Missing the brake pedal can have dire consequences. Although most of our stopping power comes from the front brake, every foot we can shave from total stopping distance reduces risk.

Equally important for adventure riders is the added control afforded by effective rear brake usage. Tension between brake and clutch/throttle improves low speed stability, and a skillful brake skid can set up a turn or help direct the machine around obstacles when weaving down a steep slope. Relative pedal position changes completely from standing to sitting. For example, a maximum-performance braking maneuver requires the rider to move as far aft as possible, which limits forward articulation of the ankle, already somewhat limited when wearing stiff boots. BMW’s R Series Adventure models attempt to compensate for this with a flip-down pedal, but they are fussy and often left in only one position once set.

AltRider’s new Dual Control Brake System is a beautifully machined and brilliantly simple device that enhances the stock GS brake pedal in three ways. A fixed, billet aluminum enlarger plate makes the business end of the pedal almost impossible to miss; however, it is also more at risk for a rock strike. A folding design would be helpful here. A bolt-on riser (available in two height options) provides a taller perch for the toe to engage when needed, and optional grip pins can be screwed in place to optimize traction. The brake snake, a stout stainless steel cable, prevents weeds and saplings from fouling the pedal.

Ergonomics are critical to managing a heavyweight adventure machine. AltRider’s Dual Brake System is a serious improvement to the rear brake. Components are available as a kit or in individual pieces. MSRP: $69.97 AltRider.com

PROS

CONS

 Improved finesse when wearing stiff boots  Larger pedal is more susceptible to rock strikes
 Enlarger plate is almost impossible to miss ▼ A folding design would be helpful
 Second position eases access, even when standing or moving rearward ▼ No more excuses for running into your riding buddy
 Brake snake sheds weeds and saplings  
 Incredible fit and finish  

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Gallery7Pack'em up, hop on and take off. No pavement? No problem. Both these bikes have "Adventure" in their souls.

Can you imagine camping in some killer back country spot along the way in your next long distance motorcycling adventure? Can you imagine cutting the corner off your next highway trip on a brief adventure through the forest to avoid twice as many super slab miles? Do you enjoy an occasional sporting jaunt through your favorite twisty bits? Perhaps a tiny but exciting wheelie every now and again? Oh yeah! Sign me up for a few more decades of that baby. Want to know how? Read on.

Not that many years ago there were motorcycles we now label as "standards". These were machines we owned that we did everything on. You could press them into service on a canyon blast on Sunday morning and they'd do OK. You could load them up with your bags and take off cross country and they'd do OK. You could throw your significant other on the back and go for a ride and they'd do OK. Back then, once in a while you might even get a wild hair to make your way down a gravel or dirt road and you could get it done. About the only thing they did exceptionally well though was to do about anything OK.

Well it is twenty years later and things are different now. Motorcycle technology has risen to such a high level, thanks in great part to racing, that now you can get a bike that does about anything at or above the eighty percent level when compared to a more single-focus bike in each category. In fact, these two machines do it all so well they've expanded the envelope to the point where a new word was needed to describe their breed. That word is "Adventure" and both these bikes dish it up huge!

We won't be comparing dyno charts, wheel bases and tech specs. This piece is directed to the serious buyer of either of these machines who has a certain amount of adventure in their motorcycling soul and who expects to be wandering into places that aren't totally paved. If it's a crotch rocket or couch-on-two-wheels you want, then you shouldn't be shopping for either of these two bikes. We will be comparing these machines to each other for their intended purpose, which we all now know simply as "Adventure".

Owning a BMW R1100GS is a unique experience. Its look is unique from the strange fender that never moves and the high bulbous gas tank to the dirt bike style bars, single-sided swing arm/shaft drive unit and, oh yeah, those two big aluminum foot warmers sticking out down there. Then there's the Tele-Lever front suspension and anti-lock brakes. Lift the rear seat off and poof, there's a tool kit you could use to start your own roadside assistance business. The odd-at-first but comfortable upright riding position, wide bars, and a large forward seat section allows plenty of front to rear movement. The 'sewing machine" sound of its mill... it's all uniquely GS.

The KTM 950 is a whole other kind of unique. It's equally challenged, er, I mean unique in the looks department. Solidly in the love-hate category in my opinion. But just swing a leg over it and take it for a spin and if that whole looks thing once bothered you, suddenly it won't any more. The harder you push this bike the more fun it gets. Wearing riding apparel that dirt and mud won't bother, passing squids on 150 horsepower machines in the canyons, buzzing around town for groceries, filling up two fuel tanks, knowing that no dirt road is a match for this beast... it's all uniquely KTM 950 Adventure.

Both of these bikes have loads of character. They're also extremely utilitarian. For one­-up on the street, both of these machines prove incredibly worthy steeds. My experience has been that both of these bikes require relatively low maintenance and both are very reliable. Additionally, they can be found on the used market for a reasonable sum of about $5,000-8,000. Now, if you need more reasons than this to read on, by all means read on.

Once you become accustomed to the unique experience of riding a GS and you begin to push the machine a bit looking for the edges of its performance envelope some interesting things happen. The first thing you notice is FUN factor! You'll get this smile from ear to ear and you'll begin to realize how operator friendly this big bike really is. Next you'll find yourself scooted all the way forward to the tank, using those big wide dirt bike style handle bars to flop the bike from rail to rail. When riding it between five and eight thousand rpm's you will notice the bikes uncanny stability and smoothness. This is an interplay of many factors some of which include: smooth to accelerate fuel injection, formidable torque, shaft final drive, and a very effective Tele­Lever. When rolling this big opposing twin on and off, just let that weird suspension do its thing, and before long you'll be flying along scraping "foot warmers" and grinning like Jimmy Carter, not wanting to go any faster.

It is usually surprising to would-be GS purchasers that the oil-head GS is actually a pretty quick bike. I don't mean quick by the standards of today's breed of race replica crotch rockets. I did not expect to be getting lectured by CHP's finest from the PA system on their squad car when I purchased the refined BMW R1100GS, but it happened. Had I been on a racier looking bike I'm sure I would have received a small, yellow piece of paper from officer friendly with the words "reckless and imprudent" scralled in his best chicken scratch.

One up on the street the GS delivers, and without a lot of muss and fuss. For the most part, whatever you're in the mood for the GS will be also. The brakes are excellent with plenty of feel and power and I've never experienced any kind of fade, even scooting right along two-up. Then again, I wouldn't expect to because I'm not one to go into corners hard on the brakes on the street. I save all that rear-wheel-in-the-air stuff for the race track. On the few occasions when I've tried the ABS on the BMW on purpose just to learn what to expect in the "unlikely event" I've been impressed. Once you know what to expect it really doesn't upset your riding and it may save you from a spill some day when the bulk of a loaded GS may have gotten away from you otherwise.

Notwithstanding all its other capabilities the big Beemer really shines when one-up turns into two-up. My wife and I have traveled all over the place on the GS in all kinds of conditions and performance basically mimicked my one-up handling experience. We weigh about 325 fully laden with riding gear and our luggage usually doesn't exceed 25-30 pounds. We've been up and down Highway 1 and on most of the canyon roads in the 805 area, read Southern California, and if your wife is the kind who enjoys a "two­up with Reg Pridmore" type of ride the GS will dish it up all day long.

The GS will also suck up super slab all day. With a good saddle under your collective buns you can log many miles two-up on a GS in comfort. I think the GS has the roomiest seating for two of any motorcycle I've ever owned. For the last year or so we also had a set of the large aluminum panniers. Even without them you can pack lots on the GS. The machine carries the luggage well too. I don't know if it somehow offsets the high, heavy fuel tank with some weight down low but you don't seem to feel the weight of luggage and passenger as much as you would expect on the GS. With the big wide bars and excellent suspension anyone with a well-calibrated right wrist and forefinger can haul booty on the BMW, even two-up on twisty roads, and have a very fun ride.

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Once you leave the pavement though the performance equation changes quite significantly for the big BMW. While the package works so well on the street certain things can't be ignored in the dirt, the biggest of which is the weight. Another is the lack of a well-done six speed transmission. As long as you are on a solid base like a road bed, well maintained gravel or dirt roads are well within the comfort zone for the GS. However, when the going gets a bit rougher like on miles of wash board, or on loose slippery stuff like deep gravel, sand, or any kind of mud, unless you are Jimmy Lewis, you will quickly be way out of your comfort zone on the BMW. Let's face it. This is a 550 lb. motorcycle dry and unpacked. It also presents a somewhat high center-­of-gravity package, especially when filled with 6.6 gallons of fuel. All in all, the somewhat taller heavy package of the Beemer is considerably less suited, and for some downright undesirable in "dirt biking" terms.

The KTM is quite different in this area. With nine and three quarter inches of suspension travel front and back, tall is just another plus of KTMs more off-road oriented package. The big KTM carries its 5.8 gallons of fuel much lower and far more leading edge off-road oriented race design has been incorporated in this machine. With its in-line V-Twin it is narrow like a dirt bike, perhaps to resemble a dirt bike's larger cousin. Power to weight ratio and highly intergrated handling and performance qualities come forth with the KTM offroad and can you feel it. Logistically, fueled and ready to ride, the KTM is more than a hundred pounds lighter than the BMW's dry weight. In large, it is a whole different package.

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The first time I swung a leg over a KTM 950 Adventure my first impression was a dirt bike on steroids. Like "Dirt-bike­zilla" as my good friend CJ would say. In many ways that first impression was accurate, but there is much more to the story. Like the GS BMW the KTM is proof that all-around motorcycle performance sometimes can come in a funny-looking package.

KTM's dirt bike heritage is clear and present when you take this bike off the pavement. You start off on gravel roads and find yourself just flying along at speeds your dirt bike simply can't attain. You're comfortable as long as you still haven't bothered to glance at the speedo. When you do you're instantly scared. Yikes! Well maintained gravel or dirt roads become Paris-Dakar segments with the countryside flashing by in streaks. How can you be comfortable going that fast on gravel? Easy, you're riding on the rocket ship 'Adventure.' This is the kind of bike that can make you a better rider, in terms of having to utilize proper ride technique. Its either that or, well... forget about it.

The power when riding off-road with this bike seems limitless. KTM has the LC8 tuned for an excellent balance between torque and dependable peek power. The hydraulic clutch and six-speed transmission are equally well done. It's a highly developed package and few riders will likely ever discover its limits off the pavement. That's because you have to be good enough. You catch yourself riding the KTM like you would your dirt bike, power-sliding around the sweepers, surfing the washboard and having to reel yourself in, back down to a more sane speed. This high tech ride allows you to begin daydreaming, but all that dreaming ends when you try to stop in a hurry. It's then you realize the 436 pound motorcycle with dual sport tires really can't stop as fast as your CR250 shod with full on knobbies. (So, part of the equation with any "adventure-type" motorcycle when in the dirt is to recalibrate your stopping distances.)

Gallery3

Say, hasn't this bike placed in the top three every year since its inception in the Paris-Dakar Rally? No surprise. Back on the street with the big KTM things just keep getting more fun. Only an absolute speed junkie would yearn for more, or friendlier power than you can wring out of this LC8 on the street. I'll take this ninety-some horsepower motor with all its torque and smoothness over a hundred and twenty (or more) peaky ponies any day. And if you think the suspension on this machine shines in the dirt, which it does, then you're in for a really pleasant surprise once you hit the tarmac. It works even better!

One-up riding on pavement with this bike is impressive! The quality of the fully adjustable (some on-the-fly) suspension components at both ends of this machine make it capable of doing anything on the street, and doing it well. Freshly off the dirt from a mighty blast through the forest, with a couple quick tweaks you can turn this thing into a canyon carving monster. The harder you push it the better it feels and pretty soon you figure out that it's just not smart to go any faster, even if you are Reg Pridmore, unless you're on the track. Speaking of the track, if you did tape off your lights, safety-wire a few things and attend a track day with the 950 I'm sure you'd have a ball. I wouldn't expect to be the fastest guy out there, but I'm also sure you'd be passing lots of lesser riders on bikes much more well designed for the purpose.

One thing I noticed that took some getting used to for me as a long-time road racer was the rear brake. KTM uses a more aggressive dirt bike ratio than the bikes you're used to riding this fast in the twisties. I almost learned this the hard way on my first day as I had the rear end lock up on Lockwood Valley Road high up in the Los Padres. Go easy until your right toe is recalibrated.

Gallery6Overall cockpit configuration and rider comfort on the KTM is good. As with many machines, owners will likely modify their machines to suit individual preferences. One area where the KTM has shown limitation in the past is in seat comfort. Though this bike can eat pavement all day one-up, it's only comfortable saddle-wise for generally about three hundred miles per day. Reports say now that the new 2005 stock seats actually break in after about 12,000 miles.

As far as luggage goes the KTM can support some variety, especially during solo flight. Unless you're one of those riders who likes to take the kitchen sink, a duffel bungeed to the small rear rack and a well placed moderately sized set of over-the-seat saddle bags should get you by for all but the most lengthy of sojourns. Tank bags are also an option but the tank is plastic and rather oddly shaped so it is a bit more of a challenge, though certainly not impossible. When two up traveling, cargo hauling requires more innovation of course.

You won't need many two-up trips on the 950 Adventure to realize the comfort to luggage relationship needs working. With soft luggage the high pipes of the KTM protrude enough so that packing massive compartments become awkward if not unfeasible. If rear saddlebags ride back far enough for the passenger to use their foot pegs they likely will be burnt on the exhaust. Also, the size of the trunk-bag attached to the rear rack must now be smaller to accommodate the passenger while avoiding the high exhaust. There are OEM and other hard luggage options that fit the KTM which some prefer. The seat that was okay for one really isn't okay for two for trips of any length.

The pre-2005 stock seats do okay for occasional two-up, one day bopping around here and there. But start to string days together, rack up some miles, and a tour package more like the GS is what you'll yearn for. One reason for this is that the rear portion of the KTM seat tilts upward tending to make the passenger slide down into the operator. Of course this is not very comfortable for tour situations. On mountain roads going steeply downhill it can be almost a burden. Many have remedied two up seat discomfort by turning to aftermarket custom seat-makers. With adjustments made the KTM can very adequately carry two people in reasonable comfort for long periods. It can be much better than when delivered in stock amenities but a Wing it will never be, nor a GS BMW for that matter.

In summary, here we have two extremely refined motorcycles. The BMW GS series, which has garnered legendary status from decades of devoted service, and the KTM Adventure, which is now being viewed as the 'would-be king'. Both motorcycles are a joy to ride. The older heavier GS is still slightly more comfortable for longer touring. Yet, the KTM seems to be capable of that with refinements. For two up long distance the BMW again slightly gets the nod. For one up riding which bike you might prefer probably depends on where, and how you like your riding.

The BMW will travel long steady miles, and in windy conditions be more planted. Yet, if ever stuck, the bike will likely require more than one person to get unstuck. This is not so with the KTM. Though maybe more fatiguing for long straight highway miles, it is an absolute blast and a wonder nearly everywhere else. In heavy traffic and while commuting both bikes do fine, though the KTM is probably a little bit easier to maneuver. In the rough is where the KTM really shines. Because of its lighter weight, six speed transmission, wide powerband, and long suspension the KTM does very well offroad, and those same factors make twisting and mountain riding exhilarating.

For would be owners, choosing one or the other of these bikes will likely depend on a number of factors. I have devised a brief question outline that might help you clarify which one of these bikes might you might prefer.

-The more one prefers asphalt with some graded roads, or travels two-up the more one should consider a BMW.

-The more one grins at a filthy, dusty, muddy bike after a ride the more one should consider the KTM.

-The more interested you are in heated grips, electric vest plug-in ports or a larger windscreen the more you should consider the BMW.

-The more interested you are in the factory crash bars to protect the fuel tanks and aluminum brush guards for the controls the more you should consider the KTM.

-If you're the type of rider who admires minimalism, who wants to stably feel every root, rut and gravel bog, who isn't afraid of getting lost and having to track yourself back out of the forest then I'd lean more toward the KTM.

Originally published April 2005.

From the land of schnapps comes a sleeper. BMW, fresh with success in last year's renowned African rally, introduces the BMW F650GS Dakar dual sport. Sporting the checkered flag as its body graphic, poised in the manner of its racer prototype, bearing a handful of leading edge technological advances, the Dakar promises to leap to the head of the adventure touring class.

BMW and Austrian engine supplier Bombardier-Rotax have developed the 652cc single cylinder engine of the F650GS jointly. New technology on the F650GS includes Digital Motor Electronics and fuel injection developed by BMW-- the BMW Engine Management System (BMS). BMS controls fuel delivery and ignition timing based on airflow and density, ambient temperature, and throttle setting. The cylinder head is reworked from the Funduro model and is equipped with a twin exhaust that is lighter, less restrictive, and more compact. For final measure, BMW borrowed a combustion chamber and intake design from its high-performance automotive engines. It incorporates a 43mm downdraft throttle body which positions the injector close to the throttle butterfly for maximum fuel atomization.

Gallery2
Ergonomics

All periodic maintenance components are easy to get to. Inside a small glove box in the rear rack, a tab is pulled to release the seat. This allows access to fuses, tools, and the air filter. A three-piece white plastic shroud (molded to give the impression of a fuel tank) covers an oil filler tank, battery, air box housing, and radiator. The 4.5 (US) gallon fuel tank is nestled below the seat.

The hand control levers are nice and flat. The shifter and rear brake lever are solid and without undo play. The windscreen is set at a steep upright angle. Its unique form, small size, and kick-forward at the top provide for a surprising amount of wind deflection. It permits the rider a lot of open space up front yet allows you to pick-a-line nearly down to the front of the 21 inch rim.

The handlebars are narrow for a dual-sport. The bars are complimented with weights with plastic hand guards mounted to them. They are effective in deflecting wind but lack a metallic support band at their rear.

The cockpit is well proportioned. The handlebars, foot pegs, and seat height are comfortable for an average size rider. Taller riders will have a snug fit. The cockpit layout and especially the relatively low seat height yield a low center of gravity. BMW states that one can interchange varying thicknesses of seat cushions to further adjust the ride.

The indicators, lights, and gauges function nicely. The turn signals emit plenty of light. Their stiff extension mounts will be prone to break upon impact. The gauges are well lit and have white-marked increment dials visible in all situations. The odometer and trip meter are digital. The instrument housing is covered with an easily marred silver plastic finish. The luggage rack (if you could call it that) is completely plastic-two molded pieces join together at the center to form the rack. These two pieces tend to separate under heavy vibration and load. The rack has a nice glove box feature but could use some beefing up.

The head and taillights perform admirably. Side marker reflectors add to the bike's visibility. On the downside, the metallic mounts of the rear side reflectors come in contact with the lower mudguard under heavy load and when the suspension is being worked. Our test bike developed a number of superficial cuts on the guards.

In the Streets on the Road

I set out from the Del Mar, California based BMW facility with the checkered-flag adorned Dakar. The bike lets me know it is cold-blooded as we move onto the streets of Ontario. Even warm, it tends to stall. While the Dakar moves well in the city streets it exhibits an annoying tendency to enter neutral when downshifting from second to first gear. I make a mental note to myself, "perhaps the bike requires further break-in miles to be at its best." Traffic guides me up, around, and onto the interstate heading through Los Angeles. Within 10 miles I realize I'm on a very unique 650 single. The bike is smooth, very smooth, with excellent mid-range and top end response.

