Six Months 13K Miles on a '16 R1200GSA

Discussion in 'GS Boxers' started by KillerD, Jan 5, 2017.

  1. KillerD

    KillerD BoozeMagician

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    Even just a year prior to picking my GSA up, I never would have imagined being the 600# Adventure Touring bike kinda guy...My first bike was an SV650, followed by a Daytona675, a couple KLR's, and a G650x Challenge, all of which have seen me through 800 mile days more than a few times. I figured if I could ride all day on bikes like those, why would I ever want some big hulking monstrosity in the stable?

    A few herniated discs, cracked ribs, sprained elbows, and hemmorhoidectomys later, my resolve started to soften...Enter the test ride....I was heading south to Medford to visit my old man, and figured since the crew at Hansen's had a 2016 GSA demo bike on the lot.....why not schedule a little test ride just to see what one of these big boys really feels like.

    Ive covered a lot of 13k+ miles ridden in my first six months with the r1200, but I managed to miss the very beginning, and 13k is definitely worth a rehash, so Ill start with my first impressions, share some of my favorite photos, and finish with my review of the bike so far, and some of the gear ive tested along the way.

    If my overall impression of the bike were based on the first 30 seconds, this would be a short write-up. It felt big, to say the least. Having been on nothing but my X-Challenge for the past 6k miles it felt particularly mammoth waddling out of the lot. Thankfully for my tush, though not my wallet, the awkwardness ended VERY shortly after exiting the Hansen's parking lot. Even at just a few mph, the bikes weight just disappears. My other first thought was damn.....what a fun motor! Under 4k rpm the bike has a nice level of twin rumble, without being overly vibey, and above 4k rpm its downright smooth as butter. I love this combo as I feel like ive got a big twin between my legs around town, off the line, and in low speed gnitty gritty stuff, but when Im cruising on I-5 all day, its so smooth the ride fatigue is nearly non existent.

    My route for the test ride would be one of my all time favorites through my old Southern Oregon stomping grounds. Old highway 66, or Greensprings highway, across hyatt lake drive to dead indian memorial highway (renamed from just Dead Indian Road to make it more PC.....great job guys....) and back into Ashland. This is one of the best pieces of motorcycle pavement in the world as far as I am concerned, and offers everything from hairpin corners to 100mph+ sweepers, and loads of gravel and dirt as well: perfect for testing a full size ADV Tourer.

    The short stretch of I-5, being necessary to get to Greensprings, proved to be the first area in which the mighty GSA shone. And boy howdy.....With soft suspension settings and the ride mode in road, the R12 rides like the cadillac of motorcycles. Plush as can be, absorbing small items so effectively you can hardly notice the bumpers between lanes. In hard cornering the rear will wallow in soft mode, but considering the 5 seconds it takes to switch to hard, im not sure why this would ever be an issue.

    The electronic cruise control is a marvel, and frankly Im so spoiled at this point I dont know if I could ever get on the freeway without it again. The seat seems to garner a lot of love and hate. I love the comfort, but I dont like the forward slant or the dished middle which makes it hard to move around. I can see an ideal situation being a stock seat for touring, and a smoother narrower seat for carving corners and off road. The forward angle can be solved reasonably effectively (only problem is it lowers your seat height a bit) by setting the front section of the seat to high and the rear to low.

    Ergos are wonderful. While I love the forward lean of a sports bike, long distance leaning forward kills my lower back. Being able to sit upright and stretch my legs and upper body out is a huge advantage. likewise the shockingly wide bars also allow a lot of stretch in the upper torso. If you strap a duffle bag to the pillion seat as a back rest, you may as well be riding a 125hp lazy boy. Its that comfortable.

    I expected to get a rude awakening when I flipped the shiny new girl into dynamic ride mode and hard suspension. 600# is a hell of a lot of weight to be throwing back and forth on 30-50mph corners. Gladly, I was wrong. Each corner I leaned through felt more and more comfortable. The bike really feels like its on rails in the twisties. I actually think I can move the GSA around faster than I could my SV650...doesnt make a lot of sense, but between the perfectly flat suspension and the endless gobs of tractory torque, this thing absolutely destroys fast cornering. It had been a long, long, time since I had a smile that big on my face because of pavement. What a blast.


