2016 GSA Low Suspension off pavement ride review

Discussion in 'GS Boxers' started by tentative_rider, Jun 11, 2017.

  1. tentative_rider

    tentative_rider Wanna Be On Gravel

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    Hello to all short riders! By the way if you are tall enough to flat foot a standard GS or GSA then this post is worthless to you. I am 5' 6" with about 30" inseam. My bike is the 2016 GSA low suspension with standard (not low) seat.

    Just finished a 9 day ride in Oregon and Nevada desert with a group of 7 (well 6 after a mechanical issue).

    I formerly rode an F800 GS, and before that a 2007 GSA with Ohlins suspension (standard height). I also have a KTM 500 EXC.

    I was apprehensive about potential limitations in off pavement performance with the lowered suspension but am just so tired of the disadvantage of not being able to get both feet down most of the time in low speed tricky situations.

    I also know the type of riding I enjoy and that I will never have bike handling skills like professional riders like Jimmy Lewis and the like who can make big bikes do things I can't even do on a 250 MX bike.

    Long story short, I feel like I should write this all in capital letters, so I will:

    THE LOWERED GSA LC IS THE BEST BIKE I HAVE EVER RIDDEN. I BEAT THE CRAP OUT OF THIS THING ON THE ROUGHEST ROADS OUT THERE AND IT NEVER LET ME DOWN.

    The lower ground clearance was a complete non-issue except that it allowed me to keep the bike upright in at least a half dozen situations where I would have dropped my 2007 GSA, that is priceless.

    The ride quality was nothing short of amazing on both pavement and off. (Running TKC80).

    I was able to confidently ride at ludicrous speed on almost any surface, including deep new gravel where all others on the trip were complaining about the "marbles" I was screaming down the backroads of Nevada laughing, I regularly rode 70-80 mph for miles at a time and hit 100 mph several times with no drama whatsoever. The bike always goes where you point it even if the surface is loose.

    On pavement a guy on a KTM 950 decided to drag race me, and as I passed him, I thought "let's see if this acts funny at high speed on TKC80", my old 2007 used to have a funny oscillation once you hit about 90 on pavement on TKC80.

    As the bike's speedometer passed 130 the bike was ROCK STABLE. GPS indicated I hit 123 and was still accelerating.

    With Enduro Pro ABS I did several planned "panic stops" on loose gravel, again, perfect performance, the brakes haul your ass down in a real hurry even with the ABS on, what a great improvement from the old system! I can't say enough positive things about it. That gave me confidence that when the panic stops happened for real I could rely on the bike to slow down in a HURRY without any drama or instability.

    Lower speed work in moderate sand covered roads was also completely stable. I just stood up, loose on the bars and tractored right through, the bike going exactly where I pointed it.

    The worst road we saw (second worst I have ever ridden) had all bikes down within the first mile except me and the ride leader. This was the section that cemented in my mind I had made the right decision, as we rode through section after section of unmaintained clay surface which had been ground into dust 6-8 inches deep which was as slippery as talcum powder, underneath which there were ruts (hidden by the dust) which were very deep. On this sort of surface, at my skill level, there are times when you just have to put your feet down (yes I mean BOTH feet, now possible with the low suspension, not just having to guess which foot to lower) to stabilize the bike, then tractor on in first gear at 2000 rpm, and just walk right out of the rut! And with Enduro Pro traction control, you really don't even need to feather the clutch!

    Now here is the kicker (not really having to do with the lowered suspension). For me, the first and last days of this trip were 560 and 540 miles, respectively. I did take some breaks for fuel and the occasional bacon cheeseburger, but finished both of these days no more fatigued than if I had done them in a car. I could have ridden longer.

    I had extensive discussions with the others on the trip about the long-haul comfort of my big GSA and none of them were really happy with their mounts on the long days (2 x KTM 950, 1 x KTM 990, 1 x KTM 1190, 1 x Triumph 800 XC, and a non-Adventure GS LC).

    I find it simply amazing that the same bike that can get me confidently down a duff-covered, rutted track which took out 5 other riders riding more off-road oriented bikes in under a mile can get me from southern Oregon to the South Bay in one day (including 90+ mph on I-205 into a 30 mph crosswind / headwind - yes, that is how fast the traffic moves down here on a Saturday evening) and leave me ready to ride further if needed.

