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vincent danna 2 Jun 2005 17:00

BMW GS to go round the world: A Myth? Breaking down?
 
BMW GS TO GO ROUND THE WORLD : A MYTH ? BREAKING DOWN ?

Hello,

Before my trip, I chose the BMW R100GS PD (I did not have many bikes experiences before), I thought it was the ideal bike and I had on the trip a few problems with (mechanic and others).

The more I read here on Horizons Unlimited, the more I talk around with bikers/overlanders, I have this feeling that BMW GS efficiency / reliability / adaptability, etc … is a MYTH well entertained by BMW (marketing, etc … ) so bikers/overlanders got affected by whatever (?) and entertain it sometimes (?).

What s your opinion about it ? The debate can be enlarged of course. I m still wondering ...

I put on purpose one post on the "BMW TECH" forum (for bmw bikers reactions) and one post on "WHICH BIKE ?" forum (for other brands bikers reactions). It could be interesting to compare the reactions (if any) at the end.

Thanx for your contribution.

Some ideas, arguments, nuances (every point almost here under has been discussed more or less on Horizons Unlimited, differently, this is a kind of summary, some other points can be added of course):

1- there are many different BMW GS models : from the R80G/S to the R1200GS, F650 : there are some differences, especially maintenance.

2- which round the world tour are we talking about ? most of overlanders do it independent alone with no sponsor no mechanic crew behind them ? how many kms driven, which intensity, how long the trip takes etc … ? I don t know, let s say for example something like more than one year or/and more than 50 000 kms.

3- what s your ideal bike to ride ? a relax one, a more fun / aggressive one, reliable (are you ready to accept mechanic problems or do you want no problem ?), confortable, light, heavy, etc … NB : riding a KTM Adventure / R1200GS is not the same idea as riding a 125cc messenger bike.

4- the motorbike is a "tool" to travel around, so it s reasonable to know it well, how it works, how to maintain / fix / repair (that was not my case for example) : some people go round the world on tuk tuk, scooter, 50cc, KTM Adventure and R1200GS. To compare with photography : the camera is a "tool" for the photographer : you give the best camera to a bad photographer if he does not know how to use it, he won t take good photos and even spoil / break it.

5- When there s a mechanic problem, you sometimes need to find spare parts and "manpower / mechanician" : is it easier with Japanese bikes than BMW ??? From my experience in those far countries :
a) BMW dealers are really rare, most of them don t have spare parts and are not experienced, sorry for them !
b) yes, there are definitely more Japanese bikes but mainly 50-200 cc ones : so does it mean that you will fix easily your 500cc-1200cc Japanese bike (1-4 cylinders, 2-4 valves/cylinder) ? + Now thanx to internet, we can order anywhere.

6- Here on Horizons Unlimited, there are more "complaints" and problems on BMW GS than happy posts : maybe, people tend to post rather their problems than their happiness, maybe it s human nature also :-)

7- According to chris scott survey on : http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/ubb...ML/000304.html , the BMW GS is surprisingly not in top position.

Thanx for your contribution, ideas, thoughts, reactions, welcome :-)

Cheers


Margus 2 Jun 2005 17:24

Quote:

Originally posted by vincent danna:
[B]BMW GS TO GO ROUND THE WORLD : A MYTH ? BREAKING DOWN ?
Hello,

Before my trip, I chose the BMW R100GS PD (I did not have many bikes experiences before), I thought it was the ideal bike and I had on the trip a few problems with (mechanic and others).

The more I read here on Horizons Unlimited, the more I talk around with bikers/overlanders, I have this feeling that BMW GS efficiency / reliability / adaptability, etc … is a MYTH well entertained by BMW (marketing, etc … ) so bikers/overlanders got affected by whatever (?) and entertain it sometimes (?).
What i can agree on is that BMWs are too much "talked" into reliable side. They aren't that reliable as most people think they are. They too have their cons ans all bikes, so it's not a myth eighter.

Marketing - not much to do with old bikes, such as airheads. Marketing nuances follow with newest generation bikes company has to sell - the R1200GS mainly and R1150GS Adventure.


Quote:

What s your opinion about it ? The debate can be enlarged of course. I m still wondering ...
My certan opinion would be that discussion is a bit too narrowly stated.