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    Out of respect for the Hansen's, I wouldnt be doing an whoops on the test ride, but I did take a brief foray into some soft lakeside dirt to see how the offroad T/C worked. As brief a venture as it was, it did impress me with its ability to tame such a big, torquey bike.
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    The rain started coming in hard as I rode across Hyatt Lake Drive to Dead Indian Road. I got to feel the rain mode TC kick in passing over an unseen cattle guard and was pleased with the seamlessness of the intervention. Rain coverage, like the wind coverage, is very good. A bit of water is carried in and kind of hovers by the bars, but even the worst waterproof jacket should be able to fend that off. The cylinder heads also provide a decent amount of protection and a bit of warmth.

    Coming down the backside of the mountain a little slower than usual, I still got to enjoy the beemers excellent high speed stability. Id read a few threads about the new GSA's being twitchy, but I certainly have never experienced that. This thing is about as rock solid as could be, even up to its 135mph ish top speed. Even so, while I would never be so brash as to call a 600# bike "flickable" this beast does manage to get around corners well. The monstrously wide bars make turn in easy, and the low center of gravity coupled with a fantastic chassis make the bike feel orders of magnitude smaller once your gripping the tank mid corner.

    Needless to say at this point, I sure as shit enjoyed that test ride! A few short weeks later, I sold my soul and a KLR, and got this lovely shot texted to me from the crew down at Hansen's....

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    After that, it was just a few short days until I was back on highway 66 for my one day break in ride. That report is linked below. Next up, some of my favorite photos that didnt make it to the ride reports, and a more detailed review of individual bike components, and gear used.

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    #1
  2. qman8

    qman8 2015 GSA

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    Congrats! You'll be even happier when you shed those Anakee III tires!
    Edit...if you've got 13k on it, i guess you've already switched????
    #2
  3. KillerD

    KillerD BoozeMagician

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    Haha, on my third set. I actually liked the anakee 3's, personally. Switched to Michilen Pilot Trails next ,which I like even better. Currently on Metzeler Tourance Next's, which are my least favorite thus far, though I have yet to really be able to rail them in the dry yet so may be biased. Really want a set of Conti Attacks but they were sold out and I was damn near riding on air at my last tire change so didnt want to waste riding time.
    #3
  4. qman8

    qman8 2015 GSA

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    Pretty happy with the conti attack ii set i now have on. Rear Wear seems comparable to the A3, from what i can tell at 11k miles. Got 6500 on the original a3 to no center tread.
    #4
  5. KillerD

    KillerD BoozeMagician

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    Thats almost identical to what I got on my Anakees. Pilot Trails got just a touch more on the rear, but significantly better on the front, which is shocking as I usually tear through fronts about evenly with rears, and the pilot trails had app. 2000-2500 left on the front when I swapped the set out. I was also impressed with the pilot trails on gravel, which is most definitely NOT what they are meant for. Ill post some fun shots in the next installment of shit I shouldnt have been able to do on those michilens....
    #5
  6. ErikMotoMan

    ErikMotoMan Clearwater Lights and HELITE airbags Save Lives!

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    17,500 miles on my bike since May 30, 2016. 6500 on my first set of Anakee 3, replaced those with Dunlop Trailsmart got almost 9000 miles out of the rear and 11,000 out of the front. And I ride footpegscrapingly HARD. Just for S&G installed Dunlop Roadsmart II 190/55 on the rear. You'd not believe the extra grip I get from that 3/4 inch (right in the middle) rubber width AND I know I can get 12,000 miles out of that tire. Why? Because that tire is made for the K 1600 and has 2 lbs more rubber in it.

    Seat slanting forward? Install front of seat in high position but leave rear in low. Seat now perfectly flat. I have a 30" inseam and leave the ESA in the single rider no luggage position even with luggage. Allows me to flatfoot the bike even with front of seat in high and an airhawk on top of that. Needless to say, the mission here is sport touring, no desire to get mud on this bike:

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    #6
  7. KillerD

    KillerD BoozeMagician

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    Yep, mentioned the high low combo in the write up, "The forward angle can be solved reasonably effectively (only problem is it lowers your seat height a bit) by setting the front section of the seat to high and the rear to low." Problem for me is I'm super long legged and every centimeter of height between myself and the pegs is more comfort. Definitely a small problem overall and radiator guards, head guards, skid plate, top box, and about a million other things are ahead of new seat on the list of things to do.

