Which is better 1200gs or 800gs for 1st gear riding?

Discussion in 'Parallel Universe' started by rockycraig, May 5, 2011.

  1. rockycraig

    rockycraig Been here awhile

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    This question is for people who have ridden both machines on jeep trails , not real rough but some rocks here and there (ouray and silverton CO. is where I do a lot of riding). I usually ride in first gear, sometimes second on this stuff. I'm real close to buying one of the two machines and having a hard time deciding. Too bad I can't test these on the dirt? Any help would be great. Alot of people say the 1200gs is like a tank and can chug along at walking speed but I'm worried about the weight and the 800 could handle this but I don't want to be slipping the clutch all day.
    Thanks
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  2. bloochdog

    bloochdog Itinerant jackass

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    will you be riding alot on tarmac?

    the advantage of the 800 is you can change sprokets. I like them both.
    #2
  3. rockycraig

    rockycraig Been here awhile

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    I'd say 60 tarmac and 40 offroad, I know both will be good for me on road cuz I tested both of them on rode about 25 miles a piece but I didn't have a chance to test them offroad. I wish I knew someone who owns them.
    #3
  4. Bonebag

    Bonebag ADDvrider

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    I've only ridden an 800 once but can't imagine you would want to be in first gear all day on a 1200GS..that's like torture:deal
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  5. SQD8R

    SQD8R Eat squids and be merry

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    Odd question considering the amount of time being spent in 1st gear even off-road is a mere % of the time riding overall. IMO you can gear the 800 easier so it would get my vote if this was a consideration. I rode my 12GS off-road and my HP2 most of the time and never had an issue with 1st gear. Most of my riding was and is on jeep and atv trails, hydro lines etc. involving a lot of rocky terrain.
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  6. Flashback

    Flashback Mommys Lil Monster

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    With a popular up size of the front sprocket on the F8 you can ride first gear all day in dirt. I've done it. With a 17T up front the F8 will cruise comfortably in first from Zero to about 40 mph without asking for a shift. But I usually ride 16T or 15T sprockets for more torque down low and don't mind going back and forth between 1'st and 2nd.
    #6
  7. OlyRider

    OlyRider Long timer

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    I've owned both bikes, and I think the 1200 was a better crawler. If you're looking at new, you can improve it by getting the "Adventure" tranny. I know I would, if I were buying the bike new.

    My F800GS is much better now that I've dropped a tooth in front, added a G2 throttle tamer, and a "boosterplug". The combination has given me a smooth and slightly lower first gear. The bike is much better now on the trails you're talking about. The "snatchy" throttle response of the F800Gs has been identified by many riders as a turn-off, but it can be improved.
    #7
  8. cathulu

    cathulu Been here awhile

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    Well I was on a ride with a friend on a 1200 and he was in first gear and had to slip the clutch to get up the steep and rocky forest service road. He didn't make it all the way to the top of the road because he was worried about his clutch and had to rest at a flat section along the way. Supposedly that is a problem with the 1200 - first gear. The Adventure has a lower gearing but he was on the normal 1200.

    Funny enough I rode up in second gear no problem with the 800 with stock gearing. 800 wins hands down!
    #8
  9. xcflyn

    xcflyn Long timer

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    not sure about the 1st gear thing, but I am in the process of downing my 1200gsa into a f800. I too am in the silverton area (3 mi north of ouray) , I also have a 450exc to play solo. But my concern is that I want to ride 2up on a lot of the jeep trails and the 1200 is a bit of a pig. My woman rides a f650 and it is super tall in first gear, but she doesnt do much more then the gravel roads so its fine for that (+65mpg). As mentioned the gearing is a easy swap when its chain and sprockets. The rider weight and skills to manipulate the bike is probably more of a concern then the actual 1st gear thing. Thats just my opinion. I will be the first to admit I am not a great dirt rider (im old and break easy) and I feel my skills lack more then the bikes ability to creep in 1st gear. I get on that 250lb KTM and I ride 5x better then on my 1200. I would guess that the 800 is a better choice for you. Actually 40% off road is a LOT of off road :clap. I hope my 800 will see that much (If I ever get to a dealer to buy one). I would love to hear people who went from 1200s to 800s chime in on this, maybe it will push me to make the move sooner.
    #9
  10. OlyRider

    OlyRider Long timer

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    I'll repeat myself to make the point. I have owned both bikes. I rode the 1200GS all through Baja and Copper Canyon. It had $7,000 in farkles. I sold it to get the F800GS believing that it would be a vast improvement. I can speak from thousands of miles of experience that it isn't. In stock form, the snatchy throttle is "dangerous" on trails. I whiskey-throttled mine last summer in Redmond at the BMW Rally, and it caused $5,000 in cosmetic damage. I used the insurance money to improve the suspension, as well as the throttle. Now I really enjoy the bike, but it is vastly different from stock.

