Am heading to 135K on my '96. I've loved having it. Came from a long time on Airheads so learning curve was a cinch.
Bought mine at 66K and things kinda trickled in here and there needing updating/replacement:
**Brake master replaced (rebuilt once by PO, once by me. Research this)
**Final Drive seal (large) (seal was updated in production, later seal better)
Leaky left head gasket (gaskets upgraded in production, later better)
Worn right throttle body (go used or rebuild)
Ohlins shocks (from PO) both need overhaul, had to find used stockers to keep riding daily-driver GS.
**Driveshaft at 116K (front joint got bindy)
Seat vinyl eaten up by UV (eBay for used)
Cam chain tensioner (not a failure, just a nice quiet production upgrade)
Headlight switch melted (circuit is unfused and needs relay. Replaced w/ used until later circuit upgrade)
Headlight H4 female terminal melted (see above)
**Hall sensor failed in classic style (but also 6 miles from home on the way back from 2 states away
**Oil pressure switch
Steel tank lining coming off in sheets (went with a good plastic '95 tank until steel unit can be cleaned)
All this stuff adds up to some solid $$, but it's just an item or 2 per year in the 6 years i've had it, not all at once. All ops done by me, it's never seen a pro shop. I would tackle major overhaul of every component on the bike, with possible exception of gearbox. And there's so much experience and wisdom here that given enough time, i might even make a go at that.
Been through a pile of tires, brake pads, oil and filters etc.
engine (aside from head gasket and cam tensioner), gearbox, clutch throwout stuff, brain, alternator, fuel pump, ABS, wheel & swingarm bearings, and final drive gears are as-is from assembly line in Berlin.
I like it on ranch roads, logging roads, gravel, etc. Deep sand not so much. It does Urban Warfare commuting and grocery getting par excellence
. They don't tout that much in the promotionals b/c it's not as sexy as Dakar/Globetrotter fantasy-- but the GS as Uber Hooligan bike is one of the strongest suits the GS fills IMO
I like it a ton. I'd buy another
EDIT for show-stoppers:
** = potential show-stopper item. Some of these can be nailed by preventive replacement/maintenance, some can be carried on the bike for roadside fix. Do your homework/research
I will echo JimvB that if you get this bike, you need to spend the coin up front
to get every inch of brake line changed to braided stainless if it does not have it already. Start searching 'Galfer' and 'Spiegler' on this topic. Both firms are well-known/well-used and have turn-key kits to handle every line on the bike. Lots of local hydraulic shops can make SS braided custom lines now, but you'll prolly pay less/less hassle getting a kit from firms that specialize in these fitments.