    Also just checked the stanchion plugs and all is fine.

    Feel free to post specific questions about my experience on the 2016 GSA Low Suspension and I will try to answer them. Or PM me if you wish.

    If you have been not buying a GSA due to standover height, don't wait any longer.

    Get out there on a low suspension model and never look back. Well, you will have to look in the rear view mirrors to try and find your riding buddies...

    Now enjoy some pictures from the ride.

    IMG_1315.jpg IMG_1383.jpg IMG_1464.jpg IMG_1538.jpg
    #1
  2. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid!

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    Nice. I am 5' 8" and a 28" inseam. I have never ridden a low bike, so I can't compare. But, I am willing to try one day!
    #2
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  3. Aviatordoc

    Aviatordoc BMW R1200 GSA LC rider

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    My next bike will be the next iteration of the R* GSA Low.
    #3
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  4. RoundTrip

    RoundTrip Unintentional deerslayer

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    5'8" with 28" inseam. I LOVE my 15 GSA Low. All of the GSA benefits on a bike that inspires confidence at stop lights and uneven surfaces. I'll give up the ultimate ground clearance difference as I don't have the skills or desire to use it at that level anyway.
    #4
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  5. snakepilot

    snakepilot Adventurer

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    Thanks for the great report. I have the same bike, 16 GSA low and can confirm everything you stated.
    #5
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  6. keling

    keling Adventurer

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    6"1 and 115kg. Low GSA and no problem at all. You can hardly tell the difference unless you really look hard enough. What i want to know is how were the tkc on rainy pavement? Especially road markings
    #6
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  7. tentative_rider

    tentative_rider Wanna Be On Gravel

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    Thanks!

    RE: TKC80 on wet pavement, I did not have a lot of rain on pavement, only on gravel. I did run through a bunch of wet patches on pavement on straightaways coming south from Cedarville CA on the way home and was accelerating hard with no issues, but I am the first to admit that I slow WAY down in the corners when on wet pavement. I just don't trust any tire in those circumstances, there could be wet leaves or other stuff and I don't want to go down at high speed.

    As I said above though the TKC on dry was nearly flawless.

    TR
    #7
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  8. snakepilot

    snakepilot Adventurer

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    I am running TKC 70's now, which are fine in the rain. Next time I plan to go to TKC 80 in front.
    I had TKC 80's on my KTM 690 and ran in the rain numerous times with no problem at all. I would rate them excellent for a knobby.
    #8
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  9. ObiJohn

    ObiJohn Screaming Banshee

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    Haven't taken my '17 GSA low suspension off road, yet, but love it on road for the very same reason... being able to get both feet down on a heavy bike is a real confidence inspirer. I'm 5'6" with a 30" inseam, and absolutely love this bike to the point where I'm likely going to sell every other MC I own except my CRF230L.

    I would have never thought to buy this, actually went to test ride the RT and liked it, and then the salesman insisted I try the GS low suspension. It was as easy as my 230 to ride, and great except for lack of wind protection st high freeway speed. The GSA low suspension and that big tank was as good as the RT and I can take it offroad... sold!

    I have the factory low comfort seat... after 150 miles it starts to hurt. Might try the regular factory seat... loved my Rick Mayer seat on my FJR and may get a custom seat if the factory seat doesn't work for me. Picked up a spare set of new factory cast wheels for the A3s and have Wilds mounted on the spoked set... thinking about heading to the Touratech rally with them.
    #9
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  10. xrttman

    xrttman xrttman

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    I too have this same bike, and echo all the attributes given to the GSA Low. If you want wind protection at higher speeds, install the Puig Touring windscreen. I've had three RT's and three GS's with the standard suspension, and with this screen the GSA is every bit as good a touring bike as the RT, and will allow you to leave the asphalt at will. I've been riding for over 50 years now, and this is easily the finest motorcycle I've ever ridden.
    #10
  11. TBickell

    TBickell And away we GO !!