Quote:

Some ideas, arguments, nuances (every point almost here under has been discussed more or less on Horizons Unlimited, differently, this is a kind of summary, some other points can be added of course):

1- there are many different BMW GS models : from the R80G/S to the R1200GS, F650 : there are some differences, especially maintenance.

2- which round the world tour are we talking about ? most of overlanders do it independent alone with no sponsor no mechanic crew behind them ? how many kms driven, which intensity, how long the trip takes etc … ? I don t know, let s say for example something like more than one year or/and more than 50 000 kms.

3- what s your ideal bike to ride ? a relax one, a more fun / aggressive one, reliable (are you ready to accept mechanic problems or do you want no problem ?), confortable, light, heavy, etc … NB : riding a KTM Adventure / R1200GS is not the same idea as riding a 125cc messenger bike.

4- the motorbike is a "tool" to travel around, so it s reasonable to know it well, how it works, how to maintain / fix / repair (that was not my case for example) : some people go round the world on tuk tuk, scooter, 50cc, KTM Adventure and R1200GS. To compare with photography : the camera is a "tool" for the photographer : you give the best camera to a bad photographer if he does not know how to use it, he won t take good photos and even spoil / break it.
Definately it's a tool. And "tool" is very subjective form of word, everybody have their personal taste about it. I use full Medium Format and Large Format photography on travel that only very few people use it for this purpose on Earh. Does it mean i'm on wrong path? Ironically, you can ask the same from Harley Davitson RTW drivers.


Quote:

5- When there s a mechanic problem, you sometimes need to find spare parts and "manpower / mechanician" : is it easier with Japanese bikes than BMW ??? From my experience in those far countries :
a) BMW dealers are really rare, most of them don t have spare parts and are not experienced, sorry for them !
b) yes, there are definitely more Japanese bikes but mainly 50-200 cc ones : so does it mean that you will fix easily your 500cc-1200cc Japanese bike (1-4 cylinders, 2-4 valves/cylinder) ? + Now thanx to internet, we can order anywhere.
Correct, it seems pointless to debate, i'm sure the jap 50-200cc mechanics can't do much with 1000cc EFI Hondas. DHL, Fedex works everywhere. And 95% of the issues you can repair your own, even with little mechanical knowledge, just get proper repair manual for your bike, wheather it's American, European or Japanese made. They all brake down sooner or later, no mechanical system is perfect - even the bikes considered very reliable can brake down very surprisingly - i.e. UKs record owner 800 000+ miles driven Honda CBR1100XX bikes broke down on first 5000 kilometres after bought new on other's users hands)


Quote:

6- Here on Horizons Unlimited, there are more "complaints" and problems on BMW GS than happy posts : maybe, people tend to post rather their problems than their happiness, maybe it s human nature also :-)

I'd say it certanly has to do with BMW users are more interested on mechanical side compared with jap users. I've observed this fenomena in many motorcycle forums.

At least my 1100GS works 100% reliable so far, nearing 40K on the clock and i mostly beat it on very bad roads around here, not driving it like a pensioner. BUT i ast, and i ask ALOT! Which i don't see nearly as much on JAP bikes forums. Surely we can conclude here BMW users are more "soulful" about their bikes. And i very much know about my bike throughoutly, altough it works perfectly reliable so far i still very often take my repair manual and read it on coffetable. The knowledge you can collect never let's you down, and certanly most low budget unsponsored RTW tourer should be aware of his/hers bike technical side.


Quote:

7- According to chris scott survey on : http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/ubb...ML/000304.html , the BMW GS is surprisingly not in top position.
Strange, but i see BMWs cover the most. Then comes Honda. Or am i seeing it wrong?

Bike for more fun and exitment to perform RTW? I definately agree. And here's the conclusion: take the bike you most like and leave the rest of it (reliability, marketing tricks etc etc) to secondary status. All bikes are RTW-doable, wheather it's 50cc scooter or 5000cc BossHoss.

[This message has been edited by Margus (edited 02 June 2005).]

Margus 2 Jun 2005 17:48

Reading it over again, i can say this thread goes beyond reasonable conclusions based on those assumptions Vincent stated.