    Speaking of that list....which brand of tank grips are you using? I feel like with the Adventure model, its difficult to really grip the fat tank when youre way over. The 8 gallon tank was a must have for me as the primary purpose of this bike is riding between Corvallis and SanDiego for work, but around twisty stuff its the only thing about the bike that regularly bugs me. Looking at the snake skin pads right now. I may checkout the dunlops, though for one reason or another I have never been a fan of dunlop tires on my previous bikes, dirt or street. The mileage you got out of your anakee's being similarly low to mine though, makes me think I should give them a chance...could save a lot of mulah not burning through tires so fast. How is grip at full lean? Good in the wet? Taken them on gravel at all?
    #7
  8. KillerD

    KillerD BoozeMagician

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    When it came time to pick up the new steed, henceforth named "Dutchess", I realized that I was in a bit of a pickle.....The closest dealer to my home base doesnt have the best rep in the world, and with both personal experiences and experiences from friends on the negative side, I wasnt about to risk the biggest financial purchase of my life on a dealer I didnt trust. That, combined with a tight work schedule meant that I needed to knock out my break in ride in a day; that way I could sign for the bike, break it in, have the break-in service done, and be back at work within 36 hours. Poor me..... The whole ride report is linked below in my signature, but the biggest takeaway was that I was able to ride over 600 miles in less than 24 hours, all while constantly cycling through gears and running between 30 and 100 mph non stop. Thats a level of comfort I didnt realize existed. Thats a level of comfort that lets you do this in a day and not want to ride your bike off a cliff....

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    Which brings me to my first review subject.....Comfort.

    Ill address this in a few different sections that I think are vital to long distance, and also short distance comfort.

    Ergonomics and Body Position: 9/10

    I like the quick handling and aerodynamic feel of a sport touring rig, but the leaned over position stresses my lower back over long distances. The upright position of the GSA is wildly comfortable. Transitioning from seated to standing is effortless, as is stretching your legs out, even for a 6'3" chap like myself. Around fast twisties its a bit difficult to get down and over with the humongous tank in front of you, but theres enough room to make it manageable, and after all we are talking about comfort here. A duffle behind your back and you'll never need to stop again. Positioned correctly you can still reach the controls just fine with the duffel bag back rest in use.


    Seat: 7/10

    Overall, the stock seat on the GS is good to great...I say that relative to most stock seats which seem to range from generally pleasant but a bit firm on my old mans Sprint, to dear god why would one human do this to another, in the case of my G650X. The seat on the GS is a wide backed, short, dished number that is excellent for long distance touring. Your bum feels planted as if its a ball in a socket, and theres a definite zone that sort of locks in, as apposed to a flat rally seat that transitions seamlessly back and forth. The forward slope is annoying. This can largely be solved by putting the two position seat in high front, and low back. This method does however force you into a middle position as far as overall height, negating the whole adjustable seat height thing.... The comfortable, wide, dished seat also makes it difficult to transition side to side in fast corners, and is a tad wide for standing up off-road. Overall as the bike is more a touring rig than anything else, I find the seat to be a pretty optimal split at about a 50% Touring, 25% Sport, 25% Off-Road.


    Engine Vibes/Character: 10/10

    It's hilarious to me when moto-journalists complain that an engine is "too vibey" in one review, then claim its so smooth it "lacks character" in the next. I think character is more than just vibes. My 675 had an inline triple that was as smooth and vibration free as you could imagine, but had tons of character from its throaty low rpm grunt to the way it howled like a giant harmonica in a hurricane past 10k rpm. The liquid cooled flat twin on the GSA has a refined character. Down below 3k rpm it has a deep grunt, and will vibrate the screen of your GPS if you hold it there. Get past 4k and it smooths to butter. Torque is tractor like through the rpm range as well making 6th gear passing smooth and vibe free. I love this combo, as sitting at stop lights you get the sensation of a big twin (rev it a little for just a smidge of boxer shaft jack) rumbling away, but cruising down I-5 its easy on your bones.

    Electronic Aids: 9/10

    Electronic cruise control is an incredible comfort AND safety feature. Being able to relax your hands periodically and stretch your arms is an incredible boost to comfort, and will keep you in the saddle hours longer. Couple that with heated grips, electronic suspension, and an integrated GPS with handlebar controls including music, weather, navigation, and bike stats, and the R12 kills it in this category. Things I would, however like to see include cornering lights (nothing is as comfortable as feeling safe) and a heated seat.