    Joined:
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    Somers,MT......Anthem, AZ
    Thanks for the review. I have a 2015 FJR (Nice bike for long pavement rides) and a F800GS( for some light dual sporting. Nice bike but not great at long highway speeds) I have been thinking of selling both and just getting a GS 1200 so I can ride on and off road in Montana and the Pacific northwest. I am 56 years young and have a 30 inch inseam and have never been that comfortable on the 800. I do have considerable off road experience on the 800 and have taken the Rawhyde classes and do pretty well on fire roads and jeep trails.

    My questions are: How low is a 2016/17 GSA seat height with the low suspension and standard seat. I think the web site says 31 inches. (But if you can flat foot it that is good enough for me.) Does it handle as well as a standard GSA.

    I have not seen a newer GSA compared to the regular GS but I have seen the older oil cooled and it just looks massive to me. I'm sure that huge fairing is great at high speeds for wind but is it a monster to push around? How much heavier that a regular GS dry?

    Do I really need a 8 gallon fuel tank? I'm always ready for a break at around 200 miles anyway. 8 gallons is a lot of weight.

    Is the windscreen adjustable?

    Were there any recalls on a 2016? There is a used one for sale near me in Montana. If I could sell my two bikes I might go there..

    Always a concern about reliability on a BMW especially when the nearest dealer is 120 miles away ( and they are not great the next one is 250 miles away.

    Sounds like I will need to test drive one if I can..
    #11
  12. xrttman

    xrttman xrttman

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    I'm 6 ft with a 32 inch inseam. With my previous standard suspension GS's I had to keep the seat in the low position to be comfortable off road. Even then I was mostly on tip toes. With my GSA LOW with standard height seat I had Russell Day Long build a seat which raises the height about 3/4 of an inch. I can still flat foot the bike. It is slightly harder to stand on the pegs but that's more than made up for in NEVER thinking about the seat no matter how long I'm on the bike. On longer road trips I put the seat in the high position, off the asphalt I put in the low position. With the Puig touring screen it's a real all day mile eater.

    The bike handles exactly as other GS's and GSA's. I notice no difference on or off road between the standard and low suspension bikes. I've ridden thousands of miles on BMW's since my first one in 1974. During that time I've also owned two FJR's that were good touring bikes, but just not as comfy as the GSA. The bikes do LOOK massive, however they feel and handle MUCH lighter than the FJR, not as all out fast, but at 68 and after 53 years of riding, that's not as important as it once was.

    Do you NEED an 8 gallon tank, probably not. However I have been glad more than once, on trips out west, that I had the extra gas onboard. I don't notice a great deal of difference in handling between low and full fuel tanks. If I know I'm going to be off road, I will go into the woods with about a half tank of fuel. The windscreen is adjustable and with the Puig screen very effective.

    Maybe I've been extraordinary lucky, but since 1974 I've owned seven BMW's and have had only minor issues and only a few of those. In my experience over 43 years and thousands of miles of BMW ownership, the bikes have been no more or less reliable than the several other brands I've had.

    Try it, you'll like it!
    #12
  13. cpallen

    cpallen Nearly Adventurer

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    I've owned several BMWs mixed in with a bunch of other bikes over the last 20 some years, including an 05 standard r1200GS. I did not want to buy a new bike when I happened upon a low suspension GSA when I was in for service on my K1600. All it took was for me to sit on it in the showroom and I was hooked. Awesome bike. Agree with everything other owners have said in this thread. So easy to ride - so confidence inspiring.
    #13
  14. tentative_rider

    tentative_rider Wanna Be On Gravel

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    Sorry about the delay in reply -

    I measured my bike with standard seat in low/low position, with TKC80 (taller tires than the A3) the seat height on the tires (not on stand) and full gas tank with suspension on normal setting is exactly 33" which is 838mm, 18mm taller than on the BMW literature (about 3/4 inch taller). I have short legs and wear full MX knee braces and MX boots so I can barely bend my ankle, but can still easily get both feet down, not flat foot but plenty to correct the bike if I get stuck in deep sand or silt (which happened on this trip, I was one of only 2 riders who did not drop the bike in the silt) which was in no small way related to my ability to touch down with both feet. I have no issue with my dirt bike weighing 250 lbs and having a 38" seat height but I will never again ride a 500+ lb motorcycle that I cannot touch both feet down while in my full gear.

