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Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/13/24 7:44 p.m.

When I was younger, I had crotch rockets - because 13,000 rpms is fun.  Then I got in to fat, V twin metric cruisers - because long trips and fat tires were fun.

Now I'm 50, and the feet-forward, arms-forward, ape-looking thing just isn't working with my style or my back.

Is there a buyer's guide (meaning... who here knows their E36 M3 about them) for things like BMW R1200s, Yamaha Teneres, GS, FJR, etc.  Do I want a sport tourer, an adventure, or an adventure tourer?

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/13/24 10:10 p.m.

I know a little (too much)  about BMWs, can't comment on the other choices.

I  think it comes down to which ergonomics work best for you and if you care about resale value or not.

The GS and GS Adventure are the easy buttons the also the most expensive. An RT will offer you probably the best weather protection and in the climate here you'll probably get cooked behind the fairing. But it's still the bike with the longest riding season.

The R tends to be an overlooked bike, as they offer similar ergonomics to the GS and long distance comfort in a less unwieldy package. The RS tends to be the most sporty feeling, but I never warmed to the ergonomics of them.

I know you said R1200, but I would not discount a well maintained R1150. They're a little bit heavier, but also very capable and tend to be cheaper as they're older. The one thing that takes a bit of getting used to other than the Telelever front end is the servo brakes that both the later R1150 and early R1200 have.

Also, if you want the touring equivalent of an ICBM, K1600 GT/GTLs tend to depreciate much quicker than the boxer twins. They're a bit of a one trick pony though - basically rapid cross country transport. Another BMW option not to sneeze at that is a very capable sports tourer is the K1200/K1300GT. For one of those I'd look for a K1300 as they finally ironed out most of the issues there.

All BMWs need to be maintained well in order to not generate massive bills, like needing the ABS unit replaced or rebuilt because someone couldn't be bothered to change the brake fluid.

ddavidv
ddavidv UltimaDork
5/14/24 7:34 a.m.

BMW ownership experiences seem to be extremes:  worst bike ever owned with massive repair bills, or bulletproof and runs forever.

I personally have never found a BMW I liked. You either love or hate the boxer engine models. The transmissions are clunky like a Harley. You'd best test ride one before getting excited about them.

Sit-up-and-beg ergo ADV bikes are very comfortable, but most suffer from being tall with high mounted fuel tanks. Not bad when moving, but ponderous to move around. My Triumph Tiger was pretty light for what it was, and I still grew weary of the weight aspect. The Yamaha Tracer GT felt a lot better when I later rode one.  The CB500X is a nice compromise between weight and ADV-ness if the engine is good enough for you.

"Sport Tourer" usually means you'll be leaning forward. That position does not work for me. ADV is upright. You've also got standards and retros that mimic the ADV style position but don't have the tall-ness. My Bonneville is reasonably upright but the triangle is a bit cramped in the legs for my tall physique. You really need to try what is out there and find what fits you best. Most bikes these days are good machines.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
5/14/24 7:43 a.m.

I'm no help since I've got what amounts to a bunch of dirtbikes and a streetfighter/cafe thing but, if you decide you'd like a VFR800 I think I know where there's one halfway for sale.

I think ultimately, the question comes down to ergonomics- the VFR for example has a pretty comfortable riding position but your knees are still relatively bent and it's overall more sportbikey than it is adventurey.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/14/24 7:54 a.m.

A few of my friends and teammates have trail/enduro and adventure touring bikes.  For whatever reasons, most seem to end up with a KTM - including the friend I bought one of the DRZs now owned by Chris above from.   I have no idea if or when I'll get a motorcycle, but as I've aged I've become more of the "buy once, cry once" type and a KTM dealer would likely be my first stop.

XLR99 (Forum Supporter)
XLR99 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
5/14/24 9:24 a.m.

I just got an ST1300.  Unfortunately got it around the same time as I messed my neck up, so Ive just been able to admire it in the garage so far.

