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Old 7 Oct 2003
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R 1150 GS (or GS ADV) Reliablity???

Greetings, dear fellow-HUBBers!

I'm on my way to buy a two-up enduro tourer. But before i decide what to buy i got a big question: how reliable the BMW R 1150 GS is? Is it the same reliable as the old legendary R 1100 or K75 that can do 100 000+miles without any problems?

Still, I don't know what to pick up for a two-up touring: Suzuki V-Strom 1000 or R 1150 GS. Altough the price for GS is sky-high compared with V-Strom, i'd i'd still be interested in GS if it turns out to be much more reliable than V-Strom. Strom is pretty new bike (since 2001), so no high milage had been done yet, maximum i've heard is 60k miles without any problems (except oil, filters and chain replacements). But still i'm a bit worried it's reliability on high mileage... Compression ratio is very high too - 11.3:1 for a 1000cc engine.

Can anyone tell what's the nominal life for R 1150 GS, can it pass 100 000 mile "barrier" with out any problems or is it known to have some kind of technical problems all the time?

The bike should be capable of performing RTW hopefully without any problems, is the R 1150 GS the right bike for it? Is it bullet-proof enough? Or should i look into older and again proved R 1100 GS etc side?

I'd very much appriciate your opinions about it, thanks, Margus
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Old 10 Oct 2003
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I just got back from a one year trip with my 2001 GS 1150. I went from Canada, through Central America, South America, across to Africa, north to the Middle East, then into Europe. 70,000 km in total (the bike now has 91,000 on the odometer)- both on road and off road. Ran like a top the entire trip. It is a very tough bike with a good dealer network. Highly recommended.
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Old 10 Oct 2003
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Greetings, Mark!

Excellent trip you performed!

Can you tell - what were the normal maintenence cycles and what did you had to do on the bike - just tires, oils, sparks, shaft and filters? Or were there any more serious problems too, clutch died etc? Did you do any valve adjustment on the road too - on your own or used a BMW technician?

BTW: can you post a slight trip report and add some photos from your trip too? We all would be very interested in your story!

Best of regards, Margus
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Old 10 Oct 2003
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Margus, be sure to check out the V-Strom specific bulletin boards, also. Remember that problems get posted, not trouble free bikes. The 2002 V-Strom seems to have clutch basket problems, dealers claim the 2003s have been fixed. Good luck.
P.S. I ride a GS, so far, so good. 12,200 miles on a 2003
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Old 10 Oct 2003
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i have been riding an '1150 adventure' now for 12000 km from norway via russia and into east europe, we are 2 up with loads of gear, bike is a dream but the suspension is rubbish on a stock bike, i installed 'ohlins' with an uprated spring on the rear, best 800 pounds sterling ever spent. the bike cruises at 100-120 kmh all day and still returns a healthy 55 mpg.
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Old 12 Oct 2003
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Thanks for your replyes.

I'll post the text that i posted about the V-Strom question here too:

I need a bike virtually capable of going anywhere on two-up, and fully bullet-proof doing a RTW (last requrement is very subjective one, as we know - we don't live in ideal world).

R 1150/1100 GS seem to be absolutely the finest bike for that purpose - but it's complicated to understand - technically speaking, it's capable of going everywhere on two up - BUT- IT DOES NOT WORK WITH LOWER OCTANE GAS??! -> Thus you cannot go with it anywhere because you can't get 95+octane gas in deep Asia for example. Well, as i can see the R 1150 GS ADV model has a spare plug available to buy (probably expensive piece indeed) that sets the engine to work on lower ocatne gas, but it works only temporarely as i've read from BMW site - redicoulous, also the price for ADV model goes high till the Moon. Not sure if the lower octane plug is available for simple GS model too(?)

V-Strom is a very offroad capable too as i've read if some suspension modifications are done. Seems to be near-ideal. But the problem is still again proved-reliability. VS is too new bike on the market, not well tested on high mileage. Altough it's basically the same comfortible as GS even on two up. And most of all - VS works 87+ octane gas - ideal for Asia/Africa.

So, as you can see - i'm having real difficulties to choose between them...

Anyone has a recommendation or a solution for choosing siutable bike described above?

