Trading 1200GSA for 800GS...

Discussion in 'Parallel Universe' started by Gronked, Jul 29, 2012.

  1. Gronked

    Gronked Adventurer

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    I've been thinking about this for a while now. I currently own a '10 30th Anniversary 1200GS Adventure, but have been thinking an 800GS might be a more suitable bike because:
    - very little to no 2 up riding
    - day to day riding to work etc will be easier due to the smaller size, hence it'll be easier to zip through traffic
    - the lighter weight will be more forgiving and less scary for my total lack of dirt riding skills
    - I'm assuming there is enough power to sit on the highway all day when I need to (In Australia you can't realistically ride more than 120-130km/h or 75ish mph)

    However I'm hesitant to pull the trigger because the 1200 is just so nice,comfortable, powerful and planted feeling on the road. Highway riding is a breeze, it handles twisty roads very well (I'm no sports bike knee scraper though).

    I would like to expand my off road experience, and the 1200 just doesn't seem like the best choice... not that I'm planning to ride like a moto cross nutter.

    So my questions/concerns are:
    - assuming I change the seat and screen, will the 800 be notceably worse on long road/highway rides?
    - how essential are suspension upgrades for the average rider and novice off road rider?
    - will things like front fork diving under brakes be a huge problem?
    - will the 21" front make me understeer off the road into a tree, or is it still fun and flickable in the twisties?
    - mainly, am I going to notice the quality difference? Out here the 1200GSA costs $31,500. The 800GS goes for around $19,000 - $21,000. So will the bike feel like a $10k cheaper machine?

    A bit about me. I'm 6' tall, 87kg/185ish lb. Seat height isn't an issue on either bike. Have been riding only about 4 years.
    Have done a few multi day and 2-3 week rides.
    Very little off road experience but plan on changing that. I'm old enough to know fear and hence wont be doing anything rediculous (speed or terrain) off road. I've done an introductory off road riding 1 day course, but hope to do more.
    I currently own the 1200GSA and a KLR650 (and a Triumph street triple R) but I think the time has come to think about owning less bikes and maybe purchasing a *shudder* car. I could keep the BMW and KLR but rego and insurance etc out here is a killer.

    Thanks for any advice and my appologies if this has been covered somewhere else.
    #1
  2. CaliKarl

    CaliKarl Been here awhile

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    Keep the GSA. Sell the KLR or Triumph. The GSA is a much nicer package than the F800GS. Just don't go to crazy off road. Lean back and blip the throttle when it gets sandy. I think the engine in the GSA is worth $10K alone. Ride it to Sydney, the Cape, Western Oz, and all that's left. That bike will last you for years and years. And you can do the maintenance yourself; one of the easiest bikes to work on. Easier than maintaining a bicycle. A lot of GSA owners, including Baja 1000 winner and Dakar finisher Jimmy Lewis, consider the airhead engine to be better for off road riding. And also deem the stock suspension much better on the fat boy. I'd buy one myself, but my F800GS and I are quite a duo.

    *** That Anniversary addition might be too pretty to get too dirty. Keep to very nicely graded roads. Or just put some other panels on for serious off road work.

    *** By the way, I hate this term 'off road'. I asked somebody where they went 'off-roading' over the weekend in Baja, and his reply was 'such and such roads'. So, to stick to the topic, stay on sealed roads and unsealed roads in great shape. Keep your speed down, 40-45 kph best for most dirt.

    *** One more thought - the F800GS is neither a lighter weight bike nor forgiving. What I mean is they're both big heavy pigs. If you can't do it on the 1200GS, you won't do it on the 800GS. And let's be real: you didn't by such a pretty bike to go drop if over hundreds of times (I'm officially at over 100 off pavement drops!).
    #2
  3. raider

    raider Big red dog

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    I'm considering swapping the other way, since I find the 800's benefits on dirt (where it is, I must admit, considerably more confidence-inspiring than a bigger bike) do me no good when most of my riding is commuting and loooonng highway stints in order to get to said dirt to begin with. In other words, I'm riding the perfect bike for my once-a-year "big trip" for the other 50 weeks in an environment the 1200 would be better at.

    In an ideal world I'd have the 800 and a VFR1200, with maybe a KTM625 on the side and a Speed Triple to commute with, but the 1200GS gives me 80% of the 800 and 99% of the VFR in one package.
    #3
  4. fosters2

    fosters2 It is what it is

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    Went from a GSA to an F800GS by way of a K1600. The GSA is a nicer bike. I don't think I would have moved from a GSA to an 800GS if I was already riding the GSA. Mine was a choice while owning neither bike at the time, so pricing was a major factor. I'm very happy with the F800GS, however the MUCH smaller tank is extremely annoying.
    #4
  5. LJRAT

    LJRAT LJR Adventure Tours

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    Happen to be an expert on this issue and the resident F 800 GS know-it-all.

    Had a new 1200 and wore it out. Rode the Orange drink for awhile but the beemer dealer was MUCH better. Sold the 950 and bought the 800, tricked it out and never looked back!

