So I took my GS dirt biking

Discussion in 'GS Boxers' started by sflash868, Sep 4, 2012.

  1. sflash868

    sflash868 Been here awhile

    Jun 26, 2008
    This past weekend, I visited my in laws in Idaho. My bike had been there from a previous trip, just haven't shipped it back to NY yet. So I decided to get one last ride in before going on the truck. First, roads/trails are awesome just about everywhere else but NY. Was fantastic riding. Anyway, I decided to scratch the itch and finally go off road with the 2005 1200 GS. I don't mean the off road like I cruised down a graded gravel road type deal like the Dempster or your local forest road... I'm mean deep sand, whoops, hill climbs, single track etc. After 2 hours of riding I thought I would share my thoughts and maybe get some advice. FYI: bike is stock except for Wunderlich vario screen and Heidenau k60s.

    1. The look on the faces of all the guys on 2 strokes, Hondas and quads in the parking lot when I went down the trail on a GS is alone worth doing it.

    2. Forget sitting. On my dirt bike I can squeak by sitting in between rough spots.. not on the GS. You need to be on those pegs 24/7.

    3. Don't be afraid of sand. Surprisingly it's so heavy it just plows straight through. I didn't get the side to side float I get on my DRZ. I was doing probably 5K in second gear when going through sand. I was ready for the front to wash any second but it was straight and true. The power is a big advantage here

    4. It will climb anything. Enough speed and power and that engine will lug you up anything. The weight keeps the front end from lifting so you can use all the power you want.

    5. Woops.. are a nightmare. There was no way I could figure out how to float over the top like you normally would on a dirt bike. If I tried to lift the front end over to the next woop.. I would give it throttle and it would just spin the rear and I'd end up plowing into the face of the next woop. you need to ride in them i guess.. can't float along the top. Any suggestions here? Tried hitting them at just a higher speed and it simply felt abusive on the bike.

    6. going down hill in loose dirt/sand is terrifying. Yes the ABS was off but oh my god that thing will not stop. I have decent balance but when all that weight shifts forward the rear locks up with just the slightest application of brake and the front locks and pushes everywhere. I went down most hills with both wheels locked up trying to keep balance.

    7. Planting your foot into a tight corner and "pivoting around" is a bad idea. don't lean the bike that far over.. front tried to wash every time

    8. Wheels on the ground.. jumped off some small berms.. whoa does she land hard. I've seen photos on ADVrider of guys like 5 feet in the air.. I would like to see the aftermath photo of the landing.. I bottomed so hard it sheared off the skid plate and I was probably like 6 inches off the ground (felt like I was 200 feet in the air though)

    9. rocks.. this is where I really felt the suspension limitations. I REALLY had to drop the speed and first gear it over rocks in the trail. A dirt bike I would have slammed into it and figured the rest out later.

    Finally. I'm incredibly impressed. That bike went everywhere the dirt bikes did and it was fun. The fun was not from the speed but more from the strategy and challenge that went into keeping it moving through everything. I went slower.. yes but I covered the same terrain as the rest of my group and when the sand was hard packed.. oh man all 100 horses came out.. :) I never dropped the bike but damage:
    skid plate was ripped off - who make a plate that doesn't use the factory mounts.. altrider?
    every windshield bolt came loose- fine locktite and try again
    suspension now creaks- I have 40K on the stock suspension.. does anyone have feedback on ohlins, hyperpro etc under similar conditions and their reliability... not really looking for a brand analysis but more so abuse on stock components vs aftermarket.

  2. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

    Dec 27, 2006
    chico,just below rag dump(nor-cal)
    I used to ride my GS750 Suzuki in the dirt regularly,most any bike can be ridden in the dirt if you know how to ride in the dirt well. Having a 550 pounder land on you just once would be an eye opener. Then there's the "picking it up" phase.

    I like my 530 just fine.
  3. DrLax

    DrLax Go Big

    Mar 29, 2009
    Cochise County
    Sounds like a blast. How well did your rims hold up after the rocky trails?
  4. sflash868

    sflash868 Been here awhile

    Jun 26, 2008
    Yeah it's true you could get anything through the terrain but I was impressed with the speed and relative ease by which I could do it with the GS. I thought it would be A LOT harder and more strenuous. I've also done close 6K miles worth of riding in Baja so that certainly helps but it was still surprisingly manageable.

