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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 13 Aug 2006
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R1200GSA and 650GS

Myself and my partner are looking at these bikes for our first travelling bikes. Can anyone give some opinions good or bad on these bikes please

Your help will be most helpful.

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Last edited by Ghostbat; 13 Aug 2006 at 10:07.
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  #2  
Old 13 Aug 2006
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take the SAME bike
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  #3  
Old 13 Aug 2006
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lighter is better.
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  #4  
Old 13 Aug 2006
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I like my F650GS

If you both ride your own bike, two F650GS'es is better because it is cheaper to buy, cheaper with insurance and cheaper on fuel (and with the fuel prices we have to pay today, that makes a different.) Money you can spend on preparation of the bikes and for your trip.

I have a F650GS myself and it is a great bike but I did buy some extra's like panniers, a topbox, a Touratech tankbag with side bags, a Touratech seat, hand protectors, heated grips and a Dakar windshield. I just did a 8000 km Northcape trip on it.

Off road and on dirt roads, when you are not a very experienced off-roader, a lighter and smaller bike is much easier to ride.

With two bikes, it makes sense to have the same bike. Only one workshop manual, one bike to learn to work on, the same parts and tires etc.
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  #5  
Old 14 Aug 2006
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Hi Ghostbat,

well I've owned both the R1200GS and the F650GS, so I'm in a position to give my opinions on both machines.

So we'll start off with the basics, two similar bikes make sense from the aspect of spares, refueling schedules, maintenance inspections etc, so decide on the bike and get two (if the funds will allow).

Onto the bikes.

Firstly the F650GS - I really rated this bike. I downsized from an R1100S and was worried that the lack of performance would let the bike down. How wrong could I be! It's cheap to run, sips fuel, gentle on tyres and can be ridden in a very spirited way. You can load it up with loads of kit and customise it in anyway that you see fit. OK it's a bit viby when cruising along motorways/freeways etc but you get the feeling it'll keep running forever! Mine never even blew a bulb! It's a simple honest machine that doesn't do anything spectacularily well but manages to everything in an efficient, Germanic manner. I toured Norway on this bike and had a wonderful trip.

Secondly the R1200GS - fabulous machine to ride, very comfy, handles like a dream and cruises at whatever speed you fancy. My own particular machine was an August 2004 model and suffered as a result! OK any bike can have a glitch here and there but I reckon that 3 ABS pumps (at over a grand each) is a little excessive! Not to mention 2 replacement instrument units and loads of other minor parts. The bike put me off BMW twins for life. I've had several twins in the past and each was very reliable but the GS was a dog. Mine wasn't the only one affected, as I was to discover later. The machine's just too complex for it's own good. If you were away from European type dealerships then I'd say keep away from one. If you plan to stick to Europe then dispose of it when the warranty expires then I'd say it's you choice. Talking of warranties BMW's renewal for the 1200GS was about £800 for a year, so how confident are they in the machine when charging that type of premium?

So for me it's a no brainer. F650GS's it is!

Regards

Reggie AKA The Cameraman
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  #6  
Old 15 Aug 2006
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Beemer Bikes

Well the opinions are excellent and myself and my partner have had some really good discussions. We will be purchasing the bikes as new so they will be 2006 models. I have to wait for about 9 months for my 1200GSA.
We won't be travelling outside Australia for a few years as we wish to see our country first and get used to this motorbike travelling thing.
I have had some experience with bikes so I will be getting the GSA and my partner has already labelled it the "Camel". My partner is going for the 650GS as she is not that confident with a big bike.

I will still be reading for more opinions for some time
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  #7  
Old 15 Aug 2006
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Keep reading the various posts in the "which bike" forum. You'll find "same bike" repeated a lot. And here it is again - get the same bike!

We know a number of people who have headed off with different bikes - all have said it was a mistake. Some have even sold one part way and he has downsized so they're both on the same bike. See http://www.ultimatejourney.com for an example.

