Convince me: 1200 GS or Tiger 800 or Tiger 1200 or Suzuki Vstrom 1000 2014+ for 70/30 solo/two-up

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by Apaluq, Jan 2, 2021.

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Tiger 800, Tiger 1200, or BMW 1200 GS?

  1. Tiger 800

    18.9%
  2. Tiger 1200

    8.1%
  3. BMW 1200 GS

    40.5%
  4. Suzuki Vstrom 1000 214+

    32.4%
  1. Apaluq

    Apaluq Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2013
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    Location:
    Appleton, WI
    Budget: $6500 and under

    I need a second bike to the stable for two-up travels about 30% of the time, and just something more purpose-built for the 70% solo traveling/moto-camping. Currently rock a Triumph Bonneville T100 which does just fine alone loaded up with saddlebags and tailbag, but is more of a fun town and commuting bike for me.

    Prerequisites:
    • tubeless
    • ABS
    • good to great MPG (45-50+? US gallons)
    Unrequired but nice stock amenities:
    • heated grips
    • adjustable windshield
    Of concern or preference (probably):
    • center of gravity/where it carries the weight
    My thoughts on all of the above options: + is a benefit, - is a concern:

    Tiger 800
    • + pretty
    • + light
    • + versatile
    • + good MPG
    • + different trim options to suit my needs/wants (I don't need or care about traction control or ride by wire but those options are there)
    • - torque seems lacking (about 58 ft/lb to my stock 50 ft/lb on the Bonneville T100?)
    • - some have a mild complaint about heat from the triple engine
    Tiger 1200
    • + pretty
    • + more than enough torque and HP for two-up
    • + good maybe great MPG
    • + different trim options...
    • + mostly maintenance free shaft drive
    • - weight. I've read they're a bit of a pain at slower speeds and I start to think about the added weight of loaded panniers and if it'll just be a slog when I'm not cruising
    • - a little pricier than the 800 but nothing make or break on the 2012 or so models
    BMW 1200 GS
    • + reliable boxer engine racks up the miles
    • + round-the-world reputation
    • + versatile
    • + good maybe great MPG
    • + HP and torque seem very usable
    • + weight seems much better than a Tiger 1200, astonishingly (confirm this?)
    • - I don't know enough about them to know if there are specific model year issues to look out for so, a bit of the unknown
    • - price. I have found some good deals under $6500 or around there that aren't too old. But most of them hold their value and push some out of my budget
    • - some of the early 2000 models just... are ugly


    2014 onward Suzuki Vstrom 1000
    • + well within budget and low miles
    • + the weight at just near 500 lbs wet with 99 HP and mid 70s ft/lb of torque at 4000 rpm sounds like the best compromise between any of the rest!
    #1
  2. scottrnelson

    scottrnelson Mr. Dual Sport Rider

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    None of the above. What you need is a KTM 790 Adventure R. Mine has averaged around 57 mpg in the 5000+ miles that I've ridden it, and I'm going up and down mountains all the time on it. You can get heated grips as an option. Center of gravity is lower than any of those on your list.
    #2
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  3. Apaluq

    Apaluq Adventurer

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    Too pricey and aren’t those spoked wheels tubes?
    #3
  4. lvscrvs

    lvscrvs Long timer Supporter

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    I'll take a stab at this as a previous Tiger 800XC owner (2ok miles) and current (just purchased) R1200GS owner. I'm assuming you're looking at the Tiger Roadie since I think it comes tubeless and the XC is going to be tube wheels (although it's pretty easy to convert the rear to tubeless... some also do the front, but not all).

    - Any of these bikes will meet your prereq and preferences depending on how they are set up by previous owner. Should be pretty easy to find or set up as you prefer for $6500 if you take your time and shop around.

    - I would say the Tiger feels more top heavy than the GS, but mine was an XC so taller than the roadie. I believe the 1200 Tiger would feel even more so but only rode one for a short time many years ago. The GS does a good job of keeping the COG low, but she's still a big girl. You can also look for a low suspension version if that's a concern.

    - The motors are very different. The tiger 800 motor is very smooth and has a broad powerband, it is sporty when on the pipe, but it is more high-strung compared to the lazier boxer motor at speed. Boxer is more vibey, but not bothersome to me. It has a nice smooth torque pull off the bottom.

