap
  19. Wallowa

    Wallowa Diver Down

    Nov 30, 2006
    NE Oregon
    Depends on your temperament and sensibilities as much as how you want to use the bike. If you want it to look like a commuter bus in India, then of course pile on the crap, errr..."farkles". Like an old motocross racer friend once factiously said: "If you can't go fast, at least look fast".
    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    If however you are looking for functional, needed and utilitarian improvements for the bike, then I would avoid Touratech like the plague because they are the boutique store with very high prices. Some good products, but not at gold prices. Many other high quality vendors. My changes are all for protecting the bike when I lay it down and improving rider control. It is all about the ride and getting home.
    As an owner of a GSA I am biased, but the extra fuel and suspension travel [slight but significant] alone were worth the $$ for me over a GS since my use is all off road.

    As I previously stated, ride all bikes under consideration and see which one "feels right" and put that big shit eatin' grin on your face.

    Enjoy the process of buying a bike and don't sweat the small stuff..:brow
    <o:p> </o:p>
    <o:p>Of course I could be wrong.......................:wink:</o:p>
  20. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

    Oct 1, 2007
    Chambers Bay, WA

    Not sure if you told us where you are going to be commuting, what kind of road, distance, part of the country, etc. 40 miles in rural Michigan on a GS might be sweet, while 20 miles lanesplitting in SoCal a GS might be a handful.

    But being 6'4" that does tend to thin the herd. A lot of tall guys lean towards the KTM. But if your knees are healthy, there's really a lot of bikes you could look at. I think if it was my FIRST adventure bike, or my first non-Harley, and my knees were OK, I might be looking at a used V-Strom DL650 (the Wee-Strom). Cheap to buy, cheap on gas, fairly nimble in traffic, ABS brakes for traffic panic stops, can carry your camping gear OK, cheap maintenance, lots and lots of aftermarket parts and pieces to personalize it with, and since you WILL be crashing it out in the backcountry on those camping trips -- cheap repairs.

    Then, after the first year or so is under your belt, then go looking at GS's or Tenere's or whatever.

    HERE's a link to the Wee-Strom thread index if you want to see what others have to say..