In reality, she needs more power and less weight - to keep up with you on the big bike easily. On a slower bike, she will have to ride hard to keep up with you, and put herself at risk. There is no benefit to you having a heavier big bike - and it will take both of you to pick it up! And maintenance etc is more of a hassle... etc etc...

Same bike...
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  #8  
Old 16 Aug 2006
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Thank you all for your informative information. Since I was dreaming of the GSA, and now being woken, all of your informative, commensense information has finally changed my stubborn mind to go for the 650GS. Much to the delight of my partner.

We will now spend the remainder of the money left over from the GSA dream an "BLING THE BUGGERY" out of 2 650GS's.

Thank you all very much

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  #9  
Old 16 Aug 2006
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short suggestion

One last suggestion:

Get only one R1200GSA for two of you and ride in turns... Or get two 650GS for each of you.

can ozcan
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  #10  
Old 16 Aug 2006
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Well she won't pillion so it's going to have to be 2 bikes. She say's its boring.
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  #11  
Old 16 Aug 2006
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Post Same Bike? Bollocks!

OK, I too have read about and talked to people who say: "Get the same bike!" for the reasons mentioned above. To be honest, it doesn't wash with me. Audrey has been riding her own bike for about seven years (had her licence for maybe 10 or 12) so we have taken our annual summer vacations on two bikes since then, probably on the order of 100,000 km of riding together but on separate bikes. 40,000 km of that was on a year long journey through Europe and also North Africa and Turkey (www.ekke-audrey.ca). For about 70,000 of those 100,000 km I was on a 1989 R100GS and Audrey on an F650 (first a '99 ST and then on a '00 GS) and the last 30,000 km I've had an 1150 Adventure. I think we are reasonably qualified to answer the question of the two bikes.

My opinion is that each person should ride the bike that they *want* to ride. I'm fairly large (193 cm and 105 kg) and the F650 just doesn't "feel" right to me. Maybe I just like the reassurance of banging my shins on the carbs/fuel injectors! Conversely, Audrey isn't able to comfortably put her feet down on the bigger twins, at least without major surgery (to the bike, not her!) So we each *want* to ride different bikes.

As to the reasons for the same bike:
  • Spare parts: If you have two F650s would you carry two water pumps or just one? If only one, then you'll need to courier in another one when the second one fails anyway. If you carry two water pumps, why not carry the spare rotor for the R100GS instead? I'm not sure what the advantage of having two bikes requiring the same tires is. What difference if you drop into a shop and you look for a 150/70-17 and a 130/80-17 or you look for two 130/80-17s? Same thing with parts, if you just drop into a shop to get a part why is it good to be looking for two of the same? Workshop manuals are on CDs so the extra space on your laptop's hard drive for two manuals isn't terribly onerous. I don't think anyone would take a full size paper copy of a workshop manual never mind two!
  • Refueling schedules: Audrey and I fill up at the same time, I know she goes on reserve at about 350 km (and the Adventure at about 500) so we both fill up at 350. OK, I carry extra fuel all the time but it is nice to have in case of a big distance between stations and we use the fuel from my bike for the stove.
  • Repair and maintenance: I think basic maintenance is pretty straightforward and you shouldn't have any trouble mastering two bikes for changing oil and such. That being said, I don't think I would want to check/adjust the valves on the F650 in a campground but I have done a full service on my R100 in a campground. Maybe it is more about knowing the failings of each bike, like the water pump on the F650 or the rotor on the R100 and being able diagnose something on the road. If I recall correctly, one of the reasons that the Ratays went from an R100GSPD and F650 to two F650s was that his R100 had a problem that was solved by another R100 coming along and swapping parts until they found the part that broke. I think that they weren't terribly impressed by the R100's reliability either so that might have contributed. When the driveshaft broke on my R100GS would it have been helpful if Audrey would have been on an R100GS? I doubt it. When the regulator went south on Audrey's F650ST would we have been better off if I would have been on one as well? I don't think so. When the wiring harness shorted out on my R100GS how would it have helped if Audrey was also on an R100? When we were looking for a rear tire for the F650 in Morocco how would it have helped if I also had an F650?
  • Person at the rear should have more powerful bike: Really it is a matter of the person in front recognising that they are travelling with a partner and riding accordingly. Sure I ride slower when we're together but we're travelling so who's in a hurry? In my opinion the person in front should be the more experienced rider/better navigator since more decisions are required from that person, it shouldn't be based on the power of their bike. Maybe Grant is thinking of group riding where the person at the back is on a rubber band and has to catch up all the time but we haven't found this to be a problem at all. Maybe I can make a pass on the 1150 that Audrey can't but I'll just ride slowly after the pass and let her catch up. Mostly I look for opportunities where I think we can both fit. I think that most situations where "catch up" happens occur in big cities where you get separated (like at a traffic light) and isn't a result of one bike having more power. I'm trying to think of times when we have been separated as a result of power and can't think of any. There have been times where we've separated as a result of different riding styles; that is I'll wick it up for a set of curves and she continues to ride at her own speed but that would have happened if we were both on 650s. I know enough to slow down after the friskiness to let her catch up and she knows enough to ride her own speed and not get in over her head.
I say, "Get what you each want." The descriptions of the F650 vs the R1200GSA are perfectly accurate. If you want the Adventure and are prepared to put up with its shortcomings (weight, fuel economy, insurance, $$) vs the F650 go for it! You'll be much happier riding the bike you *want* to ride rather than one based on what someone told you is "better" to ride. Remember you can go around the world on anything from a scooter to a Gold Wing to an R1, take the one that makes you the happiest.

