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Old 04-12-2012, 12:41 PM   #1
Bigbugberg OP
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GS Adv - Do you have to grow to love it?

I recently took my new to me 2009 R1200 GS Adv out 2up with my wife. Here are some thoughts about the bike. For some background the bike has a full Remus header and exhaust, BMW pans and top box, Moto 3 GPS, sargent seat.

Overall the 2up was good… The only time the bike was awkward was in slow speeds… It’s fast enough but I did have it pinned to pass up a grade. It felt a little anemic. I don’t like the popping on decel; sometimes it was bad. I think that aftermarket exhausts mess with the FI more than people think. And most people don’t understand FI mapping well enough to make the proper adjustments including myself (advantage carbs). Sometimes after a hard acceleration followed by a decel the rear felt like the axle was loose, it felt like the rear tire was turning left or right based upon load.

Going up the 191 (notoriously twisty AZ road) from Morenci was a little tough. The clunky trans, snatchy FI, and massive engine braking, makes for a less than smooth ride in the tight stuff. The faster sweeping turns were much more fun.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that because of the bikes complexity that it is not monetarily viable without an extended warranty… Too much to go wrong with poor designs… I’ve put 1000 miles on it and two basic components have failed. The clutch slave and the rear ESA shock. These are not consumables, they are not due to poor maintenance, they are poor designs. I used the ESA 2x the whole trip. Now I’m convinced the complexity is not worth the cost sans warranty. Now the bike goes back into the shop AGAIN. Under my ownership it will have spent more time in the shop than on the road.

The trip was good, the bike however, hhhmmm… not so sure. I’ll keep it for a while to see if it grows on me…

Strange, I bought the 690 with some reservation and it’s awesome. I get the GSA thinking it’s awesome and I’m not so sure…
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Old 04-12-2012, 01:10 PM   #2
BeeMaa
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigbugberg View Post
I recently took my new to me 2009 R1200 GS Adv out 2up with my wife. Here are some thoughts about the bike. For some background the bike has a full Remus header and exhaust, BMW pans and top box, Moto 3 GPS, sargent seat.

Overall the 2up was good… The only time the bike was awkward was in slow speeds… It’s fast enough but I did have it pinned to pass up a grade. It felt a little anemic. I don’t like the popping on decel; sometimes it was bad. I think that aftermarket exhausts mess with the FI more than people think. And most people don’t understand FI mapping well enough to make the proper adjustments including myself (advantage carbs). Sometimes after a hard acceleration followed by a decel the rear felt like the axle was loose, it felt like the rear tire was turning left or right based upon load.

Going up the 191 (notoriously twisty AZ road) from Morenci was a little tough. The clunky trans, snatchy FI, and massive engine braking, makes for a less than smooth ride in the tight stuff. The faster sweeping turns were much more fun.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that because of the bikes complexity that it is not monetarily viable without an extended warranty… Too much to go wrong with poor designs… I’ve put 1000 miles on it and two basic components have failed. The clutch slave and the rear ESA shock. These are not consumables, they are not due to poor maintenance, they are poor designs. I used the ESA 2x the whole trip. Now I’m convinced the complexity is not worth the cost sans warranty. Now the bike goes back into the shop AGAIN. Under my ownership it will have spent more time in the shop than on the road.

The trip was good, the bike however, hhhmmm… not so sure. I’ll keep it for a while to see if it grows on me…

Strange, I bought the 690 with some reservation and it’s awesome. I get the GSA thinking it’s awesome and I’m not so sure…
The passing on a hill...what gear were you in and what speed?
My GSA has a 400 lb sidecar on it and can maintain 80+ mph on the interstate, including hills, without a problem.
My gas mileage goes to crap, it can be done.
The engine can be reved to and past 7000 rpm easily, once the engine is warm.
Shifting to the next gear for me is usually 5-7000 rpm.
You don't even hit peak power until 6000.
Might want to take it down a gear and see how it does on those hills.

The transmission does feel a bit clunky compared to the RT I have.
However I have not experienced any problems or jerkyness from the clutch.
It rides smooth unless I dump the clutch without matching engine and transmission speeds.

Good luck with it.
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Old 04-12-2012, 01:46 PM   #3
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I shared a few of those problems with my 2007 GS when I first bought it last year and was a bit shocked at how I initially was euphoric about getting the bike versus what I ended up with. What I ended up doing is checking all of the basic tune-up items to make sure that they were in spec and found that a few items needed to be attended to. In my case it was the plug wires and the air filter.

