1100GS and 1000Strom both are good bikes, but a bit different purpose. Strom is more street oriented (better looks, lot of plastics, alloy wheels, nasty place for oilcooler).
On the shop i sat on the Strom first for few minutes, it felt good, then sit on the GS, it felt better, then siting back to Strom it felt quite ILL! Maybe additionally installed 35mm bar risers on GS had some effect, but for my size 182cm, 75kg, that wider seat just meld into one with my backside, legs were positioned perfect and those wide bars gave very secure and comfty feeling on the first impression.
Now to testride them:
The GS is one wide solid metal piece between the legs (sticy boxer cylinders) and Strom feels like riding on big plastic horse (the very wide tank area).
On higher near-to-redline rpms the japanese 1000cc engine really starts to fly compared with "farting" GS 1100cc. But revving your dual purpose bike is pointless in every day use, the GS "pulls" you considerably better on low than Strom. I say the GS gives you more relaxed dynamics - less gear changes due low-rpm character and engine braking is more powerful too, i.e. i hardly use brakes on twisty roads - just learn how to play with throttle and that beasty farting boxer does all the work. While Strom feels like really sporty city-enduro - engine begs for more revving, lot of gearchanges accelerating&decelerating lot of braking, for me - it felt a bit too exhausting character, for some others tastes, it may be better...
My Strom experience was quite brief, it didn't take long until i was fully sure it's not for my type, but i noted few other important things too: Strom feels "harder" to jump one to another side on fast twisties, while GS feels like bicycle-light to jump over the axle in quickly chaniging corners (low centre of gravity? or telelever effect?) and braking response of GS is exceptional due telelever and ABS cooperation which makes me quite a traffic maniac on many situations - you can push them to maximum on every situation if you like and the front end never dives.
Price - i considered 1100GS, not the newer 1150GS, which is considerably more pricy. The only difference between them is front fairing and the gearbox, the few horsepower difference is hardly noticeble even for more experienced GS riders. I'd go for low mileage later '97-'99 R1100GS if the GS reckons and not much money to spend, it's the most "ironed-out" oilhead GS out there currently.
As for not getting testdrive the 1100GS on your area - do long testdrive the 1150GS on your local dealer then, as mentioned before - the difference is only the looks and gearbox, 1150 has 6 gears (1100 has 5), 6-th is longer. The 1150 will pretty precisely give you the same thing you'll get from 1100.
Stroms - i'd go preferrably on later Stroms, due first ones had hydraulic cluch issues and recalls as i've read from Strom user forums.
On Stroms, check out: www.stromtrooper.com/forum
On GSes: www.ukgser.com/forums
Looks like you're leaping into 750+cc engines? If so, then also testdrive Honda Africa Twin and Triumph Tiger, which are competentive two-uping travel enduros too (Varadero and Capo Nord go pretty into the same class as Strom for me - more street orientation).
As what was my decision, i was looking for:
1) has to be proven reliability, flexible, comfortible and preferred bike by RTW two-uping people
2) some offroad ability
4) bit soulful-different engine and looks character not making it boring to drive after years owning it
5) easy to maintain
6) extras options
Only two bikes were on the line in final - GS and Africa Twin, almost fifty/fifty, all other "plastic road-pieces" were left out of game quite quickly. Africa Twin was more cheap and solid proven package, nothing special but as a typical Honda - hard to go wrong with it and it and can leave you pococurante. The GS had all i'd ever need, but was a bit more expensive (just wanted the later model of 1100), it leaves nobody pococurante, whether it's the bike you'll love or hate.
What i DO regret, is i didn't get a chance to testdrive the Triumph Tiger, so don't make that mistake. Try them all, twoup and most of all - do long testdrives!
[This message has been edited by Margus (edited 25 May 2005).]