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Which Bike? Comments and Questions on what is the best bike for YOU, for YOUR trip. Note that we believe that ANY bike will do, so please remember that it's all down to PERSONAL OPINION. Technical Questions for all brands go in their own forum.
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  #1  
Old 25 Jul 2009
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R 80G/S PD or R1200GS/Adv

Hello,
I'm currently planing a tour from North to Southamerica beginning in May 2011 for about 6-8 months. I know that is still very far away,
but I'm still at the beginning of my planningphase.
At the moment here in Germany I drive since almost 4 years and nearly 50000km a R1200GS/Adv without any problems, but I'm not sure whether the ADV is the right bike for that long Travel - especially in Middle- and Southamerica.
I think, that any technical problems with the 1200 GS I can not resolve myself, particularly because the complicated electronics.
Do you think that the Adv is now technically so perfect, that I can dare this trip with the R1000GS/ADV?
How is the BMW Service in South America? Do I have there any chance to get help in the Case of problems?
Alternative I could buy a R80 G/S PD in good condition with less than 90000km.
My question is, what is the better machine for such a trip? What do you think?

Thank you for your answers and please excuse my bad English
Kajo
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  #2  
Old 25 Jul 2009
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Hi Kajo,

That's a great question.

There are positives and negatives of old vs. new.

In the end, it usually doesn't matter too much, many people have successfully done the same trip you are contemplating on ancient and new and everything in between.

In my opinion, people should always look at the bike they are currently riding as the first choice. If there is an incredibly strong reason to switch, then consider it.

You already own a bike that you know very well and are used to riding. The cost and safety benefits of that are pretty compelling.
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  #3  
Old 26 Jul 2009
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They both have BMW on the tank but are totally different bikes, hardly comparable at all, "chalk & cheese".

Only you can decide which one to take, it doesn't matter what someone else prefers.

If you're not happy about being able to fix a 1200, can you fix an R80?

To answer your last question, there isn't an overall "better", both bikes are better at some things, worse at others. Take a ride on the R80 & see what you think.
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  #4  
Old 26 Jul 2009
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Like the others have said, it is hard to say. But, while the R1200s aren't perfect, I consider them pretty reliable. Last summer I rode from China to Germany with a four 1200s and an R80PD. Guess which one broke down and could not be fixed? Yup, the R80 had to be sent to Germany on a train, while none of the R1200s had any problems. Of course I'm sure plenty of other people have had completely different experiences....
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  #5  
Old 26 Jul 2009
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This is an interesting question. For me, it would have to be the R80/100. The thought of lugging all that unnecessary metal and technology (R1200) around South America is quite frightening. I'm sure the 1200 would be reliable but there is so much more to go wrong. With the airhead there are, of course, many weakpoints which are well known and would need to be resolved before departure but once that is done the bike will give reliable service as long as it is regularly serviced.

PS. We did a 30,000 mile trip from UK to Cape Town two up on a 1989 R100GS which we still have and use regularly - so I'm a bit biased
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  #6  
Old 26 Jul 2009
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These bikes are so very different, so why limit the choice to BMW flat twins? If someone told you BMW's are the only reliable bike they were wrong. In the early 90's a five year old R80 had the 1970's technology you could fix with superior materials to a similar Yamaha, but R80's are now at least 20 years old and previous owners will have bodged away at every single system. Diaphragm carbs, the charging system, the final drive and gearbox are all items you'd need to check out and totally familiarise yourself with, replacing worn 20 year old items as you went. It's only simple and reliable if you start with something that's like new and fully understand it.

The R1200 should be a lot more reliable and there is plenty of info about, but if you need parts or software you will need to talk to a BMW agent.

Personally I'd look for something under 5 years old with technology most people could help me with. The only BMW badged bike that fits that is the F650. If you need more than 50 HP you have to drop the badge, or simply take the R1200 and live with the video game generation technology.

