First Post - What to Choose?! (R1200GS or V-Strom DL1000 GT)

Discussion in 'GS Boxers' started by HarryPothead, Aug 11, 2018 at 12:33 AM.

  1. HarryPothead

    HarryPothead n00b

    Joined:
    Friday
    Oddometer:
    8
    Location:
    Kirk-Cod-Aaayyy
    Good day gentlemen (and any ladies, if you're around),

    So, yes. It's my first post and whatnot and yes it's another, "What do I choose?!" thread. I think I'm in the right place, but the question I may be asking could be rhetorical; considering the majority of you here will own a GS. Hopefully some of you can offer a broader perspective on issues such as reliability, repairability, etc.

    I hail from Scotland, I have an '11 Honda CB1000RA and have only done some minor touring around the UK with my trusty Kriega US gear - I dared not venture further without a decent touring bike; with at least a wind screen. I used to ride quads and dirt bikes in my youth on beaches and through, well, completely legal fields .. :D good times, simpler times! I'm not expecting a BMW or Suzuki to haul ass all light and nimble like a 250L, but I want a bike that has road and gravel versatility.

    I've got quite an exciting life event happening right now, where I'm in the midst of moving to Norway! The country has some of the best tarmac I've come across, but also has its fair share of smaller winding roads. I've been caught out in a car before and ended up on rock/gravel tracks. I have one small problem, I'm not taking 4 wheels there, I'm taking 2. I'm refusing to buy one there, though: Motorcycles cost, literally, one arm and one leg. They are damn expensive! And as you may have guessed, since I'm here, I kind of like riding a motorcycle!

    Either way, when importing a used motorcycle I will (most likely) need to pay VAT (at an eye watering 25%) and an import tax (based on the age; older is better, engine CCs and horsepower - if the co2 emissions aren't on the V5 [pink slip] here in the UK I have to pay double tax). Example: My Honda would cost £2000 to import + VAT on estimated worth (+£1000), because my V5 reads 0g/km. If it had the Euro3 2g/km limit, that £2000 becomes £1300!

    Yikes.. And all for a silly sports-bike that can only stay on the beaten path! That's absolutely rubbish.

    I have the choice, now, to trade in my touring adverse sports-bike for something a little more adventurous. Considering I'll need to, firstly, get my motorbike to Norway and it also allows me the opportunity to ride through Europe a little more freely. I'm planning on either importing it this year, before the snow or just holding off until next year and importing it after the thaw.

    I have narrowed it down to two options I've found:

    1) BMW R1200GS (No ABS) / 2006 / 8000 miles on the clock / full BMW panniers & top box / heated grips / centre stand / crash bars / carbon hugger / Akra can; which still sounds like a sewing machine / Yellow - £5800 - The dealership are offering circa £3500 for my bike.

    I took this beauty out for a test run the other day and she's probably at the top end of the budget - considering the up-front expenditure and import tax situation.

    Handling:
    I was quite surprised at how nimble this beast was, I managed to get her on a couple of small back-roads and throw her around corners. I cheekily took her off-road onto a dirt track - risky on a test ride, I know - and had a little jaunt along it. The lack of ABS was a little jarring at first, considering I'm not used to it; but it's less parts to break. The suspension felt plush and accommodating, she had enough power to get me past vehicles and it just felt planted on the road. I felt safe, basically. The bike was sensible and fantastic to ride. I was also genuinely surprised at how easy the front wheel lifted!

    The brakes were stellar, not quite as sharp as a sports, or super-sports, but their stopping power was impressive.

    The one thing I did notice, or feel, was that the bike felt, somewhat, "nervous" - if that's the right word - when you were hitting high-speeds. This bike is definitely not meant to be ridden like the wind, in-stead, it begs to be ridden sensibly - Like it's tractor engine specifies!

    Performance & Gadgets:
    The GS wasn't like anything I had ever ridden before! It was big, fun and exciting. But you really had to go full bore on the throttle to get her shifting along the road, but the torque - when it peaked - was immense! I knew I was indeed riding a real, solid motorcycle. The refined Japanese rubbish was out the window and I was confronted with a beast that I felt could take me anywhere; all the while grumbling like an angry sewing machine.

    It was also basic enough so that there wasn't any fancy gadgets to worry about breaking and the boxer engine was absolutely full of grunty character; I absolutely love the fact that the bike tilts when you rev her whilst standing!

    The one thing that strikes fear into my heart: The shaft-drive. It's meant to be lower maintenance (no replacing chains and sprockets), but when things go horribly wrong with these, they are debilitating and require a truck. I'd quite happily be able to carry a chain, sprockets, a brush and some lube with me, but lugging around an entire final-drive.. Not so much.

    The stock wind-shield was average - It did a good job at deflecting the wind, but I really feel an adjustable extender at the top - or a whole new screen - would make the world of difference.