    Storage: 9/10

    With the two OEM aluminum panniers on my GS, I can comfortably carry enough gear for a week of work out of state, and a tool kit/extra water. Throw in a single 40l duffle and I can include enough gear for tent camping. I'd love to add the aluminum top case to allow me to store my helmet, boots, gear, and a backpack all locked up on the bike, but it hasnt been a huge loss without it. Most negative thing about the luggage package is that none of it comes standard.


    Wind/Water Protection: 8/10

    The GSA has the best wind coverage out of any bike i've owned. Unfortunately, thats not saying much. Having only briefly ridden full on touring bikes, I dont have a plethora of experience here. That said, the fully faired touring bikes I have been on felt virtually windless. The GSA does a good job of overall wind protection, while still keeping a moderate amount of low speed airflow around your torso. Its not the 100% coverage youd get on a GoldWing, but I prefer a bit less comfort in exchange for a cooling, invigorating breeze and the feeling of being on a bike, not in a bubble. Water protection is excellent overall, but there is an odd hovering effect with drops of water that are sucked in through the fake air scoops and under the windshield.


    Heat: 7/10

    A good amount of heat comes off of the cylinder heads, which are of course right in front of your shins. Despite the obvious location of the cylinder heads, theres less heat output than on a KTM 1290, or Triumph Sprint ST. Even when my KLR fan would turn on it got hot fast, as apposed to the GSA which is warm all the time, but never gets super hot. In sub 40 degree temperatures its nice to put your feet on the heads to warm up.






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    The Wife took this one after we jammed it from Corvallis, to Port Angeles without stopping to make the ferry to Victoria, B.C.


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    Nap time on the way to Canada.....yeah, I got new pants.


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    Stopped for lunch and a beer in some small town between South Lake Tahoe and the Oregon Border. The beer was bigger than my head, and colder than my heart.
    #8
  9. ErikMotoMan

    ErikMotoMan Clearwater Lights and HELITE airbags Save Lives!

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    About 200 miles of gravel road. Not what I bought the bike for, but the Dunlop's did fine. The tank grippers are Wunderlich. If you want, you could try my Wunderlich seat, taller than stock by about 3/4 inches because it is firm and does not compress.
    #9
  10. GSADVLT1

    GSADVLT1 Jack of All Trades

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    KillerD,

    What passenger backrest were you using on the Red GSA in your pictures in the first post? I have been looking for a good passenger backrest as the stock one is not working out well with my aluminum topcase. Thanks
    #10
  11. Zuber

    Zuber Zoob

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    Tires are important, I personally like the Conti TKC-70's. New favorite street tires.
    BUT, more importantly - what oil do you use?
    #11
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  12. Zuber

    Zuber Zoob

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    Well, that narrows it down, I can't wait to stop there.
    #12
  13. pistole

    pistole Long timer

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    lovely
    #13
  14. KillerD

    KillerD BoozeMagician

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    Not sure. That was Craig's demo bike at Hansen's. I'll give em a call tomorrow and ask.

    Thanks Zube.....Unfortunately the only thing memorable was the size of the beer. The town was hot, desolate, and full of closed businesses with open signs.
    #14
  15. gr8grins

    gr8grins Been here awhile

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    Not to hijack your thread but I have to give a big shout out to Hansen's BMW. I have had the pleasure of buying a couple GSAs and some gear there as well as service. Every single one of my experiences there has been a 10/10. Craig, Connie, Mason, and their crew are great people and they run a top notch shop.
    #15
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  16. qman8

    qman8 2015 GSA

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    You've seriously spooned on a 190 rear on the stock rim???? How does it roll into turns? That would certainty void the warranty! Pictures please!
    #16
  17. Amania

    Amania wine co hooligan

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    What particular part of the warranty would that be?
    #17
  18. qman8

    qman8 2015 GSA

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    Replacing a component with one that is not in specification, per the IFU.
    #18
  19. pistole

    pistole Long timer

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    Could you pls share some pictures of the tire mounted on your bike. Very interested in install. Performance wise ?
    #19
  20. KillerD

    KillerD BoozeMagician

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    Ill never complain about complimenting the crew at Hansen's! Mason first started helping me out while I had my Suzuki, giving a broke college kid discounts on winter gear and the like. Eventually, I became a fixture on the wall at the shop until I moved up to Corvallis. Still came down to buy a 675 from them, and would ride it down to get serviced. Theres currently a dealer about 36 miles from my front door. I STILL ride the 215 miles to get to Hansen's. Wont trust my bike with anyone else, and no reason to as long as theyre within a thousand miles or so....
    #20
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