After 40 miles of normally nerve-racking LA freeway, a smile comes over my face. Hit the throttle at 65 mph and the bike accelerates sharply. Mid-range and top end power easily moves me in and out of clusters of careless autos. The bike is a dream in freeway mayhem. After a second 40 miles, I'm ready to do it all again-- I'm having fun driving through LA traffic! I enter an 18-mile stint of twists. This is familiar territory-twists I've ridden a hundred times before on other bikes. What impresses me here is the ability of this bike to lean. I am able to carve lines that I've never imagined on a bike of this type. The sweet handling is more than the Metzler Enduro 3 Sahara's-- a well-proven multi-use tire-can account for.

On the Motorway

The Dakar is superb on the interstate. It can hold its own with the biggest tourers, cruisers, and sport bikes. The frame of the machine is made of square stock steel; it provides an underlying stability and assuredness on the open highway. The bike has a slight quiver between 4,000-4,300 rpm's in fifth, but not enough to be concerned about except on long touring stints. The Dakar has top end power to spare. The bike would make a fine tourer with a conventional (not two-up) load.

Due to fuel injection, there is no petcock and no fuel reserve. Instead, an indicator lamp illuminates on the dash panel. BMW claims the fuel warning light signals when the equivalent of 25miles remains in the tank I found the indicator warned me when approximately 1.5 gallons were left. The bike delivered a consistent 50 mpg throughout the test. This tells me it has 200 miles of range-adequate for adventure touring.

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Off-road in the Desert

It is autumn in the desert and the grayish sky blends to an assortment of dry rocky mountains. Visibility is a hundred miles or a few hundred yards depending on your relation to the nearest dust storm. Expansive plains and millenniums of erosion spill onto dry lakebeds with extra-terrestrial textures. The bike is fully loaded with camping gear but glides easily along two lane open desert highways, carves through twists, and remains steady in crosswinds. It gains speed easily while ascending long uphill grades and runs evenly through changes of elevation.

I turn onto a dirt road and cross a dry lakebed making my way up a rugged canyon. The smooth dirt turns to loose and planted rock. Two tracks whittle to one then open up again, varying back and forth thereafter. Goat-trail country-sharp up and down turns, banks, washes, plenty of granite-the kind that eats you up and spits you out unless you keenly pick-a-line. The Dakar feels at home here. The low center of gravity allows for grace in the rough. The generous travel (8.4 inches front and back) helps. The relatively low seat height of 31.5 inches ( this is an actual measurement; BMW specs indicate over 35 inches) makes me feel 'down in' the bike and I can make sharp, precise turns at low speeds. The twin piston Brembos allows me to grab just the right amount of slow to negotiate the next line while avoiding breaking traction. The bike finds the straightest lines seemingly on its own.

Off-road, the bike continues the annoying second to first neutral stop. It doesn't matter whether the bike is coming down from a higher speed run or whether goat trailing. Additionally, the bike's tendency to stall remains ever present. The stalling occurs most often after de-accelerating from a speed ramp to a near stop. Occasionally the bike stalls while simply putting along on the trail. The stalling happens often enough to raise concerns when tight trailing. I would want it remedied on my machine.

After goat trailing, I lead the Dakar into the open desert. Once again, in all conditions-dirt roads, cross-country, and loose and firm soil-- the Dakar handles with confidence. It likes the open desert trails as much as tighter pine forests.

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Final Thoughts

At its zenith, dual sporting requires a motorcycle perform well in situations varying from tight mountain goat trails to transcontinental touring. Few motorcycles can claim prowess across the continuum.

The F650GS Dakar is not perfect. There is the strange neutral and the stalling. Additionally, the test bike leaked oil from the air box overflow reservoir where pooled, misted overflow from the crankcase accumulated.

Still, the Dakar's foundation is close to ideal. It may be another 30 years before a bike with design innovations rivaling this one comes along. Though pricing and lack of aftermarket accessory availability are potential arguments against the Dakar, the agility, solidity, and superb power band add up to say, ''I'm best!"

In my opinion, the BMW F650GS Dakar has the ingredients to be the best dual sport adventure tourer available in the USA. And that is saying a lot.

Editor's note

F6S0GS Series: A Mixed Debut

While the F650GS Dakar performed reasonably well throughout our test, the US and worldwide debut of this bike has proven frustrating to new owners and dealers alike.

First, there were curious and mostly isolated electric problems. In some cases, for example, the starting motor would engage with the key in the hand of the owner ( the starter relay fuses together due to low voltage in the battery).

In November 2000, the National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA) issued recall no. 00V267 concerning fuel tank issues on 2001 BMW F650GS and F650GS Dakar motorcycles manufactured between March and July 2000. Early fuel tanks were susceptible to developing cracks in an area near an insert used to mount a carbon canister. Dealers replaced the defective tanks. By far the most vexing issue concerns surging and stalling in the fuel system. Some bikes do not have this problem, some have both, and some-like our test bike-have one. Industry reports indicate BMW is aware of the problem and has reprogramming fixes to the EFI in the works.

Originally published February 2001.

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The cannons are silent and the dust has settled on last year’s “Battle Ready” 2015 BMW R1200GS build. We learned a lot over the past 18,000 miles about the bike, its armor, and other paraphernalia originally selected to enhance the machine’s already formidable capabilities. We began dismantling the old cyborg, analyzing each piece to determine what withstood the test and what failed. Our next unit, a fresh 2016 GS, gets a lot of proven hand-me-downs from its older brother, but we’ve made a few upgrades to the set-up, too.

WHAT WE CHANGED

Our Hepco-Becker crash bars gave their all. After too many low-sides on variable terrain, they were bent and dented. The aluminum Touratech valve cover protectors did their best to shield their charge, but they too succumbed to the barrage, pinched and deformed beneath the engine guards. Placing themselves in harm’s way, both components prevented serious damage but the scars on the valve covers are evidence of numerous skirmishes and I would rather see them built a bit tougher. I understand that Touratech now has an upgraded stainless steel version of the valve cover guards but we have yet to try a set.

Machineart Moto’s nylon X-Head boots replaced the tweaked Touratech valve cover protectors. These surprisingly stylish shields are lined with a solid half-inch of molded rubber helping to protect the delicate magnesium covers. They encompass a whopping 80% of the valve cover and, so far, don’t appear to deform in a fall.

r1200gs bike build review 3

The Hepco-Becker crash bars were traded for war-proven Touratech stainless steel uppers and lowers. These gorgeous bits of workmanship are comparable to Woody’s Wheels fit and finish and, with 2mm-wall, 1-inch diameter tubing formed to cage the cylinders and heads—much tougher than their predecessors. On our first outing I managed to tag a rather large tree and was suddenly ejected like I’d hit an IED. The left engine bar gouged a chunk of bark that would draw an “Atta boy!” from Paul Bunyan himself. Aside from the tree, the driver was the only casualty. The bars just shook it off like a triceratops to a BB gun. 

A good soldier is always on his feet. Our old Black Dog Cycle Works (BDCW) pegs were superb, with a large, comfortable platform that made standing a pleasure, but in the muddiest conditions boots could slip off once the edges had worn down. BDCW has solved that issue once and for all. Their Traction Footpegs boast sharper aluminum teeth, a more open void, which allows mud to squeeze through and, most notably, removable sharp steel traction pins set into the perimeter of the aircraft-grade billet. A little lauded feature is their unique installation pins, which make replacement a breeze. Slipping resolved. And yes, they will still open a beer at the end of the ride. Two treats for Black Dog.

WHAT WE ADDED

Latecomers to the 2015 were Hammerhead Designs’ shifter and brake pedal. Both factory units are non-folders, which are non-starters for much serious backcountry travel. The factory brake pedal took a hit before replacement, requiring a field repair to restore its usefulness. The Hammerhead units are among the top components on the bike and they look the part. Both fold nicely when brushed by an immovable object. The shifter comes in various lengths, colors, and your choice of a knurled aluminum or rubber tip. Hammerhead offers several platform options for their brake pedal—with or without folding hinge, taller or shorter, and in different sizes. Threaded traction pins ensure grip and a brake snake is included in the kit to ward off saplings from the space between pedal and frame.

Final drives are vulnerable and ours picked up a few scratches... thankfully nothing worse. But to eliminate any further chance of an issue we slapped on a Touratech fiber-reinforced final drive guard and lower pivot cap for peace of mind. 

Our side stand switch took a rock hit somewhere in an Arkansas creek bed, causing the dreaded “Why’d It Die?” syndrome until we determined the cause. We grabbed an AltRider side stand switch guard to prevent another incident with the new switch. Simple and effective.

r1200gs bike build review 10

WHAT WE KEPT

Woody’s Wheels are pure eye candy. We switched colors this time to silver Excel rims with crimson hubs. We kept the narrower, oilhead-size rims to accommodate a wider range of tires and for the relative protection they offer over the more exposed stock widths. Last year’s black rims took a bit of scuffing with all the sand riding and we woefully managed to lightly dent a front rim by railing down a rocky river bed with low tire pressure. Factory rims would have died an ugly death under those conditions. Even with the hit, not a single spoke has loosened in 18,000 miles of abuse with our original Woody’s Wheel-set. 

Woody uses the best, Excel 7000 series rims mounted to his own design Superlite II billet hubs. His unique Superlace pattern spreads forces radially through spokes .040 inch thicker than stock. With the addition of Galfer wave rotors, the whole set-up is nothing short of stunning. 

Our Braille ML 14C military-spec Lithium carbon fiber battery is now on its fourth motorcycle and is still going strong. Two spare auxiliary Powerlet outlets ensure our accessories will always have a place to be charged. Ram mounts continue to hold the cell phone and Garmin Montana GPS where they belong. 

Shinko 804/805 series Big Block adventure touring tires wrap the rims on our new build as before. They have not failed to perform as they should, with grip comparable to similar tread designs costing nearly twice as much. Mileage ranges from 2,500 to 4,500 on the rear, depending upon wrist activity, and roughly double that on front. No complaints for a pair of tires costing under $200.00. 

r1200gs bike build review 4

We retained the Maier rear forward splashguard, front beak extension and Neoprene fork seal protectors from Touratech. These bits have proven invaluable, each in their own way. The splashguard is a simple, effective barrier against all the crud that aims to destroy the rear shock. It rubbed a little on the rear tire at first, but a bit of forming with a heat gun and some natural relief from wear have eliminated any issues. It’s a cheap and effective component. 

The Neoprene fork seal protectors have left the seals on our 2015 as good as new. Zero leaks and no visible issues from grit or impact. The beak extension is just cool... what more matters? 

Final bits from Touratech include their high strength plastic GS hand guards and spoilers. Tough as carbide nails, they are also pliable enough to absorb some of the impact from a fall and they don't bend like aluminum handguard often do in a big bike spill. Once bent, it's a street fight to form them back on the trail. They come in colors, and spoilers can be mixed and matched.

Touratech’s headlight protector has kept us illuminated through numerous ak attacks. We struggle to choose between the high-strength Macrolon or laser-cut stainless steel guard (both included in their quick-release Ultimate Headlight Guard Kit). Both have done their job without complaint. 

Ned Seusse’s Doubletake Mirrors are a must-have for any dual-sport or adventure bike. They are inexpensive, infinitely adjustable, they stay put once properly installed and tightened, and the housings are guaranteed for life. Crystal clear SAE glass replacements are sold separately. 

We stuck with the Rigid D2 Dually lights and FZ1 Fuzeblock from BDCW. Battle is no place to experiment and these electrical components have held up awlessly (with the exception of a tiny bit of corrosion on the Fuzeblock circuitry which was removable with a brush). Rigid lights illuminate our Tacoma GS overlanding truck as well, and we have experienced equal success over five years of backcountry use.

r1200gs bike build review 8

The indomitable BDCW ULTIMATE skid plate deserves the Medal of Honor for all it has done to save our engine. BDCW armor has also successfully staved o all attacks to our radiators and will remain on the new bike, as will their simple, form-fitting side stand enlarger. Their 40mm bar risers have proven just right for my 5-foot, 10-inch frame. 

Our BDCW Helopad luggage platform has been invaluable for toting everything from our Warn XT 17 winch to luggage and even RotopaX for water and fuel.

Wolfman Rocky Mountain panniers and their Overland tailbag have the most miles hauling our gear and so far this set-up has proven awless. The addition of Wolfman’s new Pikes Peak Rapid Release system settles the only serious complaint we’ve had with soft luggage. 

Touratech’s electropolished stainless steel pannier frames match the engine guards perfectly and they protect the aft portion of the bike while offering an ideal mounting spot for their Mundo aluminum panniers or any soft luggage set-up. 

Sargent’s World Sport Performance Plus saddle has been one of the most important components of the upgrade. Crossing continents to save the world takes its toll on the butt. This saddle has literally saved mine. We use the pillion less frequently, but Susan (my wife) reports that it’s much more comfortable than the stock unit. 

Overall, with the exception of the items and upgrades mentioned, our Battle Tested GS has earned its stripes. The GS platform is a hammer... always performing without complaint and, properly accessorized, it is more than up to the task of doing battle with some of the toughest, longest roads on the planet.

PRODUCT SOURCE PRICE (USD)
Side Stand Switch Guard  AltRider.com or Revzilla(Affilicate) $46.97 

BDCW ULTIMATE skid plate, radiator guards and Platform footpegs

Add $10.00 for Traction pegs

BlackDogCW.com $734.40 (package)
Helopad BlackDogCW.com $330.00
FZ1 Fuzeblock BlackDogCW.com $89.00
Rigid D2 Light Package BlackDogCW.com $458.00
Back Country Pannier Kit BlackDogCW.com $624.99
Sidestand Enlarger BlackDogCW.com $37.80
Braille 952 PCA battery BrailleBattery.com $1,312.49
Doubletake Adventure Mirror DoubletakeMirror.com $120.00
Hammerhead CNC Shift Lever HDMoto.com $79.99
Hammerhead Rear Brake Lever HDMoto.com $229.99
Sargent Heated Saddle and Pillion SargentCycle.com $899.95
Shinko Big Block 804/805 ShinkoTireUSA.com or Revzilla (Affiliate) $178/set
Touratech Crash Bars, Upper/Lower Touratech-USA.com $359.95/$439.95
Pannier Mounts Touratech-USA.com $399.00
Final Drive Guard Touratech-USA.com $249.95
Ultimate Dead Light Guard Kit (w/ both covers) Touratech-USA.com $189.95
Hand Guard Protectors & Spoilers Touratech-USA.com $132.80/$35.00
Neoprene Fork Seal Protectors Touratech-USA.com
$79.95
Wolfman Rocky Mtn Panniers WolfmanLuggage.com $524.99
Wolfman Pikes Peak Rapid Release System WolfmanLuggage.com $324.99
 Woody's Wheel Works   WoodysWheelWorks.com Priced Per Build 
  TOTAL $7,878.11 + wheels

{gallery}ARTICLES/Bikes/Project_Battle_R1200GS/Gallery{/gallery}

Scramblers – They were ridden by scores of movie heroes and amateur racers. With deep-tread tires, a raised exhaust, somewhat extended spring travel and a relaxed seating position, Scramblers offered riders during the 1950s to 1970s not just motorcycling fun on winding country roads, but also great off-road capability and an extended range of uses. Like the motorcycles themselves, the people who rode Scramblers were not bound by established conventions of time or place.

Now, BMW Motorrad presents the new BMW R nineT Scrambler, a motorcycle which revives the Scrambler era in a very unique way. It has everything that defines this motorcycle type – a distinct spirit created for motorcycle enthusiasts who love things that are pure, essential and non-conformist – combined with the technology and quality of a BMW. Together, with the R nineT Roadster, the BMW Scrambler establishes the new BMW Motorrad Heritage world of experience.

gallery2

The new BMW Motorrad Scrambler features a classic air-cooled, punchy flat-twin boxer engine, which has stood for hallmark design, powerful torque and a unique sound for more  than nine decades. The R nineT Scrambler is fitted with the air/oil-cooled boxer with a capacity of 1,170 cc. It delivers an output of 110 hp (81 kW) at 7,750 rpm, develops a maximum torque of 86 lb/ft (116 Nm) at 6,000 rpm and, with the new engine mapping and a fuel system including carbon canister, meets the requirements of the EU4 pollutant class.

With the new Scrambler as with the R nineT, BMW Motorrad has responded to the desire of many riders who want to be able to modify their bike according to their own personal taste. The spectrum of potential alterations ranges from original BMW Motorrad accessories to parts and accessories produced by customers to create a unique motorcycle.

The raised exhaust with two vertically arranged rear silencers meets the requirements of a classic Scrambler. It is fitted very close to the body of the bike, thereby reinforcing its generally slim appearance while producing a deep robust boxer sound. A large-size catalytic converter ensures even more effective exhaust gas cleaning.

gallery3

Similar to the R nineT Roadster, the frame concept is a key component of the Scrambler's extensive customization capabilities. The specially developed steel tubular space frame integrates the boxer engine as a load-bearing element and consists of a front section with integrated steering head and a rear section with swinging arm mount.

The passenger frame can be detached, giving the R nineT Scrambler a particularly unique appearance in combination with the single seat option. In line with the bike’s active riding character, the suspension geometry of the R nineT Scrambler is mainly geared towards sound handling and a neutral cornering response, providing ample riding fun on winding country roads.

In optimal Scrambler style, front wheel suspension is in the form of a telescopic fork with rubber gaiters and a spring travel of 4.9 inches. Rear wheel suspension is provided by a Paralever single-sided swing arm, similar to the other boxer models. Suspension and damping are provided via a central spring strut. The spring travel is 5.5 inches.

gallery4

The new BMW Scrambler is fitted with light alloy cast wheels. It has a large 19-inch front wheel with tire sizes of 120/70-19 at the front and 170/60-17 at the rear. In view of the impressive riding dynamics of the R nineT Scrambler, the brake system which comes with ABS as standard - is fitted with 4-piston calipers, steel-wrapped brake lines and 320-millimeter brake discs at the front. At the rear, effective deceleration is ensured by a single-disc brake with a diameter of 265 millimeters and a 2-piston floating caliper.

As equipped, the new BMW Scrambler enables two up riding. The seat height for the rider is approximately 32.3 inches, which in conjunction with a narrow inside leg width, provides comfortable seating for both rider and passenger. If the intention is to go on more ambitious solo rides, the passenger frame can simply be detached, giving the rear a particularly compact and light appearance. This reinforces the character of the R nineT Scrambler as an uncompromising riding machine reduced to the absolute essentials. BMWMotorcycles.com

{gallery}ARTICLES/News/BMW/R9T_Scrambler/gallery{/gallery}

BMW Motorrad Recall

In mid-2017 BMW Motorrad AG officially initiated a global safety recall program, because of a defect with the upper stanchions of the R1200GS and R1200GS Adventure models. The potentially disastrous defect, affects an estimated 200,000 motorcycles, built and sold between 2013 and July 2017.

The motorcycle press and the internet has been abuzz for months, with talk of “catastrophic fork failure” and the words “BMWFatalFlaw” has now become its own #hashtag. Not a great thought to have running through your head as you throw your leg over your beloved GS.

Too Little Too Late?

According to industry insiders, BMW has scrambled to patch together a solution, in the way of a thin collar kit, which is slowly becoming available via the BMW Motorrad dealer network. Worryingly, BMW is struggling to supply the kits, as demand far outstrips supply.

I’ll confess that since hearing of the BMW “R1200GS STOP SALE” order, I’ve wondered if each ride I take on my 1200 could end in disaster.

stanch clamp 2

An Alternative Solution

The Stanch Clamp Collar Kit is an upper fork pre-separation reinforcement product, designed and produced by BT Cycle in the U.S., to address the upper stanchion (forks) separation and crimping issues in the BMW 1200GS motorcycles. It’s a simple solution available immediately, which can be fitted in less than 30 minutes without the need for special tools.