    RE: handling I can't directly compare to non-lowered GSA LC but I rode on the roughest stuff out there and pavement at speeds up to 123mph and handling (including suspension's ability to soak up bumps) was essentially flawless. Can easily ride 80mph + on washboard gravel with no issues.

    I don't have dry weight as all BMW specs are with bike at 90% full gas tank but the GS wet weighs 538 compared with 580 for the GSA. Now take into account this includes the beefy BMW stainless side pannier rack and back rack as well as the full crash bars AND that that nearly 20 lbs are accounted for by the extra fuel in the tank since BMW Motorrad includes this weight in the published figures.

    Yes the bike looks like a land yacht but the wind protection is amazing and it handles not at all like it looks, it is extremely nimble.

    Yes the windscreen is adjustable, by easy turning of a knob in the dash. when down the wind hits me full in the helmet, when up it directs the air at the top of my helmet. Perfect for me but I am short.

    Regarding the fuel capacity this is my favorite question. We do long multiday trips in the middle of nowhere, NV etc.. and fuel is ALWAYS an issue on everyone else's bike but never on mine. I am worry free while the others are dupming their rotopax cans or whatever into their bikes and hoping they make our next fuel stop. No range anxiety is PRICELESS. No need to be easy on the throttle etc because you know you can beat the crap out of it and still have a genuine 300+ miles between fill ups.

    And this bike is simply designed to carry this fuel without feeling cumbersome, the engineers just did it right. And if for some reason you are on a short trip, you don't have to fill the tank all the way if you don't want but I always do because it really barely affects handling and I was riding some gnarly stuff.

    Re: Recalls there is a bunch of stuff out there about stanchion tube plug failure but not really sure if it's an actual recall if your bike does not have the issue. I just checked mine during the trip and they are fine, and the bike has seen heavy use.

    RE: reliability - I have never had a DNS (did not start) on any of my 6 BMW bikes, ever. I have great faith in the brand's reliability.

    I will no doubt get shit from KTM fans out there (hey I have a KTM too) but my recent ride was with 6 other guys, 4 were on KTM (2 950's 1 990. 1 1190). 3 of the 4 KTM had significant mechanical issues on this trip INCLUDING the 1190 which DID NOT START on day 3, we were 60 miles from pavemement, and 150 miles from the CLOSEST town of Elko, NV. NOT GOOD.

    We tried EVERYTHING, battery charge, battery swap, unplug and replug all electronics, looking on all forums, nothing worked. Luckily we had cell service because we had camped near an active silver mine and the poor rider got his friend to drop what he was doing, grab his trailer and drive 10 hours to pick him up. It ended up being a failure of a camshaft position sensor (an electronic part) which leaves the bike DEAD. The bike is STILL in the shop awaiting parts 10 days later. I felt so bad for this guy, he was so excited and had spent 5 months preparing for the ride, he really never even got started.

    Another KTM (990) was plagued by overheating even though the weather was cool, had to tear into the cooling system at camp 3 (NOT A TRIVIAL TASK) and had to drill out the thermostat as it would not open when it was supposed to. Then the bike kept overheating until we figured out that in order to properly get the air out of the cooling system, you have to get the front wheel 20cm (yes, over 8 inches) OFF THE GROUND WHILE RUNNING THE ENGINE AND BLEEDING THE SYSTEM. Yes this bike is called a 990 Adventure, I guess because it is an adventure in maintenance... anyhow the 6 (remaining) of us got it done by hefting the front wheel up on one of the guys Jesse panniers and we never would have been able to do it without a big group.

    One of the 950's has the clutch creep where he can essentially not keep the bike running in gear and they have tried all sorts of things, next is a replacement clutch they will be doing this week.

    all this made me appreciate the reliability I have come to expect from BMW over my 19 years as a BMW Motorrad rider.

    Hope this helps.

    TR
    #14
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  15. Pickup man

    Pickup man Been here awhile

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    I just got the 17 lowered GSA as well. Coming off a standard height 14 GSA. I'm vertically challenged and find the bike confidence inspiring in all situations.

    One thing I noticed right away though that I haven't heard anyone talking about is the feel in the steering, most noticeable at slow speeds.

