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Old 17 Aug 2009
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My minds made up???

HI there, new to this, and was looking for some comments, and or suggestions,. I plan to change my foray into travelling from bicycle to motorcycle. I will, or am thinking of purchasing in the next year,... and my mind was almostmade up with the Bmw 1200gs. But after reading some of the discussions on the Hubb, I am starting to get confused about its reliability. I have rode motorcycles before but nothing this big. Especially the cost associated with the bike and associated breakdowns. At the $17000 range, I was thinking it would be a good and reliable purchase. I am not looking for older models or someone elses misery, just a great bike. Should I go down to the gs800, i thought the gs650 was a good thought but... Now my profession as a motorcoach operator in the Rocky Mountains offers me the chance to see some of the most beautiful scenery. And my coach is amazingly hardy with almost no breakdowns, but were talking different things of course. At the same time when I see Motorbike riders from around the world coming through my part of the province, and a lot of them on the Bmw 1200 gs or later models. Grinning. It strikes me as one hell of a bike. And as they say they are fantastic. Am i wrong in thinking this. My dream is to travel up to Alaska, Yukon, down to Cali and later on to the South American countries. But after reading some of the forums and discussion, i am somewhat jaded, too much info, too much hype, give me the real scoop!
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Old 17 Aug 2009
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Seeing as you are used to cycling, going from a bicycle to a BMW 1200GS would be like going from a Go-Kart to a Humvee...

You have travelled on bicycle so I guess you are used to going at slow paces, enjoying the scenery and having low weight and low maintenace machines..

Well, a 1200 is very heavy, very fast, very complicated and unless you are very skilled on 2 wheels, its a huge handful when the road runs out.

I think you should try something smaller, especially if you want to explore the trails and paths you were used to on a bicycle.

If you want to go to South America, I would avoid all super high tech BMW's. The reliability just isnt there and the support you need just isnt available once you get into central and south America.

Ask youself.. Do you need a bike that does 130mph + ??????

Sadly, in the US, you dont get the XT600E, Africa Twin, Yamaha Tenere but you can get these..

DR650 SE: Will cruise at 70-80mph and handle the trails.
KLR650: Cheap and cheerful and also good highway speeds.
DRZ400 S: More offroad orientated, will cruise at 65mph. Needs more maintenace.

If your heart is set on a BMW, by all means make sure you get a test ride on one and feel the weight and make sure you are comfortable with it.

P.S... Avoid the F650GS's.. They are unreliable and badly made junk.

Btw, there is loads of info about bike choices etc in the forum.. There is a section called "What bike" which you should look at..

1994 XR650L
2001 NX650 Dominator.

BMW Dealer Technician

Ushuaia - Colombia 2007/8
UK- South Africa 2010/11
India 2012
Yukon 2012
S.E Asia 2014
U.K - Magadan 2015
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Old 17 Aug 2009
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Originally Posted by tedmagnum View Post
If your heart is set on a BMW, by all means make sure you get a test ride on one and feel the weight and make sure you are comfortable with it.

P.S... Avoid the F650GS's.. They are unreliable and badly made junk.

+1 on that.

I hope your heart isn't set on a BMW, this to me is a decision for the head. BMW will tell you their bikes are a premium product etc. It's marketing guff just like Harley will tell you their products will make you a rebel and Ducati will hint at you meeting beautiful women.

A working BMW is a perfectly good bike. What you need to ask yourself is what you'll be happy riding and what you'll do when it stops working. If you want 130 mph performance, can ride a half ton machine off road and don't mind trucking it to a dealer when it breaks the GS is maybe for you. If you can live with 80 mph performance, find 300 kg easier off road and know one end of a carb from the other there are real alternatives. I'd include KTM's in the list too.

BMW's ceased to be built better than other bikes in about 1995. Today they just have different technology and so fail in different ways. If you understand then you can fix them. More people worldwide understand KLR's etc. if you do need help.

If the badge does do it for you it's no shame to go for it. Having confidence in your machine because you feel it's up the job is probably as important as actually having reliability, your head will be set for the road not listening for impending disaster. I've had 4 BMW's and badges (the blue and white one in particular) don't do it for me anymore, but a lot of BM's have done big trips and worked out just fine. So have Urals, but I would't recomend them either.

Check out the what bike and tech threads and pick what your head says will work for you.

Edit to add: When's the trip? IMHO you want the bike on your drive 6 months before you set off and through the first set of tyres before your departure date. Best to get any bike through the learning/running in/finding out it's a lemon before you get too far in.

Enjoy whatever you get.

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Old 17 Aug 2009
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Having bicycled from Calgary up the IceFields Parkway to the Athabasca Glacier, then all the way south (via Yoho) to Mexico, I think I know where you're coming from. (Maybe you passed me once, all alone, going slowly).

Most of my travelling has been on motorcycles from 125cc to 1000cc, plus a few forays, including the above, into the wonderful world of bicycle travelling.

So my advice is read Lois Pryce's books, and Ted Simon's first book (Jupiter's Travels) before deciding.

