He who likes to tinker..

Discussion in 'GS Boxers' started by manderle, Apr 14, 2020.

  1. manderle

    manderle Taking my time.

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    Hi All - 15 year airhead guy here. I'm far from proficient, but with the help of the internet, I do like to tinker. That said, I'm now seeing oilhead bikes popping up at prices that (to me), look pretty good. Fully farkled R1150GS (70K miles) for less than $4,000? Wow, that's cool! Wait, I just found a 2006 R1200GS (34K miles) for less than $5,000! That's cool too! So I'm thinking about venturing into one of these modern contraptions. I do have a buddy 800 miles away and either of these bikes seem to be a good fit to make the visit.

    I've always quietly loved the R1150GS, but a R1200GS for a little more money? Ok, I know there are a ton of threads weighing these two bikes against each other, but taking into consideration my inclination to tinker, would a clapped out R1150GS be the better fit? I do like to tinker......but is the tinkering on a 70K mile bike something my airhead ability (and tools) be able to take on? Or do I go with the more reliable of the two? Any thoughts welcomed.

    Best,
    Michael
    #1
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  2. lewisjr1

    lewisjr1 Long timer Supporter

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    I own an '03 1150 GSA and an '05 1200 GS, and based on the above numbers I'd follow the general rule to buy the newest, lowest mileage bike that the budget provides.

    While '06 is not the "best" model year of 1200 by some views, it was a solid bike. Nearly fifteen years later, the volume of repair info. available is more than sufficient, and accessories, farkles, etc. are still mostly supported.

    The same is true for maintenance of the 1150s, but not for that bike's farkles.

    If the mileage between the two choices were closer, I might lean towards the 1150 because it simply plucks my heart strings more. But the 1200 in comparable shape is a better all-around bike for most riders.

    In terms of maintenance, they're fairly comparable, with the 1200 being a bit more complex but not overly so. Your experience with airheads may transfer more readily to the oilhead, but it won't be a big jump for you to transition to Hexhead.

    So, ride 'em both and feel which one speaks to you. If you're on the fence after doing so, my vote would be for the Hexhead.

    That typed, I can see selling my Hexhead one day, maybe. Someone will only get my Oilhead when they pry it from my cold, dead hands.
    #2
  3. eri

    eri Been here awhile

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    the 1200 is lighter - a good thing

    with more power - another good thing

    so MUCH better power to weight ratio - a really good thing

    and newer - good thing

    but a little more expensive...
    #3
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  4. manderle

    manderle Taking my time.

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    Thanks fellas. Regarding the weight difference, I've always been partial to heavy, well planted, bikes. Put me on the highway and go. From what I've read, the R1150GS is the bike to own in this category. But any of you who have experience with both, I'd like to hear your thoughts.

    Also, I underscore the tinkering part, as I do really enjoy / welcome this. I've had newer bikes too, but the soulless component always makes me sell them. As you can tell, I'm already leaning towards the R1150GS, but I am open to any and all conversations. Thank you again.
    #4
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  5. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid! Supporter

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    Either bike is tinkerable if you can handle Airheads. I would lean towards the Hexhead R1200GS, over the Oilhead. As said, lighter, faster, better handling. :deal
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  6. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid! Supporter

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  7. Yellow Dog

    Yellow Dog Wanderer Supporter

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    There’s a nice 05 in the fm for 3500
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  8. PaulBarton

    PaulBarton Long timer Supporter

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    Sooo...

    I started with a 1971 R75/5 and migrated to the 1150GS (still have and enjoy the /5). I bought the 1150 for 2 reasons: 1) I was looking to buy an airhead GS but they were $$$ -- could get an 1150GS for less than a similar 100GS, 2) My BIL was looking at the oilhead GS to get back into motorcycling so I started test riding some for him (and fell in love). I bought an 01 1150GS (recently replaced with a low mile 02 GSA) and he bought a 2013 "Camhead"/oil-cooled 1200GS. We have both been happy with our purchases.

    You can get either and be happy as well as tinker away. If you go for the 1150 you may find that you never feel the urge for the 1200 (speaking as one loyal airhead to another). If you buy the 1200 you will never know what you're missing with the 1150. Win/win with either decision.

    I have found the 1150 seems like a natural evolution from the airhead and it sits well with both my style and heart (to echo lewisjr1's sentiment). Yes, the 1200 -- hexhead, at least-- is lighter and more powerful but the 1150 does everything I need it to and I just try to not drop it if I'm alone ;-)

    There seem to be plenty of "lower" mile 1150GS's in the $4k and under category. I would keep looking for a good example with fewer miles or if your 70k one is the cat's meow for you then I wouldn't be concerned with the miles. I sold my 01 last fall with 114k miles -- the new owner was happy to get her and he's still riding her as his only form of transport.

    The hexhead's (05-09) bikes are coming down in cost too especially the 05/06. Same rules apply, I wouldn't be too scared by any with higher mileage as long as you do your due diligence and everything else checks out.