I'd say it seems better to start from asking:

1. What's your is your purpose of your RTW? Where you want to go? (i.e. 20 000km from US south-to-east, then to trans Eurasia and back home or 500 000+km and more than 10 year discovering every country there is)
2. Solo or two up?

The BMW GS cover only narrow spectrum of it. And there are two of them - 650cc single cyl and twins that are very different, and boxer twin models airheads and oilheads are very different. The zoo of the world is too big to say conclusivly one bike is junk and another is excellent.

[This message has been edited by Margus (edited 02 June 2005).]

Ian 2 Jun 2005 18:36

A lot of points here. All IMHO:

I can't comment on any BMW because I haven't owned one. But so many have been used for the big trip that there must be something right about them.

Having said that, I think its true to say that just about any bike will be suitable - it all comes down to the brand/type of machine you prefer. Your intended route is probably another factor - but then some machines have been taken to some unlikely places.

I think one approach to take is to view your travel bike as another piece of travel equipment, just like your tent or cooker. It'll eventually wear out at which point you can either spend money to keep it going, sell it on or consign it filling up space at the back of the garage. It is after all, just a collection of metal/rubber/plastic etc. that you've used to do something with, the something being your big trip(s), which will hopefully have left you with lots of happy memories which, for me, is the point of it all.

vincent danna 2 Jun 2005 19:54

margus, thanx for your replies, i reply to you hereunder :

My certan opinion would be that discussion is a bit too narrowly stated.

- i tried to throw some ideas (7) to start a debate about ... feel free to open it, as far as it s around the subject : BMW GS TO GO ROUND THE WORLD : A MYTH ? BREAKING DOWN ?

Marketing - not much to do with old bikes, such as airheads. Marketing nuances follow with newest generation bikes company has to sell - the R1200GS mainly and R1150GS Adventure.

- i clearly noticed that BMW lives on their past, glories, history (paris dakar), past overlanders glorious trips : they ve been doing marketing for a while, inventing the g/s concept and improving it over the years, the models, etc ...

Strange, but i see BMWs cover the most. Then comes Honda. Or am i seeing it wrong?

- good eye :-) but it s not enormous or flagrant, as we may think

Reading it over again, i can say this thread goes beyond reasonable conclusions based on those assumptions Vincent stated. I'd say it seems better to start from asking :

What's your is your purpose of your RTW? Where you want to go? (i.e. 20 000km from US south-to-east, then to trans Eurasia and back home or 500 000+km and more than 10 year discovering every country there is)

- i tried to cover this in my second point (2-)

2. Solo or two up?

- good point, i forgot :-)

The BMW GS cover only narrow spectrum of it. And there are two of them - 650cc single cyl and twins that are very different, and boxer twin models airheads and oilheads are very different.

- i tried to cover this in my first point (1-)

The zoo of the world is too big to say conclusivly one bike is junk and another is excellent.

- it s not the purpose of the topic to say "one bike is junk and another is excellent".

cheers


[This message has been edited by vincent danna (edited 02 June 2005).]

vincent danna 2 Jun 2005 21:12

i had written first : I put on purpose one post on the "BMW TECH" forum (for bmw bikers reactions) and one post on "WHICH BIKE ?" forum (for other brands bikers reactions). It could be interesting to compare the reactions (if any) at the end.

finally, only one post here on "WHICH BIKE ?" forum :-)

cheers

Timo 5 Jun 2005 15:03

I'm not to clear on what you are asking here.... Have BMW GS's made it around the world? Yes. Are people happy with them? yes and no, as with other bikes. Are they 'better' or more reliable then other brands? I doubt the statistics are there to prove or disprove this, so consider them equal to most other bikes, which means mixed reviews.

Perhaps the real question you are getting at is this: Have GS's been hyped by marketing or owner-created myth into something they are not?

Personally, I've always felt that BMW was a bit behind on their marketing and product development. That is to say owners went out and did what they wanted on GS's (and other models) and later BMW tried to capture this in their marketing, rather then lots of marketing schemes that try to creat an image fo a product before it is released. Considering the sucess of the GS line, BMW has been slow to develope and improve the design. Look at the recently released HP2 - owners have been building this type of bike for years and only recently has the company finally woken up and tried to capture a bit of the flavor with a more focused off road model. 25 years is a long wait!