    I am in the same boat and wanted to downsize my fleet and related costs.
    #5
  6. ebrabaek

    ebrabaek Long timer

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    It boils down to two things...... You need to ride the 8gs.....and get a feel for it....Only you can make that call.... No one else....
    Two....How you feel on the 8gs....
    Did I mention How you would feel...... Have a test ride.....:clap
    #6
  7. Gronked

    Gronked Adventurer

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    Thanks heaps for the input guys. It's nice to get different perspectives as well.

    I will definitely test ride the 800 before making any rash decisions. Ideally there would be several bikes in garage but even owning 3 is getting a bit costly. I guess I'm just hoping the 800 can be the elusive 'do everything' bike: highway, twisties, spirited engine riding pleasure, and adventure touring (all solo).

    As far as dilemmas in life go, deciding which fantastic motorcycle to own isn't a bad one :)
    #7
  8. ]I)Money

    ]I)Money D NOT I

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    _I_ don't regret my move from the 12 to the 8 in the least, but I thrashed my 12 trying to treat it like a much smaller bike. The seat sucks, but other than that, I'm perfectly happy with it on the highway. I did have a taller CeeBaileys WS on mine just for commuting, but I got lazy about switchig so I sold it.
    #8
  9. itsatdm

    itsatdm Long timer

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    Since my F800 is paid for, I have been thinking of what I could do to make it a better road bike. Getting a little(lot) too old to get the most out of it off road.

    I do not know about a 1200 but the F800 is as quick as your typical 1100/1150 model BMW's. It is lighter, but carries its weight higher and it is tall for a guy with a 29" inseam.

    It is fairly smooth to about 5,000 rpm or 80/85 mph. Then it gets vibey to the point of being annoying. It has a torquey motor, put a 17 tooth sprocket on and you can stretch that to 85/90mph. It needs a taller 6th gear.

    The pavement steering can get a little vague at speed. Proper set up fixes that, but a better solution is to re spring it. Hyperpro variable rate springs give you a lot of leeway.

    I would bet that riders annoyed with fork dive came from a sport bike back ground. I came from cruisers where more weight is on the rear. I am in the habit of applying rear before the front. It makes a difference on how much front dive you get.

    A 21" tire slows the steering through the curves. It becomes a bike that you need to carve corners rather than just throw the bike into a turn. Go in slow and accelerate out. It holds its line well, just not the fastest way to do it. I cannot stay with a good rider on a 1200. A 19" rim would change that.

    I can't really explain the why of it, but adding a steering stabilizer really improved its "feel" on pavement. Very planted and the bike feels heavier.

    Except for the 19" wheel I have all that and more. The wind does not bother the bike, but beats me up on occasion. On one occasion I got into a Southern Cal windstorm. I was followed by an 1150A, heeled over like a clipper ship. My bike dealt with it just fine.

    For me, it is a no brainer, another mod to the bike. For some one buying one and modding it, it is a decision that adds $ to the original cost.
    #9
  10. reinerka

    reinerka Been here awhile

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    Owning a very similar set of bikes on what you have (and want) let me chime in on what my personal impressions are:

    - Freeway/Highway - R1200GSA wins hands down no matter how you improve the F800GS. It is not even close
    - Suspension on the F800GS is not nearly as sophisticated as on the R1200GSA but changing it makes absolutely zero sense in my mind, I'm not an experienced dirt rider either
    - brake diving is no issue at all on either bike
    - twisties is where the F800GS can quickly hold up to the R1200GSA. However once you're out of the twisties you wish quickly to be on the GSA
    - Quality difference - yes you will notice that everywhere

    My recommendation is to keep the GSA and use the KLR for those dirt excursions. If I had to sell one of the 3 bikes it would be the F800GS as it falls right between the GSA and the KLR. If I had to sell 2 I would keep the GSA.

    I use the GSA and F800GS for commuting duty all the time. During winter it is the GSA and I have no trouble to zip through traffic. I often find myself doing it more 'spirited' on the GSA than the little GS.....

    Reiner
    #10
  11. itsatdm

    itsatdm Long timer

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    I cannot really argue that. What I forgot to mention is my other bike is a KLX680cc single. If you buy a F800gs you will need to fix the suspension. On or off road, it needs that. For off road, coupled with the extra travel and less weight, it will be better than your 1200.

    My KLX is better than a KLR in every way. Faster, better suspension, better brakes, smoother, one is an extension than the other.

    If you really like your BMW 1200, spend some money on the KLR. For the same amount of $, put a 685 big bore on the KLR. Fix the suspension and add some cams.