    - For 2up travel I would give the edge to the boxer. I see it as a better touring/distance/travel platform than the Tiger 800. Tiger 800 was a lot of fun chasing my buddies through the backroads (but mine had upgraded suspension that helped on rough surfaces). The mellower boxer motor is much more pleasant at hwy speeds.
    #4
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  5. scottrnelson

    scottrnelson Mr. Dual Sport Rider

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    Tubeless tires on those wheels. They put some rubber thingy in next to the spokes that keeps the pressure in there.
    #5
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  6. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

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    I vote GS1200. Better two-up. Lower COG than the Tiger 1200. Munch miles in awesome comfort. My only concern on the BMW would be expensive repairs if budget is tight. The Tiger 1200 might be just what you want though and maintenance would likely be less.

    The 800XC is a nice bike. I put about 30k miles on one. Nice smooth motor but gearing is spaced a bit tight, it's a little top heavy, and when two up and loaded it it's pushing against the limits of the bikes design a bit and that can be felt.

    Since the 790 was mentioned in one of the responses I'll put in my 2 cents: Great bike, I have 25k miles on a 790 ADV R, and I would NEVER chose it over any of the other 3 you've mentioned for what you say you want to do with it.
    #6
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  7. wanderlost

    wanderlost Been here awhile Supporter

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    As a former *00 roadie owner (45,000 miles) and current 2018 GS 1200 owner, I have a couple thoughts. I loved the Roadie, took it to Alaska and all around the west, mostly on roads and forest service roads. It was a great one up bike, capable of cruising at 90 for hours at a time. Adding a Sargent seat made it a much better mile muncher. However, after taking the Rawhyde class I saw how much better the 12oo handled the challenges of the class than the 2 Tiger riders. The engines didn't have as much low end grunt for slow speed stuff and when they fell, they fell FLAT, compared to the GS which was on a slant making the lift much easier. Te final reason I switched was that I didn't have the space or ability to do valves, so every 12,000 miles it cost me over $1000 to have the dealer do it.

    Both are great bikes, but for now I am happy with switching to the GS.

    Paul
    #7
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  8. Rider2

    Rider2 Been here awhile Supporter

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    I have no opinion on the 800 (although whenever I think about downsizing from my GSA it's always on my shortlist)

    I pass along the opinion of a rider who rode various marques throughout Europe - he much preferred the GS over the Triumph 1200, both the engine and the handling. His personal bike was a huge scooter, 900cc or thereabouts!
    #8
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  9. Apaluq

    Apaluq Adventurer

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    How much of a concern are the brake servos on the 2005 and onward models? Been reading of errors and brake failures.
    #9
  10. AwDang

    AwDang Enabler

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    The OP reads like; I want a GS but these other two bikes intrigue me.

    a good dealer will let you ride all 3. They are each different from each other. I’m a T800 Roadie owner with about 50k on my bike. I’ve yet to find a bike that meets my needs better.
    #10
  11. davidji

    davidji bike curious

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    I think brake servos are model year 2006 and older R1200GS. My 2007 R1200R doesn't have them.
    #11
  12. Eyes Shut

    Eyes Shut See no evil Super Supporter

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    As a passenger on an R1200GS (2005), I really love it. But you will need to have a backrest of some sort for your passenger--although you have probably already considered this or known it (hopefully). The backrest on the Vario topcase sucks, so don't use that one.

    Our mileage on the bike, two-up and loaded for touring, averages about 38 mpg.
    #12
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  13. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    I'm a tiger fan but I have owned and ridden more then a few GS's too. Based on your criteria, I'm tempted to say 800 Tiger but it really depends on how big and heavy your passenger for the 30% is. 1200 Tiger is a great machine but too much weight over the front wheel for loose surfaces, IMO. I think the GS is probably your best bet. I'd stay clear of years with the servo brakes.
    #13
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  14. Apaluq

    Apaluq Adventurer

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    Added the 2014 onward Suzuki Vstrom 1000 since its only near 500 lbs wet, mid 70s torque right around 4000 RPM. Seems like the best compromise.
    #14
  15. Stellmon

    Stellmon Adventurer

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    The Tiger 800 is a nicer bike than the Strom in nearly every way. Despite the 200cc disadvantage, it's equally quick too. (I owned both at the same time, didn't keep the Suzuki)

    The Tiger 800 is a perfectly acceptable 2-up ride also, with an upgraded seat. That said, the 1200 GS is also an excellent ride.
    #15
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  16. davidji

    davidji bike curious

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    In my experience with BMW boxer bikes feel lighter than they are when rolling them around, probably low CoG due to boxer engine. The GS sounds like the answer to your question if it's the bike you want to ride.

