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

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

  1. steveWFL

    steveWFL Long timer

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    Thanks [​IMG]
  2. oalvarez

    oalvarez Resident Raggamuffin

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    Thank you for the review, Shawn, and like EJ, would hope to attend your school someday.

    As for the review, the only two points that caught my attention were the heat factor (due to the height of the pipe perhaps? I'll feel it soon my self I suppose) and the "reactionary" nature of the bike when off road, I will assume that you meant it in a positive way.

    Thanks again,
  3. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    Thanks for taking the time under duress. So sorry you went through that.

    On a brighter note:
    Did the BMW reps have a sit down tech briefing/review before your ride?
    I'm curious if they addressed the final drive design and the persistent failures it's delivered over the last 10 years? Any mention of it at all? I'm sure the Iron Butt gang will want to know about this.

    So glad BMW finally joined the 20th century with a modern wet clutch and modern gear box. Poor shifting has been a BMW hallmark for decades ... is it true the gear box is Japanese?

    Did you get a chance to quiz any of the BMW engineers? Any news or surprises? Secrets to be revealed?

    Sounds like a very refined and capable bike. Not sure just how many will choose to spend a cool $20,000 on a dirt bike ... but the GS always surprises me with it's continued success.

    Thanks again for your insights. (PS ... you should have stayed in Africa another two weeks and done some exploring. Not often you get free R/T air fare! )
  4. IB1

    IB1 Long timer

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    Glad to hear it's a lovely bike. Now the long wait for mine to arrive.

    And it didn't nearly took as long to read as it would seem in advance. :clap

    Would love to take an allroad training, but the USA is just a tad to far. Germany or Spain are the logical choises for me.
  5. NLS

    NLS My bike needs washing...

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    OK more questions:

    • Heard anything about the alleged "tank slapping" issue?
    • Did you feel anything weird yourself? (erm... while riding I mean :D)
    • Except maybe the heat (first to notice this in the reviews... and it wasn't even from the cooling fan, but from the exhaust), anything else you find it worse than STOCK "current" GS?
    • What is the single best feature you believe the new model has?
    • About Ash disaster, will you let us know of what was discussed between you guys down there? There is REAL lack of info on this.
    • From you description it seemed like you didn't have time to discuss with BMW representatives, or even just fix your handlebar (!)... Is that a fact or you just cut the story shorter? I mean it sounds a bit weird "hi, let's go - ok that's enough, bye".

    Thanks.
  6. marty hill

    marty hill The Energizer Bunny

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    Just bought a '12. The new one sounds nice but I think this will be my last 12GS. I've had 7 and am 77 so it's a good place to stop. Yes, I've said this before.:D
  7. ShawnWorks

    ShawnWorks Rock on!!!

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    Love the questions... Thoughtful replies are coming... I hope to have them posted by this afternoon... First, gotta take the kids to school, then pack for the next tour (Baja this time... :clap )
  8. Radioman

    Radioman Moto rider

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    :wave sounds like you :D
  9. ShawnWorks

    ShawnWorks Rock on!!!

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    Alright Adventurers, here are my answers to the questions submitted thus far:

    The Windscreen:
    I’m gonna start by saying that, in my experience, the 2 most personal elements of a motorcycle are the seat and windscreen. I have literally known Twin Brothers who each had the same bike, and completely different seats / windscreens. It's all about personal preference.

    I will go on to say something else you probably already know… That when choosing a windscreen, we should be ready to deal with at least one of three undesirable elements:

    • Wind in the face
    • Buffeting
    • Looking through the windscreen

    It USED to be that my preference was wind in the face… As such, I opted for a short windscreen, just enough to take the wind off my mid-section. But these days, I never know which bike I will be riding (company bikes, I get whatever is left over). Sooooo, I have gotten used to the stock screens and seats on just about everything.

    Now, on to the question. On the new R 1200 GS, I found the screen to offer almost no buffeting, minimal view obstruction, and a nice pocket of minimal direct wind. Kindof the best of all worlds. I believe this is achieved by the considerable amount of screen adjustability available to the rider, as well as their design of the fairing to deflect wind. Even at 6’ 4”, I was quite comfortable.

    The downside? The screen seems to absorb a lot of buffeting, making it shimmy more at high speeds than its predecessor. I noticed it a lot at first, then I just sort of forgot about it. Not a big deal.


    The Heat Factor:
    As I mentioned, I was most certainly aware of heat coming off the right side of the bike. I didn’t pin-pint precisely where it was coming from, somewhere between the catalytic converter and the muffler. I felt it along my leg and within my boot.

    I will not go as far as say it was a big deal to me. I just noticed it, about as much as I would notice it on an older GS if I were cruising through the hot desert at low speeds. It was subtle enough to where I thought it might simply be the sun beating down on me (it was about 85 degrees and humid, I was wearing black, and we had the sun on our right side almost all day). But once I took it off-road, I took note that I felt it even when the sun was at my back.