    The end result will be a twosome that covers all roads in between.
    #11
  12. Dieselpwr

    Dieselpwr Been here awhile

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    Simple solution. Sell the KLR and Triumph and buy a cheap used dual sport dirt bike such as a yamaha wr250 or 450. As someone else said, the R1200GS is too nice to damage off roading
    #12
  13. selaznog

    selaznog Avoiding pavement

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    In my experience, the 800 is significantly less agile in the twisties. I see that others disagree, but that is my .02. I don't feel confident to really get after the throttle in the twisties the way I did on my 1150, or the way I did when test riding a 1200. However, I greatly prefer the 800 on dirt, which is why I bought it. If your primary riding is on the highway, I would stick with the 1200. Good luck!
    #13
  14. Ducksbane

    Ducksbane Quaaack!!!

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    What ItsaTDM said ... I used to have an R1100GS for a long time before getting the 800. It eventually had a lot of farkles like a complete Staintune exaust, Ohlins suspension, modified seats, and a Givi screen. My original standard 800GS was not as good as a road tourer as the modified 1100, but it was much better off road.

    Having had the 800 for quite a while now it has sort of evolved into an F800GSA with better suspension, better seat, RM2 Steering damper and a Brittania Composites screen. I guess it has the same level of farkling as the 1100 and now there is nothing that the 800 doesn't do better than the old 1100. It's as powerful, lighter, more economical, better off road, better on twisty bitumen, better at touring ... better at everything.

    I recently test rode a 1200GS and compared to my farkled 800 it was more powerful and torquey, didn't feel that much heavier, but I didn't really like the suspension no matter what I set it on, the gear change was clunky, it felt old fashioned, I just wasn't that taken with it and was happy to get back on the 800.
    #14
  15. FredRydr

    FredRydr Danger: Keep Back 500 Ft.

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    This seems like an expensive way to figure out what you want and can even use. A '13 F700GS might be better suited for your riding. Meanwhile, keep the '10 R1200GSA as pristine as possible to retain equity; it is a desirable bike.

    Fred
    #15
  16. Ceri JC

    Ceri JC UK GSer

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    I looked into doing the opposite last year. I knew how much more of a compromise the GSA would be in the dirt. What surprised me was how relatively little better it was on the road. If I did more two up, or only rode on the slab, I'd of changed. As it was, it wasn't worth the cost to me.
    #16
  17. fosters2

    fosters2 It is what it is

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    I came to the same conclusion. I never gave the F800GS a look when I bought the GSA a few years ago. After riding the R1200GS and F800GS back to back, I couldn't personally justify the additional cost. The R1200GS was better.... but marginally, IMO.

    The only big negative for me I've found with the F800GS is the small fuel tank.
    #17
  18. vtbob

    vtbob wanderer

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    I've been riding for a long time, did real off road with a 215lb Bultaco (yep that old), have done a lot of touring on RxxRTs and had a KLR for several year too.

    I bought a F650GS a couple of years ago because I wanted and under 500lb touring and dirt road wandering bike. I've spent a lot on farkles to get it suspended and good wind/weather coverage.

    When I finially decided to do an Alaska trip, I began to have second thoughts that a R1200GS might be the better bike. So my dealer let be take on for a a70 mile ride. i have to admit I like the power, but the gearing was too tight after run RxxRT and it bugged me, The pavement handling while good was no better than my F650GS, the ESA was fun to play with but most setting did not suit me..ie had no value, and when I had it dial in..did not seem better than my farlled F650. As I have a 28inch in seam ...I did not like the tip toeing. With the height and the weigh I could not really back the bike up...god forbid having to pick the bike up.

    So I kept the F650GS and took it to Alaska, one of my riding buddie took a brand new GSA. (he in his 30s and 6'3 too).
    10,000 miles on the trip. I have no regrets at all. and no wish to buy a R1200GS... had no need for tall/long travel suspension on this trip.

    The Heidenaus tires were great for that trip...good for wet dirt roads...and wear forever, but now tha I'm home will be putting tourance EXPs on as I love twistie paved roads.

    have fun
    #18
  19. cascade63

    cascade63 Been here awhile

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    An excellent thread for me at the moment. I had a minor (well I thought it was minor) off on my '09 GSA and now the insurance company have written the bike off. Apparently not viable to repair, easier to just pay me out.

    In light of that I was considering a newish F800GS, however after reading the excellent input here I'm 95% sure that going back to a 1200 will be the right bike for me.
    #19
  20. bloochdog

    bloochdog Itinerant jackass

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    Do not make the change to an F800gs from the Adventure. I cannot stress this enough. Both my GF and I switched to the 2010 r800gs for many of the same arguments you stated and regretted it. I was back on an R1200GS adventure within three months.We both have 650s and found it is too close to the 800 in comfort (or lack of) for long distance riding. Weight difference did not seem a factor as the 1200 felt more balanced than the 800. Power and stability on the highway makes the R1200gs the chioce for us. We both are daily riders BTW she just moved back to the R1200GS too. We both put over 25K on our F800GSs before we sold them and I owend both the 1200 and 800 simultaneously for several months before a workmate purchased the 800.
    With all this said the 800 is still a good bike if you want only one adventure touring bike but not worth trading the adventure with a KLR sitting in the garage .

    Just my two cents worth.
    #20