(Sheesh, that may be the longest post I've ever done but I'm glad to get it off my chest!)
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  #12  
Old 22 Aug 2006
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I am with Ekke ... I dont believe you need the same bike, but then again if the bikes are TOO different, then its a waste of time ... one guy on a BMW 1200 and a mate on a DR350 will want to ride on completely different roads... but a 1200GS and 650GS will both be able to ride down latin american or russian highways at 90-110 km/h, and you wouldnt want to go too much faster on those roads anyway, so theres no problem. Also note that there are plenty of couples who ride the big beemer / small beemer combo ... such as:
Simon and Monika Newbound - http://www.spiritsofadventure.com/ and Kevin and Julia Saunders http://www.globebusters.co.uk/

As for the 1200GS Adventure, its a decent enough bike for rough roads and gravel roads, but in mud or sand its pretty heavy ... I bought one 2 months ago ... For me the biggest design flaw in the bike is that it has a road gearbox in it. It doesnt have a purpose built gearbox that allows it to ride slowly in tough sections (see my post at http://www.ukgser.com/forums/showthread.php?t=78154 for more detail).
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Last edited by colebatch; 22 Aug 2006 at 20:55.
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  #13  
Old 28 Aug 2006
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Id be inclined to go with a 650, either bmw or suzuki will do
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  #14  
Old 28 Aug 2006
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He's right you know

Ekke is right on the money with his post about two bikes. The only reason Chris Ratay went to a F650 was because his bike was constantly breaking down. There is no way I would make my partner ride a bike that was too big for her. Or me a bike that was too small. I have met many partners even on a 650 uncomfortable and nervous as soon as they are off the tarmac because the bike is too big and heavy for them. But the bloke thought it would be a good idea. They'll get used to it. I ride a Dominator and after 80 000 km's on it it's still a handfull especially with luggage in the soft stuff. Watch your partner try and pick one up for the 5th time that day!!!!!

All these spares that people carry I have no idea what they are? If you need it UPS it or the bloke at the local garage will make one. I met a guy on the Karakoram with a pick up shock welded into the back of his BMW by the local garage. No problem. I found a DID 520 chain link in Iran!

We are not racing full throttle when we travel and if you have to wait to fix something no biggy read a book meet the locals it can be fun.
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