After doing those basic things it got better but I still felt that there was an improvement to be had. I found a local independent BMW mechanic in Scottsdale who carefully checked my valve adjustment and synch'ed my throttle bodies, adjusted the throttle cable settings and with that the bike ran smoother, shifted more smoothly and the backfiring was minimized. He claimed that my throttle-side valve adjustments were off and in-turn that affected the entire way that the bike ran and responded to TB synchronization.

Good luck either way; I would bet that a large part of your drivability issues are in those minor issues.
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Old 04-12-2012, 02:21 PM   #4
PanhandleChuck
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I'm not a troll, in fact, quite the opposite. But nothing you said about the bike resignates or reasonables my GSA. Perhaps, my 2010 DOHC corrects the shortcomings you mentioned. But, if I were a betting man, I would bet a year from now after you come to know her better, especially the RPM range and effective use of torque, you'll be a happy man!
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Old 04-12-2012, 02:47 PM   #5
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I've got a 2002 1150gs. It took me a year of riding it every day before I stopped saying it was soul less and boring. It was a year to the day when I thought back and realized I'd finally grown to love it, and it's by far the best bike I've ever owned. I've probably had 20 bikes over the last 35 years.
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Old 04-12-2012, 02:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigbugberg View Post

The clunky trans, snatchy FI, and massive engine braking, makes for a less than smooth ride in the tight stuff. And most people don’t understand FI mapping well enough to make the proper adjustments including myself (advantage carbs).
Yes, the boxer has all those 'features'. EFI is 'adjustable', just not in the same way that a carburetor is. EFI is far better than carbs from every operational perspective. Though neither work worth a damn if set up for low emissions.

Sometimes after a hard acceleration followed by a decel the rear felt like the axle was loose, it felt like the rear tire was turning left or right based upon load.
You'll get 'physiologically' used to the motor 'flywheel effect' from the longitudinal crank, in the exact same way that you learn to account for braking and acceleration with your torso muscles. After a few more miles you won't even notice it. At that point you'd notice that a transverse crank feels strange.

I’ve put 1000 miles on it and two basic components have failed. The clutch slave and the rear ESA shock. These are not consumables, they are not due to poor maintenance, they are poor designs. I used the ESA 2x the whole trip.
Those parts might have been broke when you bought it.


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Old 04-12-2012, 02:53 PM   #7
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Give it some time. These bikes are a bit unique. The boxer really doesn't make much power down low; it's all mid-high range.

Transmission wise -- same kind of thing. They can be a bit notchy, but time learning what it wants will help (my current GS nearly requires a double-clutch to get it from 2nd to 1st without a bunch of drive-line noise).
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Old 04-12-2012, 03:08 PM   #8
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I have a 2008 currently with 23,000 mile son it. I rode it from North Carolina to the Grand Canyon and back across Uath and Colorado last year. We were two up and slightly overload, about 450 pounds of passingers and luggage. I was surprized how little power was lost at high elevations. The highest I saw was just over 11,000 feet in New Mexico. As someone else stated the gas milage sucked when running over 85 mph on the interstate (low 30's) but otherwise the bike performed flawlessly. I do not remember lacking for power anywhere. I generally kept the RPM's between 4-6 K unless I was in a big hurry.

Not sure if you have a problem between the FI and exhaust or what but I have never experienced a lack of power.
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Old 04-12-2012, 03:10 PM   #9
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I have a "new to me" 2009 GSA that I just started riding this Spring. As of the moment, I've put 400 miles on it and I have not encountered any sort of popping anywhere on decel...even on closed throttle going down hill in gear, I have seen that on other bikes I've owned when running aftermarket exhaust and a lean condition. I do find that the GS likes to operate at a higher RPM than I would prefer. For instance, it SOUNDS happiest at about 2500 rpms, but it doesn't make any power there...NONE. It feels much torquier if you stay above 3500 and go up from there...but it sounds terrible to my ear. I assume that I'll have to get used to that. It does seem very strong if I stay above 3500...it just sounds "busy".

There is also something funky feeling going on with the rear wheel on my bike too. It's got to be design related because my bike is in absolutely mint condition with a brand new rear tire and I've rechecked the tightness of the wheel a couple times. Whatever the issue is, there are times when I let off or get on the throttle when I get the seat of the pants sensation that the rear wheel is loose. Clearly it is not, but it sure feels like it. I crack it up to geometry and shaft drive. Still...I've spent much too much time thinking my rear wheel might just fall off. Maybe it's all the FD failure threads I've read. You're not alone though.