    Rims were OK and I have the alloys. I kept the pressures at 28 in the front and 31 in the rear. I didn't have a patch kit with me so I didn't want to take any chances on airing down but no dings or dents whatsoever but like I said, I really dropped the speed over the rocks.. probably 10 mph. K60s held up great too.
  5. Graniteone

    Graniteone 3,2,1...Beer me!

    Jul 25, 2011
    Golden, Colorado
    I have an 06 with Wilber shocks and I take it out on some rough riding on a regular basis. The upgrade from stock to Wilber's was major for me both on and off road.

    First off it is not a dirt bike but it can go places that shock myself and the other riders around me. Hell, I am not even a hot shot rider but this bike keeps moving and does what I ask of it every where we go. I have dropped it and broken the windscreen and put dents in my Jessie bags but it got stood up and kept at it.

    Enjoy it for what it is!
  6. Dark Helmet

    Dark Helmet Been here awhile

    Nov 22, 2006
    You'll know when I know...
    Sounds like you had a great time. I like taking my GSA on challenging, more technical rides and like you I am impressed with what it can do. Agree on the 24/7 standing up. Not only do I find the ergonomics and power delivery great for standing, but balance on the big girl is greatly improved and you can use more body English to finesse her aroun. Just as important is the down the road visibility. Your not going to flick the bike around like a DRZ and you need to see potholes, rocks, and other obstacles as early as possible to pick your lines.

    More GS riders need to think of their bikes capabilities not the limitations because the GS is "too big". That's crap, you just have to ride a little more thoughtfully, but you can still move it along pretty quick and cover some rough ground.

    Oh, and I don't jump it either, tho it does want to do the water bar jumps. I just push her down and keep e'r planted.

    Have fun and thanks for the post!
  7. simoneau

    simoneau Biker/Adventurer/Retired Engineer

    Jan 24, 2007
    Arlington, Texas
  8. Kingsized

    Kingsized Kingsized Adventurer

    Mar 22, 2012
    Central MS
    Good honest review, thanks! I think if you've had some experience with dirt bikes, the transition is more bearable. You have a skill set that you can adjust to fit the new tool.

    I agree that downhill is tough and if it's a downhill turn, I get freaked out a bit depending on what I'm riding on. River wash gravel and I'm full on white knuckle.

    I can't power through turns. I get wash and then slide and then I'm looking at the sky.

    I can't agree more with standing. I ride with a guy who can sit a lot more than me. I don't know how.

    Haven't done Woops, you ahead of me. Thanks for the "head's up".

    Sand, well, I guess is depends on the sand. I've buzzed right through if it had hard pack under but if it's deep, loose silt sand, my front wheel does an about face.

    I haven't gotten any decent air. I had old OEM shocks. Three weeks ago I installed a new set of Ohlin's. I think that "return home" gravity may not scare me as much now but who knows. Time will tell.

    I'm a four month GSA owner and first time owner of a bike with any off road ability. I find myself pushing the edge when I ride with my friends (with much more suited off road bikes and better skills) until I either drop it or have a close call and then I pull back and play safe the rest of the ride. Who knows if I'll get more comfortable with it in the future. I wish I had started earlier. I'm not a young man and it's hard to learn new tricks. :rofl
  9. biggziff

    biggziff Funk Soul Bruvah

    Aug 2, 2008
    Upstate NY
    I used to ride my Dad's GS750 in the dirt all the time...he never found out...luckily I never wrecked it.

    I've had my GS on dirt roads, single track and 2 motocross tracks. Getting it stuck on tight, muddy single track sucked almost as much as the MX track....although the other guys on the CR250s at the MX track made funny faces when I started going around... :)

    GREGRIDES n00b

    Aug 28, 2012
    Salt Lake City
    I can relate a bit; on the woops-ride around the edges as much as you can to avoid slamming yourself silly . . . I took a new-to-me KTM 950 out yesterday for a quick bit of off-road, but I was bootlegging 4 bottles of vino back into Utah, so I wimped out when it got bumpy. I also have done a bit of Baja & standard trail riding--it is amazing what these monsters can do, if you're willing to do it. Sounds like you had a lot of fun!!
  11. JustKip

    JustKip Long timer

    Apr 28, 2007
    Fresno, CA
    NO VIDEO?!!!!!!