To compare riding position, try cycle ergo

It lets you line up several bikes and uses your height/inseam to give an idea of fit.

docwyte
docwyte UltimaDork
5/14/24 9:37 a.m.

I just can't wrap my head around the weight of a GS or GSA.  If I was mostly riding street I like the Aprilia Toureg.  For a dual sport it's awfully hard to beat a KTM 690.

gearheadE30
gearheadE30 Dork
5/14/24 3:01 p.m.

What do you want to do with it? Is this a back road/rough pavement bike? Going to do any off road? Lots of highway miles? Bikes are great in that there is so much variety and so many different approaches to do what you want, but that also can make defining what you plan to do a bit more important. Then I can give you my unbiased opinion lol. Lots of good bikes out there. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Publisher
5/14/24 3:06 p.m.

As others have said, it depends what you want to do. 

My R1200GSA is the best motorcycle I've ever ridden, and can comfortably knock out 700-mile highway days AND blast down gravel fire roads. But if you're not doing both activities on the same bike, you might want to choose something with fewer compromises.  

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/motorcycles-and-bicycles/bigger-budget-adventure-bike-2008-bmw-r1200gsa-build-thread/261627/page1/

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/trips-adventures-and-get-togethers/riding-the-eastern-alabama-adventure-loop/267839/page1/

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/14/24 8:26 p.m.

Thanks for all the replies.  There are a lot of questions in there, but I'll start with what I want to do with it:

Ride.  I want to ride it 7 miles to work when I don't need the van for hauling stuff.  I want the option of heated stuff like seats, grips, and enough juice to potentially power a heated suit.  Right now I have enough insulation to ride at 50F for a bit, but I'm hoping to make that 45F and extend my season a bit.  I also want to get on it and put down 500 miles a day on an excursion with two-up, meaning it's not just my butt that needs to be comfy, it's probably some skinny gal on pillion.  Disclaimer:  I have no skinny-gal pillion right now, but I'm sure I will someday before I die.

The thing I liked about my Vulcan Nomad is that it has ample bag space, and - until recently - it has been bulletproof.  Needs a starter I think, and the radio quit working.  I keep a trickle on it over the winter and it fires right up in the spring, and always just works.  I like how I can wake up, decide what I'm taking to work, and if I pick the bike, I know the only extra time involved is the 6 seconds it takes to lace the buckle on the helmet.

I ride in rain or dry.  Nearly all of what I ride is pavement.  The only gravel my Nomad saw was a parking lot or a driveway.  I'm trying to decide if I would take a dirt road if my bike were ready for it.  I almost always have a destination in mind that is navigable by real roads or well-groomed dirt/gravel.  I don't have aspirations of PLANNING a trip that takes me far offroad, and if I do, I have other vehicles for that.

TL;DR... long trips in comfort, mostly pavement, protection from elements, commutes of a few miles... basically everything my Nomad used to do, but less abuse to my back with the bagger seating position.

I will also add.... thank you for not all suggesting a Goldwing.  I had one for three months.  Sold it FAST.  Monstrously heavy, fork angle made slow maneuvers terrible, and just too much bike.

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/14/24 8:47 p.m.

I think you pretty much described a BMW R1150RT/R1200RT, or a Triumph Trophy 1200. Although the latter is a member of the "good luck finding one" club.

I've ridden my R1150RTs down to mid-thirties with no heated gear (but doing a full-on Michelin Man impression) on my commute into London when I lived in the UK. Only reason I didn't ride them in even lower temps was that they started salting the roads at that point and it was time to switch to the train or winter beater.

There aren't that many proper touring bikes left other than various BMWs if you discount the cruiser road sofas and Goldwings. The R1200GS Adventure I had had pretty good weather protection for what is essentially a naked bike, but the RTs beat it comfortably.

