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-   -   Spoked wheels, ceramic clutches, aftermarket shocks - how important ? (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/bmw-tech/spoked-wheels-ceramic-clutches-aftermarket-28118)

flyerblade 9 Jul 2007 16:41

Spoked wheels, ceramic clutches, aftermarket shocks - how important ?
Hi. I have a R1200GS with the standard cast wheels and am considering a trip that involves lots of travel on gravels roads. Not hard-core off-roading, but gravel mountain roads with a heavily-loaded bike. Are the spoked wheels worth having for this ?

Also, I notice Touratech do a ceramic clutch. Is this a wise fitment before embarking on such a trip or an over-the-top expense ?

Also aftermarket rear shocks. Again, is this going over the top paranoia of failure or a wise precaution.

I would like to be properly prepared but am sure buying one of everything in the Touratech catalogue is not mandatory either!

Any experiences appreciated,


AliBaba 9 Jul 2007 17:59

First of all; Touratech makes a lot of nonsense aimed for gadget-freaks. But they also have some great stuff…

There will probably be different views on this one, and here is mine:

Spoked wheels are worth having if you go offroad. On the other side the standard spoked wheels for the 1200 GS is not very good.

You will probably not need the ceramic clutch. It comes to it’s right under extremely hard driving in soft sand but for most riders it’s not needed.

I would have changed the rear suspension (Øhlins).

IMHO suspension, rims, tyres (and some time tubes) are important factors when going offroad.
But it’s not enough to buy Øhlins (or whatever) they should be properly set up and overhauled every 30-50kkm, if possible.

Nomadic1 9 Jul 2007 20:02

If you intend on doing serious offroad (other than just off tarmac) then wire wheels are a must. The alloy castings do not take the shock of big impacts at all well, and it wouldnt be unheard of for a wheel to snap or shatter.

That said, the wire wheels do require a lot of maintenance to keep true and round, and can alter the handling on road (in that they will give more and so wont offer as precise handling).

To be fair, you'd need to be pushing rather hard to notice the flexion of wire wheels, but if you did, you'd probably be well on your way to coming off too.

As for ceramic clutches I've heard more complaints after they've been fitted than prior to fitment. To bed them in you need to rag your clutch hard, and to not do so means your clutch will slip prematurely (to avoid the whole reason why you wanted to fit it in the first place?).

I'd say wait until your shocks blow before replacing them. The stock stuff is ok.

Jeff Munn 9 Jul 2007 22:03

Cast vs spoked rims?

Originally Posted by flyerblade (Post 142638)
Hi. I have a R1200GS with the standard cast wheels and am considering a trip that involves lots of travel on gravels roads. Not hard-core off-roading, but gravel mountain roads with a heavily-loaded bike. Are the spoked wheels worth having for this ?

Any experiences appreciated,


Spoked wheels are not just for off-roading. A spoked wheel will "give" and absorb shocks that might break or crack a cast wheel. Tarmac roads that are falling apart and have sharp edged potholes are killers of cast rims and tires. I would definitely change my wheels to spoked if I were embarking on any trip that involved long distances on poor roads.

My second priority would be a newer aftermarket shock, especially if you are going to be packing a lot of stuff. I have Ohlins and they were the single best $ I spent on the bike for all around handling.

Ceramic clutch? Maybe if you're going to be spending a lot of time in deep sand. Otherwise I would not do it. I just rode from England to China on a 2001 R1150GS. Prior to the trip I replaced the clutch at 104,000 miles (with another stock clutch from BMW) and it did just fine.

jeff munn
Petersburg, Virginia

flyerblade 10 Jul 2007 09:47

Thanks for all the feedback, really appreciated :thumbup1:

gsworkshop 11 Jul 2007 13:39

Fit spoke wheels and do not get the standard wheels from BMW, rather look at Africa Queens and HPN. You will get far more superior wheels for the same price.
It might be wise to consider more standard size rims for off road use like a 21" front and the rear in a 17" 2.5 or 3" wide.

Stay away from ceramic clutch, less contact area will make them slip easier than normal clutch, especially in thick sand and difficult riding conditions.

Serviceable shocks is a must, they will also improve bike handling and safety.

flyerblade 2 Aug 2007 11:43

Thanks. I'm having trouble finding websites for the above companies, or any alternative spoked wheel companies. Any idea how much the wheels may cost ? I'm guessing 700-800 each.