Before installing the Stanch Clamp I asked the manufacturers what R&D had been carried out, their response was reassuring.

“Months of aerospace lab testing, in parallel with extreme real-world pressure testing have been carried out. The Stanch Clamp has been tested by some of the most demanding GS riders around the world, including members of the official BMW GS Trophy Team. The Stanch Clamp has performed flawlessly and to date, has a 100% safety record.”

Unlike the BMW press on fork fix, the Stanch Clamp has been designed to be removable to allow for regular inspection, providing peace of mind and ease of maintenance.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Stanch Clamp is not a repair product. If your R1200GS has upper forks with more than the BMW recommended 2mm of fork separation, it is strongly advised that you contact your dealer who will replace your fork as part of the BMW recall and service program.

stanch clmap 4


What’s in The Box?

The Stanch Clamp Collar Kit includes: Two CNC machined milled clamps. 12 stainless steel SAE 5/32-inch 10-24x1-inch bolts. And a set of clearly written and simple to follow instructions.

Materials

The clamps are precision milled from aircraft grade, 6061 billet aluminum blocks kept in place using 18–8 stainless steel socket head screws with a 10–24 thread count.

The final product is both ultra-lightweight and incredibly strong. Attention to detail and quality sing out from the moment you unwrap the clamps.

stanch clmap 1Installation

With my R1200GSA LC on center stand, I laid the bolts on a small tray and applied a spot of blue Loctite to each bolt.

I paired up the front and back of each clamp and positioned the clamps at the top of the left upper fork area. With the clamp in position, I inserted a bolt in the top right position and the lower left position to hold the clamp in place. I then inserted the additional bolts and did each one up only pinch tight. I then torqued the bolts to the recommended 4NM, making sure that the gap between the two halves of the clamp was equal on both sides (left and right). I then did the same on the right-hand fork.

Conclusion

There are, I’m sure, many riders that will want to install the BMW fork fix as and when it becomes available. However, in the interim, the Stanch Clamp may just save your life, whilst you wait for BMW to get themselves organised!

If you want to “arrive alive,” or simply want some peace of mind, the Stanch Clamp is, for me, a no-brainer. Thirty minutes of wrenching is a small price to pay and makes riding my bike less like a game of Russian roulette. What are you waiting for? MSRP: $189.99 4TheOutdoors.com

 

PROS

CONS

 Anyone with an Allen wrench can install it It’s a shame that it’s necessary
Can be removed for easy inspection of the forks  
Can be used as a temporary measure while you wait for the BMW fix
Already has months of both lab and field testing by me and other GS riders  

 

{gallery}ARTICLES/Gear/BT_Cycle/Stanch_Clamp/Gallery{/gallery}

BMW Motorrad Recall

In mid-2017 BMW Motorrad AG officially initiated a global safety recall program, because of a defect with the upper stanchions of the R1200GS and R1200GS Adventure models. The potentially disastrous defect, affects an estimated 200,000 motorcycles, built and sold between 2013 and July 2017.

The motorcycle press and the internet has been abuzz for months, with talk of “catastrophic fork failure” and the words “BMWFatalFlaw” has now become its own #hashtag. Not a great thought to have running through your head as you throw your leg over your beloved GS.

Too Little Too Late?

According to industry insiders, BMW has scrambled to patch together a solution, in the way of a thin collar kit, which is slowly becoming available via the BMW Motorrad dealer network. Worryingly, BMW is struggling to supply the kits, as demand far outstrips supply.

I’ll confess that since hearing of the BMW “R1200GS STOP SALE” order, I’ve wondered if each ride I take on my 1200 could end in disaster.

stanch clamp 2

An Alternative Solution

The Stanch Clamp Collar Kit is an upper fork pre-separation reinforcement product, designed and produced by BT Cycle in the U.S., to address the upper stanchion (forks) separation and crimping issues in the BMW 1200GS motorcycles. It’s a simple solution available immediately, which can be fitted in less than 30 minutes without the need for special tools.

Before installing the Stanch Clamp I asked the manufacturers what R&D had been carried out, their response was reassuring.

“Months of aerospace lab testing, in parallel with extreme real-world pressure testing have been carried out. The Stanch Clamp has been tested by some of the most demanding GS riders around the world, including members of the official BMW GS Trophy Team. The Stanch Clamp has performed flawlessly and to date, has a 100% safety record.”

Unlike the BMW press on fork fix, the Stanch Clamp has been designed to be removable to allow for regular inspection, providing peace of mind and ease of maintenance.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Stanch Clamp is not a repair product. If your R1200GS has upper forks with more than the BMW recommended 2mm of fork separation, it is strongly advised that you contact your dealer who will replace your fork as part of the BMW recall and service program.

stanch clmap 4


What’s in The Box?

The Stanch Clamp Collar Kit includes: Two CNC machined milled clamps. 12 stainless steel SAE 5/32-inch 10-24x1-inch bolts. And a set of clearly written and simple to follow instructions.

Materials

The clamps are precision milled from aircraft grade, 6061 billet aluminum blocks kept in place using 18–8 stainless steel socket head screws with a 10–24 thread count.

The final product is both ultra-lightweight and incredibly strong. Attention to detail and quality sing out from the moment you unwrap the clamps.

stanch clmap 1Installation

With my R1200GSA LC on center stand, I laid the bolts on a small tray and applied a spot of blue Loctite to each bolt.

I paired up the front and back of each clamp and positioned the clamps at the top of the left upper fork area. With the clamp in position, I inserted a bolt in the top right position and the lower left position to hold the clamp in place. I then inserted the additional bolts and did each one up only pinch tight. I then torqued the bolts to the recommended 4NM, making sure that the gap between the two halves of the clamp was equal on both sides (left and right). I then did the same on the right-hand fork.

Conclusion

There are, I’m sure, many riders that will want to install the BMW fork fix as and when it becomes available. However, in the interim, the Stanch Clamp may just save your life, whilst you wait for BMW to get themselves organised!

If you want to “arrive alive,” or simply want some peace of mind, the Stanch Clamp is, for me, a no-brainer. Thirty minutes of wrenching is a small price to pay and makes riding my bike less like a game of Russian roulette. What are you waiting for? MSRP: $189.99 4TheOutdoors.com

 

PROS

CONS

 Anyone with an Allen wrench can install it It’s a shame that it’s necessary
Can be removed for easy inspection of the forks  
Can be used as a temporary measure while you wait for the BMW fix
Already has months of both lab and field testing by me and other GS riders  

 

{gallery}ARTICLES/Gear/BT_Cycle/Stanch_Clamp/Gallery{/gallery}

Now that BMW has released the 2014 R1200GS Adventure with the new liquid-cooled engine along with that bike’s upgraded architecture, the question arises if the new Adventure is that much better than the old one, a motorcycle that set the standard for big adventure bikes.

Having put 28,000 miles on a 2012 Adventure, my wrists were aching for a real electronic cruise control, so I put cash down on the 2014. When the older R1200GSAs were first released, their styling screamed aggressiveness and asserted dominance.

The new bike takes that stance into Terminator territory. It’s designed for the rider who wants to go anywhere, and this mammoth machine will. I’ve ridden both the new and old Adventures in venues ranging from interstate highways for hours on end at 80mph plus, to rocky dirt bike trails where sane folks would never think to travel.

gallery8

What the old bike does well, the new bike does better. With fuel capacities that easily cover a 300+ mile range, it will be a very remote corner of the earth where you would have to carry additional fuel.

Although never classified as “low-cost,” BMW even managed to keep the lid on prices. Expect that nearly all the bikes come with the Premium Package that bumps cost up to over $22-grand delivered, but that includes nearly all the stuff you’d want.

The centerpiece of the new bike is the engine. About the only thing it has in common with its predecessor is its boxer layout. The engine is shorter, allowing for a two-inch longer swing arm, and resulting in better handling and stability.

The boxer is also not as tall, permitting more ground clearance. To aid emissions and efficiency, cooling is by air and coolant—versus its predecessor by air and oil. The clutch is now in the front of the engine permitting servicing without having to split the bike in two.

gallery3

The clutch consists of eight wet disks sharing the same oil as the engine and transmission—permitting “feathering” while offroading. With less effort on the hand lever, the new clutch is a slipper-type design, which facilitates smoother shifts, especially in conjunction with the Adventure-specific load damper on the output shaft.

The old Adventure was available with an optional enduro transmission that had a lower first gear, a plus in off-road use since the dry clutch was not designed for lots of slipping. Although the new Adventure has no such option, it’s not missed, as it does have two more pounds of flywheel mass, giving the engine gobs more low-speed tractor effect.

The difference was especially noticeable after taking a new standard R1200GS on a rugged off-road ride and finding it easy to stall if you had to start on a loose surface going uphill; the new Adventure, like its lower-geared predecessor, just chugs on through.

Other differences with the engines include the locations of the valves in the heads. The new design relocates the intake runners, allowing the bike to be narrower. Along with the new electronics, the throttle takes less twist to open, and is smoother.

I’m not sure if that is part of the reason why the bike feels so much faster, but power wheelies are easily within range. The torque charts provided by BMW show that although the difference in peak torque is not enormous, the difference is notable and fatter over the entire range.

The old bike used the engine as a stressed member of its design. There were a front frame and a rear frame, with bolts connecting both to the engine at the center. The new bike has a more conventional continuous frame that has been designed for greater rigidity.


gallery4

The stiffer frame allows the revised electronically controlled suspension to do its job and absorb road irregularities. Combined with the longer swing arm and wider rims and tires, the handling is noticeably improved and, on pavement, dips well into sport bike territory.

The optional electronic suspension, part of the Premium Package, includes five driving modes: Rain, Road, Dynamic, Enduro and Enduro Pro. The old suspension offered the ability to raise preload and set shock valving.

The new version integrates operation of ABS, traction control, throttle response, shock valving and preload height. It also offers, in the Enduro mode, traction control and ABS settings that allow a small amount of slip.

gallery1Having always ridden off-road with traction control and ABS turned off, my first encounter with steep off-road terrain in Enduro mode, with the as-delivered Anakee III dual-sport “road tires,” was astounding. As a fellow rider put it, “They got it spot-on.” The shock valving had automatically been set to “soft” and the bike rode over the undulating and loose fire road surface like it was a paved parking lot.

The Rain mode was not tested in parched California, but it promises to reduce throttle response and introduce traction control earlier. Dynamic mode allows a bit of drifting on the pavement for those riders who wish to astonish the sport bike riders in their local canyons.

For those of us who, with knobbies installed, venture into locations where mere mortals fear to tread, the Enduro Pro mode can be activated by plugging a chip into the wire loom under the seat. This pretty much eliminates traction control and cuts out ABS on the rear brake; the front brake ABS is optimized for the knobbies and with the suspension raised for max travel, the shocks are set into “hard” mode.

The computer also allows you to set shock valving in Road mode into either Soft, Normal, or Hard. Crushing some miles during a quick run from LA to San Jose on the interstate, I set the shocks to soft and the bike turned into a cruiser. Amazing.

Throwing a leg over the new bike for the first time, you notice a difference in the controls and the instrument cluster. The cruise control switch on the left handlebar looks rather flimsy, but in use it’s robust and easy to operate; as on a family car, a tap of the switch will raise or lower your cruising speed a bit.

Other control changes include a finger switch for the high beams and a more conventional Japanese-style left thumb directional signal switch. When equipped with the Premium Package, the rotating knob on the left grip also serves to control the optional Nav IV GPS and incorporates display of engine and bike functions (e.g. tire pressure readout) on the large GPS display.

The new BMW GPS, built by Garmin, has a bunch of improvements as well. The Premium Package includes a locking cradle and wiring for the GPS unit, overcoming a disliked feature of the old bike—having to put away the easily removed device when security was questionable.


gallery6

The only gripe I have with the bike is a minor one. The new instrument cluster just doesn’t read well for an analog speedometer and tach. The tach is now redlined at 9,000, versus 8,500 on the old bike, but it gets there so fast, a “prepare to shift” yellow light in the cluster would be a welcome bonus.

As for the speedo, I’d dump it and just make the digital display a bit larger with readable numbers. The range where you’re likely to get a ticket for speeding—say up to 75, is just too di˛cult to see. The good side of the new cluster is that there is more info and the gear indicator is easily twice the size—very readable.

I equipped both bikes with auxiliary lights. Not wishing to be the victim of an animal that decides to graze on the road, I opt for lots of lumens, especially offroad. On the 2012, I replaced the stock halogen headlight with an HID unit.

On the other hand, the 2014 has an LED headlight that seems as good as an HID. The new bike changes the fog lights from halogen to LED and the results are dramatically better. I leave both the headlight and fog lights on all the time for safety.

gallery9

The auxiliary lights, Rigid Dually 2s with mounts from Black Dog Cycle Works, are controlled by an accessory adapter that conforms to the dictates of the CANbus system from AltRider in the form of a PDM60 power distribution module. Gone are the days of splicing a wire into the system.

Wanting to be sure I’d be getting as much information as possible about the extraordinary abilities of the machines for this report, I enlisted the help of two of the riding coaches at the famed RawHyde, BMW’s Off-Road Riding Academy on the west coast, to take part in a comparison test of the two bikes.

A day spent with coaches Jason Houle and Travis Kuehn conÿrmed my observations on the new bike’s merits and sums up the comparison. These guys ride both versions for a living and agree that the handling and stability is improved, it shifts better, enjoys better clutch operation, and has more power.

Being skinnier in the center contributes to more control and maneuverability; and, it’s still the standard for the adventure world. Perhaps, most importantly, it’s just more fun to ride.

{gallery}ARTICLES/Bikes/2012vs2014_BMW_Comparo/gallery::{/gallery}

 

 

Now that BMW has released the 2014 R1200GS Adventure with the new liquid-cooled engine along with that bike’s upgraded architecture, the question arises if the new Adventure is that much better than the old one, a motorcycle that set the standard for big adventure bikes.

Having put 28,000 miles on a 2012 Adventure, my wrists were aching for a real electronic cruise control, so I put cash down on the 2014. When the older R1200GSAs were first released, their styling screamed aggressiveness and asserted dominance.

The new bike takes that stance into Terminator territory. It’s designed for the rider who wants to go anywhere, and this mammoth machine will. I’ve ridden both the new and old Adventures in venues ranging from interstate highways for hours on end at 80mph plus, to rocky dirt bike trails where sane folks would never think to travel.

gallery8

What the old bike does well, the new bike does better. With fuel capacities that easily cover a 300+ mile range, it will be a very remote corner of the earth where you would have to carry additional fuel.

Although never classified as “low-cost,” BMW even managed to keep the lid on prices. Expect that nearly all the bikes come with the Premium Package that bumps cost up to over $22-grand delivered, but that includes nearly all the stuff you’d want.

The centerpiece of the new bike is the engine. About the only thing it has in common with its predecessor is its boxer layout. The engine is shorter, allowing for a two-inch longer swing arm, and resulting in better handling and stability.

The boxer is also not as tall, permitting more ground clearance. To aid emissions and efficiency, cooling is by air and coolant—versus its predecessor by air and oil. The clutch is now in the front of the engine permitting servicing without having to split the bike in two.

gallery3

The clutch consists of eight wet disks sharing the same oil as the engine and transmission—permitting “feathering” while offroading. With less effort on the hand lever, the new clutch is a slipper-type design, which facilitates smoother shifts, especially in conjunction with the Adventure-specific load damper on the output shaft.

The old Adventure was available with an optional enduro transmission that had a lower first gear, a plus in off-road use since the dry clutch was not designed for lots of slipping. Although the new Adventure has no such option, it’s not missed, as it does have two more pounds of flywheel mass, giving the engine gobs more low-speed tractor effect.

The difference was especially noticeable after taking a new standard R1200GS on a rugged off-road ride and finding it easy to stall if you had to start on a loose surface going uphill; the new Adventure, like its lower-geared predecessor, just chugs on through.

Other differences with the engines include the locations of the valves in the heads. The new design relocates the intake runners, allowing the bike to be narrower. Along with the new electronics, the throttle takes less twist to open, and is smoother.

I’m not sure if that is part of the reason why the bike feels so much faster, but power wheelies are easily within range. The torque charts provided by BMW show that although the difference in peak torque is not enormous, the difference is notable and fatter over the entire range.

The old bike used the engine as a stressed member of its design. There were a front frame and a rear frame, with bolts connecting both to the engine at the center. The new bike has a more conventional continuous frame that has been designed for greater rigidity.


gallery4

The stiffer frame allows the revised electronically controlled suspension to do its job and absorb road irregularities. Combined with the longer swing arm and wider rims and tires, the handling is noticeably improved and, on pavement, dips well into sport bike territory.

The optional electronic suspension, part of the Premium Package, includes five driving modes: Rain, Road, Dynamic, Enduro and Enduro Pro. The old suspension offered the ability to raise preload and set shock valving.

The new version integrates operation of ABS, traction control, throttle response, shock valving and preload height. It also offers, in the Enduro mode, traction control and ABS settings that allow a small amount of slip.

gallery1Having always ridden off-road with traction control and ABS turned off, my first encounter with steep off-road terrain in Enduro mode, with the as-delivered Anakee III dual-sport “road tires,” was astounding. As a fellow rider put it, “They got it spot-on.” The shock valving had automatically been set to “soft” and the bike rode over the undulating and loose fire road surface like it was a paved parking lot.

The Rain mode was not tested in parched California, but it promises to reduce throttle response and introduce traction control earlier. Dynamic mode allows a bit of drifting on the pavement for those riders who wish to astonish the sport bike riders in their local canyons.

For those of us who, with knobbies installed, venture into locations where mere mortals fear to tread, the Enduro Pro mode can be activated by plugging a chip into the wire loom under the seat. This pretty much eliminates traction control and cuts out ABS on the rear brake; the front brake ABS is optimized for the knobbies and with the suspension raised for max travel, the shocks are set into “hard” mode.

The computer also allows you to set shock valving in Road mode into either Soft, Normal, or Hard. Crushing some miles during a quick run from LA to San Jose on the interstate, I set the shocks to soft and the bike turned into a cruiser. Amazing.

Throwing a leg over the new bike for the first time, you notice a difference in the controls and the instrument cluster. The cruise control switch on the left handlebar looks rather flimsy, but in use it’s robust and easy to operate; as on a family car, a tap of the switch will raise or lower your cruising speed a bit.

Other control changes include a finger switch for the high beams and a more conventional Japanese-style left thumb directional signal switch. When equipped with the Premium Package, the rotating knob on the left grip also serves to control the optional Nav IV GPS and incorporates display of engine and bike functions (e.g. tire pressure readout) on the large GPS display.

The new BMW GPS, built by Garmin, has a bunch of improvements as well. The Premium Package includes a locking cradle and wiring for the GPS unit, overcoming a disliked feature of the old bike—having to put away the easily removed device when security was questionable.


gallery6

The only gripe I have with the bike is a minor one. The new instrument cluster just doesn’t read well for an analog speedometer and tach. The tach is now redlined at 9,000, versus 8,500 on the old bike, but it gets there so fast, a “prepare to shift” yellow light in the cluster would be a welcome bonus.

As for the speedo, I’d dump it and just make the digital display a bit larger with readable numbers. The range where you’re likely to get a ticket for speeding—say up to 75, is just too di˛cult to see. The good side of the new cluster is that there is more info and the gear indicator is easily twice the size—very readable.

I equipped both bikes with auxiliary lights. Not wishing to be the victim of an animal that decides to graze on the road, I opt for lots of lumens, especially offroad. On the 2012, I replaced the stock halogen headlight with an HID unit.