Andy
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  #7  
Old 28 Jul 2009
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I agree with what everyone has said so far. From what you sound, it seems the major decision factor has to do with the potential technical problems and the ability (yours or locals in S. America) to fix them. Perhaps you could ask yourself:

- are you a good mechanic (apart from electronics)?
- if so, are you really familiar with the old R80 GS?
- if so, do you think you are able to find one with lower mileage than 90k km? Despite it's a boxer, 90k km is kind of in its mid-life at best, if not mid-life crisis
- if NO to any or all of the above questions, are you confident and do you have the time and patience to learn it yourself?

In my humble opinion (IMHO), the number one principle in long travels: keeping everything simple, and then keep whatever is left even simpler.
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  #8  
Old 28 Jul 2009
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Just a personal opinion, but reckon you would be mad to take an old bike like an R80. Its practically guaranteed to break down somewhere on the road.

Dont know what year of 1200 you have, but I would just buy a spare ring antenna and a spare fuel pump controller (the two common showstopper breakdowns) and go. I reckon the 1200 is, apart from those things, pretty reliable.

If anything else electronic fails, spare parts are just 3-4 days away by UPS or DHL.

If you really dont need the speed and weight of the 1200 Adv then go for a F650 Dakar or G650X. The engines on those are very reliable. If you are doing a lot of off-roading, then the much lighter weight and larger front wheel of them will also be pretty handy.
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  #9  
Old 28 Jul 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colebatch View Post
Just a personal opinion, but reckon you would be mad to take an old bike like an R80. Its practically guaranteed to break down somewhere on the road.
Which is better:

The bike you hand assembled yesterday, using knowledge that's in your head and parts that are so simple you can repair them with a welding set and chewing gum

or

The bike a bored factory worker assembled last week using software only three people in the world fully understand and materials that need a sintering press to make and can't be repaired.

The R80GS has the right technology for a lot of people, hence why so many people suggest them. You can straighten a pushrod on a camping stove, you can inspect a carb diaphragm with a torch and seal the hole with tyre gloop.

You are right though that most R80's are now simply old bikes. With three years and the right six numbers on the lottery you'd get the HPN catalogue and go the R80 route in comfort. With two months and an R1200 in the garage, that makes a lot of sense.

I'll keep my Bonneville for the simple reason it's hardly different from the R80 technology I understand, but the only clown who's ever done any bodges on it is me. It isn't guaranteed to break down.

I might still be mad of course

Andy
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  #10  
Old 29 Jul 2009
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You sound like a man who is a lot more mechanically competent than me, and indeed most people. Realistically, if anyone is asking the question, they are probably not someone who can assemble a bike from a shed full of parts in a day.

I would rather be plugging in one replacement for a broken electrical component than making new valve rockers out of safety pins and chewing gum myself !

I have just heard too many stories like Motoreiters above, where people have taken the older bike because in theory its easier to fix, only to find themselves constantly repairing the bike, and ultimately shipping it home. I have heard a dozen variations on that story over the years.

Maybe that old bike idea holds IF and only if you are the kind of guy who can strip and engine an rebuild it in a day, without the right tools, and by using some improvised parts made out of household items. There are plenty of those guys around, but they are not the majority of us ... and sadly for me, they are not me.
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  #11  
Old 29 Jul 2009
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Hello,

I am not in need of persuade someone for preferring a bike. It is a personal choice. I can share my experience or just advice.

* You need to get familiar fixing basics of your bike in any how. Not important 1200 or PD. Some basics: valve clearance settings, oil and filter changes, should learn fixing simple malfunctions.
* Can you fix electric problems with both bike?
* Can you fix fuel pump on the 1200?
* Are you familiar with R80?

We all have to accept that R80 is simpler machine. But you need to be familiar with the bike and have to learn how to maintain the bike. You can find more mechanic/technician can solve the problems on R80 than 1200 I suppose.

If you have a serious problem on the 1200, technician has to connect it to computer to understand what is the problem with electronic.