Ghost Rider 2 Aug 2007 12:59

AfricanQueens - Spezialteile für Enduros und Reiseenduros.


To be honest, my personal preference is still with cast wheels, including rough potholed roads and gravel tracks - I've found that the 1200GS cast wheels can cope with more than some people expect. Having buckled two spoked wheels on my 1150GS on similar terrain, I'm not such a fan anymore, plus for on road riding, the cast wheels win hands-down in my book.

Gecko 3 Aug 2007 12:34

You are the first person I have ever heard who advocates cast wheels for off roading. My worry would be that cast wheels can develop hairline fractures you may not even see if you use them too roughly and this could lead to a sudden catastrophic failure when you least expect it . They are just not designed to be abused on rough terrain. Damaging a spoked wheel can of course happen but can be fixed - a broken cast alloy wheel is only fit for the garbage.

Ghost Rider 3 Aug 2007 13:48

Maybe I wasn't clear enough. I wouldn't use cast wheels for true off-roading, but find them fine for gravel tracks and rough roads. I've had experience of buckling spoked wheels on terrain where the cast wheels have coped, but I do agree with you, if the cast wheels do break, you can throw them away, where as the spoked wheels may (but not always!) be repaired.

I guess as with many things in this life, it's often down to personal choice.

Gecko 3 Aug 2007 13:52

...yeah and cast wheels look cool and are easier to clean too :thumbup1: but I'm a spoked wheel man myself - 2 sets of wheels - one with road tyres and one with TKC80's for when it gets fun :innocent:

Tim Cullis 3 Aug 2007 14:18

In the past several years I've only heard of one instance of BMW cast wheels failing and that was when Nadeem on GSClub UK accidentally rammed a pavement at high speed.

Coupled with my own experience of doing 50,000 miles on my 1200GS with cast wheels on 'potholed' roads and many hundreds of miles of tracks worse than flyerblade is considering, IMHO I would say don't bother spending the money on spokes.

The standard clutch takes an enormous amount of abuse and the guys at the World of BMW Offroad Course don't seem to have problems with bikes that are used week after week.

The standard rear shocks are fine for the stuff flyerblade is considering, but many people replace them for other reasons (better handling).


flyerblade 3 Aug 2007 17:13

Firstly, a big thanks to everyone for your input on this thread - really appreciated :thumbup1:

Just to clarify, I'm not going to be going properly off-road as I may well be 2-up and loaded up, but at the same time I don't want to just stick to the main highways in S America. In summary: poor roads, gravel roads, dirt roads yes; off-road, prob not.

It's sounding more and more like my current stock GS + some Metal Mules is the way to go and save the cash for when on the trip :cool4:

So much to plan and work out but maybe one day I can give some advice back in return on here.

jc 25 Aug 2007 11:55

Hi, I'm not a huge fan of alloy wheels, and would change it if it fits the budget. I rode a stock standard 1150GS from Cape Town to Dubai through some very rough terrain with my wife on the back. We went through serious mud and serious sand, dragging the clutch a few times that you could smell it. On almost 90,000km on the clock, I have no clutch problems. I think the ceremic clutch is a big waste of money. My front rim has a few dents (Spoke) and give a nasty vibration on high speed (160), which I rarly do anyway. It was mostly due to the bad state of Kenya and Etheopia's roads. On one ocation I got a sudden puncture and his a big rock with the flat front tyre (Did not fall). That made the biggest dent. At least it did not brake or buckle, but I think it might have been otherwise if it was an alloy?

But a lot of huys do these roads on Varaderos and V-storms, which doesn't have spokes, and they turn out fine, so I'm sure you'll be fine.
If you brake it, then replace it!



Van Isle 2 Sep 2007 22:06


Originally Posted by flyerblade (Post 145911)
It's sounding more and more like my current stock GS + some Metal Mules is the way to go and save the cash for when on the trip :cool4:

Exactly the right idea. Unless you're going super-duper budget travel, you'll have some reserve funds (line of credit, credit card, family loans) so that if you need a new shock, or decide you really want a new shock, you can get one.

There's time and hassle involved, but whatever. You can't "un-buy" a shock when you decide you want to stay in Buenos Aires for a month of lessons in Spanish, guitar, and tango...

See ya on the road.


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