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My R1200GS Adventure @ Age Four - Issue #26

Adam Chandler on Motorcycles
My R1200GS Adventure @ Age Four - Issue #26
By Adam Chandler • Issue #26 • View online
I didn’t think I’d have to defend why I kept my GS for 4 years and my overall thoughts on a platform that’s now yesterday’s news (since the R1250 is out and R1300 is rumored) but here we are.

September 27th, 2018, 3 years and 3 months ago, I bought my 2018 R1200GS Adventure. I bought it a week before the R1250GS hit showrooms in USA with the Adventure hitting about 3 months later. Honestly, I could have taken delivery of a 2019 R1250GS Adventure and been ready to ride it by April of 2019 when our snow finally melted. I decided on the R1200 motor because I liked that it was a 6 year old design that had seen some revisions over the years and that I had a lot of accessories that I could move right over to it from my 2017 GSA purchased late 2016. Many people at the time asked why I had not waited and that was the reason. Later we found that the first 12 months of R1250 models suffered from front brake caliper issues that lead to national holds on bike sales as BMW went back to Brembo from Hayes to fix the issue. The only issue plaguing my 2018 GS was loose spokes…about 14 of them on the back wheel which BMW rectified by replacing the entire wheel. My GS has been problem free, very reliable and a joy to ride over the last 24,000 miles.
Age Four? It’s not 4 years old! My GS was manufactured in April of 2018 and it sat in a showroom a little too long before I walked up to buy it and I got a Hell of a deal on it. I paid $20,500 for my fully loaded GS Adventure. The same bike today costs $26-27K…oh and I got it for 0% interest. It pays to buy the last of a generation! I still have cruise control, TFT, heated grips and an exceptional motor.
Oh yeah, this blog is about ‘why I’m keeping it?’
A year after the R1250GS came out, people reading my Rosie Red Build thread started asking if I was upgrading. By the way, that build thread now has 268,000 views! WOW!
Now that the bike is is almost paid off and title in hand and we’re doing the 24,000 mile service, questions are picking up again like a 3 year old bike is old news. At some point, I think people will stop asking but maybe it’s best to do a check-up on Rosie and talk a bit about the bike more abstractly and share my extended review of a bike that still looks modern as displacement (and emissions controls) increase.
It’s best to talk about what the R1250GS and Adventure offer over my bike. The differential continues to grow with each new model year. Initially, it was different brakes, an all black handlebar and controls, ZF branded suspension, Euro5 support, 3 different heated grip settings and of course, larger displacement with cams that adjust on the fly. We all know R1250 like Honda’s 1150 Africa Twin and KTM’s 790 to 890 adventure is because of emissions. Displacement must go up to achieve two things. First, maintain power despite more stricter emissions forcing motors to run leaner and emit less harmful smog into the air and mechanical / electronic trickery that saves fuel at lower RPMs while still having plenty of power on hand for the rare occasions that GS owners actually ‘give it the beans’
Since the 2019 model year, BMW has released auto-leveling headlights, new always all running light turn signals (required in Europe), better electronics, new colors, better brakes, heated seats and a few other improvements but we’re not talking about an all around different bike. Heck, the 2016 to 2022 BMW GS has the same handlebar, grips, controls, luggage racks and so many other parts that are the same. Not much has changed, enough that anyone with a 2016 or newer GS should be considering upgrading.
This actually brings me to something I’ve been thinking about for a while. I think BMW expects touring riders to upgrade every 8-10 years. These motors are rated to go well beyond 100K miles with final drives for 80-140K miles depending on your use case. At an average 6-10K miles a year for most motorcycles, that’s a 10 year upgrade cycle. If you look at BMW’s model lineups, it’s about every 6 years that things really get upgraded. From the 1150GS to the oilhead 1200 to liquid cooled R1200 to the R1250GS with a shift-cam motor. We’re looking at an average 6 years per model before the next big revision and someone can safely go 8-9 years without seeing any major changes. That’s the upgrade cycle. Another area I know well, Apple has a similar upgrade cycle despite releasing devices every year. iPhone and Watch every 4 years, iPad every 6 years, Mac every 5-8 years depending on your usage. That’s what Apple designs their products for as usable life if you look at the software updates. You can go beyond that just like there are still 1150GS bikes out there touring the world but you’re starting to spend more money and time working on it than you are riding it. The bike is half duct tape and zip ties by then. Since our cars and bikes are so computerized now, you can ride a motorcycle for a long time but you’re really better off not going back 10 years on most things that are daily driven. Manufactures would rather you lease for 36 months and turn it in for a new one and most in my generation gladly sign up to not own and instead lease everything.
So….at 24,000 miles, 3.5 years of ownership and 4 years of age on my bike once riding season starts, how do I feel about the bike?