In my opinion, what you ride should be decided by how quickly you want to travel, and how much money you want to have left over after buying the bike.
If you want to travel fast, apart from 'what's the point??' (which as a bicyclist maybe you'd agree with) then a big bike is necessary, but it comes with big disadvantages.

So my vote is for the small (say, less than 400cc) bike.

As for reliability, again in my own experience, that has far more to do with the respect you pay the bike, and to the manufacturer's instructions and guidance, and how well you acquaint yourself with the machine, than the name on the tank.

I find, the more you read other peoples' opinions, the more confused you become. So once I've decided what sort of size of bike I want, I just buy something that looks good, and feels good when I have a test ride.
I think that works, because every bike I've ever sold, I've regretted selling it for evermore - so I don't sell them any more!

TTR250 - London to Cape Town
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Old 17 Aug 2009
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Originally Posted by Tannersan View Post
too much info, too much hype, give me the real scoop!
One person's scoop is another's BS....

Basially, you could do it on any bike you please.

One big plus in your favour, is that you are probably better trained at packing light than most of us on here. So whatever you choose will be lighter packed than the same bike in someone else's hands. If you have that skill don't loose it: for many on here is the Holy Grail and harder to come by!! (me included)

My advice would be set a budget (don't shy away from used bikes), and then look for comfort for you, tank range, and reliability. Simplicity will lean toward higher relibility, but is no guarantee....

Beware reliability reports. In retail, it is known fact displeased customers make more noise than those satisfied, so you will always here more made of things that go wrong than right. It makes knowing how true and how widespread a problem is very tough to determine.

Off-roading: only you can decide what is off-road biased enough for your needs.

IMO, you would be fine with anything between 400-650 single or twin. Very suitable models can be had at low prices leaving you more for the road. By all means look at reliability reports and specs to narrow down your choice.

Ultimately, it is test-rides that will help you decide rather than suggestions from other HUBBers like us, so get out there and try bikes out.
Adventure: it's an experience, not a style!
(so ride what you like, but ride it somewhere new!)
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Old 18 Aug 2009
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Good Advice

Hi Tannersan

Good advice as usual from the chaps and I'm dropping you a line to tell you to have a look at the post from Devildiver on the Overland Bicycle Travel Section of the Hubb.

He has gone the other way and moved from a BMW R1200GS to a bicycle! He was in India last time he posted, earning a few anna's selling sweets. Great pic of him doing it.

Good luck with which ever bike you choose and to throw in my choice, I think a Honda Transalp would do a fine job.

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Old 18 Aug 2009
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But Banff is in Canada not the USA.

Got to love BMWs marketing department. When people think world riding they think BMW! Too bad for riders now we get the R1200GS. It is a big tall wallowing pig that is more at home in the showroom than on some far off dirt road. But few bikes can do all that it can do.

If you must get a BMW look at the R80gs and R100GS there bikes that BMW has made its name in overlanding on. Grate bikes that will not lose there value. A older pre 2000 BMW F650 are good bikes (once you know there problems). The biggest problem with BMW is they think that there grate and the riders are so stupid that we buy what ever they want us to. And that feeling is shared with many of the BMW shops I have been to.

One shop had my bike for 6 months and never did fix it but they did drain the oil and run it around and want to split the case to replace the oil pump as there was a oil problem. The oil pump is not in the case and the oil problem was it was low on oil after the drain. The shop said that there was no way it was there problem. That there must have been oil in it (there was it was in the frame but if you do not run the bike the oil in frame dose not drop in to oil sump.) Well a new BMW will not be my problem!

If that dose not stop you the BMW R1200GS has a know problem the final drive is known to fail sometimes getting so hot it will burn the bike. BMW knows about it but has not fixed the bike.

Know all this before you spend your $ also there is "the price of ownership" like Harley Davison that BMW on your part will add a good bit of $ on any fix and maintenance on the bike.

When I replaced the F650 I looked good and long at all the bikes almost got the KLR650 but for my needs the DL650 did 95% that the GS did at almost half the price. It is will run at 90mph if need be is smother than a thumper has all the bits of kit I need and more reliable than the F had been or most 1200 I have seen. The DL mill comes from the SV650 bike and known to be long running. All in all a good bike for me and many people that have one.

Just before you spend $ try and ride one rent them if you can. Ask your self is what the BMW gives worth the $ there asking for it.
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Old 18 Aug 2009
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Originally Posted by DLbiten View Post

If you must get a BMW look at the R80gs and R100GS there bikes that BMW has made its name in overlanding on.
Good idea, but I'm seeing airheads now that are so totally worn out and bodged together they are useless. A guy I ride with (motorcycle mechanic too) has now switched to a new Bonneville after wrecking two so called rebuilt gearboxes in 9 months. BMW parts and parts from BMW's ex-suppliers are running out and even the most reputable (Motorworks in this case) people are having to seek alternatives. The era of the airhead as an everyday bike is coming to an end IMHO, if you can get a good one fine, if the one you get isn't good it's just another worn out classic that'll need knowledge and skill to put into expedition trim. Do some serious research if you go this route (or spend as much as you would on an R1200 and get the HPN).

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Old 18 Aug 2009
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Mind Made Up?

Indecision used to be my problem. Now I'm not so sure.
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