I don't post much but I'll throw in my .02 here. I have a 2008 GSA that I ride on everything from expressway to single track and while I have fallen deeply in love with it, I scratch my head on every ride wondering what the BMW engineers were thinking.
Vertical intake and exhaust? My scarred up shins have been begging for it. How many times do I need to slice my leg open on the f-ing throttle position sensor? (I know, there's a farkle for that right?)
Water cooled? How many times have I had to shut off the engine while stuck in traffic because it's overheating. (living near the equator)
Stranded in the jungle with fuel pump failure (only 1500 miles since new). Yep, that's me!
Too tall 1st gear, too short 6th gear, dry clutch... Do the engineers even ride these things??
The disappointing thing for me is that it's emissions or the competition who has forced BMW to advance (even if only slightly) their design, not the desire to improve or admit that there has been some engine development in the last 50 years. As another poster pointed out, with water cooling we can lose the boxer and it's wacky power curve (please!) and make the ol' girl a bit thinner.
I'll qualify my remarks by stating I'm a 30-something who holds more regard for a better product than I do for nostalgia. I want Motorrad to be all it can be. I love my GS! I love the solid feel of quality. I'm not bashing the bike (just the designers, sorry BMW lovers!) but because I love it I feel more than just physical pain when it bites me.
When the Japanese figure out how to make their new "adventure" bikes (will they be nuclear powered now? Too soon? ) feel a little less like Toyotas and a little more like Mercedes it will spell real trouble for Motorrad. Unfortunately it's unlikely as it would require a cultural (read: impossible) shift in Japanese engineering. The Japanese prefer to imitate (they call it "benchmarking") rather than lead.
Sorry, it was more like 10 cents..