    Ergonomics:
    Comfort. The stock seat was actually comfortable. Let me wrap my head around this, a manufacturer has actually put a seat on their bike that is comfortable. My butt couldn't believe it. The handle bars were just the right distance away, my legs were in a comfortable position.

    Other thoughts:
    Oh, and I'm fairly certain she was dropped on her left side. The crash bars have been marked, along with the wing mirror and the pannier; I don't know if it's been damaged enough to leak. Definitely a low speed drop, or they forgot to put the leg down.. Which is understandable, because of my next point below:

    One problem I had - I'm 5'10" and I was on the very tips of my tippy toes. I'd need to bring that seat down a little, if possible. I am pretty sure I'd drop it sooner, rather than later!

    2) Suzuki V-Strom DL 1000 GT [K6] (No ABS) / 2007 / 13000 miles / full Suzuki panniers & top box / heated grips / USB charging port / aftermarket seat / aftermarket screen / spotlights / silver - £4800. The dealership are offering £4200 for my bike; £4000 less for some parts required.

    Update:
    I blasted through to Glasgow to have a shot of this beauty; that was sarcasm, these bikes are uuuuugly - They're not exactly liveried Fireblades.

    Ergonomics:
    First things first, comfort. This was like sitting in an arm-chair. The 'ergos' were a little different to the GS. The seat was lower, so I was capable of touching both feet to the ground (not completely flat) and my arms were stretched a little further than the GS. It has an aftermarket seat, so I reckon this seriously assisted with the comfort factor. The aftermarket windshield: wow, it beat the bejesus out of the Beemers - I was able to ride without earplugs, comfortably - even into the triple digits. I stopped the bike, took out my ear plugs and put my earphones in. I was able to listen to music and have the sat-nav on without the volume having to be even more deafening than the wind-whoosh.

    Handling:
    The ride on this was actually rather smooth, the softer suspension made a good match for the roads - I don't think it would fair too well off-road. I wasn't too familiar with the area, so I didn't know many roads to take, so I just headed to a nearby town (where I got married!). There were some backroads, motorways and town riding - none of which were overwhelming. I took it off-road in a random (abandoned looking) industrial estate. I also found a carpark that was basically one huge pot-hole - I blasted it around and it soaked up the bumps fairly easily. I managed to lock the front wheel up a few times, but that's another point to be made.

    So, the BMW definitely wins when it's off-road.

    Performance & Gadgets:
    The V-twin motor was an absolute blast - It's just a shame that the bike doesn't have aftermarket cans, I bet it sounds glorious otherwise! I know the GS has more 'peak torque' but the V-Twin just felt like it had more torque available from lower RPM [3000-3500] and it would sit best at 4000RPM. Where I felt I had to have the GS running at nearly full-tilt [5500-6000RPM] to get a good response from the funky-boxer motor.

    The Suzuki panniers were plastic, as opposed to the aluminium of the Beemer. Less class, again.

    Where the V-Strom fell completely flat were the brakes, and I mean, I felt like I could have been flattened up against some cars with the lack thereof. I did manage to lock the brakes up, both on the road and some gravel surfaces, but I had the brake lever pulled back onto the throttle! I think it needs some new pads and/or some serious adjustment - Not very confidence inspiring! The brakes on my Honda and the Beemer make you feel like you want to pull a stoppie when you're not even at 50%.

    The damn thing also stalled on me whilst riding! This was partially down to a poor choice of gearing, but I reckon the fueling is very poor at lower RPM (2000~). It runs far too lean. The motor seems happiest around 4000RPM. Anything under that in our usual, "comfort zone" doesn't seem to apply here.

    Initial Conclusion:
    Now I've ridden the GS and the V, it's a tough call. Both have their merits and flaws.

    The BMW seems to be put together with a mish-mash of greatly designed, high quality parts. She handles well, the suspension set-up is, well, BMW's intuition and engineering at their best. The high-speed wobbles are my only concern. It doesn't feel like BMW have compromised anywhere on the bike.

    I basically want the BMW for two things:
    1) The boxer engine - It's so full of character. It just feels unique. Plus, it buzzes along like a bloody diesel. The torque is a steady progression up to the red-line, so there's no nasty surprises - even if the throttle response feels slightly flat.

    2) Street cred - You have to admit it, the Beemer absolutely oozes class. Imagine 4 bikers pull into a bikers' stop: Suzuki, Yamaha, Honda and BMW. You can guarantee that 3/4 of those bikes are going to become invisible. The only other manufacturer's that really stand toe-to-toe with the brand are Ducati and Triumph.

    The Suzuki doesn't have the overall striking design as the GS, but it's ugliness is definitely on-par. It's, practically, 80-90% of the bike the BMW is - minus suspension and brakes. It has a fun, punchy motor and it's comfortable.

    I want the V-Strom for two things:
    1) The V-twin - Who genuinely doesn't love a V? It is hellishly addictive. It has a sweet burbling tone to it and sounds great when being revved up. The motor would be glorious if unleashed in all of its' glory with some decent pipes.