On the other hand, the 2014 has an LED headlight that seems as good as an HID. The new bike changes the fog lights from halogen to LED and the results are dramatically better. I leave both the headlight and fog lights on all the time for safety.

gallery9

The auxiliary lights, Rigid Dually 2s with mounts from Black Dog Cycle Works, are controlled by an accessory adapter that conforms to the dictates of the CANbus system from AltRider in the form of a PDM60 power distribution module. Gone are the days of splicing a wire into the system.

Wanting to be sure I’d be getting as much information as possible about the extraordinary abilities of the machines for this report, I enlisted the help of two of the riding coaches at the famed RawHyde, BMW’s Off-Road Riding Academy on the west coast, to take part in a comparison test of the two bikes.

A day spent with coaches Jason Houle and Travis Kuehn conÿrmed my observations on the new bike’s merits and sums up the comparison. These guys ride both versions for a living and agree that the handling and stability is improved, it shifts better, enjoys better clutch operation, and has more power.

Being skinnier in the center contributes to more control and maneuverability; and, it’s still the standard for the adventure world. Perhaps, most importantly, it’s just more fun to ride.

{gallery}ARTICLES/Bikes/2012vs2014_BMW_Comparo/gallery::{/gallery}

 

 

I love riding off-road on my BMW R1200 GS. Over the years I’ve learned it can sustain significant abuse and still power through the rest of the trip with a few zip ties, some duct tape, and a little JB Weld. However, the advancement in BMW electronics design has brought us the CAN bus system, which added limitations that continue to challenge trailside repairs when electronic faults occur. So, when a CAN bus feels more like a “Can’t bus,” you will be glad to know there’s an app for that!

Introducing the GS-911 wifi, a portable diagnostic tool that plugs into the 10-pin diagnostic connector on a BMW motorcycle. When connected, you can link the device to a smartphone or computer to enable interaction with the motorcycle’s on-board control modules and electrical components. The associated interface allows you to run diagnostic scans, test and calibrate components, and log live sensor data. It also allows you to reset maintenance reminders, clear fault codes (after fixing the issue), and access a wide range of other interactions with the ECU.

gallery1

In 2014, HEX Code rolled out this second generation model, extending their lineup of BMW diagnostic devices. It adds compatibility with the new water-cooled engines and solves an iPhone incompatibility issue with previous versions. The wifi design was a smart move for the company, opening up access to a wider range of devices by avoiding incompatibility due to Bluetooth pairing protocols.

The device offers two main groups of functionality:

1. Service Functions are primarily for use in the shop, and
2. Emergency Functions offer the basics that will help you in a pinch.

The full-featured interface requires Windows to access the service functions; however, interfaces for iPhone, Android, and Mac are available to perform all the emergency functions like viewing ECU information, following real-time sensor values, and clearing fault codes. The good news for non-Windows users is that HEX Code plans soon to release a cloud-based interface that will extend the service functionality to any platform as long as there’s an immediate connection to the internet while using the device.

The GS-911 wifi is compatible with all BMW models that have the round 10-pin port. The service functions for the newer liquid-cooled models are still limited but all emergency functionality is available, making this still a very useful tool to have in your kit. HEX Code plans to continue releasing updates that will unlock more features for the wetheads.

gallery2

My GS is a liquid-cooled model, so I additionally tested the device on an F800GS. As expected, there were noticeably more features for the F800 via the service functions; namely, you can cycle components and run a series of tests and calibrations that are not yet available on the R1200GS LC. Trailside, I used the mobile interface and did not notice a difference in functionality between the two motorcycles. To verify consistency between interfaces, I tested the software on an iPhone, a Samsung Galaxy, a Mac, and a Windows PC. Every interface operated the emergency functionality as advertised, but the Windows version was definitely more comprehensive with the added service functions.

There are two versions of the GS-911 wifi —the Enthusiast and the Pro. The Enthusiast model only allows up to 10 unique VINs while the Pro offers an unlimited number of VINs. You can actually buy the Enthusiast model first and then upgrade to the Pro later by paying a $350 upgrade fee. Unfortunately, once an available VIN slot is used on the Enthusiast it cannot be undone, so pick your friends wisely.

Experiencing this device for the first time was empowering. I was amazed at the amount of information available and the extent of diagnostic checks the user can initiate. The interface was very intuitive and grouped operations into categories that were easy to navigate. When uncertain where to start, I realized you could always start by initiating a full scan to target trouble areas. Bottom line: The GS-911 wifi is a beneficial tool regardless of wrenching skill level. If you ride a BMW you will want to add this device to your tool kit. MSRP: $399 GS911USA.com

PROS

CONS

 Allows access to tons of dianostic info  Limited features for newer LC models
 Enables the DIY mechanic
 Trailside trouble code scan and clear

 

 

Many thought it was odd that I would buy an RX-3 when I had an R1200GS in the stable. But when this bike was announced, I was immediately hooked. The RX-3 is a 250cc liquid-cooled, fuel-injected adventure bike imported by CSC Motorcycles in Azusa, CA. It comes fully loaded with crash bars, luggage, and almost everything needed for adventuring. All that for only $3,500—how could anyone resist?

csc rx3 cyclone vs bmw r1200gs 4

So I took the RX-3 into Mono County, home to the most difficult areas I know of in California’s eastern Sierras. Mono County is the reason I bought a GS in the first place, a fitting environment to compare both bikes.

The RX-3 is a LOT of fun to ride. It’s light, too—perhaps the main reason it’s so much fun to toss around in the twisties, and off road it’s very controllable. There are obvious differences from the GS. For one, it’s roughly 200 pounds lighter. And, the RX-3 suspension has only 5.5 inches of travel, harsh in comparison. Obviously, the GS has a big power advantage. When the going gets tough with the GS, I just roll on more throttle and blast through it. With the RX-3, judicious clutch work is necessary to make it up some of the steepest climbs. But on the way down these steep, sandy rock gardens, the RX-3 is actually easier to control.

csc rx3 cyclone vs bmw r1200gs 2

While the RX-3 is fine doing 70+ mph on the highway, it takes a while to get there. The GS can reach that speed after the second shift. The RX-3 can keep up (mostly) with larger bikes off-road. But on the highway, not so much. It just doesn’t have the acceleration, and on steep, technical terrain it would benefit from a change in sprockets.

The RX-3 makes a tad less than 25 hp, whereas my GS cranks over 100. When I say the RX-3 is a fully capable adventure bike, I mean it can carry you and enough gear to far-off places and get into and out of some tough terrain. I’ve ridden it hard, probably harder than most would, and it performed admirably. Although I had concerns about the stock skid plate, while on Dunderberg Pass I deliberately ran over a softball-sized rock giving the skid plate a big hit. Back at camp, though, all I could find was a slight deformation. It protected the engine better than expected.

I took the RX-3 in some difficult areas where I’d never ridden either bike. A heavy bike can be a handful on a steep, tight, nothing-but-rocks switchback trail. The RX-3 performed well and never missed a beat. And by the way, I was carrying what I consider to be a typical load—luggage about halfway with tools, compressor, tubes, med-kit, 1.5 gallons of water, and a bunch of camera gear—leaving plenty of room to spare. I also had two metal water bottles, one in each pannier.

csc rx3 cyclone vs bmw r1200gs 1

The RX-3 is fully capable of handling anything the beginning adventurer is likely to encounter. It’s also a great bike for beginning riders to learn on. Support from CSC is also fantastic. They’re fanatical about stocking every part, and all service tutorials are available on the CSC website for free. The bike has a two-year warranty (unlimited miles), and comes with a service manual on DVD.

The RX-3 fills different roles for different riders. It makes a wonderful commuter or an entry-level adventure bike, especially at its price point. I love my RX-3 and think that anyone looking for an affordable way into adventure riding will love theirs, too. 

CSCmotorcycles.com

_____________

Rob Day is an avid ADV rider. After 30+ years of riding street bikes exclusively, he got into adventure riding several years ago with a BMW R1200GS. He has attended several training camps, and is a veteran of several Backcountry Discovery Routes as well as many trips into the Mojave Desert and Death Valley. His primary riding area is Mono County in California’s Eastern Sierras, where he has spent almost every summer for nearly 50 years.

{gallery}ARTICLES/Bikes/CSC-RX3-vs-BMW-R1200GS/Gallery{/gallery}

In 2004, Austrian motorcycle company KTM famously turned down a sponsorship deal for Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman’s Long Way Round.  KTM had its reasons for turning McGregor down; it’s always been a grassroots company with a low-key approach to marketing and advertising. Perhaps that’s why when I flicked KTM an email asking if I could borrow their biggest and baddest to ride around Colombia’s Andes Mountains for a month, they wrote back saying, “Sure, no problem.” I ended up on a straight-out-of-the-showroom 1290 Super Adventure S with its over-the-top 1301cc V-twin engine. 

KTM Super Adventure S Review

“Knowing how tricky Colombian roads are in terms of traffic and quality, we went for the Super Adventure S  for your trip. Having 160 horsepower will make it much easier for you to ride through the Andes,” David Vasquez of KTM Colombia told me when I picked up the motorcycle in the city of Medellin. “It’s one of the most versatile motorcycles that we have. It can handle anything you throw at it.”

I decided to put Vasquez’s claim to the test and ride the Super Adventure S along some of Colombia’s most challenging roads, including the single-lane, cliffhanging, heart-stopping El Trampoline de la Muerte (The Trampoline of Death) near the border with Ecuador—the most dangerous road in the country.

• Comfort, Ergonomics and Electronics

BMW GS Series are essentially couches on wheels. You can ride one all day and never feel sore. As a survivor of spinal trauma, it’s the reason I’ve made them my weapon-of-choice in challenging environments like the South Island of New Zealand and Alps of Spain. 

But after a couple of hours on the Super Adventure S, my back got sore because the seat was too hard. It’s was also too high. I’m average height, but I often had to ask passersby to help me reverse out of awkward parking spots. Another problem I had was its weight—just over a quarter of ton with a loaded top box. On my first day in Colombia, I dropped it twice—once on each side for good measure—while trying to park. But, as I assured Vasquez at KTM Colombia, it was nothing that couldn’t be buffed out. And after taming this motorcycle, I grew to love it—and I wasn’t alone.

KTM Super Adventure S Review

The Super Adventure S turns as many heads as a Lamborghini. Even GS riders I met riding across the continent on the Pan American Highway were fascinated by my bike’s LED daytime riding light shaped like an upside-down bulls horn, and also the 20cm wide anti-glare flat screen instrument panel and keyless operating system. Instead of a key slot, there’s a button that activates the motorcycle—so long as the pocket-size transponder is within a one-meter range.

KTM claims the Super Adventure Shas the most advanced electronics in the world of motorcycling. While GS riders can choose between road, off-road, rain and sport mode, Super Adventureriders can mix and match between various elements of these four riding modes, fine-tuning things like suspension, Anti-Lock Braking (ABS) and Motorcycle Traction Control (MTC)using a Nintendo-style multi-button pod on the handlebar.

But the system has bugs. My motorcycle had problems communicating with its transponder and the KTM My Rideapp I downloaded onto my smartphone. The ABS also went offline. These problems were ironed out at a KTM workshop in Cali, but I’m not the first reviewer to report ghosts in this machine.

• Power and Performance

So how does the Super Adventure S handle? Un-bloody-believably well!

Unlike BMW’s R1200GS, which feels like a lumbering bus when riding the twisties, the Super Adventure S is a lean machine. Designed by Bosch, both the ABS and MTC are lean sensitive, meaning this motorcycle actually knows when you’re in a corner—a world first—and reacts accordingly. Even at 40km/hour, the thing lunges to the side like Mohamed Ali. At 100km/hour it brings you within eye level of the asphalt before razor-sharp handling straightens the motorcycle before the next thrilling dip.

With a 1301cc engine, acceleration is obscene. Even in street mode, shifting up a gear and letting the Super Adventure Srip is like fast-forwarding a movie. Yet, accelerate in Sport Mode and it feels like that bit in Back to the Future where the DeLorean shoots through the space-time continuum; it literally takes your breath away. “KTM’s concern isn’t having a plush seat. It’s putting a smile on your face when you open the throttle,” says Vasquez.

KTM Super Adventure S Review

Off-road, the Super Adventure S also takes a little time to get used to. At first, I felt like Santa Claus jingle-jangling on an oversize sled while navigating the rocky backroads of the Andes. But as I became more confident, I realized this monster actually handles like a light and nimble KTM dirt bike. Credit again goes to the almost comically oversized engine. Even when tuned down to an output of a mere 100 horsepower in off-road mode, the Super Adventure S is unstoppable on the trails. And its lumbering bulk is actually a plus. It’s so damn big it just sails over ruts—long deep grooves made by the repeated passage of cars on unsealed roads in which small motorcycles often get stuck. All I had to do was point the thing in the right direction and hang on for the ride. The computer-controlled suspension did the rest.

• The Verdict

KTM’s attempt to win over BMW diehards like me in the super-competitive adventure motorcycle market was never going to be easy—even if they came up with a faultless alternative. The bugs need to be eliminated and they may want to do something about that damn seat. Many who would buy a KTM Super Adventure S for $20,000 are middle-aged men like me who love getting down and dirty but no longer want to suffer for their sport.

But there’s no question the Austrians have made the Germans nervous with their Super Adventure S. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next. A motorcycle that talks?


• Specifications

ENGINE:

  • Type: 75-degree V-twin
  • Displacement: 1301cc
  • Max power: 160 horsepower @ 8750 rpm
  • Max torque: 103 ft/lbs @ 6750 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed
  • Clutch: PASC slipper clutch, hydraulically operated

CHASSIS:

  • Front suspension; travel: Electronically adjusted, semi-active inverted 48mm WP fork; 7.9 inches
  • Rear suspension; travel: Electronically adjusted, semi-active WP shock; 7.9 inches
  • Front wheel: 3.50 x 19″ / Rear wheel: 5.00 x 17″
  • Front tire: 120/70 ZR 19 / Rear tire: 170/60 ZR 17
  • Front brakes: 320mm discs w/ radially mounted 4-piston Brembo calipers
  • Rear brake: 267mm disc w/ 2-piston Brembo caliper
  • ABS: Bosch 9ME Combined-ABS w/ Cornering-ABS and off-road mode; disenengageable

In 2004, Austrian motorcycle company KTM famously turned down a sponsorship deal for Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman’s Long Way Round.  KTM had its reasons for turning McGregor down; it’s always been a grassroots company with a low-key approach to marketing and advertising. Perhaps that’s why when I flicked KTM an email asking if I could borrow their biggest and baddest to ride around Colombia’s Andes Mountains for a month, they wrote back saying, “Sure, no problem.” I ended up on a straight-out-of-the-showroom 1290 Super Adventure S with its over-the-top 1301cc V-twin engine. 

KTM Super Adventure S Review

“Knowing how tricky Colombian roads are in terms of traffic and quality, we went for the Super Adventure S  for your trip. Having 160 horsepower will make it much easier for you to ride through the Andes,” David Vasquez of KTM Colombia told me when I picked up the motorcycle in the city of Medellin. “It’s one of the most versatile motorcycles that we have. It can handle anything you throw at it.”

I decided to put Vasquez’s claim to the test and ride the Super Adventure S along some of Colombia’s most challenging roads, including the single-lane, cliffhanging, heart-stopping El Trampoline de la Muerte (The Trampoline of Death) near the border with Ecuador—the most dangerous road in the country.

• Comfort, Ergonomics and Electronics

BMW GS Series are essentially couches on wheels. You can ride one all day and never feel sore. As a survivor of spinal trauma, it’s the reason I’ve made them my weapon-of-choice in challenging environments like the South Island of New Zealand and Alps of Spain. 

But after a couple of hours on the Super Adventure S, my back got sore because the seat was too hard. It’s was also too high. I’m average height, but I often had to ask passersby to help me reverse out of awkward parking spots. Another problem I had was its weight—just over a quarter of ton with a loaded top box. On my first day in Colombia, I dropped it twice—once on each side for good measure—while trying to park. But, as I assured Vasquez at KTM Colombia, it was nothing that couldn’t be buffed out. And after taming this motorcycle, I grew to love it—and I wasn’t alone.

KTM Super Adventure S Review

The Super Adventure S turns as many heads as a Lamborghini. Even GS riders I met riding across the continent on the Pan American Highway were fascinated by my bike’s LED daytime riding light shaped like an upside-down bulls horn, and also the 20cm wide anti-glare flat screen instrument panel and keyless operating system. Instead of a key slot, there’s a button that activates the motorcycle—so long as the pocket-size transponder is within a one-meter range.

KTM claims the Super Adventure Shas the most advanced electronics in the world of motorcycling. While GS riders can choose between road, off-road, rain and sport mode, Super Adventureriders can mix and match between various elements of these four riding modes, fine-tuning things like suspension, Anti-Lock Braking (ABS) and Motorcycle Traction Control (MTC)using a Nintendo-style multi-button pod on the handlebar.

But the system has bugs. My motorcycle had problems communicating with its transponder and the KTM My Rideapp I downloaded onto my smartphone. The ABS also went offline. These problems were ironed out at a KTM workshop in Cali, but I’m not the first reviewer to report ghosts in this machine.

• Power and Performance

So how does the Super Adventure S handle? Un-bloody-believably well!

Unlike BMW’s R1200GS, which feels like a lumbering bus when riding the twisties, the Super Adventure S is a lean machine. Designed by Bosch, both the ABS and MTC are lean sensitive, meaning this motorcycle actually knows when you’re in a corner—a world first—and reacts accordingly. Even at 40km/hour, the thing lunges to the side like Mohamed Ali. At 100km/hour it brings you within eye level of the asphalt before razor-sharp handling straightens the motorcycle before the next thrilling dip.

With a 1301cc engine, acceleration is obscene. Even in street mode, shifting up a gear and letting the Super Adventure Srip is like fast-forwarding a movie. Yet, accelerate in Sport Mode and it feels like that bit in Back to the Future where the DeLorean shoots through the space-time continuum; it literally takes your breath away. “KTM’s concern isn’t having a plush seat. It’s putting a smile on your face when you open the throttle,” says Vasquez.

KTM Super Adventure S Review

Off-road, the Super Adventure S also takes a little time to get used to. At first, I felt like Santa Claus jingle-jangling on an oversize sled while navigating the rocky backroads of the Andes. But as I became more confident, I realized this monster actually handles like a light and nimble KTM dirt bike. Credit again goes to the almost comically oversized engine. Even when tuned down to an output of a mere 100 horsepower in off-road mode, the Super Adventure S is unstoppable on the trails. And its lumbering bulk is actually a plus. It’s so damn big it just sails over ruts—long deep grooves made by the repeated passage of cars on unsealed roads in which small motorcycles often get stuck. All I had to do was point the thing in the right direction and hang on for the ride. The computer-controlled suspension did the rest.

• The Verdict

KTM’s attempt to win over BMW diehards like me in the super-competitive adventure motorcycle market was never going to be easy—even if they came up with a faultless alternative. The bugs need to be eliminated and they may want to do something about that damn seat. Many who would buy a KTM Super Adventure S for $20,000 are middle-aged men like me who love getting down and dirty but no longer want to suffer for their sport.

But there’s no question the Austrians have made the Germans nervous with their Super Adventure S. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next. A motorcycle that talks?