    I mentioned it to some of the other journalists, who didn’t seem to think it was a big deal. But, I thought it worth mentioning.


    “Reactionary” Suspension:
    When I was first in the presence of the GS designers, we spoke about how the new suspension has sensors that take note—and react—to terrain with far greater effectiveness than past models. I pretty much forgot about that conversation until I found myself riding the bike off-road, in a washboard-laden corner. I took note that the bike seemed to smooth out the ‘bumpiness’ of the road quite nicely while feeling stable and in control (Typically when I want to smooth out the bumps, I have to compromise by softening the suspension and hampering performance). Anywhooo, the term “Reactionary” is mine, just the word that came to mind when I experienced it.

    Tech Briefings / Quizzing the engineers:
    We definitely had oodles of time to talk about the tech on the bikes before the ride. We also had a designer on the ride with us, who made himself available to answer questions along the way. Pretty killer.

    I had ample time to talk bikes with the engineers, and took full advantage of it. Though even after a few beers, they were tight-lipped about secrets or future models. Sorry!

    The Final Drive:
    The conversation regarding past final drive failings didn’t come up, which is totally my bad. I simply didn’t think to ask about it. Oops.

    The Gearbox:
    I do not know if the gearbox is Japanese (now I’m thinking I should have asked YOU folks for questions to ask them!). Regardless, it is clearly an improvement. Much snappier.

    Tank Slapping / “weird” feelings:
    I read a review that mentioned tank slapping, and it was a surprise to me. The bike was rock solid as far as I could tell. There were no shakes or shimmies that seemed out of place, just the usual ‘dirt dancing’ that all Adventure bikes provide. Huh.

    Downsides, New vs. Old:
    For me, there were a lot of concerns going in regarding the durability of the new bike. In my line of work, we beat the living tar out of adventure bikes… If it will break, we will break it; usually in the least opportune time and place. The radiators and their guards were of particular concern for me, followed by the valve covers and plastics. So in South Africa, whenever a bike fell over (not always, but oftentimes me), I paid close attention to precisely what was touching the ground, and what looked ready to snap off. I also looked for any fluid leaks that followed a jarring fall.

    I was quite pleased to find that all of what I thought would be vulnerable seemed to handle falls quite well. The valve covers are still a prime target for damage; but no more than past models. To that end, the BMW engine bars seem a lot more robust than before, which is a nice—and long overdue—touch.

    The hardest pill to swallow was probably the electronic interface, which requires a lot more foreknowledge to operate than before. It's one of those things that I will likely fall in love with, once I know all the in’s and out’s.

    The Best Feature:
    Good question. I’ve been asked that a lot, and haven’t come up with the answer that seems sufficient. I’ll have to get back to you.

    The Ash Disaster:
    Respectfully… I have shared my thoughts on what happened to Kevin, and am inclined to leave it at that. It was a very painful experience and not one I wish to speak of any further.

    Prepping / Tweaking the bike:
    It’s true that there are some adjustments I would have liked to have made to the bike… The handlebars and seat were the big ones… The problem was, I only remembered my desire to make the changes while on the road, never when standing in front of my ride leader or a BMW rep. As soon as we’d get riding again, I’d be all “Damn! I forgot to change the bars again! Damn! I forgot about the seat!” My bad.

    Tires (sent as a PM):
    Someone wanted to know what I thought of the new Metzler Karoo 3’s. Truth is, I’m the wrong person to ask. Aside from cheap knockoff’s, I have never met an off-road or dual-sport tire I didn’t like. This leads back to riding random company bikes, which can be equipped with just about any tire you can imagine. I’ve gotten used to them all.

    I do have strong opinions about what types of tires should be used when, where, by whom, & on what bikes. But that’s another story, one best discussed over beer(s).



    I believe that covers the questions thus far, folks. Keep em’ coming, I’m happy to help if I can!
  10. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    Thanks for filing in some of the blanks Shawn.
    Regards the "Made in Japan" gearbox, I heard that ONLY as an unsubstantiated rumor. But lets just hope its not made by Getrag! :eek1

    You are 100% correct on seats/shields ... purely subjective.

    One more question for you:
    Did BMW provide a stripped down bike for the Journos to peruse? (stripped meaning minus : Tank, body work, seat et al )

    I've found it useful from an engineering point of view to see how everything "under the skin" is layed out. Past BMW's have been very busy and super complicated with an unbelievable amount of wire bundles, connectors and various electronic gizmos.

    By contrast, Ducati are spartan. Neat as a pin. Very easy to suss out and everything artfully layed out.
  11. Rauven

    Rauven I like the cold...