    2) Cost effective - Both in the short-term and long-term. I won't be burdened by the BMW brand tax. Not to mention, the bike has been tarted (farkled) up slightly already! Example: replacing a buggered chain and worn out sprockets is a far simpler task than replacing, or maintaining a shaft-drive.

    Notes:
    My purchase isn't 100% financially driven, but it is a factor. I have some significant moving costs to calculate in. Overall, I'll buy what is the best for the purpose. I'd say I'll be doing probably 70-80% road riding and the rest would be on uneven surfaces, or gravel.

    The lack of ABS may be a positive when it comes to going off-road. Locking the back brake, for instance.

    I'm still not well versed in terms of maintenance of both. I've read the V-Strom runs-and-runs like a workers truck until it dies... But can have some inherent problems with its' clutch. There's issues for the beamer with the final-drive, yadda. You know the score. But it is, generally, easier to maintain other parts.

    Obligatory test ride photos of the GS:
    IMG_20180809_161154.jpg IMG_20180809_161143.jpg IMG_20180809_161408.jpg IMG_20180809_161133.jpg

    Obligatory test ride photos of the V-Strom:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    #1
  2. ozcruiser

    ozcruiser Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2017
    Oddometer:
    481
    Location:
    Coffs Harbour
    Nice bike I know what I would buy.
    #2
  3. HarryPothead

    HarryPothead n00b

    Joined:
    Friday
    Oddometer:
    8
    Location:
    Kirk-Cod-Aaayyy
    I thought this would be a rhetorical question! :lol3
    #3
  4. Gone Troppo

    Gone Troppo Somewhat bemused observer

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Oddometer:
    7,851
    Location:
    Over the bridge of sighs..
    GS
    #4
  5. Jim Moore

    Jim Moore Harsh and colorful

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2001
    Oddometer:
    27,057
    Location:
    Jax, FL
    I despise the ABS system in the 2005-2006 model years, so that 2005 with no ABS looks very intriguing.
    #5
  6. Bill929

    Bill929 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2009
    Oddometer:
    27
    Location:
    West Jefferson, NC
    I rented a V-Stom for a couple of trips before I bought my GS. In my opinion the V-Strom is a good bike. The GS is a great bike...
    #6
    scfrank likes this.
  7. Stoshu

    Stoshu Carnivorous Moronius

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2004
    Oddometer:
    928
    Location:
    Northeastern - PA
    Both terrific bikes that will do the job well. The price difference isn't enough to let it drive the decision IMHO. I'd pick the one that trips your trigger more, assuming they are in similar condition. Then go discover Norway!

    Best of luck on the move and your future travels.
    #7
    HarryPothead likes this.
  8. wellcraft

    wellcraft Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2008
    Oddometer:
    122
    Location:
    PA
    Everything I've ever read and heard about the V-Strom has always been positive so I don't think you could go wrong with either bike. Another consideration is Suzuki or BMW dealer network in Norway if you need maintenance or parts. When I was looking at buying an adventure bike I decided against the Triumph Tiger and KTM because dealer network for both brands was thin in my area.
    #8
  9. henrys

    henrys Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2015
    Oddometer:
    70
    Location:
    North Texas
    Hopefully you're posting this in the Japan section as well.
    #9
  10. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid!

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2005
    Oddometer:
    76,597
    Location:
    Alexandria, VA
    I agree. Money may be an issue, but so many people buy on price, but are never happy with their choice when they really wanted a different bike.
    #10
    HarryPothead, Stoshu and PaulBarton like this.
  11. PaulBarton

    PaulBarton Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2015
    Oddometer:
    381
    Location:
    Seattle
    You should have ridden the V-strom first. Sounds like your decision has already been made ;-).

    I have no real experience with the V-Stroms but understand they are very capable machines. Most that I know got them because of cost + functionality with cost being the primary driver. The GS gets purchased for functionality. If both bikes are relatively close in price then it’s not really a decision.
    #11
  12. DSTEVENS

    DSTEVENS Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2012
    Oddometer:
    544
    Location:
    FM 335,336,337.
    Hello Harrypothead, i come from a lifetime of riding Japanese bikes. Most all types i have owned. I owned the 650 and 1000 Vstrom. Both were great bikes, without any repairs needed in the 30k miles i put on each. I bought new so i knew history. I have always Loved/Lusted for the GSA. I am 6’4” 36” inseam and have ridden most big adventure bikes looking for that “fit”. The GSA is only one that does it without extensive mods. The GSA just makes me smile everytime i take it for a ride. I will say that coming from Japanese bikes of every engine type, the Boxer with dry clutch takes some getting used to. It is quirky and wierd as compared to a Japanese bike, but regardless of that i LOVE mine.
    Best wishes. D.
    #12
    HarryPothead likes this.