A sad goodbye to a fine machine which has been flawless. Why is it moving on? Because a low mileage R1150GSA has finally been found, and although down on power and less advanced, it fills the same niche. However, the power and balance of the R12GSA will certainly be missed....
2010 R1200GS Adventure
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Suddenly, and without warning, my wrists began to ache after long hours in the saddle. Actually, they began to ache after a decreasing number of hours. After a period of denial, this resulted in adjustment of the stock bars (twisting really) to adjust the angle more than the distance. This did not make much difference, and I began to search the forums. Despite many interesting alternatives, the most positive reports were from installation of the Rox Risers. I ordered a set. These are very simple but clever billet aluminum devices that allow for the adjustment of height, distance, and angle. The first trick to installation is making sure that they are even and level. If not, you have handlebars that are not straight. I used an angle level to get them right. The second trick is to reroute the throttle cable so that it is not stretched too tight. It will seem fine straight, but not at full lock. The solution involves disconnecting the cable at the handlebar and then reconnecting it underneath. Once complete, I had two more inches of height/reach adjustment, and the same amount of angle adjustment as before. Changing the reach/height also impacts seating position more than you might think. While I am still experimenting with the ideal position, this was a simple and easy change to comfort.
When I first saw a BMW GS, it was in the Paris Dakar race. It was equipped with some massive fog lights on the front of the bike. I was sure that the bike could light up half of North Africa, and it looked mean and purposeful. I have since seen guys pull up to rallies with bikes similarly equipped with massive CIbie or Hella foglamps on the front that would be the envy of a world rally car. That makes it really unfortunate that today's lighting puts out 10 times the light of those gigantic orbs, with about 1/10 the size for the unit. You don't get the same look of those. Rally bikes, but you cannot argue with the light output and the effectiveness of the new technology. I decided that the new R12GS should have the new technology, and that at some point I would look at some old-school lights for the R100 GS. The new lights are Denali LED lights from Twisted Throttle. They have both driving and fog lenses, but I opted for the driving lenses. I mounted them right above the stock fog lights. This puts them out of harm's way, and very visible.
The GSA has been much busier than the entries in this blog would have you believe. After the repair of the fuel strip issue by the dealer, it was back to full service commuting and taking a couple of business trips in the region. One of the items that needed attention was the mounting of the pelican case on the bike. As you will recall from a post regarding the R100 GS Paris Dakar, I wanted to be able to mount this case to both that bike and the GSA, and had previously done so using the mounting plate that came with the Saddlemen Top case.
I had recently changed the Pelican mounting on the Paris Dakar so that it would mount behind the passenger seat. This introduced yet more holes in the case, but they align with mounting points on the GSA. If I had a new case, it would only have a single set of holes to allow mounting on both bikes. As it stands, I plan to cover the holes with a sheet of aluminum.
Meanwhile, I had the possibility of a trip to the Barber museum. Rather than wear out the Heidenau's that I had recently mounted (given a 1600 mile slab trip), I spooned on some inexpensive Shinko Trail Masters. The theory was that even if they were rubbish, I would avoid wasting the Heidenau's. Well, the Barber trip got cancelled, and I have been putting some regional miles on the Shinkos. They take some getting used to when leaned over, but they may be good for commuting this winter. Stay tuned...
It has always been interesting to read about the problems experienced by owners of any brand, but BMW owners seem particularly exercised about faults with their machines. Perhaps it has to do with paying a premium price for a premium brand, and expecting a level of quality. Prior to this year, I had few of the faults oftem mentioned. I did have surging with my RT, but that was about it. Now, withing 8 months, I have 2 more of the biggies floating around the forums. I had a u-joint/driveshaft failure on the R100GS, and now I have the often reported Fuel Strip problem on the GSA.
Since most of my bikes are old, there are three ways to tell if you are low on gas. One is to open the cap and look into the tank, perhaps with a little movement side-to-side to slosh things around and listen. The second method is the odometer/trip meter. The third method is to wait until the engine begins to falter, and then turn the petcock to reserve. All are easy and foolproof. The GSA only has the trip meter. You can try looking in the tank, but it is a small hole. You don't want to rock a bike that is 600+lbs too much. Besides, it has a fuel guage and a low fuel warning light.
Well, mine has malfunctioned just like many have reported. It alternates between showing full, initiating a rapid countdown of the remaining range, and showing empty with the yellow warning triangle and "Low Fuel" flashing. In the picture above I put in 8.4 gallons right after this, so it obviously was not full !! Fortunately, you can still get to the trip meter if needed, but it is bloody annoying. With some more reading, it seems that some are on their third fuel strip, and this threatens to be a problem that goes beyond the warranty period. Hopefully BMW will correct this with a redesign/recall rather than just replacing them when they fail. Meanwhile, I am awaiting an appointment slot at the dealer to have this remedied....
Before the recent trip, I knew that some offroad and gravel roads would be involved. I had already put a small ding in the crosspipe and wanted to protect it a little better as well since it seems to invite rocks sitting right behind the front wheel. In doing research I came across Ernie Bell who was well recommended by the ADVrider community. That is a pretty heavy endorsement. He also seems like a small guy with a good product, and I like to support that kind of entrepreneur. Touratech and BMW have good options as well, but they were much more spendy. Ernie himself spoke to me by phone and answered the emails. I added his centerstand cover and placed the order.In days I had the kit and it installed flawlessly. It is well made and the bash plate is of course much larger than the stock item. The center stand plate installes with simple clamps and counter-sunk screws. In 2400 miles of break-in, they performed well. The bash plate allows generous airflow while adding protection. It got some use in two offroad stints during the trip. Being raw aluminum, it is now scratched up pretty well from the trip. This tells you how much it is needed both onroad and off.
I have a small tankbag that I am fond of. It is an SW-Motech bag that has since been superceded (I think by the Bags-Connection Daypack II) and I don't even remember the model number. It has been with me for years and has been mounted on several bikes since BMW kept the same tank filler setup for over a decade. The attraction in the first place was that it was not a strap-based bag (not fond of those at gas stops or in general), and there was no metal for a magnetic bag to cling to. It seemed like a great solution. The tankring is replaced by a horseshoe-shaped cleat, and the bag then attaches and detaches easily with a locking pin. The bag itself is a basic clamshell design, but it has reflective piping and logos which still work after years of UV beatings. It is expandable although I confess to never having used this feature, and it has a map pocket on top which has also survived a lot of exposure. The bak does not have the kind of rugged outdoor look you might want for the GS, but that matters little to me as it is functional and that is what the GS is all about. I use this same bag on the R1100S BCR where it is the only form of storage. It has a handle for carrying it off the bike, but be prepared for your buddies to fire up the gay/female joke jukebox if you do ;-)
I was fully prepared to just transfer my tankring cleat to the GSA and continue, but BMW changed the tankring in 09 and now you need a replacement ring from Twisted Throttle before you can attach your old ring. I think I paid more for the ring than I paid for the bag originally. However, I have the option of other bags going forward and it is nice to have old faithful available.