    I have had the opportunity to ride with Jimmy Lewis on his R12GSA. He is "not" a tall person, but he is so acrobatic(and skillful), he handles the GS like a KTM 250. He has been quoted as saying the F800 is not a dirt bike. I think he means that it is not what BMW advertises, or people think they are buying. Everyone calls my XR650L "the Pig", but it is much easier off-road than the BMW. "Much" easier.

    I would only buy the R1200GSA if I thought I was going to use it 2-up, or travel 80/20, 85/15 interstate/offroad. Otherwise, the F800GS wins hands-down, if it is modified to fit the mission. Don't believe the BMW hype, or rely on an opinion of someone that hasn't experienced both. Keep researching before you decide.

    Good luck!
    #10
  11. frazman

    frazman Post***ern Redneck.

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    Stock, I'd say the 1200 beats out the F800 at a crawl on singetrack/jeep trails. Reason being the snatchy throttle on the F800. You'll kill your clutch hand if you're on that kind of terrain in first gear all day. The 1200 chugs through that stuff with a fraction of the clutch action. Also, you'd be surprised how nimble the 1200 is once you really get into it.

    I would imagine the F800 performs better than the 1200 once the throttle tamer is installed.
    #11
  12. rockycraig

    rockycraig Been here awhile

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    Wow those are great respones, thanks olyrider for your input. It is a huge purchase and that's why I'm asking all these questions. I did notice the jerking throttle on the 800 and that would be a deal breaker but everyone on here says it can be modified through sprockets, exhaust etc.... The 1st gear riding is only certain sections then some in second, then once we're out it's the highway. I could go faster but I like to just cruise along on the dirt sections since most trails have 100's of feet of sheer cliffs on one side. We do alot of dirt and gravel road riding as well which both would be fine. Any one else with experience on both would be great!!
    #12
  13. Motoriley

    Motoriley Even my posing is virtual

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    The throttle is snatchy but you get used it and then it feels responsive! :D I have gone down a tooth on the front and added a booster plug and now it works great. Coming from an 1150GS I had to change my riding style since the 800 doesn't have that heavy flywheel effect and loves to rev. It is a wet clutch bike and so using/abusing the clutch isn't as big a deal as on a dry clutch bike. My 1150 let off some pretty intense smells on occasion. Even if you abuse the crap out of the clutch and need to change it (it is a wear item) you don't have to break the bike in half like on the boxers. Check the vids in my sig to see where my poor F800 has gone despite my poor riding skills and I think you'll see the bike will do fine.

    #13
  14. OlyRider

    OlyRider Long timer

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    It's not too expensive to modify the snatchy throttle on the F800:

    From memory: Boosterplug $150
    G2 throttle tamer $90
    Front sprocket $35 (reduced MPG about 5%)

    I think my after market pipe is not much more than weight reduction and a better look.

    Magura makes a "drop-in" hydraulic clutch for about $380 that some people love, but I don't think the pull is excessive on the F800, and I have arthritic hands.
    #14
  15. octagonpilot

    octagonpilot _________________

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    The 1200 is a better crawler. The 800 very much feels fuel injected (abrupt)in offroad lowspeed situations, and the accelerator module helps smooth the abrubtness quite a bit. Riding technique can be adapted to help some. But it is still jerky. Noticeable, but liveable. The 800 chassis is better suited for offroad and particularly so the more aggro the trails get, although it is not as easy to ride very slow as the 1200.

    I used to bottom the stock suspension on my 1200 every time I rode it. Same trails on the 800 (with hyperpro springs)-no bottoming. Lighter weight makes a difference.

    If you get off your 1200 and think to yourself, this frame is going to be stretched out and the footpegs are gonna be droopy if i keep this up, you should look at an 800 (or something even more dirt oriented). If not, the 1200, for my money, is a better all arounder, because it is excellent on tarmac, excellent off road down to .1mph, and very good in many other areas, doesnt suck at anything.

    Another issue I have with the 8 vs 12, is the front end of the 800 is not, to me, as trustworthy as the 12 on road. the 12 is very confidence inspiring, period. Like, as good as you can imagine. Quite suprising for a bike that looks like does. The 800 not as much. I've never raced them against each other, but the 1200 feels like it would stomp the 800 through the twisties...

