The New BMW R1200GS Press Launch - My "EPIC" Journey to South Africa

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by ShawnWorks, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. NLS

    NLS My bike needs washing...

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  2. RichBMW

    RichBMW Long timer

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    Come on Shawn we're waiting:deal
  3. Dude69

    Dude69 Usurper of Gov'ts

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    He's off leading a ride for Rawhide... so... flip back a few pages and get caught up to speed.
  4. RichBMW

    RichBMW Long timer

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    Already read that. WE NEED MORE!:rofl
  5. EJ_92606

    EJ_92606 Rider

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    Maybe he's trying to figure out a diplomatic way to say the front end feels like a paint shaker without offending BMW :evil....afterall Rawhyde is an Official BMW training center. I don't know Shawn and I'm sure he's a standup guy, but not sure that we can expect a completely unbiased review.
  6. NLS

    NLS My bike needs washing...

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    Well I am sure if he felt it he WILL mention it some way.

    And his opinion is valuable being an off-road guy (ain't he?).
  7. EJ_92606

    EJ_92606 Rider

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    Oh, I'm not suggesting he'll hide the shake issue if he had it, but just not sure that he will be free to give a 100% objective opinion on the entirety of the bike since he is affiliated with BMW.
  8. Scottishman

    Scottishman Been here awhile

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    Hey Shawn. I saw the new GS at the Vancouver bike show two weeks ago, so your review was an excellent overview. Look forward to hearing how it performs.

    I have signed up for a Rawhyde course March 22. I might catch up with you there if you are instructing that weekend.
  9. RichBMW

    RichBMW Long timer

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    Must be back soon?:lurk
  10. ShawnWorks

    ShawnWorks Rock on!!!

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    Hey guys, just got back... Death Valley was kickass, though that is a story for another day... Putting my final ride review rogether now, hope to have it done in the next day or so... Tick tock!
    :smooch
  11. RichBMW

    RichBMW Long timer

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    Woo hoo:clap:lol3
  12. Rauven

    Rauven I like the cold...

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    Shawn, its starting to get late here in Europe ;)
  13. 268

    268 Been here awhile

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    :lol3
  14. IB1

    IB1 Long timer

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    Welcome to the dark side. :D
  15. ShawnWorks

    ShawnWorks Rock on!!!

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    Here it is guys, my final write-up on the New R 1200 GS... Hope you enjoy it!

    ---

    It’s 6:15am in South Africa, and I am teeming with nervous energy. The last 2 hours have been spent tossing & turning, then flicking on local television (lots of home shopping and sit-coms… Not all that different than insomniac programming in the US). I have since rolled out of bed, slipped into my tired old riding gear and made my way to the breakfast hall.

    Along the way I pass the hotel lobby, where a string of new BMW R 1200 GS’s are lined up for a day of riding. I detour to the bikes, wondering which will be mine. I come across a tall directory board, littered with bits of information about the day. I scan it, taking note of my information:

    #25
    Shawn Thomas
    M-GS 459​

    Sweeeeet!

    I walk along the bikes, scanning the number plates.

    There it is. 459.

    I take it in, reciting the features I can see to no one in particular. “Race Red. ABS, Electronic Suspension, Traction Control. GPS. Stock Footpegs. Spoked Wheels…”

    The bike is pristine, not even grime on the tires from rolling it out. Nice! I reach out, lightly touching the Subframe, then the side panel. So smooth…

    “You gonna ride today sir?”

    I bolt upright, heel-spinning to face one of the hotel attendants. “Uh, yeah. Planning on it. Good times!”

    He has a strange look on his face. Perhaps he has never seen a grown man drool on a motorcycle.

    “Alright sir, have a good one.” With a nod (and another quizzical stare) he is off, leaving me feeling a bit silly. Perhaps breakfast is in order.

    With a quick scarfing of food I am back at the bike, scanning every inch. I still haven't heard it run, and am curious whether the sound will be different. When they hand me the key, I will take a few moments to start it, listen, and soak it in.