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    Thank you for the review Shawn :)
    I also wanted to ask few things.
    - How's the overall build quality, so wigliness and squeakiness of stuff, finish of the details?
    - While talking to the engineers, did you get any info on maintenance intervals? (in the new gs topic we were wondering whether they got extended with watercooling or stayed the same)
    - Does the watercooling help with the issue of bike overheating when in standstill in hot weather?
    - I understand that you started the ride in the early morning. Did you get a chance to check the performance of LED lights?
  12. ShawnWorks

    ShawnWorks Rock on!!!

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    Not that I saw. There was an engine cut-out available to check out, come suspension componentry, and plenty of photos of the bike sans tupperware. But I admit to not paying much attention, as I was busy slobbering all over the decked-out machines.
  13. ShawnWorks

    ShawnWorks Rock on!!!

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    Build Quality: A fine question. In point of fact the designers and I discussed this at length. They explained that, for all their design computers and build models, nothing compares to riding the bike and seeing for yourself what shakes, squeaks, and vibrates. They went on to explain that there were several prototypes built, each addressing issues discovered while riding the former. They hinted (but did not outright say) that no motorcycle has ever been more extensively tested than the new GS.

    That being said, I didn’t feel anything that seemed to excessively shake, squeak, or vibrate… Save for the windscreen, as mentioned before. The finish and overall cleanliness of the bike was top-notch.

    Maintenance Intervals:
    I asked about this, and they indicated that intervals would remain the same (i.e. 600 miles run0in service, 6k or once a year after that).

    Overheating:
    You mention ‘overheating when in standstill in hot weather…’ I have not experienced this on the boxers that I can recall. They will get hot, for sure… And if you leave them on excessively without moving them around, surely there’s a point that they will suffer damage. But in terms of it being a big issue that they were inclined to address? I’m afraid I didn’t think to ask.

    The LED Lights:
    I really, really wanted to play with these… But there was simply no opportunity, as we rode exclusively during the day. They did have their light assembly hooked up on a gimmicky “lighthouse” rotational sort of way one night near our lodging. It was exceedingly bright, but other than that it was hard to get a sense of luminary quality.
  14. Montauk

    Montauk Been here awhile

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    Adventure riding and not just relaxing at Cabo San Lucas?

    Thanks for your excellent report. Very informative.
  15. Rauven

    Rauven I like the cold...

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    Thanks for the answers :) With the heat thing. I never owned a boxer before and I've seen posts here about people leaving the bike on for 20 minutes and finding it on a brink of catching fire ;) That is why I asked
  16. NLS

    NLS My bike needs washing...

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    Shawn what you wrote was BY FAR the best analysis on the new bike I've read from any source.
    Thank you VERY much.

    Comments on the data you gave out:

    - Screen buffeting. I am sure Touratech will figure something out. My 2007 stock screen TRANSFORMED when I added the little thing with the little rubber wheels (it should be installed from factory).

    - Screen again. A 6'4" finds the stock screen ok, VERY good news for people like me in their 5'11" (if I translate my height properly - when are you guys gonna use proper decimal?)

    - Heat. Seems like something the Acrapovic end-can will fix. Where you seem to have felt the heat, looks like a very restricted end-piece.

    - Glad an adventure guy felt the bike reacted "properly" on washboards. VERY glad actually.

    - Tank slapping. Actually one had a hard one and two seemed to notice it less. Quite a percentage over the total published reviews. Still I value your opinion. Maybe they are street riders.

    - Ash. Clear. I only asked to see if there was any "shadow" cast about the bike after this happened. In any case, we were all very sad about what happened, I can only imagine hearing it first hand (or maybe a few that even experienced it being after him).

    - Tires. Interesting discussion. Not for this thread. ;)

    - *(^%*&%$&^$#%*&(!!!! about the service intervals! Grrrr...

    So... pending the reply about the "best thing", I thank you once more about your thorough analysis.
  17. NLS

    NLS My bike needs washing...

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    Yes that might be the case as the bike requires air hitting it from the front to cool down.
    That said, ain't it STUPID to leave a bike on for 20 minutes standing still? Any bike.
  18. Rauven

    Rauven I like the cold...

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    I know it's stupid ;) Just wondered whether this water cooling helps. Probably does in some tiny extent.
  19. ShawnWorks

    ShawnWorks Rock on!!!

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    In fact I know a guy that started an 1100 boxer in his garage, then left on another bike to get fuel. While at the gas station he ran into bloke he knew, and they chatted it up for a good 20-30 minutes. He returned to an inferno. Apparently he had left riding gear draped on the bike, which caught fire from the heat of the headers. Took out his garage.

    He called me and asked why I hand't told him the bike should not be left running (I sold him the machine). I said, "In fact I did. Same as I tell everyone. Never let the bike warm up, just get on it and go, and try not to hammer the throttle until it heats up."

    Bummer!
  20. oalvarez

    oalvarez Resident Raggamuffin

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    Many thanks for answering my questions....again, a fantastic review.

    Be well and hope to see you at Raw Hyde someday. :deal