A left field - and harder to find, because older - option would be a BMW K1100LT. Those have probably the best fairing ever made by BMW for weather protection, but they're getting hard to find in decent condition. I really like them, and if I do find a really nice one I'm probably going to buy it. But they're not easy to find.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Publisher
5/15/24 12:38 a.m.

Yeah, I'd go BMW shopping. Or I've heard lots of good things about the Honda ST1300 too. 

ddavidv
ddavidv UltimaDork
5/15/24 6:50 a.m.

I argue that going off-road (which is really just off-pavement for most folks) is more a question of weight management and tires than a bike's design.  Most of the forest roads I ride are smoother than PA's potholed pavement. Ground clearance usually isn't a big need. Ease of handling on the loose stuff is far more important. A Harley can conquer most of the roads with no drama.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/15/24 7:27 a.m.

In reply to Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) :

That pretty much describes how a former coworker used his Ducati Multistrada.  Has all the features requested - and I worked with him about 15 years ago.  He would ride to work in pretty much any weather short of snow - and with different tires, the bike was spec'd for riding in snow too (I'm assuming they make snow tires for motos).  I'm sure a newer model would be even more capable.

He bought his new (it was $20K+ 15 years ago) and being Italian, he got the extended warranty... 

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) UltimaDork
5/15/24 9:30 a.m.

I'm tall, lot of leg, so know that before you read the following; the VFR800 is very capable, great bike, but knee angles are tighter than I'd like for touring.  Same with ankles.  To a lesser degree, hip angle as well.  I don't think it's the bike being asked for here.  

I got passed in slow traffic last summer by a guy on a Super Tenere with bags & boxes mounted and I had to admit he was probably smarter than me on my Z900rs doing similar things.  But if I were to go shopping again for a bike I really would like to take a ride on a Tracer 9.  They're not exactly pretty but they seem like an excellent all-around package.  If I was smart I'd be looking for a good used one basically as soon as I had the cash available.

gearheadE30
gearheadE30 Dork
5/16/24 11:45 a.m.

You're talking about a bike you want to be able to ride 2 up on, and be able to do long days in the saddle on, so you're immediately into 2+ cylinder bikes.

Small ADV bikes like the 890R, Tenere700, etc are wonderful...but they get pretty cramped with 2 people, and are a little more buzzy on those long highway jaunts. They also tend not to have as much weather protection. From what you describe, it sounds like you'd be happiest with a liter-ish bike rather than the midsize ones, and a bike that is more on the street-oriented side.

I personally thought the flat twin BMW GSs I've ridden were excellent street bikes. The telelever front end works pretty well on pavement, great weather coverage, plenty of storage, and potholes and stuff don't matter. 

The yamaha super tenere is possibly one of the most reliable bikes out there and has been unchanged for years, but they are also one of the heaviest. I almost bought one, but the weight and engine character turned me off. 

If you want sporty ADV, the KTM 1290s are excellent. You don't really need the off road capability of the R, plus the R is a bit taller. I've not ridden a multistrada, but I would guess they are similar. These are my favorite of the giant ADVs because they are such enthusiastic bikes/engines, but that doesn't matter to everyone. The tradeoff is they are a bit more high strung, and the styling can be polarizing.

The Africa Twin is a good bike, but its strong points don't really help for your use case unless you are interested in the optional DCT transmission.

Nothing you describe requires actual off road capability, so I wouldn't worry much about that. Any bike can go down a gravel road, and most bikes will do much better in the dirt than you'd expect if you've got somewhat treaded tires. That opens up sport touring bikes, but I have much experience with those aside from shopping for ST1100s years ago.

Personally, of the adventure bikes, I'd put a water cooled BMW GS or a 1290 towards the top of your list, leaning towards the BMW as it's got the best weather protection of the big ADVs. I'm also making some assumptions about your budget with that recommendation.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
5/16/24 12:08 p.m.