SHort story...it's a bit quirky and ridiculously top heavy (that huge Adventure gas tank SEEMED like such a cool idea)...I expect that I'll need to put a couple thousand miles on it just to get acclimated...I'm reserving final judgement until then...but I've not yet encountered any other mechanical issues.
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Old 04-12-2012, 03:36 PM   #10
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I think there are a couple things that need to be checked as others have mentioned that I can do myself like the TB/Cable sync. And I know decel popping occurs from a lean condition or air leaking into the header so I can look at that. I also need to work on some ergo issues. I’m 6’2” 34” inseam, 225#, and the Sargent seat is too low and the bars are low. I’m going to do the seat raise mod and get some Rox Risers (worked awesome on my 990).

As for power and riding style, I rarely ride this thing under 3500rpm. I cruise in whatever gear in the 4k range. Passing is always a downshift into the 5k range. Getting the bike from neutral to first is nearly as bad as finding neutral on my Husaberg. And the shift from 1st to 2nd aint to pretty neither! In full disclosure, I’m just used to bikes with better power to weight ratios KTM 400, 690, 990, etc…

Not trying to rag on the bike at all, it does some things very well; 2 up I don’t even know my wife is there, very stable at speed, very neutral steering, good range, gobs of storage, easy maintenance (except for the FI mapping, might as well be alchemy).

If it turns out to be a keeper (before the warranty dies out), I WILL get an extended warranty. Flame all you want about extended warranties but the bike has proven to me not to be reliable.
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Old 04-12-2012, 03:59 PM   #11
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Good idea to get the warranty. I bought two new R12's and got it with each. BMW's may be reliable overall, but when they fail they can fail big/$$$.

You'll eventually get used to some of the their unique features. The "loose axle" comes to mind. I would bet you get that when you chop the throttle from higher revs. As Poolside mentioned, it's likely the longitudinal crank that causes what you feel. Throw in some rear swingarm movement and the bike can get caddy-wompus. It's just what they do. You'll soon learn to work the throttle differently.

Slow speed handling on tight roads is usually regarded as very good. My GS works surprisingly well in tight going. You'll get the hang of that, too.

Give it time. Most bikes you own. These bikes become friends.
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Old 04-12-2012, 06:36 PM   #12
Poolside
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Originally Posted by Bigbugberg View Post

If it turns out to be a keeper (before the warranty dies out), I WILL get an extended warranty. Flame all you want about extended warranties but the bike has proven to me not to be reliable.
I hear you. BMW has a less than good reliability on a host of items.

Speaking of extended warranty, anyone know if BMWNA offers an extended warranty?


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Old 04-12-2012, 07:03 PM   #13
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Love mine. Bought it on a fly and ride and rode it back through snow storms and freezing rain from one side of Canada to the other knocked off 1250km on the first day. It took me and my wife and 100 lbs of gear on a two week trip around the Trans Lab and into Newfoundland. I run it on the trails with the local dual sport club which admittedly is a bit of a work out and not where it shines especially if you have a full 50lbs of fuel over the front end. That said while it isn't nimble it has tackled some pretty rough terrain and feels pretty balanced and capable. Two minor hiccups. One being the rear mud guard coming loose and the other being the kick stand sensor eating a rock. It will never run as smooth or as fast as my VFR but I really enjoy getting out on it and look forward our summer travels.

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Old 04-12-2012, 07:45 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Poolside View Post
I hear you. BMW has a less than good reliability on a host of items.

Speaking of extended warranty, anyone know if BMWNA offers an extended warranty?

I think they offer a service contract through Zurich. At least to me, it was something like 1200$ for 7 years concurrent with the factory warranty. I went ahead and got it.
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Old 04-12-2012, 08:15 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Bigbugberg View Post
If it turns out to be a keeper (before the warranty dies out), I WILL get an extended warranty. Flame all you want about extended warranties but the bike has proven to me not to be reliable.
Honestly if you feel the GS is not reliable, it will be tough to shake off that thought in your head. A warranty will not make a bike you feel that is unreliable suddenly be the bees knees. People like different bikes for different reasons, and is why we don't have one bike brand with one model. Sounds like you may want to consider something else.
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