Hope you have some answers for my possible blindness about GS... Margus
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Old 12 Oct 2003
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I don't know if the R1150 engine is that much different from the R1000 engine, but my R1100R (same motor as GS) runs OK on lower octane fuel. Uses a bit more gas, but performance isn't that bad, no pinging and all that. I suppose it's possible the 1150 motor had higher compression.

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Old 13 Oct 2003
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For my trip i made the following modifications to my GS 1150:

1. Removed the catalytic convertor and replaced it with a Sebring connector pipe.
2. Moved the gas filter to a postion outside of the gas tank (allows for easier replacement)
3. Replaced the 2 stock shocks and replaced with Ohlins
4. Added a Touratech hard part protector for the front forks
5. Replaced the plastic cover for the tool kit storage area with a locking steel plate
6. Added a headlight protector with auxiliary lighting
7. Added Touratech panniers

I have heard different things about whether one has to remove the cat for RTW trips. Some have said it is unnecessary (including someone that rode his 1997 GS 1100 for 2 months on leaded fuel without any problems) while others have said it is a required modification. I played it safe and removed it. The only problem I had was that the bike backfired sometimes on deceleration.

I did the entire trip without any problems. I have heard arguments against GS 1150 for RTW trips, including the argument that it is too complex - ie fuel injection - than some of the older bikes. My reply to that argument is ask a Beemer mechanic how often the bikes have problems with their fuel injection.

It is a very tough motorcycle. I took the BMW enduro course in South Africa last May and did some riding on rough roads in Northern Kenya and Ethiopia (It was dropped a number of times). It is a heavy bike but handles amazingly well in such conditions. I used 3 sets of Metzeler Tourances on my trip (70,000 km) and did not have one puncture.

Just a little background info: I did my trip without any sponsorship. I am 46 years old and had 20 years of street riding, but no dirt experience. I have little mechanical knowledge, but did spend 10 hours with a BMW mechanic before i left, learning about basic service for the bike. As such, i could change all the oils and do the valves. Nevertheless, i had BMW dealers do this work most of the time because the prices are quite reasonable in South America and Africa.

In summary, the GS 1150 is a tough and capable motorcycle with a good dealer network throughout much of the world. There is also a huge parts inventory and lots of aftermarket products for the bike, as well.
I think it is a great choice for any RTW trip, with a few modifications.
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Old 14 Oct 2003
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Thanks a million for your advice and tips, Mark!

I've decided - geting very possibly GS too. But looks like used 1100cc prices are lower than 1150cc models with the same mileage(?)

I must take a closer look into the market...


[This message has been edited by Margus (edited 13 October 2003).]
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Old 20 Oct 2003
G_S G_S is offline
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I have a BMW Adventure. I have done around 16 000 miles in 8 months with no problems.

If you wish to use unleaded fuel, you must remove the catalitic convertor. It is a very easy bike to work on and also to service. I can adjust the valves in 30 minutes and do a full service in about 1 1/12 hours. It works great at long distances and also when heavily loaded with a passenger and luggage. You will find much more information and after market parts are available for a GS than the Suzuki.

Here is a good site to browse if you need to find out anything about BMW GS's of any year


Good luck with your new bike.
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Old 21 Oct 2003
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Thanks a lot for the important info. I first though that it's impossible to run non-premium gas in GS. It's very good to hear that it's not truth.

Didn't found any info on GS Forums, but what's the minimum ocatne level gas that R1100GS can run, 91 or 87 octane (if catalythic converter is removed)?

Kind regards, Margus

[This message has been edited by Margus (edited 21 October 2003).]
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Old 21 Jan 2004
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Just checked today on the price for the chip to change the motor computer to use lower quality fuel with a R1150GS.

Stock price from BMW is €10.50 (in Germany)

The part must simply be plugged in. BMW says this is for use with 91 Octane fuel.

Note that this has nothing to do with leaded vs unleaded. The chip allows for worse quality unleaded fuel.

From what I can tell from posts here, removing the cat would then also make low octane leaded possible (unless you dont care about wrecking a cat.... the engine will run just fine without, but the authorities might not be impressed during your next environmental inspection)
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