In terms of hype and myth vs reality, I can only say that most GS owners I have met or talked with are pretty realistic about their bikes, what they can or cannot do, and the various issues of maintenance and reliability. Yes, technical posts on this site and others tend to be on the negative side - people trying to find solutions to problems. I think the happy folks with little mechanical worry are too busy out riding to bother debating the issue.

Personally, If I was about to embark upon a 50,000km around the world tour I would seriously consider a KLR, an F650, a DR, a GS and many other models available. But I'd also consider taking my old '82 G/S because I know it's problems, have fixed many of them, am comfortable with it's limitations, and like the way it rides. Would I advise someone else to do the same? Probably not.... Its a personal choice, do your research and I think the fact and fiction gets sorted out pretty quick.

Margus 5 Jun 2005 17:48

I must second Timo's approximation to BMW bikes, well put in few words.

Though think that twin cylinder GSes really shines mostly only if dealing with two-uping terms and/or huge luggage loads. If doing lightweight solo only i'd recommend something else in 650cc range too.

Margus

[This message has been edited by Margus (edited 05 June 2005).]

vincent danna 5 Jun 2005 18:18

Yeah, thanx Timo to make this post clearer :-)

Well, I have the feeling that people (me, first) may overestimate BMW GS for this kind of trip, because of the past, the history, the glories they might have had/have.

I speak about "myth" (maybe the world is bad chosen, like the title of the topic) because they may have proven in the past, because people still ride 20 years old BMW GS around the world (some people ride earlier models).
As you wrote, like any bike when you go for this kind of trip, there are some mechanic problems and you d better know your bike well.

What you write about : "Perhaps the real question you are getting at is this: Have GS's been hyped by marketing or owner-created myth into something they are not?" is very accurate I think.
There s a marketing thing entertained by BMW when you see their marketing tools using their past, their history, their glories (videos, photos, advertising, equipment, etc … ) that influence people. And some users may not be realistic / objective about their BMW GS, which is maybe specific to BMW GS users (?).

Saying all that, after reading posts here, talking to people around, as far as efficiency / reliability / adaptability, etc … is concerned, of course many other factors make you buy a bike for this kind of trip, I wonder if the choice of an old BMW GS nowdays is reasonable or not, same with the choice of a latest BMW GS.


vincent danna 11 Jun 2005 14:51

jus read this, quite interesting about the efficiency / reliability / adaptability, etc … of a r100 gs travelling :

http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/ubb...ML/000074.html


chris 11 Jun 2005 15:51

Vincent
I was the "road tester" for your link above http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/ubb/frown.gif

IMHO and in my sad real life experience, after riding a 1989 bmw r100gs paralever for about 100tkm rtw: this particular model is a complete and utter piece of sh*t.

Motor great. The rest, absolutely cr*p.

I’ll never be buying a bmw again.
Cheers
ChrisB

------------------
TheBrightStuffDotCom

vincent danna 11 Jun 2005 17:21

thanx a lot, very detailed post

i drove a bit less (70 000 kms) for a bit more than 2 years on a r100gs pd that i thought reliable. though, i must admit my two main mistakes : 1- rely on what i bought (it was wonderfull) and not checking everything before travelling; 2- knowing very little about mechanic.

same story as yours : problems problems problems : little stupid things (electrics, bearings) and major things like the rear ( gearbox, driveshaft, suspension, final drive and also front forks) : therefore i m doubtfull, talking about a "myth" about efficiency / reliability / adaptability, etc … of the r100gs for travelling.

there are some good points for sure for this bike : engine, as you mentionned for example, and others (carrying metal mule ability, quite homogeneous for all terrains, mainly roads etc ...).

but f... h..., i spent so much money (and time) on it on the road to fix it. spending all my money for her !

when i came back, i bought a r80g/s : am i doing the same mistake, am i not learning ?!?

and also, compared to other bikes which are lighter, more powerfull, the gs is not that fun to ride, especially with luggage

thinking of travelling with a small jap 125 cc messenger bike or honda xr 250 style/range now ...




[This message has been edited by vincent danna (edited 28 June 2005).]


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