When you ride in the city you don't see any problems with the bike, all unwanted serious problems occurs at remote places which you can't find a service, mechanic or spare part

Germany is a GS COUNTRY. You can easily find someone who can help you for deciding even teaching about the bikes and also fixing. Try to find someone who has knowledge about both bikes. Sure there are some clubs, etc.
Don't ask someone if they are selling bikes. They will try to sell what they have at hand.

You have to decide which to choose.

What I ride ? R80
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  #12  
Old 29 Jul 2009
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R 80G/S PD or R1200GS/Adv

Thank you for your answers. I had actually not thought to start such a controversial discussion.
Again to me, I also drive an old BMW R60/7 from 1977 and therefor I'm a little familiar with old 2 Valve Boxer.
Inspections, such as oil changes, spark plugs, brakes and so on I usually always make myself, even with the 1200GS.
Also since I want to drive a part of the trail with my wife, I think that I will now concentrate myself more on my 1200GS. My wife also thinks the 1200 is the better choise

However, I have a additional ringantenna under my seat and I will take a special training by my local BMW-Dealer to be able to repair the 1200GS if it is possible. But until 2011 it is still much time.
In my area we say:" Bis dahin fließt noch eine Menge Wasser den Rhein hinunter"

Greetings
Kajo
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  #13  
Old 29 Jul 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kajos View Post
In my area we say:" Bis dahin fließt noch eine Menge Wasser den Rhein hinunter"
Kajo, in my area we say that "shit happens"

Another observation... I rode an old R100GS to India... 20thousand k's. The bike was shagged after that. Not the motor/gearbox but the finish - frame tank - anything with paint on it. Sand blasted, mud baked. That sort of thing.

I bought the R100 for the trip for 2 specific reasons. 1. it had little value and 2. because it had little value I could write the value of the Carnet down at €1000.
It cost me about €3k to "restore" it after the trip... but its a keeper.

Whats your GS1200 worth...?

John
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  #14  
Old 23 Sep 2009
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R 80 G/s

Well I struggled with this as well and I spent 3 years rebuilding an R80 G/S from the frame up. $7000 later I'm ready and kicking myself a little that I didn't realize that BMW would finish the F800 GS by the time I finished my bike. But I now have a simple bike that I love and has got to be one of the best riding and handling bikes I've ever owned. I ship it to BA in January and will take 6 months to ride back to my home in Northern Ca. We'll see how my decision plays out. Good luck and if you break down anywhere near wine country in Ca, give a shout.

Sonny
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  #15  
Old 27 Sep 2009
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As part of the simple old machine vs. the complicated new one discusion it might be useful to note that most vehicles in the developing world are modern ones and somehow they and their electronics seem to get maintained and repaired. In Vietnam recently I watched streetcorner mechanics hammering scooters and bikes back into functionality but a block away, in an antiseptically clean shop, I watched white coated technicians in glass rooms plug all manner of two wheeled vehicles into digital diagnostic black boxes while surrounded by multiple computer monitors. Maybe you won't find those facilities in the middle of the Congo but you won't find them on the Dempster Highway either.

Consider what car you would choose to head off on a very long trip to foreign lands. Consider that you'd be concerned about reliability. I've owned a couple of Toyotas and a Honda and the long term reliability factor has been astounding. And it's reliability that's been established not just on the basis of anecdotes and gossip but on the basis of real research by independent organizations such as Consumer Reports. And these vehicles are far more complex overall than any motorcycle.

So, perhaps, the objectively wise thing to do is to choose the motorcycle equivalent of a Toyota Corolla or a Honda Accord. There's no way to predict the individual reliability of a given bike because there is always variation within a model. All that is possible to do is to look at the overall record of a particular manufacturer's product. Complexity does not automatically translate into a lack of reliability or longevity. Exhibit 1 - the Honda VFR. Exhibit 2 - my recently sold 1983 Honda CX650 Turbo which would spring instantly to life and never let me down notwithstanding an incomprehensible array of quarter century old computer chips and sensors controlling Honda's first attempt at fuel injection in a stock motorcycle and a turbocharger spinning at sky high rpms.

Norm

Last edited by normw; 3 Oct 2009 at 18:59.
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