• Specifications

ENGINE:

  • Type: 75-degree V-twin
  • Displacement: 1301cc
  • Max power: 160 horsepower @ 8750 rpm
  • Max torque: 103 ft/lbs @ 6750 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed
  • Clutch: PASC slipper clutch, hydraulically operated

CHASSIS:

  • Front suspension; travel: Electronically adjusted, semi-active inverted 48mm WP fork; 7.9 inches
  • Rear suspension; travel: Electronically adjusted, semi-active WP shock; 7.9 inches
  • Front wheel: 3.50 x 19″ / Rear wheel: 5.00 x 17″
  • Front tire: 120/70 ZR 19 / Rear tire: 170/60 ZR 17
  • Front brakes: 320mm discs w/ radially mounted 4-piston Brembo calipers
  • Rear brake: 267mm disc w/ 2-piston Brembo caliper
  • ABS: Bosch 9ME Combined-ABS w/ Cornering-ABS and off-road mode; disenengageable

I felt like it was 1977 all over again and I was waking up on Christmas morning. I had just taken possession of a bone-stock 800GS, and it was ripe for upgrades. Enter Mastech. This relative newcomer is on the scene with a host of great upgrades at a good price point to spruce up your ride.

Panniers

Mastech’s pannier system has a very industrial look, much like others on the market. I like it—basic and brutally effective. They’re anodized black, which looked good on my bike. Installation was essentially straightforward with only a good tug needed for the last few bolts of the support system.gallery3

They easily attach to their supports with the locking of a single lever, holding your luggage tight and right. No vibrations or noise were noticed over varying terrain. The long “piano-style” hinge systems on the panniers and top case seem up to the task of repeated opening and closing. One nice addition to the system would be an “over-travel” mechanism to prevent an overzealous opening of the lids.

Top Case

The top case required Mastech’s own mounting plate. This plate came with all the necessary hardware and mounted swiftly and securely. One thing I love about the top case is its size—it’s pretty darn big! That said, it won’t quite fit a helmet, but it’s close.

The locking system for the top case and panniers uses the same key, which is nice—no need for multiple keys to unlock the various boxes. Once locked, the top case and panniers are not removable from their brackets without access to the inside of each case.

Side Stand Foot

This piece, though small in size, is very important, especially when dealing with large, heavy ADV bikes. We’ve all had those panic moments when you drop the kickstand on something other than a hard surface, only to watch your behemoth start its roll to the side. Well, this little add-on takes care of that. Once installed it gives the rather smallish stock kickstand a much larger footprint. Install was easy and took all of two minutes.

Lights

LED lights are not only making headway in the moto industry but are becoming the standard. They’re tough, last a long time and don’t draw much current. This is very important if you plan to add all sorts of gizmos and gadgets (heated gear/grips, etc.) that consume amps.

Mastech lights are well made, and their aluminum chassis can take a good amount of abuse. I followed the included instructions, wiring them straight to the battery. Others may want to wire them to a switch or switch plate so they’re not accidentally left on after shutting off your machine. Once lit, they provide a wide flood beam of light good for catching any stray critters within your periphery.

gallery10

They’re so bright your headlight basically becomes useless. And, the provided mount plate lets you adjust the lights left and right or up and down for an ex-tremely versatile beam of light. Besides the added light for night riding, I run them during the day for an added margin of safety. I’ve logged a good number of miles (both day and night) with these lights, yet haven’t been flashed from oncoming vehicles, indicating that they’re not too bright to bother other drivers.

Mastech also provided me with both styles of their headlight guards. One is made of clear polycarbon-ate and the other of aluminum mesh. The install was, again, easy and took less than 10 minutes. Both provide good protection for the entire front light system on the BMW F800GS.

The clear lens can take rock hits as well as all the mud and gunk the road can throw at it. You can just pop them off with the two Dzus-style fasteners, clean and remount. Voilà, back in business.The aluminum mesh guard will let mud and liquid through while doing an excellent job of keep-ing the bigger rocks from ruining your day. The install took less than 10 minutes!

 


Skid Plate

gallery5

Anodized black and looking beefy like the rest of the lot, Mastech’s skid plate provides full coverage to all the vulnerable parts of the BMW’s underbelly. Removal of the OEM plastic guard is necessary and the stock mount bosses are all that are needed for attachment. Simple, easy, and adds much needed protection for heavy bikes.

Engine Guards

gallery9

These beefy units are built with a mighty 1" tubular aluminum. They look and feel beefy. Install was moderately easy with the included directions. Mastech did a great job designing the guards to go well with the bike’s lines and protect many of the valuable components while not making the bike much wider. Fortunately, I haven’t had to fully test these in the way of any get-offs, but I have the utmost confidence they will do their job.

Summary

Mastech has taken my rather boring, “Plain Jane” F800, to a super pimped-out machine in an afternoon. I’ve put many miles on it since, and everything is working as intended. The extra storage comes in handy and being able to jettison the panniers or top box for quick jaunts is really convenient. With the exception of the skid plate, I haven’t had a chance to test any of the protection systems, but I’m confident they’ll do their job.

gallery1

The build quality and materials used are on par with all the bigger industry players. And, there were only a few fitment issues during install, nothing that couldn’t easily be handled by the average installer. Overall, I’m extremely pleased with the quality of the materials and workmanship of the parts. Mastech may be rather new to the game but it’s clear they’re paying close attention to the market. MastechnoUSA.com

{gallery}ARTICLES/Bikes/Mastech_BMW_F800/gallery{/gallery}

 

I felt like it was 1977 all over again and I was waking up on Christmas morning. I had just taken possession of a bone-stock 800GS, and it was ripe for upgrades. Enter Mastech. This relative newcomer is on the scene with a host of great upgrades at a good price point to spruce up your ride.

Panniers

Mastech’s pannier system has a very industrial look, much like others on the market. I like it—basic and brutally effective. They’re anodized black, which looked good on my bike. Installation was essentially straightforward with only a good tug needed for the last few bolts of the support system.gallery3

They easily attach to their supports with the locking of a single lever, holding your luggage tight and right. No vibrations or noise were noticed over varying terrain. The long “piano-style” hinge systems on the panniers and top case seem up to the task of repeated opening and closing. One nice addition to the system would be an “over-travel” mechanism to prevent an overzealous opening of the lids.

Top Case

The top case required Mastech’s own mounting plate. This plate came with all the necessary hardware and mounted swiftly and securely. One thing I love about the top case is its size—it’s pretty darn big! That said, it won’t quite fit a helmet, but it’s close.

The locking system for the top case and panniers uses the same key, which is nice—no need for multiple keys to unlock the various boxes. Once locked, the top case and panniers are not removable from their brackets without access to the inside of each case.

Side Stand Foot

This piece, though small in size, is very important, especially when dealing with large, heavy ADV bikes. We’ve all had those panic moments when you drop the kickstand on something other than a hard surface, only to watch your behemoth start its roll to the side. Well, this little add-on takes care of that. Once installed it gives the rather smallish stock kickstand a much larger footprint. Install was easy and took all of two minutes.

Lights

LED lights are not only making headway in the moto industry but are becoming the standard. They’re tough, last a long time and don’t draw much current. This is very important if you plan to add all sorts of gizmos and gadgets (heated gear/grips, etc.) that consume amps.

Mastech lights are well made, and their aluminum chassis can take a good amount of abuse. I followed the included instructions, wiring them straight to the battery. Others may want to wire them to a switch or switch plate so they’re not accidentally left on after shutting off your machine. Once lit, they provide a wide flood beam of light good for catching any stray critters within your periphery.

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They’re so bright your headlight basically becomes useless. And, the provided mount plate lets you adjust the lights left and right or up and down for an ex-tremely versatile beam of light. Besides the added light for night riding, I run them during the day for an added margin of safety. I’ve logged a good number of miles (both day and night) with these lights, yet haven’t been flashed from oncoming vehicles, indicating that they’re not too bright to bother other drivers.

Mastech also provided me with both styles of their headlight guards. One is made of clear polycarbon-ate and the other of aluminum mesh. The install was, again, easy and took less than 10 minutes. Both provide good protection for the entire front light system on the BMW F800GS.

The clear lens can take rock hits as well as all the mud and gunk the road can throw at it. You can just pop them off with the two Dzus-style fasteners, clean and remount. Voilà, back in business.The aluminum mesh guard will let mud and liquid through while doing an excellent job of keep-ing the bigger rocks from ruining your day. The install took less than 10 minutes!

 


Skid Plate

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Anodized black and looking beefy like the rest of the lot, Mastech’s skid plate provides full coverage to all the vulnerable parts of the BMW’s underbelly. Removal of the OEM plastic guard is necessary and the stock mount bosses are all that are needed for attachment. Simple, easy, and adds much needed protection for heavy bikes.

Engine Guards

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These beefy units are built with a mighty 1" tubular aluminum. They look and feel beefy. Install was moderately easy with the included directions. Mastech did a great job designing the guards to go well with the bike’s lines and protect many of the valuable components while not making the bike much wider. Fortunately, I haven’t had to fully test these in the way of any get-offs, but I have the utmost confidence they will do their job.

Summary

Mastech has taken my rather boring, “Plain Jane” F800, to a super pimped-out machine in an afternoon. I’ve put many miles on it since, and everything is working as intended. The extra storage comes in handy and being able to jettison the panniers or top box for quick jaunts is really convenient. With the exception of the skid plate, I haven’t had a chance to test any of the protection systems, but I’m confident they’ll do their job.

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The build quality and materials used are on par with all the bigger industry players. And, there were only a few fitment issues during install, nothing that couldn’t easily be handled by the average installer. Overall, I’m extremely pleased with the quality of the materials and workmanship of the parts. Mastech may be rather new to the game but it’s clear they’re paying close attention to the market. MastechnoUSA.com

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Ever since their debut in 2007, the GS models of the F series have stood for premium riding enjoyment with typical ‘Made by BMW Motorrad’ features, representing the middle-class Adventure segment. As before, the GS abbreviation again represents a perfect synthesis of touring and long-distance capability combined with sporty dynamics and supreme off-road performance. In short: A BMW GS is the perfect companion when it comes to discovering remote corners of the world by motorcycle. After around ten years of consistent model development, BMW Motorrad has now fully redesigned and reengineered its middle-class GS models in line with its objective of creating an ultimate riding machine that is even more uncomplicated and carefree, whether used for sport-oriented road riding, on tour complete with luggage and a passenger, or on an adventure trip into off-road terrain.

Even more so than their predecessor models, the new F 750 GS and F 850 GS are targeted squarely at their respective clientele. The F 750 GS is designed for all riders who prefer the sensation and conceptual design of a travel enduro in combination with a low seat height, copious power availability, high cost-effectiveness, and powerful all-round qualities. Opposite this is the new F 850 GS, which besides offering more power and torque, features even more distinctive touring characteristics coupled with supreme off-road ability.

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Powerful, new 2-cylinder in-line engine with two counterbalance shafts and a firing interval of 270/450 degrees for optimized smoothness and emotional sound.

The main development focus was to create an increase in both power and torque. In addition, special attention was given to reducing fuel consumption levels. Displacement is 853 cc and the power output of 57 kW (77 hp) at 7,500 rpm generated by the F 750 GS is more than sufficient. The new F 850 GS generates 66 kW (90 hp) at 8,000 rpm which translates to a supreme level of engine power.

The developers achieved a powerful and emotionally appealing sound by employing a crankshaft with a 90 degree journal offset and a 270/450 degree firing interval. Unwanted vibrations are absorbed by the new engine’s two counterbalance shafts. A self-amplifying, anti-hopping clutch provides a discernible reduction in the hand clutch operating force while the drop in engine drag torque also enhances safety on the road. Power transmission to the rear wheel comes from the 6-speed gearbox with secondary drive that is now positioned on the left-hand side.

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The Ride ModesRoad’ and ‘Rain’ plus ABS and ASC ensure plenty of riding enjoyment and enhanced safety as standard. Pro riding modes are available as optional equipment.

The new GS models address individual rider requirements by offering ‘Rain’ and ‘Road’ riding modes, while the combination of BMW Motorrad ABS and the ASC automatic stability control ensures a high level of safety.

The F 750 GS and F 850 GS can be fitted with factory optional equipment, such as Pro riding modes and in turn the additional ‘Dynamic’, ‘Enduro’ and ‘Enduro Pro’ ride modes (the latter only available in the F 850 GS) as well as the DTC dynamic traction control and banking capable ABS Pro


New steel bridge frame in monocoque construction, optimized suspension geometry and new fuel tank position.

The bridge frame of the new GS models in the F series is made of deep-drawn, welded components. It integrates the 2-cylinder in-line engine as a co-supporting element and offers benefits in terms of torsional rigidity and robustness. The fuel tank has been placed in the classic position between the seat bench and the steering head, for optimised packaging and an improved centre of gravity.

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Electrical System and Electronics

See and be seen that much better - full LED headlight available as a factory option

BMW Motorrad has been regarded for decades as a pioneer when it comes to safety in motorcycling. As a literally glowing example, a full LED headlight is standard equipment on the new F 750 GS and F 850 GS. Not only does it light up the road with a beam that is unparalleled in its brightness and clarity, it ensures better visibility in traffic. It also lends the two mid-range premium enduros an unmistakable look with its optional LED optical style element in the form of an inverted tuning fork.

Sharper GS profile thanks to the more masculine design .

The F 750 GS and F 850 GS also feature a completely new look, which benefits from a more dynamic and masculine design. In addition to the basic version, the new F models are also available in Exclusive style options. The Rallye style option is exclusive to the new F 850 GS and places particular emphasis on its off-road capabilities.

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Unique range of optional equipment and Original BMW Motorrad accessories.

The new GS models of the F series are being launched with a range of equipment options that is unique for the middle class. Be it the different seat heights and windshields, the new LED style element, or the optional Connectivity equipment with TFT display, the list of fascinating features with which owners can maximize their riding enjoyment and safety as well as experience the thrill of the road is now virtually inexhaustible for middle class travel enduro motorcycles.

Highlights of the new BMW F 750 GS and F 850 GS:

• Powerful 2-cylinder in-line engine with a displacement of 853 cc. F 750 GS: 77 hp (57 kW) at 7,500 rpm and 61 lb-ft (83 Nm) at 6,000 rpm. F 850 GS: 90 hp (66 kW) at 8,000 rpm and 63 lb-ft (86 Nm) at 6,250 rpm.

• Extremely powerful and emotional sound, produced by a crankshaft journal offset of 90 degrees and firing interval of 270/450 degrees.
New, robust steel bridge frame in monocoque construction for increased riding precision.

bmw f 750 gs 06• New telescopic fork/upside-down telescopic fork plus double-sided aluminum swinging arm with central spring strut for more sensitive response characteristics.

ABS, ASC plus ‘Rain’ and ‘Road’ ride modes included as standard.

Pro ride modes with ABS Pro and dynamic brake light, DTC and the new ride modes ‘Dynamic’, ‘Enduro’ and ‘Enduro Pro’ (the latter only with the 850 GS) available as factory optional equipment.

ESA electronic suspension adjustment available as optional equipment.

• A self-amplifying, anti-hopping clutch for a discernible reduction in hand clutch operating force.

• Full LED headlights are standard, with an LED style element offered as optional equipment.

• Connectivity with multi-functional instrument cluster and 6.5 inch full-color TFT display plus numerous features as optional equipment.

• Optimized off-road and travel ability plus improved wind and weather protection.

• Sharper GS profile resulting from new design.

• New color concepts and style options Rallye and Exclusive.

• A range of optional equipment and accessories that is unique in the middle class, such as Keyless Ride, Gear shift assistant Pro, Dynamic ESA, Connectivity etc.

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Drive

Newly engineered 2-cylinder in-line engine with great character and high pulling power for dynamic riding enjoyment.

For more than ten years, the GS models in the F series have embodied the premium range in the middle-class Adventure segment. They have been characterized from the start by their convincing all-round qualities and as a paragon of riding enjoyment on tarmac surfaces as well as safe controllability off the road. With the new F 750 GS and F 850 GS models, BMW Motorrad is launching its success formula in a comprehensively reengineered and more distinctive form.

For more riding enjoyment on all surfaces, whether tarmac-covered roads or off-road terrain.

As before, the heart of the new F 750 GS and F 850 GS is the in-line, 2‑cylinder engine, which has, however, now been completely reengineered. The objectives of the developers were above all to achieve a significant increase in power and torque compared to the previous models. In addition, while developing the new engine, great importance was attached to optimizing combustion to reduce fuel consumption.

The engine displacement of both the F 750 GS and the F 850 GS is now 853 cc (compared with 798 cc in the previous models), resulting from a bore of 84 mm and stroke of 77 mm. With 77 hp (57 kW) of power at 7,500 rpm and a maximum torque of 61 lb-ft (83 Nm) at 6,000 rpm, the new F 750 GS features impressively high power and traction force. The new F 850 GS generates 90 hp (66 kW) at 8,000 rpm and develops a maximum torque of 65 lb-ft (86 Nm) at 6,250 rpm to deliver its supreme engine performance. In particular, the increased torque results in improved pulling power. The new F 750 GS achieves a maximum speed of 118 mph (190 km/h), while the F 850 GS manages over 125 mph (200 km/h).

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Extremely powerful and emotional sound, produced by a crankshaft journal offset of 90 degrees and firing interval of 270/450 degrees.

In both the new F 750 GS and F 850 GS, the 2-cylinder in-line engine is installed transversely to the direction of travel and is liquid-cooled. In contrast to the engines of the previous models, however, its crankshaft has a 90 degree journal offset and a 270/450 degree firing interval (previous models had a 0 degree crankshaft journal offset and a 360 degree firing interval. This change is accompanied by a particularly powerful and emotional sound, similar to that of the 90 degree V2 engine.

Optimized smoothness created by two opposed counterbalance shafts and dry-sump lubrication.

While the oscillating mass forces of the previous models were compensated for by a connecting rod fitted to the middle of the crankshaft with a defined arrangement of counterweights, unwanted vibrations in the new engine are eradicated by means of two counterbalance shafts.

These two opposed counterbalance shafts are arranged in front of or behind the crankshaft, a little below its axis, and are driven from the left of the crankshaft by the spur gears. In conjunction with the newly designed crankshaft and firing interval of 270/450 degrees, this results in a considerable increasing in running smoothness accompanied by a thrillingly impressive engine sound.

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To prevent unwanted churning losses and to ensure maximum operational safety, even under tough off-road conditions, the engine of the new F 750 GS and F 850 GS features dry-sump lubrication, which does not require a separate tank for engine oil. Any oil escaping from the main bearings is collected in a drain that is sealed off from the oil sump.

In this area, the lubricant is constantly pumped away by the oil pump and transported to the gearbox housing before it runs without pressure into the oil sump. The oil-feed pump then supplies the oil circulation from here. Its great off-road character is reflected in the F 850 GS’s underside protection, which protects the oil sump from any damage.

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Two overhead camshafts and four rocker arm-operated valves per cylinder.

The cylinder head of the new F 750 GS and F 850 GS contains two rotating overhead camshafts driven by a tooth belt, which operate four valves per cylinder by means of light and therefore fixed-speed rocker arms. The timing chain drive is on the right-hand side of the engine.

The valves are dimensioned to support an optimized combustion chamber design, which results in the best possible power and torque exploitation as well as increased efficiency. They measure 11.2 degrees on the intake side and 13.3 degrees on the outlet side. The valves have a plate diameter of 33.5 mm (intake) and 27.2 mm (outlet). The compression ratio is 12.7:1.

Carburation is by means of intake pipe injection with next-generation BMS‑M engine control. The rider’s control signals are passed on directly by a sensor on the throttle grip via an e-gas system to the motor controller, which regulates the angle of opening of the throttle valves to maximize controllability and optimize the response characteristics.

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Power transmission via anti-hopping clutch for a significant increase in riding safety.

