Adventure Rider Magazine has been invited by BMW Motorrad North America to attend their R1200 GS Adventure press intro in Sedona, AZ. I am attending the event as both a writer and photographer.
Press intro’s are interesting. They are a good way to get our hands on a new bike for a test ride, but typically we don’t get enough time to fully evaluate the bike and learn the nuances of actually owning the thing for a year or two. Obviously we don’t get the opportunity to do maintenance or repairs or even change tires. So you gotta take what we report back with a grain of salt. For example, I had heard great things about the KTM 950 Adventure when it first came out and seriously thought of purchasing one before I bought my R1200 GSA in 2008. That was until my buddy let me ride his. I loved riding it, but the seat was really, really hard. I didn’t like the dual tanks all that much, and wind coverage was minimal. But what REALLY turned me off, and what turns me off on most adventure bikes, is all the dang bodywork that gets in the way of maintenance and is expensive to repair. To protect that expensive bodywork riders end up buying all kinds of steel armour for their bikes. That didn’t make much sense to me. Kind of like buying a Ducati and putting knobbies on it. Why? What really turned me off in the end for the KTM was when my buddy explained that it took him 1.5 hours to change the oil. DANG! He said he had to remove 28 bolts and clean 3 screens. Holy cow. I just want to ride my bike, not become a motorcycle mechanic! I can change the oil, adjust the valves, and change the tires on my R1200 GSA in 1.5 hours.
As press riders and writers we don’t normally find out these things. We don’t have to change the oil, repair a bent rim, fix a holed radiator, or change a tire. I have ridden many, many miles off-road and know how important it is to be able to do trailside repairs easily and quickly with minimal tools. I also do most of my own maintenance out of necessity so I want to know how hard it is to work on a bike, both in the shop and on the trail.
So I plan to try and figure some of these things out on my trip to Sedona to ride the “water boxer” Adventure. I most likely won’t have the opportunity to do trailside repairs, but I plan to ask questions and try to figure out what is required, and best of all, report back to you. Watch for pictures and maybe some short videos from my trip. I want to get down and dirty and learn what it is REALLY like to ride and own one of these things.
To understand my review of the BMW R1200 GS Adventure water boxer, you should understand a bit of my background. First off, I have never ridden or raced Dakar. I am guessing most of my readers haven’t either. I am not a motocross pro, or an ex road racer, or some rich dude that has someone else taking care of my bikes. I am a regular guy who pays a mortgage, loves to ride motorcycles, has to buy my own bikes, and likes to share what I find with others.
I have ridden a fair amount off-road, both on dirt bikes and on adventure bikes. I am no expert but fairly capable. I have raced and been competitive at hare and hound scrambles, but that was years ago. I have never won a championship of any kind and seldom won any races. I was fairly competitive in B class racing in my mid 20’s but that was a long darn time ago. And as many of us know, it is a BIG difference going from B class to A class to Pro and then to national Pro. So I am a decent off road rider but by no means spectacular. Not to mention I am now 54, a bit overweight and only in moderate shape. Probably like a lot of our readers.
I have ridden many, many miles on a motorcycle over the years, all over the USA and some in Canada. I love to camp on a bike and wander back roads, dirt roads, and out-of-the-way places. Sometimes I stay in a motel when the weather is either too hot or too cold, but I much prefer to camp whenever I can. I have ridden the Continental Divide Trail on my R1200 GSA – on Tourance tires no less – and didn’t crash my brains out. I don’t crash all that much anymore, although 14 broken bones attest to my inability to stay upright in the past. Those mishaps were normally preceded by “hey, watch this” and that is when my I learned my skills were not as good as I imagined. Nowadays I have figured out that there are a LOT of riders way faster than I am, and I just don’t need to prove how fast I am anymore, so I ride much slower and more in control and don’t crash and get hurt nearly as much.
When I first started with “adventure bikes” as they are now called, I treated them like a dirt bike and rode in some really gnarly conditions. After many crashes and mishaps and dragging my broken 500 lb bike out of some deep crevices, defying the laws of gravity, I came to the realization that a big adventure bike is NOT a dirt bike. I have dirt bikes – a couple of them. Since purchasing my R1200 GSA I decided that thing was WAY too dang expensive to beat the crap out of it off-road. So now I will ride my GSA on dirt roads and jeep trails and such, but when the going gets really gnarly I either bring a dirt bike or turn around and go another way. I just refuse to tear up a very expensive 600 lb motorcycle taking it places I should be taking a 250 lb dirt bike. Not to mention riding a big bike in rough terrain becomes work, where riding a light dirt bike in rough terrain is fun.
So there you have it – a bit about me. My goal is to bring you real world experience from a somewhat older regular guy like most of our followers. Let me know what you want to know and I will try to figure it out and report back.