This sounds like a Multistrada to me, and I'd love an excuse to own a Multistrada.  You can make them look pretty interesting if you ditch the fairings and get a little creative too:

Ducati Multistrada Scrambler by Behind Bars Customs – BikeBound

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/16/24 5:45 p.m.

In reply to gearheadE30 :

Help me out... what are the big upgrades by going from an R to a GS to a  GSA

 

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/16/24 8:29 p.m.

In reply to Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) :

An R is a naked bike that uses the same or similar geometry to a GS, but is essentially a basic roadster. Like this:

The GS and GSA both use the same frame, the main differences are that the GSA tends to be a tick taller (unless ordered with the low suspension), has  a bigger tank (and thus a higher centre of gravity), plus the GSA comes from the factory with additional crash protection around the bodywork that the GS doesn't.

First gen R1200GS:

Same generation GS Adventure:

Bags are optional on all three.

Weather protection is slightly better on the GSA than it is on the GS, mostly due to the bigger tank.

Docwemple
Docwemple Dork
5/16/24 10:37 p.m.

Best overall adventure bike,  R1150gs.  Sweet spot of build quality,  reliability, balance, reasonable to work on, ride quality, not too heavy and way more agile than it should be

gearheadE30
gearheadE30 Dork
5/17/24 11:00 a.m.

In reply to Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) :

Boxhead Tim's got it. The larger tank on the GSA, at least the pre-water cooled ones, is somthing like 8.5 gallons. Makes for a heavy bike, but it is actually nice in the rain because it wraps so far around your legs that it keeps your knees dry, notably better than the one non-A I've ridden.

Note that this first generation R1200GS, which is the one Tom has, is notorious for the fuel level sending strip in the tank failing. There is no permanent fix, and BMW extended their warranty on that part up to 10 years as a temporary bandaid, but they're all outside that warranty now. It is particularly annoying because it means the yellow triangle on the dash is constantly illuminated to alert you of the failure.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/17/24 11:23 a.m.

I was told by my cousin (who has 17 BMWs, btw) that he prefers the air/oil cooled over the water cooled as well.  

So I guess I'll start shopping for a pre-water GSA and see what I can find.

 

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/17/24 11:48 a.m.
gearheadE30 said:

In reply to Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) :

Boxhead Tim's got it. The larger tank on the GSA, at least the pre-water cooled ones, is somthing like 8.5 gallons. Makes for a heavy bike, but it is actually nice in the rain because it wraps so far around your legs that it keeps your knees dry, notably better than the one non-A I've ridden.

Well, my current Nomad is nearly 800 lbs, so I think it will be a learning curve being that high up, but I'll get used to it.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/17/24 11:57 a.m.

should I also be looking at GT and RTs?

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/17/24 12:21 p.m.
gearheadE30 said:

In reply to Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) :

Note that this first generation R1200GS, which is the one Tom has, is notorious for the fuel level sending strip in the tank failing. There is no permanent fix, and BMW extended their warranty on that part up to 10 years as a temporary bandaid, but they're all outside that warranty now. It is particularly annoying because it means the yellow triangle on the dash is constantly illuminated to alert you of the failure.

IIRC they went to a more conventional design in 2009 that should mostly fix the issue with the fuel strip. Also, I'm pretty sure this isn't a GS-only issue but also affects other hexheads that have fuel gauges.

 

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) said:
gearheadE30 said:

In reply to Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) :

Boxhead Tim's got it. The larger tank on the GSA, at least the pre-water cooled ones, is somthing like 8.5 gallons. Makes for a heavy bike, but it is actually nice in the rain because it wraps so far around your legs that it keeps your knees dry, notably better than the one non-A I've ridden.

Well, my current Nomad is nearly 800 lbs, so I think it will be a learning curve being that high up, but I'll get used to it.

The fun part is that you have ~8 gal of fuel sloshing around at the highest point of the bike. It's still pretty well balanced though, until it isn't.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) said:

should I also be looking at GT and RTs?

If you look to extend the riding season as much as possible, yes.

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