    The 800 is more focused to the offroad side of the scale, and it is also a great bike, but my next one will be a 1200 GSA, piggyness notwithstanding.
    #15
  16. rockycraig

    rockycraig Been here awhile

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    Just got back from another test ride on the 1200gs, I do like it except for that funny feeling from revving the motor at a stoplight, it feels like the bike gonna tip to the right but I guess you get used to it and downshifting seems like it backfired a bit (had a leo vince exhaust on it) not sure if that is normal? Through the twistys it is unbelievable and on the highway it's good but didn't get a chance to go dirt but did some slow riding in the parking lot, seems like you need zero space to turn around, that being said it does feel like a big bike(cuz it is) and the 800 seems more like a dirt bike ride feel. Not sure what to do???? Not sure how many times I can test ride these without the dealer getting sick of me?:clap
    #16
  17. Flashback

    Flashback Mommys Lil Monster

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    Ask yourself how you are going to use the bike. If you are street oriented go with the 1200. If you are dirt oriented go with the F8. The 1200 will do dirt roads just fine but it doesn't do "dirt" very well. By dirt I mean off the graded and maintained dirt roads. The F8 tends to love the dirt and will do highways but hates to run above 75 mph on the tarmac.

    Ultimately...an F8 with a shorter 1'st and taller 6'th would bridge the gap nicely. I ride my F8 like a dirtbike but sure wish it didn't argue so much on the highway. Even a 5 mph difference in 6'th would make a huge difference in it's highway manners. Can't imagine even thinking of taking the 1200 where I ride the F8 in dirt. I'm sure I could do it but would it be fun -> nope.

    I hear the Super Tenere is a good alternative . Wink. Nod. :lol3. But seriously, if you are struggling with it, go ride a KTM 990 Adventure. It might be the bike you are looking for.
    #17
  18. xcflyn

    xcflyn Long timer

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    Test Ride back to back on the same roads (hopefully off roads too) then compare ? Or buy the 800 and come over by me and we will trade back and forth and see whats what ? :evil
    Maybe I can get to a dealer in the next couple days and can report on both with back to back rides. So far there has been some good information passed along here. I am still on the fence about swapping down.
    One thing for sure, if you had to pick each one up from laying over : your back will like the F8 more.
    #18
  19. Ducksbane

    Ducksbane Quaaack!!!

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    I have never owned a 1200GS, but I did have an 1100 for a long time.

    I go riding with a lot of different people with different skill levels on a wide variety of bikes, but mostly BMW's. The best riders can out ride the average riders (including myself) on any surface by a wide margin on any of the bikes. However sticking to the the average there is no doubt that the 800 riders (including myself) have far less trouble in real off road conditions than those of equal skill who ride 1200's. Of course those with 650 KTM's or XChallenges have less trouble again. The main difference here I think is the weight. An 800 is a big heavy bike, but a 1200 is an even bigger, heavier bike.

    Either an accelerator module or a booster plug will make a big difference to the 800. and probably the 1200 as well. My 800 has an accelerator module, a Unifilter and a Leo Vince muffler and this has absolutely transformed the 800's throttle response to a point where I am sure its the most consistent, smooth throttle response I have ever had on any powered vehicle ever! :clap Really ... it feels like it must use the dark arts of magic compared to the standard bike ... KTM 990 riders would probably sell their souls to have this (and the 990 power of course)! You should probably consider the KTM, but I couldn't own one unless they improved the throttle response and made the maintenance procedures slightly less insane.

    On the road, I guess the 1200 is better, especially standard. I like my 800 on the road now, but I have a Brittanica Composites screen and a modified seat.

    My summary is that the F800GS is a great compromise bike, its pretty good at everything, not best, but it makes a good account of itself in most conditions that you could expect. It's fairly powerful, very responsive, fairly light and there is a huge number of modifications you can do to tailor it to what you want. Because it is chain drive you can alter the gearing if you want to do a lot of highway, or a lot of off road (just not both at the same time without changing sprockets!).

    I have a XChallenge as well now, so in about a year I might look at something like a Multistrada to replace the 800, because I now have more than one bike, so I can go a little bit more towards the off road end with the XC and a little more towards the road/touring with the MS. If it could only be one bike I'd keep the 800.
    #19
  20. beammeup

    beammeup Guaging racefully

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    I've had both. The torque of the 1200GS at low RPMs, especially if coupled with the GSA endure trans makes for an excellent low speed crawl. I have not (yet) installed any of the low speed mods on my 800, but am liking the idea of the wet clutch.

    I never had any clutch issues with the 1200, but it was always in the back of my mind. The 1200 is a vastly superior road machine IMHO. The wind protection and the stability provided by the additional mass is quite noticeable. The front suspension has been described by some as 'vague' but I never felt any uncertainty. YMMV

    Yes, I miss my 1200GSA.

    The 800GS has a higher payload capacity. This intrigued me as a bigger guy who likes to load up the bike and disappear for several days. The 100 lb pre-farkle weight difference is also a huge bonus once on the trails. I plan on trying a smaller front sprocket for the trails. If it works as well as I am hoping, I will have the crawl capability of the GSA in a bike that's much easier to pick up! Until that time, my impression is that the 800 low speed capability is not as good as the 1200GSA.
    #20