    Soon other members of our group arrive. Our leader brings us together, walking us through the first leg of the ride and offering sound advice. “You will be on bikes you’ve never ridden, in a foreign country, riding on the opposite side of the road. We’re in no hurry, so let’s take it easy while you get accustomed to the experience, shall we?”
    I appreciate the advice. I am here to learn about the bike, and want to savor every moment. I look forward to feeling it out a little bit at a time…

    VROOOOM VROOOM VROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!

    The first bike in our group starts, quickly followed by others. The leader is moving. Whoa! I slap the starter and fall in line. We ease through the parking lot, then roll onto the main drag.

    “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!”

    Finally, we are riding! The pace is quick, I roll on the throttle to catch the group. Remembering my purpose, I rattle off observations: “Intense power at first-gear roll-on. Response to turning is lighter, more flickable. Power curve is predictable, engine is super-smooth. Overall weight feels the same as its predecessor. Body position is a bit tight, need to adjust handlebars and seat height. GPS partially blocks view of speedo and tachometer. Wind protection is excellent, minimal buffeting.”

    I click into 2nd, then 3rd, taking note of the transmission feel. “Shifting is smoother, easier. Clutch is easy to actuate, Transmission ‘clicks’ instead of ‘clunks’ through gears. Suspension feels squishy…”

    I click the ‘Ride Mode’ button, scanning the display for settings and switching to ‘Dynamic.’ The bike tightens up. Much better. I play with the windscreen adjuster; It becomes increasingly challenging to manipulate as our speed increases, but offers exceptional protection.

    We weave our way through the outskirts of town, climbing a twisty mountain pass. The pace quickens more still, our string of motorcycles carving and banking along the asphalt.

    “Throttle is intense. Pulled a wheelie out of the corner, Traction Control kicked in and settled the front. Traction control is smooth, but makes its presence known. Noticeable heat on right side, near muffler. Is that from the bike, or the sun beating down on my leg?”

    Off the mountain we turn from the asphalt, stopping at our first dirt road. The ride leader assists us in switching the bikes to “Enduro” mode, engaging the off-road ride settings. Bikes begin to roll, and after a settling of dust I join in at the rear of the pack.

    “Standing posture is good, still need to adjust handlebars. Pegs are stable, but still a bit narrow and low on grip. Side panels are wider, have to open stance for lean-forward acceleration. Rear tire offers minimal acceleration break-free in Enduro mode. Engine deceleration is less pronounced, no doubt the new ‘Anti-Hopping’ clutch at play. GPS is not adjustable, unable to move it for view when standing. Handling inspires confidence, very reactionary to the terrain and stable. Stance feels good while turning, easy grip on bike. Breaking is assisted; ABS Still engaged, but minimal. Feels good!”

    After a few moments the bike feels natural. I come out of a wide sweeping turn, easing past another rider and settling into a groove. I lift my hands a bit off the bars, feeling for any instability. Rock solid. I am confused by a truck approaching in my lane, only to remember that I am supposed to be on the LEFT. Oops.

    Soon we are back on asphalt. The rider in front of me pulls an epic wheelie, and I am inclined to try one. I slip into second, rolling on hard at 5,500rpm. The front lightens, then traction control kicks in and sets me down. “Damn. How do I turn traction control off?”

    We stop at the lunch waypoint, and I take a moment to stare at the controls. They are a bit intimidating; vast amounts of adjustments and information are available, the learning curve will be higher than usual. The future of motorcycling, no doubt.

    Our ride leader brings us to another set of shiny new R 1200 GS’s, these equipped for off-road… All are tricked out with off-road tires, engine protection bars, skid plates, hand guards, Enduro seats, and wider footpegs. Now THIS is my kind of motorcycle!

    “These are the bikes you will be riding for the next leg. We will be doing some intense off-road, and taking pictures. The ‘Enduro-Pro’ option is engaged on these bikes, so you will be able to ride them much more aggressively. Ready to go?”

    With a swig of water we are on the bikes, taking single-track up a steep, rock laden mountain. Again the bike feels natural, responding intently to input. “Off-Road Pegs are much more comfortable. Seat allows free movement. Tires are a lot more confidence inspiring. Traction control smooth’s out the climb considerably.”