The entire power transmission of the new F 750 GS and F 850 GS has also been completely reengineered. The primary drive arrangement on the right-hand side of the engine is responsible for transmitting the torque from the crankshaft to the clutch by means of spur gears. This is now designed as a self-amplifying anti-hopping clutch (wet clutch). Not only does it allow the rider to benefit from discernibly reduced operating forces in the adjustable clutch lever, but it also leads to a significant reduction in engine drag torque, resulting in a considerable improvement to rider safety ‑ particularly in the case of braking maneuvers performed while downshifting.

Six-speed gearbox now with secondary drive arranged on the left-hand side. Gear shift assist Pro for fast up and down gear shifting without using the clutch, available as factory optional equipment.

bmw f 750 gs 04In the interest of improved riding dynamics, the newly engineered 6-speed gearbox now transfers the torque with an optimized transmission ratio spread to the secondary drive on the left (formerly right), in the form of an O-ring chain. For fast up and down gear shifting without using the clutch, BMW Motorrad now offers the Gear shift assist Pro, available as factory optional equipment for the new F 750 GS and F 850 GS.

With this it is possible to shift gears up without using the clutch, thus permitting perfect acceleration with virtually no interruption in traction force. Moreover, the Gear shift assist Pro also makes it possible to change down without using the clutch. This enables very fast gear shifting with a minimum of clutch use, resulting in a discernible reduction in undesirable load reversal effects on the back wheel and the jerk movements this can cause.

In addition, the independent movements of rider and passenger that are associated with conventional gear changing are considerably reduced using the Gear shift assist Pro, making joint motorcycle enjoyment that much more comfortable. The Gear shift assist Pro also simplifies things considerably for beginner riders, while the seasoned sports-minded rider can enjoy more rapid shifting.

Exhaust system now positioned on the right-hand side for optimized comfort.

By positioning the secondary drive on the left-hand side of the motorcycle, it has been possible to move the exhaust system of the new F 750 GS and F 850 GS to the right. This is of great advantage when it is necessary to maneuver the motorcycle by hand, which the rider generally does from the left-hand side. The exhaust pipe, which is now on the right and, like the rest of the system, is made of stainless steel, provides considerably more space to do maneuver the motorcycle and also reduces the risk of a burn from the hot exhaust. The new F 750 GS and F 850 GS can also be fitted with an HP exhaust system with a highly sporty design, as a factory option.

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Ride modes ‘Rain’ and ‘Road’ plus ABS and ASC are standard factory installed equipment for a high degree of riding enjoyment and safety.

The F 750 GS and F 850 GS already come with the two ride modes ‘Rain’ and Road’ installed as standard equipment, to accommodate individual rider preferences. Also included in the standard features is the ASC automatic stability control, which ensures a high degree of rider safety.

With the riding modes ‘Rain’ and ‘Road’, the riding characteristics of the new F 750 GS and F 850 GS can be adapted to the majority of road conditions.

In ‘Rain’ mode, the throttle response is configured to be soft, while the control characteristics of the ASC or DTC and ABS or ABS Pro are based on wet and slippery road surfaces.

In ‘Road’ mode, the engine permits an optimum throttle response, while the ABS and ASC control systems are configured for ideal performance on all roads. The same applies to the ABS Pro and DTC dynamic traction control systems, available as optional equipment. If the ESA electronic suspension adjustment (available as optional equipment) is fitted, damping at the rear takes place in the default (‘Road’) setting.

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Ride modes Pro in conjunction with DTC dynamic traction control and ABS Pro available as factory optional equipment.

The new GS models of the F series can be equipped with the ride modes Pro option as factory optional equipment. They additionally contain the ride modes ‘Dynamic’ and ‘Enduro’ as well as the DTC dynamic traction control and the curve-optimized ABS Pro with dynamic brake light. The ride mode ‘Enduro Pro’ is activated by means of an encoding plug and is available only in the F 850 GS. It offers additional customization options for altering the vehicle characteristics in accordance with rider needs and further increases the riding enjoyment available with the F 850 GS.

In ‘Dynamic’ mode, the sporty side of the new F 750 GS and F 850 GS really comes to the fore. Throttle response is then instantaneous and the DTC and ABS Pro systems are coordinated for road use with high frictional values. If fitted, the Dynamic ESA is set to the default ‘Road’ configuration.

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In ‘Enduro’ mode, the off-road capabilities of the new F 750 GS and F 850 GS can be particularly impressively and intensively. This mode offers a soft engine response and the restrained intervention by the DTC allows an experienced rider to perform deliberate and controlled drifting. This characteristic, as with that of ABS Pro, is configured for loose surfaces and road enduro tyres, typical of terrain situations. The coordination of the Dynamic ESA function is set to meet the needs of terrain riding and configured with the ‘Enduro’ setting.

Finally, ambitious enduro riders will enjoy the ‘Enduro Pro’ mode for the full off-road performance offered only by the F 850 GS. This ride mode is configured for the use of lugged tires and is activated by a specially coded plug. With ‘Enduro Pro’ the rider can individually configure and combine characteristics such as throttle response, DTC and ABS Pro. Here too Dynamic ESA is modified for off-road use and is set to the ‘Enduro’ value.

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Chassis

Newly developed suspension with deep-drawn steel bridge frame for increased rigidity, robustness and riding precision. Optimized geometry for improved accuracy.

In terms of suspension, the new GS models of the F series also feature a completely new concept. Even though the previous models already thrilled riders with their high degree of riding precision, riding stability and light handling, the developers still gave top priority to optimizing these characteristics in their technical specification.

The bridge frame that was developed especially for the new F 750 GS and F 850 GS integrates the 2-cylinder in-line engine as a supporting element and consists of deep-drawn, welded sheet steel components. Unlike the previous models with a tubular steel spaceframe, the new innovative frame has a monocoque construction, which results in increased torsional rigidity.

This new frame concept was also accompanied by a repositioning of the fuel tank. While the fuel tank in the previous models was located beneath the seat bench, the 4 gallon fuel tank of the new F 750 GS and F 850 GS now adopts the classic position between the seat and the steering head. This is largely due to the optimized wheel load fluctuations and the position of the center of gravity as well as that of the packaging of the overall vehicle. Moreover, it was then possible to make the entire rear section of the motorcycle narrower while at the same time optimizing the luggage space beneath the seat bench.

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The deliberate avoidance of aluminum as a material was due to the tough conditions in which an enduro vehicle often finds itself. Significant advantages, especially with more intensive off-road use, can be provided by robust steel and the dimensioning of both the new main frame and the steel rear frame that is screw-attached to the main frame provides. The improved off-road ability also becomes apparent in screwed-on pins of the passenger footrests.

The new F 750 GS and F 850 GS have also undergone optimization in terms of suspension geometry. The accuracy, riding precision and riding stability benefit from the newly dimensioned suspension geometry.

In addition to the modification of the wheelbase, the new F 750 GS and F 850 GS are characterized by the somewhat flatter steering head in comparison to the previous models, as well as greater wheel castor values. The suspension geometry data compares with the previous models, the F 700 GS and F 800 GS, as follows:

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Wheel guidance at the front via new telescopic fork or upside-down telescopic fork and at rear via double-sided aluminum swing arm with central spring strut. Even more sensitive response characteristics with increased riding comfort.

Particularly in the Adventure segment, suspension developers face challenging tasks. Not only must the suspension function well on tarmac-surfaced roads and in more sporty use, but it is also necessary to bring together the requirements of off-road and touring, including riding with a passenger and intensive use.

By accommodating this varied application spectrum in all of its facets, riders of the new F 750 GS and F 850 GS can benefit from completely new wheel guidance and spring shock absorber elements.

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Front wheel guidance features a new torsion-resistant telescopic fork with an internal tube diameter of 41 mm in the F 750 GS, while in the case of the F 850 GS, it is a 43 mm upside-down fork. Compared with the previous models, the new telescopic fork is characterized by improved response characteristics. The spring travel of the F 750 GS is 5.9 in (151 mm) and 5.2 in (131 mm) when lowered. To meet the more stringent requirements of off-road use, the F 850 GS enables 8 in (204 mm) and 7.2 in (184 mm) when lowered. The sensitive slider tubes are protected from stone impacts by plastic guards that are integrated in the front wheel cover.

The rear wheel is guided by a double-sided aluminum swing arm in conjunction with a directly linked spring strut. In addition to a hydraulic and thus highly comfortable adjustable spring base (spring pre-tension), the central spring strut of the new F 750 GS also has adjustable rebound stage damping. The spring travel distance is 6.9 in (177 mm) and 6.2 in (157 mm) when lowered. With the new F 850 GS, a spring strut with travel-dependent damping is used, which also has an adjustable spring base and rebound stage damping that can be adjusted to suit personal requirements. The travel distance is 8.6 in (219 mm) and 7.8 in (199 mm) when lowered.

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Dynamic ESA electronic suspension adjustment at rear for optimum suspension setup under all conditions as a factory option.

With the BMW Motorrad Dynamic ESA electronic suspension adjustment available as optional equipment, the dynamic riding experience, rider comfort and touring suitability of the new F 750 GS and F 850 GS can be increased even further. Dynamic ESA opens up new dimensions of rider safety, performance and comfort, since the damping of the rear spring strut is automatically adjusted to the situation according to the riding conditions and the rider’s maneuvers.

From a technical point of view, the movement in travel and speed is recorded by means of a spring travel sensor in the central spring strut, which automatically sets the damping to suit the situation depending on the riding conditions. The damping of the spring strut is adjusted accordingly by means of electrically activated control valves. This damping adjustment occurs in the space of a few milliseconds. As a result, optimum damping comfort and a very stable ride response is ensured even in banking position.

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Dynamic ESA does not function as a standalone system but communicates with the other control systems, such as ABS / ABS Pro and ASC or DTC. Moreover, Dynamic ESA is linked with the ride modes ‘Rain’, ‘Road’, ‘Dynamic’, ‘Enduro, and ‘Enduro Pro’ (the latter only available with the F 850 GS).

In the ride modes ‘Rain’, ‘Road’, and ‘Dynamic, the central spring strut operates with a soft basic coordination. If the rider prefers the configuration for a more sporty riding style, he is able to combine these riding modes with the Dynamic ESADynamic’ setting, which results in a tauter shock absorber setting.

In the ride modes ‘Enduro’ and ‘Enduro Pro’ (the latter only with the F 850 GS), Dynamic ESA is coordinated for terrain use with gravel or sand surfaces. The Dynamic ESAEnduro’ setting is defined accordingly. The damping characteristics of the central spring strut are coordinated for the special requirements of off-road riding with optimum traction and softer settings.

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Wheels and tires configured for different riding characteristics and fields of application.

Besides engine power and travel distances, wheel/tire combinations represent a distinct characteristic by which to distinguish between the two premium travel enduros for the middle class. For instance, with the road-oriented, entry-level F 750 GS, die-cast aluminum wheels with the format 2.50 x 19 are fitted at the front with 4.25 x 17 at the rear. In contrast, the F 850 GS is fitted with cross-spoke wheels with aluminum rim rings and a size of 2.15 x 21 at the front and 4.25 x 17 at the rear. The front wheel size preferred for sports-oriented off-road use is 21 inches; this provides even more riding stability thanks to the larger gyroscopic forces, which offers distinct advantages on loose ground.

Both models are fitted as standard with enduro road tires. The new F 750 GS is fitted with tubeless tires with the dimensions 110/80 R19 at the front and 150/70 R17 at the rear. The new F 850 GS now has tubeless tires for the first time, too with the size 90/90 21 at the front and 150/70 R17 at the rear. In addition, for the F 850 GS there are tires with a distinct lugged profile which are homologated for intensive terrain use and can be ordered as free factory options.

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Powerful brake system with standard BMW Motorrad ABS. Ride modes Pro with ABS Pro for even more safety when braking.

A dual disc brake on the front wheel with a diameter of 305 mm ensures supreme and sturdy deceleration in conjunction with a two-piston floating caliper. A single disc brake with a diameter of 265 mm is fitted to the rear wheel with a single-piston floating caliper. As with all BMW motorcycles approved for road use, the new F 750 GS and F 850 GS are fitted as standard with BMW Motorrad ABS, which the rider can also deactivate if desired, for example in off-road situations.

Further safety enhancing features for motorcycles are available in the form of the ride modes Pro optional equipment and ABS Pro functions. ABS Pro goes one step further than the BMW Motorrad ABS by offering increased safety when braking on bends in that ABS-supported braking is permitted in banking position. Here, ABS Pro prevents the wheels from locking even when the brakes are applied quickly; this reduces abrupt changes in steering force on shock-braking maneuvers and stops the motorcycle from rearing up unintentionally. The benefits of ABS Pro to the rider are increased brake and ride stability together with the excellent deceleration on bends.

In the ride modes ‘Rain’ and ‘Road’, ABS Pro is dimensioned for road use and moderate to low frictional values, plus optimum braking stability. Control sets in early. In the ‘Dynamic’ ride mode, ABS Pro is coordinated for a very low-skid track quality with high friction. Accordingly, ABS Pro is then dimensioned for optimum braking, control sets in late and the rear wheel lift-off detection is reduced. In the ‘Enduro’ riding mode, ABS Pro is coordinated for the needs of off-road use with enduro road tires, while the riding mode ‘Enduro Pro’ (F 850 GS only) also accommodates more sporty off-road riding with enduro lugged tires. In this mode the rear-wheel ABS is also deactivated, allowing experienced riders to perform so-called brake drifts.

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Optimized ergonomics and a variety of seat heights for carefree enduro riding enjoyment. 

As is typical for enduros, the new F 750 GS and F 850 GS feature generous spring travel distances and large ground clearance. Nevertheless, it isn’t just tall riders who feel comfortable on them. This is ensured by the optimized inner leg curve length, numerous available seat heights, and a refined ergonomic triangle around the handlebars, seat bench and footrests.


With a standard seat height of 32.1 in, the new F 750 GS is at the same level as its predecessor, while the standard seat height of the F 850 GS has been reduced by .9 in to 33.8 in. By lowering and incorporating a lower seat bench (factory optional equipment), it is possible to achieve a minimal seat height of 30.3 in with the F 750 GS and 32.1 in with the F 850 GS.

Electrical System and Electronics

Compliment the full LED headlight with an optional LED Style Element.

The appearance of the standard full LED headlights can be enhanced by adding an optional LED style element in the form of an inverted tuning fork as an additional design feature.

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Connectivity - the multifunctional instrument cluster with a 6.5 inch full-color TFT display and numerous features available as factory optional equipment.

The new F 750 GS and F 850 GS are equipped as standard with a completely new instrument cluster design, consisting of an analogue speedometer and a multifunctional display, alongside a number of control lamps.

Fast and even clearer information for the rider with minimum distraction from what is happening on the road are now possible thanks to the new optional equipment known as Connectivity, with which the instrument cluster is displayed in the form of a 6.5 inch full-color TFT display. In conjunction with integrated operation via the BMW Motorrad multi-controller, it gives the rider quick access to vehicle and connectivity functions.

It makes it easier to make telephone calls or listen to music while on the road. If the rider, for example, connects a smartphone and a helmet equipped with the BMW Motorrad communication system using the TFT display, he can easily access the media playback and phone functions. These phone and media functions can be used without having to install an app. If a bluetooth connection has been established with any standard smartphone, the rider can enjoy listening to music while riding.

In addition, the free BMW Motorrad Connected App offers everyday-suitable and practice-oriented arrow navigation directly via the TFT display. The BMW Motorrad Connected App is available for free from the Google and Apple app stores. It contains a number of additional attractive functions, such as recording routes travelled and displaying travel statistics and information. Tracked routes can now also directly be shared with other riders through the REVER Community. This basic information is particularly attractive for motorcyclists who wish to perform everyday rides or take short trips conveniently and without any additional equipment.

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Keyless Ride – convenient activation of all locking functions by wireless link, available as a factory option.

As is already the case with other BMW Motorrad models, the Keyless Ride system available as a factory option replaces the conventional ignition/steering lock in the new F 750 GS and F 850 GS. This means that it is no longer necessary to use a regular key. The steering lock, ignition, fuel filler flap and anti-theft device are all activated by the transponder integrated in the vehicle key, which transmits a wireless signal with a frequency specific to the vehicle. The key can therefore remain in the rider's pocket, for example.

As soon as the key is located within the vehicle reception area (distance < 2.1 yards), the steering lock can be unlocked. The steering lock is locked by keeping the button pressed down and placing the handlebars in end position. The ignition is activated by briefly pressing the button or keeping the button pressed down after releasing the steering lock. The ignition is switched off by means of a short or long press of the button. The alarm system is automatically activated when the ignition is switched off and the steering lock is closed, as soon as the key leaves the reception area.

Design and Color Concept

New, more dynamic design with a sharper GS profile.

The new F 750 GS and F 850 GS have been completely redesigned and now benefit from a much more dynamic and masculine look. The design with its iconic features such as the asymmetric headlight and the GS-typical flyline make it immediately clear that they belong to the BMW Motorrad GS family. The characteristic flyline emanates from the front GS “beak” (upper wheel cover) over and past the fuel tank and seat bench to the functionally designed and now considerably slimmer rear. This rear section, which radiates agility and lightness with a black painted rear frame enhances the dynamic character of the new GS models.

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Optimized off-road and touring ability plus improved wind and weather protection.

For improved off-road capability, attention was paid to ensuring that there are no inconvenient corners or edges in the vicinity of the fuel tank and seat bench. The wind and weather protection was also subjected to further optimization. In this case, the modular structure of the available windshields (optional accessories) permits individual configuration to suit the wishes of the rider. For instance, standard-series windshields from the F 750 GS (somewhat lower) and the F 850 GS (somewhat higher and at the same time the same as the comfort windshield of the F 750 GS) can be simply exchanged. All in all, this allows the rider to increase the characteristics of the new GS models towards off-road use or travel comfort. Touring suitability has been further optimized with the new integrated case design in the style of the R 1200 GS.

MSRP: F 750 GS from $10,395 | F 850 GS from $13,195

Specs



BMW Group In America

BMW of North America, LLC has been present in the United States since 1975. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars NA, LLC began distributing vehicles in 2003. The BMW Group in the United States has grown to include marketing, sales, and financial service organizations for the BMW brand of motor vehicles, including motorcycles, the MINI brand, and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars; Designworks, a strategic design consultancy based in California; technology offices in Silicon Valley and Chicago, and various other operations throughout the country. BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC in South Carolina is the BMW Group global center of competence for BMW X models and manufactures the X3, X4, X5, and X6 Sports Activity Vehicles. The BMW Group sales organization is represented in the U.S. through networks of 346 BMW passenger car and BMW Sports Activity Vehicle centers, 153 BMW motorcycle retailers, 127 MINI passenger car dealers, and 36 Rolls-Royce Motor Car dealers. BMW (US) Holding Corp., the BMW Group’s sales headquarters for North America, is located in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.

Information about BMW products is available to consumers via the Internet at: www.bmwmotorradusa.com.

 

Just like Goldilocks and the Three Bears the BMW F800GS is “just right” with enough comfort for the pavement, but still light enough to be fun in the dirt. The BMW G650GS is too small for high mileage days in comfort, and the R1200GS is too cumbersome when the road turns to trail. As much as I like the F800GS there is always room for customizing, as anyone infected with “farkleing” disease will attest. Every bike starts as a blank canvas where I can dump my life savings and spend my children’s inheritance. But, if you hang out at any ADV rally or local BMW shop, you’ll eventually hear “when is BMW going to build an F800GS Adventure?” So, I took things into my own hands and built my own F800GS Adventure.