    The thing I love most about BMW boxers is the easy access for service. Unless that service is clutch replacement (not too hard on water cooled models, but a big deal on air/oil cooled bikes).

    You owned a 2nd gen Strom 1k? What gen Tiger 800? I've only demo'd each and I preferred the 2nd gen Strom to the 1st gen Tiger 800 Roadie. The way both demo bikes were set up, suspension worked better on the Strom. Vibes on the Tiger made my hand numb--from a max 1/2 hour demo ride. I know the road version of the Tiger has improved since then, but based on budget OP might be looking at older ones. And of course the 2nd gen Vstrom 1k is much improved over the previous generation of that bike.
    #16
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  17. usedtobefast

    usedtobefast Been here awhile

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    Since you are buying used, you will get way better bang for your buck with the V-Strom 1000. You will get a much lower mile and newer year model compared to the BMW 1200 GS bikes.

    The V-Strom suffers from not be wildly awesome in any one area ... so moto reviewers have nothing to gush over, no rider modes to switch between, no electronically adjustable suspension, etc.

    But when you own a V-Strom you get to just ride and ride and ride ... change the oil and filter from time to time ... maybe adjust the valves ... and tires. You will never have a ~$2500 final drive failure on a trip. If you ever wear out the clutch, just drain the oil, and pull the right cover off ... never have to split the bike in two to replace anything. You will not know where your local Suzuki dealer is, and if you are going on a trip you will not scout ahead for Suzuki dealers in case something comes up. :-)

    I actually find my 2018 V-Strom 1000 very fun to ride, very strong front brakes, super light clutch pull, excellent fueling and power, I think I get around 230-240 miles per tank, maybe that is 50 ish mpg but never checked that really, very good suspension, and handles well. It would be nice if it was shaft drive ... but that really only comes into play (for me) on like 3+ day trips ... and the chain is messier and I do more cleaning than on my shaft drive bikes.
    #17
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  18. BikeMikeAZ

    BikeMikeAZ Been here awhile

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    You may also consider the 650 V-strom. It's lighter, if you want any off-pavement activity. I have a 2017. Givi makes an adjustable windscreen, and Corbin makes a heated seat with a backrest. I have soft bags on it; the Givi hard cases (squarish ?trekker?) hit the passenger's thighs. It's got plenty of power for 2-up. We stay on secondary roads, primarily <60mph, where it gets about 55 mpg. A tank of gas is good for >250 miles. Others have posted the mpg suffers if you run 75 mph with it; if that is your plan then the 1000 may be a better choice.
    #18
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  19. Jarrett2

    Jarrett2 Been here awhile

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    I'm a Triumph fan, so threw a vote for the Tiger 1200.

    I've owned the Tiger 1200, Tiger 900 and have ridden BMW GS's a number of times.

    Definitely ride a Tiger 1200 and GS 1200. Two different feeling bikes. One will definitely be preferable to you between them.
    #19
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  20. AdventureTrail

    AdventureTrail Alex

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    I like the 2014 Vstrom 1000 I have. Like other posters have said, it doesn't really excel in any particular area, but it does everything well enough. Every time I think about selling it for something else, I have too hard a time justifying a new purchase. Power is good, and I have no issues riding 2-up with gear and luggage. I've had exactly zero issues outside of replacing a headlight bulb that burned out. Other than that, just oil changes and tires/chain maintenance. I recently removed the racks and hard luggage which has trimmed some weight and made the bike a little more fun to ride. I will eventually go the soft luggage route for trips. I think it's a fair criticism that there aren't riding modes, ESA, Cruise, etc. After 20k ish miles, I don't care enough to add them.

    Your mileage may vary.
    EC384D7E-1379-411E-A190-8A135E276ADA.jpeg
    #20
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