    It feels kinda heavy and the slower you go its even more noticeable. I don't remember my other GSA s feeling this way.

    Has anyone else noticed this or is it just my excessive OCD kicking in? Other then that I LOVE this bike!!!!
    #15
  16. RoundTrip

    RoundTrip Unintentional deerslayer

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    OCD. Mine is lithe as a ballet dancer. :rilla

    Could be a difference in tires....
    #16
  17. Loufish

    Loufish Been here awhile

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    Burbank CA
    What a great review for me.....I've got a 2016 F800 GSA and really thinking about moving to the GS1200 GSA for 2018 but the seat height is still about 35" as is my F800. My bike is still a little tall for me with a 29-30" inseam and a bigger bike with the same issue wasn't what I was looking forward to.
    I'll take a ride on the low GSA but it sounds like it's the one for me as I'm hearing all good news.
    Thanks :)
    #17
  18. brooklyncountry

    brooklyncountry Adventurer

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    brooklyn new york
    I have a 2016 GSA low suspension, and agree with previous posts. The bike is ridiculous, handles like a champ in all situations. I'm 5'8" with a 30in inseam. I was torn between the regular GSA and low suspension, the deciding factor for me was the ESA settings.. if I want more clearance off road and/or I want the bike to feel more jacked up, I put it in the 1+luggage setting, or even the 2 up setting. You can still be on your tippie toes with this bike if you want, but can get it down low for situations where you want to be flatfooting it.

    As for steering, I recently put TKC 80's on the bike and the front feels much lighter.. didn't feel particularly heavy before but theres a noticeable difference. I like the handling with these big knobbies, on every surface and every riding situation I've encountered so far.
    #18
  19. Jager

    Jager Been here awhile

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    This. After a lifetime of nearly always thinking about fuel while out and about on two wheels, it's astonishing how freeing it is not to.
    #19
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  20. ken h

    ken h Been here awhile

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    Liberty Hill, TX
    A great write up and a very timely thread for me and I do have a question. I have been riding a 2011 R12 GS for about 4 years now. Its my first GS and first BMW. Its been a great bike. I was really torn at the time about getting the GS or a GSA. In retrospect I wish I had gotten the GSA. Of course the stock seat sucked on the GS and within a short while after I got the GS I added a Sargent seat. The Sargent is OK but has some shortcomings for me on all day rides. I have been ambivalent about doing another seat upgrade since I really didn't want to get into a 'pitch till you win' situation over the seat since over time it was becoming increasingly more clear to me that a GSA was in my future. So I have tolerated the Sargent seat until about a week ago when and inmate had a Russell for sale that fit the GS. I bought it and promptly took a 4 day trip to Arkansas. Covered about 1,500 miles with the Russell and did all kinds of riding - technical, curvy but not so technical, nice cruising roads and just flat out boring straight roads getting to and from Arkansas from Texas. The Russell has solved my seat issue but it definitely got my attention about sitting up a little taller which was expected. Taller wasn't an issue when riding but it was an issue when stopped. Prior to the Russell I could flatfoot the GS with the Sargent. With the Russell I can't flatfoot the GS but instead Im on the balls of my feet with my heels off the ground. And as for off roading, I really haven't done any with the GS but I eventually hope to take some trips where I can get off the pavement but it wont be anything other than unimproved roads or trails and certainly nothing technical since I have no off road experience at all. The few times I have been off the pavement with the GS it wasn't for long but it became very clear to me very quickly that I am too old to start trying to do technical stuff on a big, heavy adventure touring bike. My attitude towards the GS (or a GSA) is that for me it is a touring bike with some off road capability if an opportunity presents itself that is within my capability.

    So all of this leads me to my question about the GSA. I have a 30" inseam according to the label on my Levis. If I get a LC GSA and have the potential to have seat issues similar to what I have had with the GS should I consider a LC GSA low suspension regardless of the seat I may eventually be riding on? Based on my experience with the GS and the Russell I would not want to be in the circumstance of owning a LC GSA and if it should work out that if I have a seat issue on a LC GSA that if a Russell seat were to be the solution that seat height would cause any issues for me whether it be stopped or riding.
    #20
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