The F800GS is superb starting point, but needs some help for use as a long distance Adventure companion. I weigh in at 190 lbs without gear, so the already under sprung forks were in dire need of help, the damping was off and the rear shock would need attention as well after a year of hard use. The seat was designed by an angry fraulein as a medieval torture devise, and the fuel capacity at 4.2 gal (with a range of 180–200miles) was barely acceptable for street touring. So it was up to me to prop up the world’s economy single-handedly and began building my own F800GS Adventure using the best-of-the-best components.

PHASE ONE: TURN THE GS INTO A SERIOUS MILEAGE BURNER…

Gallery5According to Paul Guillien (GM at Touratech U.S.A.), BMW told Touratech in 2008 they had no intentions of building an F800GS Adventure. According to Paul, this was one of the reasons Touratech committed to building the 5.3 gal big tank for the mid-sized GS. Installing Touratech’s 5.3 gal tank gives the F800GS a total capacity of 9.5 gal, beating out the R1200GS Adventure by .6 gal and raising the range to 400 miles (give or take 50 miles).

This was by far the most expensive and challenging of the improvements, taking nearly an entire day to finish as the entire rear of the bike had to be disassembled so that I could drill the original tank to tap in new fuel lines. If you are the type that gets queazy at the sight of your beloved GS spread all over the garage floor, you may want to have someone else do it. With time, patience and a digital camera it can be done by anyone with mechanical aptitude. Once installed, removing the big tank is easier than removing the OEM body work.

Gallery2The 5.3 gal Touratech tank provides much better weather protection and settles the front end on high speed runs, making it handle the road more like the road-bias R1200GS, no more squirmy front end at high speed. The tank is made of a nearly indestructible material and wraps the radiator eliminating the need for a set of crash bars, making the weight penalty almost a wash.

The only significant drawbacks are the tank is much wider than the stock bike, making it more difficult to lock my knees into when standing up on the trail, and it leaks from the fill cap when the bike falls over. Fully fueled the F800GS still carries its weight lower than the R1200GS Adventure. With Rotopax mounts on both of the factory aluminum touring boxes, that gives me a fuel capacity of 11.5 gal, which will be useful when I tackle the McKenzie Trail in B.C. Canada (450 miles off road with no fuel available).

Verdict: The “big Tank” is an expensive and time-consuming install and not for the faint of heart, fit and finish could be better but a big tank is a must have to call the F800GS an “Adventure.”

• 5.3 gal Touratech tank, $1,971.30 painted, $1358.20 unpainted

Gallery4Next I quieted down the cockpit with an MRA Touring Screen, and improved my comfort with Sargent’s excellent World Sport Performance Seat. There are taller shields on the market but since there are a lot of trails in this bike’s future a shorter shield was a must for safety. The Sargent seat has performed amazing during 600+ mile days, and the MRA shield is a must have. As a bonus the Sargent comes with a small compartment build into the seat pan that holds my tool kit.

Verdict: The Sargent World Performance Seat is a must have with great fit and finish and outstanding customer service, the Touring screen works great at creating clean air flow and is one of my all-time favorites.

• World Sport Performance Seat, $459.95
• MRA Touring Screen, $169.99

Lighting is one of two major weaknesses of the F800GS; the second is the relatively weak 400 watt alternator (the R1200GS has a 600 watt output), not a great combination. To address this problem I called up Kurt of Black Dog Cycle Works and ordered up an Ultra-Slim Ballast HID conversion for the low beam, and installed a set of the excellent Rigid D2 LED lights using a set of CVM machined light brackets that mount directly to the frame. I also tucked the lights inside the turn signals where they are well protected.

The HID conversion was easy to install and did not require any modification to the factory wiring. With the HID and Rigid D2s having a very low voltage draw, I had power to spare so I added a set of Twisted Throttle’s Denali D2s for day runners—these don’t give me much additional lighting over the HID conversion but are great for being seen.

To thwart off pesky rock dings, I added a Touratech steel headlight guard. This is a screen design that does not obscure light output like the more common Plexi or clear plastic style guards, which also collect dirt on both sides of the guard as well as the headlight, creating three layers of dirt blocking the light.

Verdict: HID conversion is a must have. If I run all the lights at once cars burst into flame as I pass by (not really but it seems they should), all of this with power left over to run heated grips, GPS, and a heated jacket. The Touratech headlight guard works as intended but creates a checkerboard lighting effect.

• Ultra-Slim Ballast HID, $74.95 (Bargain winner and a must have!)
• Rigid D2 LED lights, $360.05
• Denali D2 LED lights, $359.99
• Touratech Steel Headlight Guard, $99.50

My F800GS Adventure is destined to have a split personality, spending equal time on pavement and uncharted dirt roads. I needed a GPS that would work well both situations and picked up the new Garmin Montana 600 with a power cradle using an SW-Motech vibration damping GPS mount from Twisted Throttle. My first impressions about the Montana were lukewarm, but the more I use it the more I like it. The only notable issue is that vibration will bring up a message telling you it can’t charge the battery and you need a genuine Garmin battery. The fix is simply to place two foam ear plugs in the battery cover which holds the battery tight but does not break the waterproof seal.

Verdict: The Garmin Montana is a good compromise as a do-it-all GPS and well worth considering, but can be a little glitchy; the SW Motech mount is a solid well made mount that works well.

• Garmin Montana 600, $549.99 (does not include maps)

Just for fun I installed on a Kaoko throttle lock available through Twisted Throttle. To operate this you have to spin the throttle lock, located on the outside of the throttle grip, which creates friction and holds the throttle open. It works okay and allows you to relax the throttle hand on those long runs between stops… it works but isn’t my favorite design.

Verdict: Easy to install and stays tucked out of the way when not in use, cumbersome to use.

• Kaoko Throttle Lock Cruise Control, $125.00


STAGE TWO: GOING OFF-ROAD

Gallery1Like many fuel-injected bikes the F800GS is cursed with an abrupt on/off power delivery which is far from optimal when riding in technical situations. On pavement this is easy to work around with smooth use of the controls, but off-road it is far more intrusive. I tried several inexpensive gadgets and “fixes” without success and decided I had to bite the bullet and just go all the way; I installed a full Remus Hexacone exhaust (no catalytic converter), Power Commander V and a K&N air filter. The result is a bike with very smooth power delivery and a very sexy sound while keeping the dB output near stock. In fact, the Remus is street legal when measured with a dB meter, coming in at only 1 dB over my reading for the stock muffler without a catalytic converter. The stock plastic left heal guard was swapped for a lightweight steel model from Black Dog Cycle Works.

Verdict: A true fix to the abrupt throttle issue while creating more “soul” (and by “soul” I don’t mean loud). “Loud pipes loose rights” this Remus exhaust system won’t.

• Remus Exhaust System, $1295.00
• Power Commander V, $379.95
• K&N air filter, $43.21
• Black Dog Cycle Works heel guard, TBD

With me weighing in over BMW’s average test pilot’s weight, and the addition of 5.3 gal of fuel, it was time for a serious suspension upgrade. The front end got a set of Bitubo fork cartridges, which improves the damping effect although is still only preload adjustable. The Bitubo comes as a complete kit including a set of .6kg springs (stock is .44kg), but these were still to light for the loads I would be hauling. A set of .89kg springs from Race Tech, as well as a custom-built G3 shock with preload adjuster, did the trick. The G3 Shock does not offer compression adjustments but is built and valved for you when ordered, so is just about dead-on after installation. On the road, the difference is night and day with the F800GS now holding the road as well as any R1200GS, but off-road there is still a compromise with the heavier front springs being a too stiff for deep sand and mud.

Verdict: Both the Bitubo and Race Tech components are high quality pieces and work well overall. Unfortunately there is still no way to have a bike set up perfectly for both pavement and dirt, and the limited adjustability of both brands compound this. The Bitubo cartridges only offer spring preload and the RaceTech G3 Shock has spring preload and rebound (same as stock).

• Bitubo cartridge kit, $699.00
• Race Tech springs and spring guide, $149.99 + $49.99
• Race Tech G3 Shock with remote preload adjuster, $949.99

The wheels on the F800GS are known for bending very easily, and my bike was no exception. With my front rim having been straightened on several trips with a rock or hammer, it was time to get a rim that was up to the task. Touratech carries a rim build by Excel as a heavy-use upgrade for the stock hoop. One evening of lacing up the new spokes and truing the wheel and I was ready to go.

Verdict: Expensive but a quality item necessity if you plan to spend time on rough off-road conditions. Many F800GS owners have claimed to have bent their stock front rims on pot holes while riding on paved roads.

• Excel (21” x 2.15”) front rim, $424.00

Gallery9Now it was time to armor the belly of the beast. To date I have already shredded several popular skid plates on the F800GS, so I turned to Black Dog Cycle Works once again for a solution. They had exactly what my mid-sized Adventure needed. When Kurt says his stuff is heavy-duty he means it; this skid plate weighs in at over three times the weight of any other skid plate I know of for the F800GS. I think this skid plate was built to protect against land mines and IEDs as well as trail hazards.

Verdict: this is the ultimate protection for the belly of the F800GS, but it comes with a price… weight! With mounting hardware and the skid plate it weighs in around 10 lbs! (the BMW/Touratech skid plate is under 3lbs).

• Black Dog Cycle Works skid plate, $324.00

To protect the digits I picked up a set of Barkbuster hand guards from Twisted Throttle. These have a strong aluminum backbone with replaceable plastic shields. I choose the “Storm” plastics which provide ample weather protection on the road and good protection against branches and flying rocks when on the trail. As a bonus Barkbuster bar end weights help to stave off highway vibration.

Verdict: the Barkbusters are hard to break and easy to repair. The bar end weights seem to help stave off the numb hand syndrome when riding at high speeds for long distances.

• Barkbusters with Storm plastics, $170.00
• Barkbuster bar end weights, $45.00

A set of SW-Motech on-road/off-road footpegs provide a larger foothold, with cleats for standing off-road. What’s cool is that they also have rubber inserts that can be used for road travel. A Wunderlich folding shift lever addressed the solid OEM shift lever that pretzels easily (shame on you BMW) when the bike lays down off-road. I chose the non-adjustable Wunderlich lever so there would be less possibility of failed bolts, also being made of steel it could be bent straight many times, if needed, without breaking. The OEM lever is now strapped to the inside of the frame as a spare.

Verdict: The SW-Motech footpegs are a good compromise and may be perfect for the 70/30 Adventure rider. For serious off-road I would still prefer a larger peg that is humped in the center like a true dirt bike cleated peg. The shift lever is simple and durable, highly recommended.

• SW-Motech on road/off road foot pegs, $158.99
• Wunderlich folding shift lever, $45.00

With the extra weight of the F800GS Adventure, and knowing it will be heavily loaded in off-road conditions, I included a WARN XT17 portable motorcycle winch (8 lbs) to complement my manual PSSOR motorcycle recovery system. For storing the winch I am using a Black Dog Cycle Works multi-function rear rack with a WARN winch adapter. The rack is also drilled to accept Rotopax fuel/water containers when the winch is not onboard.

Verdict: The XT17 is like insurance, most of the people that buy them will have no intention of using them, but the one time you truly need it, it will be priceless. The cost to get a tow truck or crew of people to where you may have slipped off the road/trail will cost you as much as the winch. Call it piece of mind.

• WARN XT17 portable motorcycle winch, $549
• Black Dog Cycle Works multi-function rear rack with WARN winch adapter, $135 + $79

With the main shortcomings now addressed I turned to the small stuff like a Touratech oversized side stand foot so the bike would fall over on soft ground, a front sprocket cover to protect the engine in the case of a broken chain, and a chain guard. For traveling a centerstand is a must for maintenance and ferry crossings and, of course, it also makes for an all-important bottle opener. The SW-Motech centerstand tucks out of the way nicely compared to the BMW centerstand, but with a trade off. The SW-Motech centerstand uses two small feet, whereas the BMW centerstand uses long tube feet which are more stable on soft ground.

Verdict: it is often the details that personalize the bike, although having an oversized sidestand foot and centerstand are critical.


PROJECT SUMMARY

Gallery8Given all the changes and added protection, this mid-size adventure now weighs about the same as a stock R1200GS, but still under the R1200GS Adventure when similarly equipped and at less cost. Building an adventurer bike is a personal experience and for every change there is a price or compromise. In this case the compromise is the additional weight of the bike as well as a big hole in my pocketbook. When building your next adventure bike start with how you intend to use it before setting the budget. Although this may be my ultimate Adventure bike today, tomorrow my take me to new places where I want something simple and light… or maybe I’ll want a mega pavement burner. For now, when I’m asked about my dream adventure bike, I and just point at the F800GS Adventure and say “there it is, I have it!”

• Touratech large sidestand foot, $35.90
• Touratech front sprocket cover, $81.80
• Twisted Throttle chain guard, $69.95|
• SW-Motech centerstand, $184.99
• Bag mounted bottle opener, $7.50

VENDORS

Touratech-usa.com

• 5.3 gal tank: $1971.30 Painted, $1358.20 unpainted
• Steel headlight guard, $99.50
• Garmin Montana 600, $549.99
• Excel (21” x 2.15”) front rim, $424.00
• Large sidestand foot, $35.90
• Front sprocket cover, $81.80

 TwistedtTrottle.com

MRA touring screen, $169.99
Denali D2 LED lights, $359.99. Also available at Revzilla.com
Kaoko Throttle lock cruise control ,$125.00
Barkbusters with Storm Handguards, $170.00
Barkbuster bar end weights, $45.00. Also available at Revzilla.com
SW-Motech on-road/off-road foot pegs, $158.99. Also available at Revzilla.com
Chain guard, $69.95. Also available at Revzilla.com
• SW-Motech centerstand, $184.99. Also available ar Revzilla.com

BlackDogCW.com

• Ultra-Slim Ballast HID, $74.95
• Rigid D2 LED lights, $360.05
• Remus exhaust system, $1295.00
• Left heel guard, TBD
• Heavy duty skid plate, $324.00
• Multi-function rear rack with WARN winch adapter, $135 + $79
• Bag mounted bottle opener, $7.50

CVMTouringAccessories.com

PowerCommander.com

• Power Commander V, $379.95. Also available at Revzilla.com

SargentCycle.com

• World Sport Performance Seat, $459.95. Also available at Revzilla.com

WunderlichAmerica.com

• Folding shift lever, $45.00

RaceTech.com

• .89kg springs and spring guide, $149.99 + $49.99
• G3 shock with remote preload adjuster, $949.99

KNFilters.com

• K&N air filter, $43.21. Also available at Revzilla.com

WARN.com

• XT17 portable motorcycle winch, $549.00. Also available at Amazon.com

Bitubo.com

• F800GS cartridge kit, $699

{gallery}ARTICLES/Bikes/BMW_F800GS_Adventure/Gallery_Images{/gallery}

FullImage

Call it evolution or revolution, the fully equipped 2014 BMW R1200GS may be the most technologically advanced adventure bike ever built. Dial in the advanced electronics for the prevailing riding conditions and you get one gnarly machine capable of motoring through almost any terrain.

BMW has an obvious emphasis on creature comforts and the lack of standard protection would lead you to believe this bike is only meant for the road, but don’t let this wolf in sheep’s clothing fool you—it can be a hardy off-road beast ready for your next epic adventure as long as you’re willing to spend the extra money to outfit your rig. Starting from a blank slate, ADVMoto set out to create an aggressive, trail-ready heavyweight.

Protecting the Power Plant

AltRider's integrated crash bars and skid plate are brilliantly engineered to distribute the impact energy away from the motor. The weight of the GS can generate a lot of force in an impact and, with cylinder heads completely exposed, this is one of its more obvious vulnerabilities.

AltRider’s integrated crash bar and skid plate for the water boxer offers an impressive design providing comprehensive protection around the motor. The 1.25”-diameter crash bars are the largest on the market, yielding incredible strength with less flex on impact. The 3/16”-thick skid plate provides smooth tire-to-tire protection with no mounting hardware on the bottom to get buggered up from offroad use.

Installation of the integrated system is simple and straightforward. The main front mounting brackets bolt to the frame and serve as the lower front mounting point for both the crash bars and skid plate. This design smartly avoids the more commonly used engine mounting points that would transfer significant point force directly to the motor on impact. 

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AltRider also takes an innovative approach for the rear mounting points of the skid plate by utilizing the center stand joints to form a rigid front-to-back exoskeleton. I tested the rigidity of the system when I clipped a large boulder after a miscalculation. The crash bars performed perfectly to protect the cylinder heads from the impact. 

When selecting crash protection for your bike, be aware that the black powder coat option quickly shows battle scars, whereas the silver has subtler wear characteristics. A notable design drawback is the ineffectiveness of the small cutout on the skid plate for accessing the oil drain plug.

You can easily get to the plug but it gets messy when the flow reduces toward the end, allowing oil to collect on the top of the skid plate. Overall, AltRider’s clever design provides exceptional engine protection.


Optics and Air Flow

The Ztechnik VStream Sport windscreen offers a rugged windschield upgrade with taller and tinted options. The V-shaped design is optically clear with no noticeable distortion (even through the dark tint). The VStream offers a quiet ride at a fraction of the cost of the OEM replacement and is compatible with the adjustment mechanism.

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The 3mm FMR hard-coated polycarbonate material is high quality and I aggressively tested the product for its scratch and impact resistance. A three-year warranty makes this a clear choice for replacing the OEM windscreen. For additional wind protection consider the taller VStream Touring in either the clear or tinted option.

Delivering the Payload

Giant Loops Siskiyou panniers offer a worthy alternative to hard luggage for carrying your adventure essentials. Hard luggage can present several challenges offroad—the bulky design can make it difficult to navigate tight trails and may trap your foot under the case during a minor fall.

A rugged alternative is Giant Loop’s Siskiyou panniers, which are smartly constructed from a super tough “trucker’s tarp” material capable of handling the abuse of dual-sport travel. The unique rack-less design offers a lightweight and sturdy bag system that mounts and dismounts in minutes.

Capacity is surprisingly plentiful and the bag offers some give for awkwardly shaped items. The 70 liters of total capacity is two more liters than the optional BMW Vario hard cases. Multiple lash points create versatility for top-mounting gear, dry bags, and virtually anything else you can think of.

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After riding two days in a hard rain, the bags proved to be fairly water resistant but the added waterproof removable liners kept the contents bone dry. Heat shields mount to the exhaust to protect from the extreme heat; so far I’ve not had any issues with the bags being in constant contact with the heat shield during long rides.

Be aware that the bags can wear the paint at the points of contact so make sure to use a vinyl protective film to prevent damage. A notable drawback to soft luggage is the limited ability to securely lock up your gear while away from the bike. Soft luggage is not for everyone but if you are in the market for panniers of any kind, Giant Loop has options that may fit the bill at a relatively affordable price.


Cover Your Ass

Comfort upgrades like the Saddlemen's Adventure TRACK seat reduce fatique and make your journey more enjoyable. Adventure riders spend a lot of time on and over the saddle.

If the saddle is too wide you get good comfort while seated, but standing on the pegs can be awkward. If too narrow you quickly get the requisite sore ass. Luckily, Saddlemen Motorcycle Seats offers a rugged, purpose-built design perfect for the demands of long-distance adventure riding.

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You can choose from their high quality pre-fabricated replacement saddles or work with the design team for a custom option using your existing seat pan. For our GS project bike, we opted to customize the optional BMW Rally seat based on the Saddlemen Adventure TRACK design.