    It's funny I read lewisjr1 telling you if it's a toss-up to go for the 1200 but he won't let his 1150 go. That's the emotional appeal of the 1150GS -- it defies logic but soldiers on despite conventional wisdom...
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  9. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    E9330787-4F38-4893-B3F7-744E96CFF711.jpeg B04193BE-8C25-44EC-9B4E-3F1A174F117A.jpeg The electronic fuel injection is a game changer, also the ABS. Not entirely tinker able but thankfully quite reliable. The oil/hex are way more farkle worthy...a lot of the tinkering involves bolt on after market upgrades. In the main I'd say they are a pleasure to work on. Nothing too infuriating......the RIDE difference is night and day from airheads...it's like having a Honda Accord....just jump on and go...only the very most adept and experienced riders can out ride oil/hex. My wife's 2009 is WAY smoother than my 2006....I'd go for a 2007 and up with the lowest miles I could find. They are out there. The 1150 is tempting, but if you ride a1200 out of town on a lonely back road you will be SOLD. Personally I don't think either make a good 'city' bike....but on the highway they shine like a bright star.
    #9
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  10. AST236

    AST236 Long timer Supporter

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    I'm no expert, but I have owned and put some miles on 2 airheads, a K bike, an oilhead, and now a hexhead.

    The hexhead is faster, lighter, and not much more complicated.

    But the oilheads to me, with the real, exposed metal gas tank and just so pretty...…...especially the blue/white ones and the silver ones...…:)

    Good luck in your search. Post up if you find what you're looking for!
    #10
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  11. manderle

    manderle Taking my time.

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    Wow, this seems like a great deal. Is this pandemic-pricing or are prices of this nature often found in the wild? Again, thanks so much for information here....now I'm chewing on the idea of a R1200GS in the garage. Hmmmm...
    #11
  12. eri

    eri Been here awhile

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    i loved my R80G/S

    it had loads of 'character'

    it also had; poor brakes, poor suspension, poor pillion comfort, poor fuel economy, terrible range with oem tank, no wind protection from factory, got all rubbery if it hit a bump mid-corner

    and would occasionally dump petrol over my left foot when the float valve jammed in the bing carb.

    but that was all somewhat forgivable because it was LIGHT

    i just wouldn't put up with all that AND have it heavier than needed

    adventure bike 6.JPG

    pictured here with 24ltr tank + screen from r100gs and with the oem front mudguard lowered and reversed onto a homemade fork-brace, (to somewhat reduce the forks tendency to do weird things when the single front disc was hauled on hard)

    and if i ever get an HP2 enduro am prepared to put up with some more 'character' because the bike will be LIGHT

    ANY engineer can make a product better

    if they're also allowed to make it heavier

    only the best engineering

    can improve a product

    and make it lighter
    #12
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  13. jogo

    jogo Been here awhile

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    I have an early hexhead (had it from new), fell in love with it when I first saw it and still like it very much....so take my view with a grain salt or two :D

    To me the early hexheads are a nice combination of
    - relative mechanical simplicity (e.g. the valvetrain)
    - state of the art technlology at the time in other areas (CAN-bus, knocking sensors etc.)
    - lots of engineering effort to keep the weight down (just compare to many other "adventure bikes" of 1200cc displacement or BMW's own current parallel twins)
    - beauty
    #13
  14. Yellow Dog

    Yellow Dog Wanderer Supporter

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    That one is 1k less than any other I’ve found....pandemic
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  15. GS Addict

    GS Addict Pepperfool Supporter

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    If i was looking for another hexhead 1200 2008 and later would be in my gunsights.

    2008 saw some very good improvements over ’04-’07 models:
    Next generation ABS
    New style bodywork
    Reliable next generation I ABS braking system
    Tighter rake – quicker steering
    Final drive drain hole on bottom for very easy servicing
    3 hp increase
    Heavy duty transmission output shaft, 22 spline driveshaft
    Larger alternator 760 watt

    .
    #15
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  16. -clinton-

    -clinton- Been here awhile

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    Are the valve adjust on the hex head similar to the 1150 GS? I’ve heard and read and asked and been told that the cam heads are harder and take special tools.
    #16
  17. Yellow Dog

    Yellow Dog Wanderer Supporter

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    Hexhead valves and oilhead are the same mechanism...screw and locknut. Cam heads are shim and bucket. A little more involved but not rocket scientry.
    #17
  18. -clinton-

    -clinton- Been here awhile

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    Right on. Good yo know. I need to sell my KTM and buy a GSA.
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  19. GS Addict

    GS Addict Pepperfool Supporter

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    Camheads are easier IMO, the only caveat is initially a shim might replacing.
    After the engine is broken in it's rare to have to adjust shims. No special tools required, just a set of feeler guages.
    #19
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  20. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid! Supporter

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    #20