Rosie Red is a bike I feel at home on. You can point me to a rocky incline with loose rocks and mud and dirt and obstacles and I can throw a leg over Rosie knowing that if I don’t make it to the top, she’ll topple over gracefully and I can pick the bike, slide down hill and do it again. Rosie will load up with everything, the suspension is perfectly tuned to me, the steering damper, the lights, my seat, the big windscreen and hand guards…it all works so remarkably well and I can do 150 miles down the nastiest trail you can think of and then come out onto the interstate (yes, I’ve ridden on trails that literally dump you out onto interstates…not interstate on-ramps just ‘oh shit, this is an interstate!’ kind of trails) and then she can take me 1000 miles north to a different part of the country and never skip a beat. Unloaded or loaded, Rosie is the best bike I’ve ever ridden. When my buddies took their 690 and 790s to Colorado last year, they told me to bring the Enduro Beta 500 for our 1000 mile week. I brought Rosie and took her to some of the hardest trails I’ve ever ridden and she did flawlessly. I think I dropped the bike twice all week and once was going up the side of a mountain that I had no business being on with any bike. Rosie has never not started when I press the ignition. If Rosie was a person, she would have crossed her arms and said “nope” to me a long time ago. I’ve ridden the bike through some things and asked a lot of the bike over the years.
The R1250GS and Adventure will do everything that Rosie does. There is no doubt about that but I’ll be spending $27,000 USD and moving some of my modifications over but rebuying most of them in order to get a marginal improvement over the riding experience I have today. Especially when you consider that my LEDs overpower the new auto-adjust headlight and my heated sargent seat is much hotter than the new OEM stock seat. Then there’s my replacing the crash bars, skid plate, luggage racks, suspension, windscreen, steering damper and even the wheels and all of the sudden, all I did was get a new color and a more restrictive Euro 5 motor. Why would a sane person do that?
I’m not telling readers here to go out and purchase an R1200GS Adventure. I’m saying that every single GS is better than the last. That’s always been the case but a GS in the garage that’s properly sorted for you, your riding and your tastes is worth thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours more than a GS in a show-room with a whole bunch of stuff you want to change on it. Buy the GS you can afford, outfit it and then ride the piss out of it until you think you’ll actually get an improvement in upgrading.
It’s a similar situation with off-road Jeep owners. That new Rubicon has a lot of awesome features but the amount of time and money you’ll put into it just to make it perform as well as the jeep you already have is too much for some people to stomach and then there are riders who do it every year. Good for them :)
I’ve said it a few times before that I would not want to personally modify to a GS ever again. I didn’t have to do everything to it that I did but even the basics really add up. My priorities are shifting a bit where I’m putting more money into the house and toward taking more trips and the thought of giving Tractive $4,500, Clearwater $2000, Sargent, $500, Mosko Moto $800 and on and on it just makes me want to hang onto this GS that’s perfect as long as I can. I think I can maintain it for much cheaper than it would take to buy a new one. Heck, it could be the last GS I buy for a very long time because we’ll be in a new house in 15 months then probably adding children to the mix and the toys like my Golf R, GS and other things will age a bit because I won’t have the cash to replace them as easily. Maybe I should replace the GS now while I can still afford it :)
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Maybe we can talk a bit about the R1300GS or M1300GS? I know nothing about these rumored bikes. I heard on a recent podcast someone affiliated with BMW said they were riding a bike in Germany that was unreleased. That could mean anything but it is interesting. An M1300 doesn’t appeal to me. I don’t want a faster GS. I want a lighter and more off-road capable GS. I want my boxer motor with 50 pounds of less weight so if the m1300 = HP2 Part 2 then I might have to bite the bullet and buy one. The GS Adventure is the greatest off-road touring bike in the world (and on-road as well). BMW adding more power and more electronics doesn’t appeal to me but if they can take my bike and shave 50 pounds and put a taller suspension on it, I might be unable to resist. However, a proper Touring GS would still have a place in my garage. We’re talking about BMW doing another HP2 that sits alongside the Iron Butt friendly GS Adventure that I love and take everywhere I would an HP2.
The spy photos I put above are very enticing and give me excitement about what BMW might have up its sleeve for its 100 year anniversary year? They’re a bit late to that party but I’d like to see an HP2 2.0 before a ‘sporty GS’
The GS is wonderful and every GS is great in its own way. What matters most is going out and riding it to great places and making memories on it. Once the farkling is done, it’s best to enjoy the ride.
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Adam Chandler

These are my ramblings about motorcycling. For the most part, these will be editorials you will have seen in regional and national motorcycle publications or longer posts and ride-reports as seen on Occasionally, I will post content here that is exclusive to paid subscribers and eventually be made free for all. Thank you.

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