The thoughtful placement of seams to avoid pressure points, along with the added Saddlegel inserts, deliver unparalleled comfort in a saddle designed for true adventure riding. During the process, the designer took the time to understand our specific needs to get the contours and gel placement just right.

We chose to cover the seat with their “gripper” material to give stable contact while riding standing or seated. The quality of materials and impeccable workmanship make this a worthy and extremely durable upgrade for those long days in the saddle.

Winch in a Pinch

When things don't go as planned-WARN offers the XT17 portable winch that will keep you moving even when caught in a bind. Although never recommended, I sometimes ride alone. Getting your bike stuck in deep mud is a quick reminder why that is a bad idea.

When a buddy tow is nowhere in sight, the WARN XT17 winch becomes your new best friend. The XT17 is specifically designed for motorcycles/ATVs and at only 8.5 pounds it can pull up to an impressive 1,700 pounds over 40 feet on bike battery power.

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You have to carry additional equipment for operation: the power cable, the wired remote control, a tree saver strap, and additional rigging straps. But it’s quick and easy to use when needed. This versatile solution can be used at any angle of attack and you can even get creative and rig the winch to remove a downed tree blocking the trail.

There are two optional kits for operating the winch—a handlebar-mounted control or the corded remote. We chose the wired remote for additional versatility and to ease transfer from bike to bike. Unfortunately there’s no easy disconnect on the winch for the wired remote.


Visual Appeal with Purpose

Ilmberger offers stunning carbon body trimp replacements that save weight without compromising strength. So why did we put all that carbon fiber on an adventure bike? Admittedly, looks were a big driver but carbon fiber is a high performance upgrade, offering improved ruggedness with up to 70% weight savings per part.

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Ilmberger Carbon Parts offers high quality 100% carbon fiber replacement parts for most of the original fairing and trim pieces. They use a unique clear plastic coating, giving the carbon structure outstanding visual depth that is TUV-certified for its resistance to scratching and UV damage. Not all carbon parts are created equal—Ilmberger uses the same materials and manufacturing process used for Moto GP racing parts. Their products are worth every penny.

Summary

The devil is in the details—we rounded out the final design of our project bike with several visual and functional enhancements that completed our aggressive design concept. The custom paint scheme highlights the lines of the bike and celebrates the BMW racing heritage. Micro-sized Rizoma turn indicators were added for their ability to tuck in tightly, eliminating the vulnerability of the OEM stalks.

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For auxiliary lighting, the Rigid Industries Specter driving lights with Black Dog Cycle Works fork mounts beam an astonishing 3,000+ lumens and are less vulnerable to damage than typical side-mounted auxiliary lights. Finally, we installed the Remus Titanium HexaCone full exhaust system to add a boost in performance and give this wolf one menacing growl.

 Parts List

Product Website Price
Remus HexaCone Titanium Full Exhaust System RemusUSA.com or Revzilla.com $1,570.00
Saddlemen's Adventure TRACK Custom Seat

Saddlemen.com or Revzilla.com

$600.00
Custom Paint Cycle-Finish.com $1,600.00
Warn XT17 Portable Winch Warn.com or Revzilla.com $549.00
Giant Loop Siskiyou Panniers GiantLoopMoto.com or Revzilla.com $700.00
BDCW Multi-Function Rear Rack (with winch stow plate) BlackDogCW.com $285.00
Altrider Integrated Crash Bars AltRider.com or Revzilla.com $506.97
Altrider Integrated Skid Plate AltRider.com or Revzilla.com $436.97
Altrider Radiator Guard Set Altrider.com or Revzilla.com $150.00
Altrider Headlight Guard Altrider.com or Revzilla.com $146.00
Altrider Side Stand Foot Enlarger Altrider.com or Revzilla.com

$58.00

Ilmberger CF Front/Rear Fenders Ilmberger-carbon.com $783.00
Ilmberger CF Frame Inserts Ilmberger-carbon.com $440.00
Ilmberger CF Injector Covers Ilmberger-carbon.com $494.00
Ilmberger CF Air tube/Radiator Covers Ilmberger-carbon.com $906.00
Ilmberger CF Instruent Trim Ilmberger-carbon.com $302.00
Ilmberger CF Heal Protectors Ilmberger-carbon.com $274.00
Rizoma Billlet Aluminum Gas Cap Rizoma.com $233.00
Rizoma Frame Hole Cap Kit Rizoma.com $200.00
Rizoma Turn Indicators (4) Rizoma.com $420.00
BDCW Premium Fork Light Kit BlackDogCW.com $430.00
Machineart Moto MudSling MachineArtMoto.com or Revzilla.com $149.00

{gallery}ARTICLES/Bikes/Project_BMW_R1200GS/gallery{/gallery}

ADVMoto set out to push the boundaries of the industry and explore the limits of imagination to conceive an ADV bike of functional excellence and efficient versatility. Enter BMW Motorcycles of Escondido and a project we call “The Ultimate Riding Machine (URM).”

We found a solid team of experts at BMWMC of Escondido to handle the build and do some creative fabrication for the road book reader and NiteRider Pro lights. Ops Manager, Rick Johns, led the team through the christening of the final product. Like the 2012 F800GS, our previous project bike, the 2014 F800GS ADV scored very high barebones off the showroom floor, both with critics and from a marketing perspective.

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But in the real world, functionality collides with designers’ need to trim weight for the spec sheets. The only concession we made was to the top speed—we dropped one tooth in the front sprocket for good reason: the stock F8GSA stalls in deep sand so a slightly lower gear ratio was much appreciated. To state the obvious: Yes, this is basically a $15,000 bike with $11,000 in mods.

And yes, you can get a 1200 ADV of any make and throw a bunch of money at it. The question might be better stated as, “Which one performs better off-road?” Or better yet, “Which would you want to ride farther?” We’ve ridden all the current model ADV bikes sold in the U.S. and each has strong points. There is simply nothing you can do to any 1200 to make it outperform this bike in any area other than top-end highway.

SUSPENSION 

Konflict Motorsports

Re-engineered Front Suspension is about 80% more important when the road ends, and the Konflict “works” is a total fix—custom-made to rider spec and balanced across the spectrum of riding. Even though it disables the F8GSA’s Electronic Suspension Control, it’s well worth every penny for an off-road specific bike to have a custom-tuned suspension.

While it may seem a tad pricey, it’s the ultimate. Apart from the re-valve and spring upgrade the profile of the forks changes their character entirely, with a window of softness before getting progressively stiffer. The Konflict solution makes the rider safer off road. The first few inches on the compression is quite supple but it takes a lot (still haven’t found it) to bottom out. The URM confidently jams though little dips and crossings with a quick zap of that lower gear ratio, without pogo sticking.

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TouraTech In-Line Extreme Shock

To answer the question, “How ‘ultimate’ should this bike be?” we looked to ADV aftermarket leader TouraTech USA. They immediately jumped on board the URM project. Without a doubt the single most technically advanced aftermarket shock available for any motorcycle today, the revolutionary new Extreme Shock for the F8GSA is like no other on the planet.

ADVMoto’s URM is the first F8GSA in North America to test this shock. With its remotely located pre-load adjuster, the shock now has both high- and low-speed dampening adjusters built right into the body of the shock, and easily accessible for quick tuning.

We’re told this is a first for any motorcycle shock. Justifying this mod is easy. After selling off the stock shock the cost comes down to around $1,100, which is about the cost to have a good tuner re-valve a stock unit.


WHEELS

Woody’s Wheel Works Wheel Set

The F800GSA comes standard with black aluminum spoked wheels, but they’re engineered for weight instead of strength, and feel like butter bounding off rocks. We found a great resource in Zack at Woody’s who, notably, works directly with customers to hash out their options and solve equations.

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Zack listened to our goals and narrowed it down to a few options before we decided to go with 3.5" wide wheels with ultra-heavy gauge spokes laced into aluminum RAD Hubs. How do you justify the two grand needed to make this mod? First, decide how likely it is you’ll log any serious off-road miles on the F8GSA. If it’s more than 50%, check your record to see if you’ve ever ruined a wheel.

If the chance of tweaking a rim is high, divide the cost of replacing or repairing (including rim, spokes and replace) one wheel ($700), against the cost of Woody’s wheel set ($2,100), minus resale value of stock rims sold on eBay (~$1,500).

Essentially, the cost of this mod is offset by selling the stock wheels along with the peace of mind of not having to replace a damaged wheel. If money is a big deterrent, consider upgrading the front only.

POWER & GEARING

REMUS EXHAUST—Slip-on System

Off the showroom floor the F8GSA is torquey and responsive in its own right, but the REMUS slip-on and mid-pipe add at least a few HP without blowing your eardrums. We tested the REMUS unit without the wide diameter header package ($567) and, as a stand-alone mod, the slip-on proved a worthy performance upgrade.

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TouraTech Front Sprocket

An absolute must for this project (and yours) is shortening the stock gearing by one tooth in the front, replacing the stock countershaft sprocket with TouraTech’s 13T. Putting this into perspective, the stock F8GSA stalls in slow-speed technical sections and that’s not an “ultimate” characteristic.

We noticed this problem on our first shakedown of the stock F8GSA and it was an easy fix. The trade-off is noticeable on the top end, though, shaving as much as 15 MPH off the top speed.

Staying on point to our original plans, the URM does not need to go 130 MPH to be ultimate.It should, however, not stall while climbing out of a rocky wash, nor should it smoke the clutch trying. Mission accomplished.


 ERGOS & ARMOR

GPR Stabilizer v4 Sub-Mount Kit

Ergonomics are the first place to start in the personalization profile. Riders come in many shapes and sizes, and discerning consumers should not have to fit themselves into any mold. Therefore, the bike should be fitted to the rider. It’s a shame this is the exception and not the rule.

Upon our initial test of the “mortal” F, we were impressed but had to start nitpicking. Ergos were at the top of the list, and while the stock F doesn’t have a poor set up per se, it’s not the “ultimate” by any means. To get there, we had to re-engineer the controls to blend with suspension and stabilizers.

When the stock F8GSA left the tarmac on our initial test ride, deflecting off rocks and wobbly tracking in sand begged the question: why not put a steering dampener on the Ultimate Riding Machine? For this we turned to GPR Stabilizers and asked for help getting the right kit, ensuring proper fitment with the Flexx handlebars. The GPR V4 sub-mount kit went on the URM without issue.

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In heavy OH use with the standard settings and adjuster in the mid-section, the bike felt stable and recoverable in both slow and high-speed situations. The submount kit also raises the handlebar perch slightly, improving the ergonomics without disrupting posture while seated.

Flexx Handlebars

The aggressive sweep angle on stock ADV bikes makes the rider feel like they’re operating a horse-drawn plow and is awkward, at best, in off-road settings. Killing two birds with one stone, FasstCo suggested mid-height Flexx handlebars with a passive sweep angle likened more to a café racer than a snow blower.

Normal handlebars each have their own natural flex characteristics but the Flexx handlebars allow the rider to personalize and control the up and down flex, not front and back. This translates to reduced fatigue, arm pump and cramping.

Older riders will certainly feel less stiffness in their hands and wrists after a few days off-road. The URM is based on 50% off-road riding with considerable time in the standing position and Flexx handlebars bring the rider’s shoulders and hands forward, adding stability and control.


BRP Adapter Kit for Flexx Handlebars and Cycra Handguards

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The nature of the Flexx handlebars conflicts with the rigidity of a sturdy handguard. BRP’s kit allows the handlebars to flex with the handguards without any rigidity. This design gives an additional pivot point for the inside mounts of the guards, allowing everything to flex together.

Fighting to shave weight off an already hefty bike can be futile and sometimes inconsequential. The stock handguards on the new F8GSA are flimsy. As the bike’s design competes for weight in the mid-size class, its already 500-pound build is enough to ruin the OEM guards while parked.

Black Dog Cycle Works “Platform” Pegs

gallery5Speaking to the personalization process, the URM needed to swap the stock pegs for something bigger and more aggressive without the needless rubber cushions that come with most ADV bikes. With numerous options at our disposal we chose Black Dog Cycle Works, the family run operation in Idaho owned by Kurt & Martha Forgét.

The Forgéts have a passion for designing, testing and refining aftermarket ADV products, and their ADV “platform” footpegs solution is one of the biggest available, both long and wide. This added surface area does a lot for the rider and it was surprising to see just how much. And yes, the secret bottle opener under each peg provides notable utility.

Renazco Racing—Suede Seat

From 10 feet away, James Renazco’s custom suede seat replacements appear to be a basic aesthetic mod to personalize one’s bike. Yet, under your butt their functionality is underscored.

The completely redesigned core removes the passenger step on the stock seat and flattens out the mid and rear sections with Renazco’s telltale hourglass tapering in the front. The stock seat comes with a few options for a low seat with a complete rally option.

The cost/value proposition of James’ handcrafted seat is easily validated. Clients simply ship their stock seats to Renazco and James will reincarnate it into a new form before shipping it back to you.

AltRider Skid Plate, Headlight Guard and Side-Stand Foot

AltRider’s claim to fame is thoughtful design combining function with form to protect your bike from the evil that lurks behind the next corner. At 4.75mm, the anodized aluminum on the skid plate is thick enough to withstand solid blows while giving ample coverage to the oil filter, heat exchanger and header pipe.

It closely conforms to the underside of your bike for protection that doesn’t sacrifice ground clearance and attaches with OEM fasteners that are completely protected, eliminating the possibility of snags.

AltRider’s Lexan headlight guard design functions well without blocking its output. We favor this light cover for its function versus mesh-screen types that obscure light output. The quick-release mounts are a testament to AltRider’s design philosophy.

The kickstand’s foot pad is a must for anyone leaving pavement, and has saved our bike from tipping over in the dirt too many times to count. The Torx fasteners screw directly into threads on the topside of the foot, thus eliminating the possibility of failed hardware from wear.


LUGGAGE

Siskiyou Panniers by Giant Loop

This Giant Loop Siskiyou soft luggage solution has a few major benefits over its hard box counterparts, namely weight and durability, and it passed the waterproof test on our first day in the field. The Siskiyou package comes with a pair of water-resistant sealable liners, helping keep out even more rain.

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Adjustable compartments and easy routing for the remote AC power cord adaptor make Giant Loop’s new Fandango Tank Bag really handy to use with all the modern electronics we tend to carry around these days. The quick-release zipper for getting the bag on and off the bike not only helps in removal, but in filling up.

The new zipper system is different from the previous “U-shaped” zipper which we enjoyed during fill-ups, but it worked just as well. When all of the above is mated to the Rogue Dry Bag, we have plenty of space to take bare essentials into the desert for some testing.

ELECTRONICS

NiteRider 3600 Pro Lighting System

After leading the market for bicycle lighting for over two decades, NiteRider has launched NR Off-Road and comes to market with an amazing  3600 Lumens LED light packed into a convertible twin unit, with wiring directly to the bike’s power source.

The NiteRider solution on the URM uses the OEM mounts for the auxiliary LED lights. The pair of Pro 3600s emits more light than anything its size and weight we’ve tested.

SPOT Trace

We tested SPOT’s new Trace theft-alert tracking device and it works great. We hid the unit out of plain sight and sticky-taped it in front of the head tube, where it maintains an unobstructed view to the sky.

When the bike moves, text or email is sent to the owner’s inbox. SPOT’s website allows owners to track stolen items’ locations every 5, 10, 30 or 60 minutes. Consider the benefits of this gadget if the bike goes missing.

The Arrival, Destination and End

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What does “ultimate” really mean these days? It seems quite diluted from overuse by Madison Avenue-like exaggerated claims. Yet in BMW’s case, they gave us an ideal foundation upon which to build our “ultimate” machine.

Is this THE Ultimate Riding Machine? The reviews have been great for BMW’s fully equipped dealer units, and we agree this is a great jumping-off point for a bike that can be fitted to near-perfection with near bullet-proof durability.

When evenly weighed on range, speed, maneuverability, agility and utility, we’ll take this bike into the bush before any other. That makes this F8GSA our “Ultimate Riding Machine,” at least for the moment.

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Product Website Price
2014 BMW F800GS  BMWMCEscondido.com  $14,350
Konflict Front Suspension KonflictMotorsports.com $2,000
Touratech Extreme Rear Shock Touratech-USA.com $1795
Touratech Front Sprocket Touratech-USA.com $30
Woody's Wheel Set WoodysWheelWorks.com $2,100
REMUS Exhaust Revzilla.com $1,399
Stabilizer v4 Sub-Mount Kit GPRStabilizer.com $595
Flexx Handlebars Fasstco.com or Amazon.com $359
Cycra Handguards CycraRacing.com or Revzilla.com $120
Black dog Cycle Works Pegs BlackDogCW.com $229
Renazco Racing Suede Seat Renazco.com $600
Touratech Road Book Reader Touratech-USA.com $434
AltRider Skid Plate AltRider.com or Revzilla.com $289
AltRider Lexan Headlight Guard AltRider.com or Revzilla.com $158
AltRider Side Stand Foot AltRider.com or Revzilla.com $56
Giant Loop Siskiyou Panniers GiantLoopMoto.com or Revzilla.com $700
Fandango Tank Bag GiantLoopMoto.com or Revzilla.com $230
Rogue Dry Bag GiantLoopMoto.com or Revzilla.com $73
Pro-Grip Rally Foam Grips ProGrip.com or Amazon.com $15
NightRider Lighting System NitRider.com or Amazon.com $594
SPOT Trace FindMeSpot.com or Amazon.com $99+service 

Every once in a while you find a product that makes you think, “Why haven’t I seen this before?” Promach, a boutique company in Montana, only offers a few products but each is unique, high quality and practical. If you own a BMW, like to travel light, and do a lot of trailside maintenance you’re going to love these tools.

Promach 1

Promach Dual Tool

The Dual Tool is made up a front spindle tool and spark plug cap removal tool, both machined from 7075-T6 aircraft grade aluminum. The spindle tool snaps inside of the spark plug tool and stays put with an O-ring. Together, they measure only 1.5" x 1.25" and weigh only 1.8 ounces.

The spindle tool has a 19mm hex end and a 22mm hex end making this even more multi-purpose than advertised. The 22mm end will remove axles on R1200GS (up to 2014) and K-bikes, while the 19mm end will work on F800 series front axles. Simply insert a 3/8-inch ratchet or use a wrench to turn it for either function.

The spark plug cap removal tool is simple but very effective. If you’ve ever had to pull plugs on the trail you’ll appreciate this tool. Simply snap it on to the spark plug cap and pull straight out with your fingers. There are also holes to insert a screwdriver for more pulling power and the R1200GS stock toolkit screwdriver fits perfectly. No more pliers or searching for non-marring tools or sticks to pry the boots out on the trail. Genius!

The Dual Tool Plus kit includes an aluminum oil cap that uses the 19mm end of the spindle tool. Having the kit eliminates both the plastic stock cap and the need to carry the plastic tool in your bag, saving even more space. This is also another measure of protection for your engine.


SeatSpaceSaver2

GS Seat Space Saver

On long trips or when you’re riding light on trails, space is precious on a GS. This simple kit replaces the stock seat rod, opening up space above your battery. The gained space can be used to store bike recovery gear, a tire repair kit or to allow a bigger rat’s nest of wiring for another set of auxiliary lights. Installation takes less than a minute on stock or aftermarket seats and there is no change to the functionality or durability of your seat.

MSRP: Seat Saver—$12.50 | Dual Tool—$35 for Dual Tool or $55 for kit with oil cap
stores.PromachDualTool.com

 

PROS

CONS

 Multiple purpose tools  Spindle tool sometimes sticks on 3/8 ratchet
 Lighter and smaller than factory tools  
 Frees-up space in tool kit and under seat

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