    We drop into a small valley, where men with very large cameras await. They waive for us to pass them, snapping shots as we approach. As I wait for the next photo pass, I put the bike into slow, tight turning circles. “Well balanced in turns. Damn… still need to adjust the handlebars. Throttle is manageable at low speeds, need to get used to the clutch feel. Starting to feel heat from the right side again, definitely not the sun.”

    I get a wave to come for my next photo shoot, and set my approach.

    Clunk.

    Out of the turn I overwork the clutch, killing the motor and dropping the bike. Damn. I go to lift it, stopping momentarily to look for damage. “Engine bars holding, valve cover is untouched. Hand Protectors kept radiator guard from touching down. Not bad!”

    I lift the bike and climb aboard. Embarrassment notwithstanding, I am happy to have seen a bike on its side. I didn’t expect anything to be busted after such a light fall, but it is good to see with my own eyes.

    More maneuvering, more photographs. The cameraman asks for a ‘wheelie shot,’ which I attempt—and fail—to achieve (where the heck is that traction control override??).

    Soon we have returned to our lunch stop, and are enjoying local cuisine. Our original bikes are glistening, having been cleaned while we were on the dirt leg. Sweet! We finish up, offer thanks for the food and huddle up once again with our ride leader.

    “Next we will ride a twisty canyon road, then take on another stretch of dirt before heading to lodging. Everybody ready?”

    Again I climb aboard, taking my place at the end of the pack and starting on a stretch of straight asphalt. I click into second, then reach down and click the traction control override. In a second it is off, and I roll into a glorious, fulfilling wheelie. FINALLY!

    --

    It wasn’t long after our lunch departure that the ride was cut short, due to the fatal accident involving Moto-Journalist Kevin Ash. In the wake of this tragedy it was decided that riders should B-line to lodging, where we could shed our gear and begin coming to grips with the news of Kevin. At dinner it was announced that all riding would be suspended, pending an accident investigation. My epic journey on the new GS was at an end.

    Still, I feel I left South Africa with a firm understanding of the machine that BMW has introduced to the Adventure world. Do I love the bike? Yes. Throughout its history, the GS has embodied every sort of riding I enjoy; Sport, touring, off-road, exploring, joy riding, and whathaveyou. The new GS continues in this tradition, with a solid rooting in the traditional ideals and thoughtful improvements.

    Are there things I will change when I buy one? Yes. The stark reality is that few people push the GS as hard as the folks in my circle, and this highlights the need for consideration in areas such as bike protection, luggage, etc... And given my size (6’ 4” and 220 pounds <ahem>), elements such as ergonomics are a focal point for me. But I have no doubt that such enhancements will be readily available, as they always are… Both from BMW and countless others out there.

    Do I think you should try one? YES. As a Motorcycle Sales veteran, I have learned that the machine will speak volumes to the rider if given the chance. With all the specs and reviews and information available to us, nothing beats a ride on the bike—or bikes—one is considering for their next purchase. So take it out. Press some buttons, roll on the throttle, tackle a corner (or 20), and let the bike speak to you. With a little time, you will know if it’s the bike for you…!

    Friends, I want to thank you for giving me your attention. I am honored to have been a part of this experience. In the future, please consider me as a resource for adventure riding. I’m an easy guy to find, and love talking bikes… ESPECIALLY the GS. Drop me a line and I will help in any way I can… Just be patient… I might be out riding when you call!

    [​IMG]
  16. marty hill

    marty hill The Energizer Bunny

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    Thank you!
  17. Lion BR

    Lion BR I'd rather be riding

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    Excellent, well done Shawn!
  18. EJ_92606

    EJ_92606 Rider

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    Thanks for the review Shawn! And I'm definitely interested in taking a Rawhyde class at some point so hopefully get to meet you.

    One quick followup...you're pretty tall at 6'4" and it sounds like you didn't have much buffeting from the windscreen at all...is that the case? Normally someone of your height would require an aftermarket windscreen to be comfortable, but are you happy with the stock screen?

    Thanks! :clap
  19. khale

    khale ride dirty

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    Marty, you getting the new GS?
  20. tallguy-09

    tallguy-09 Smile 4 Miles

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    Great review, thank you!