    Go back and do it again! :ddog
  12. mouthfulloflake

    mouthfulloflake Not afraid

    Aug 21, 2008
    N.W. Arkansas
    I agree with much of this, Id rather ride up a hill, damn nearly ANY hill..

    than ride down a long loose hill with a turn at the end, the big ole girl just doesnt like to slow down once she is going down hill.

    and I rarely leave the seat, unless im really trying hard to influence the balance/weight/turn thing

    and I can second the notion, dont put your leg out in a turn.. its not needed on a 600 lb beast, and I have a feeling she would just flop and break that twig off.
  13. sflash868

    sflash868 Been here awhile

    Jun 26, 2008
    You know what's the worst... I had my Contour in the car. I wish I brought it. So funny thing... I get on this trail and get into a groove.. and I'm going and going not really paying attention to my surroundings other than what's right in front of the GS. Finally, I stop and nobody is around me. Now as a New Yorker, I've noticed this knack that people out west have... they automatically know, somehow, whether they are on BLM land, private land, or a ranchers land, city land or whatever land. Like no signs or fences, they just somehow know. Well I don't I have said ability.

    I pull over next to a sand embankment and shut the GS off but I hear this rattle. I immediately think I broke something. I'm going around the bike like mad trying to find it. It's getting louder and louder so I start thinking something is building pressure and is about to blow or something. Finally I decide to take a step back and see if I notice anything obvious. Well I finally look up over the sand embankment and I'm staring face to face with an Abrams Tank. Apparently I had wandered onto the service road the military takes out to their tank range or whatever it's called.

    It's not like guys in the tank stopped to chat but do you have any idea how badly I wanted a photo with the GS next to a tank in the middle of the desert so I could finally make it onto that damn Advrider photo slide!
  14. Bionicflite

    Bionicflite Adventurer

    Nov 1, 2011
    The advise on BDCW skid plates is ...WORD!.

    Pivot pegs a must and risers on your handlebars dont hurt.

    Then theres the whole tires shpeel!

    Alot of times just dropping psi will get the job done....sure TKC's are great for all out war but K-60's ...with a little bit of practise will last 4 times as long and do almost as well in deep sand.

    Its all the exposure you get....alot of us will head out to Rawhydes ARC GS Challenge mid month and you see all the latest and greatest.

    Bottom line is practise and get some instruction before gouing crazy...and last but not least.....forget about a budget!!

    Ride smart
  15. scooteraug02

    scooteraug02 Dog Rancher

    Feb 18, 2003
    Atlanta, GA
    One day she will show you that she is a heavy dual sport and not a motocross bike.
  16. Japanviking

    Japanviking Adventurer

    Jan 16, 2007
    I enjoyed reading this. Felt like I could have written it as your impression is same as mine. Woops are scary....never know where the front end might end up.
    I see it like a tractor, it will handle rough terrain but at much lower speeds. A bit scary how you need to ride straight over an thru everything since it doesn't work to lift/unload the front with throttle input. I guess the telever front makes this much harder.

  17. Wdwrkr

    Wdwrkr Long timer

    Dec 8, 2011
    Lost at sea

    Now that's some funny shite right there, bet you needed some new pants after that
  18. jmatt3685

    jmatt3685 Adventurer

    May 5, 2012
    Kirksville, MO
    I was just out the beach this weekend in my friend's truck and the sand was pretty loose and fluffy. I would have loved to rode my GS out but I wasn't sure she'd be able to get through all the sand. I've Conti Trail Attacks on her... do I HAVE to have knobbies???
  19. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

    Sep 21, 2010
    sflash868 - Congrats, sounds like a blast!

    I thought big bikes were for cruising, until a local guy on a 950 SMOKE ME AND MY ASSUMPTIONS on fire roads, pave, and double track. I could not keep on on my drz, the skill level difference was absurd.

    annnnnnnd I recorded....950 enters at 1:01
  20. The_Precious_Juice

    The_Precious_Juice Fights for old DC

    Jun 2, 2013
    Roanoke Valley, Virginia
    I searched around to find some info on how long to get profiecent while on the prefered domain of the 2013 GSA, the forest service road.

    Being of average strength of a 34 y/o male, and having good core strength, 5'-8" (164lbs)and about average atheletic, how long would it take to perform like the rider on in the video?

    Assuming, the bike does not land in a odd spot, I'm confident to lift her up. I can dead lift 320lbs (just do one rep).

    I believe a used 2012 GSA, or a left over 2013 GSA has great value as an North American Adventure Touring vehicle.

    I'd only have about a month after buying the bike before hitting the road.

    I"ve not ridden in over 13 years. :eek1 and Nothing off-road. :eek1
    However, I do byciclye around town.

    From what I've researched, the bike looks like it is gold when centered.

    Here is the video.

    There are a couple of light jumps, I'm not interested in those.

    Thanks for reading.