BMW R1200 GS Adventure 2009

Last week, I detailed my bike and captured 150 photos of it from every angle I could think of. Only a drone kept me from capturing an aerial image of the amazing bike. March of 2016, I introduced my readers to the motorcycle in this post. An expert:

I spent an hour with the bike after he left. I had never seen a BMW GS in person before. After watching reviews for over 50 hours and reading the entire manual on how to work on it and how-to guides and looking at accessories, I finally sat on it. At 6’2”, my feet both firmly planted to the ground. I sat the bike down and picked it up with was and moved it around and got a feel for it. My fear that it was too tall for me and too heavy went away. I felt completely at-ease on the bike. 

Looking back on my requirements for a bike, everything stands true today but the motorcycle industry has changed significantly when looking at new bikes.

  • I did not want a fast-bike
  • I also didn’t want a moped or dirt bike 
  • The bike had to be capable of 300 mile stretches of highway in a single sitting without struggling to be at highway speeds or the rider being uncomfortable
  • I needed storage for beer tastings and camping and the long road-trip
  • I did not want an American made bike but this was not a hard rule
  • A bike that could take me off-road for camping and to Vermont breweries and around some of our snowmobile trails would be a great bonus but highway would be the ultimate requirement
  • I needed a bike I could grow with and not grow out of (which is a common beginner’s mistake I know)
  • Finally, it had to be a beloved bike, one that people desire or rave about and one that has a common design through multiple generations where you could roll up to any shop and get help

In my budget last year ($10,000), I had to shop older model adventure bikes which limited me as the industry itself had so few options for an upright sport touring bike with off-road capabilities and the luggage capabilities. I arrived at the king of adventure bikes, the R1200 GS Adventure. It was the best bike for anyone, not just for my money.

I have decided to sell it after 17 months of ownership.

What was wrong with the bike? In truth, nothing is wrong with it but its shortcoming compared to the modern ADV is more and more glaring every day. I’m listing them out but adding an asterisk to things that I could throw money toward to fix and without an asterisk means there’s no fix beyond getting a new bike:

  • *There is no cruise control and the throttle handle I bought was only a band-aid
  • The stock windscreen wasn’t adequate and very hard to adjust and the replacement windscreen while great was too tall and then again, not adjustable with ease
  • The fuel strip issues on this generation are well documented but not knowing if I was going to get 250 miles or 400 to a tank was scary and lead me to carry a 2 gallon fuel tank everywhere I went
  • *No USB or 12V natively caused me to use an aftermarket charging situation that would draw power if not turned off and waterproofness was questionable
  • No great crash bar mount locations that actually protected the bike beyond very light falls
  • A dry clutch that is unforgiving and costly to repair
  • Oil / air cooled and sitting in traffic would lead to overheating. leaving the bike running stationary was also a terrible idea
  • *Halogen turn signals and headlights
  • *No mount points for aftermarket LEDs
  • A very clunky shifter that had issues going into 1st gear from neutral unless I was moving
  • TPMS, ABS, ASC, Engine Temp, Oil Temp were all available on the bike but the on board computer was so old and small-screened that you never really knew what was going on w/o a special BMW tool. I knew there was an ABS failure or TPMS failure but of what regard? What’s actually wrong?
  • Getting to the air box to change the filter required unscrewing the cover of the fuel tank and those screws & locks were not very forgiving to years of abuse and no way to replace them w/o buying the pins and screws direct from BMW
  • *A very uncomfortable stock seat for long rides
  • Low fuel economy (36MPG)
  • Ethanol fuel issues
  • *The kick stand would get in the way when standing up off road. I’d hit it with my heel
  • *Exposed Radiator for cooling
  • *Very uncomfortable stock seat

I fixed a lot of these gripes and some were just things to get used to. An ’09 bike came out in October of 2008 so it’s a 9 year old bike. It’s air cooled and was built before ethanol was a thing and has very old electronics and is certainly a bike that’s more wrench able but it lacked comforts even the cheap adventure bikes take for granted today.

I listed it for sale and it sold within 5 days for $10,000. Those of you who read the post on buying this bike know I spent $10,000 for it 17 months and 16,500 miles ago. I removed all of the add-ons from the bike I had added like special lights, seat, GPS mounts, phone mounts, crash bars and guards and made $1100 after spending about $2500 in modifications so a loss of 50%+ but that’s depreciation on used things. In the course of ownership, I spent about $900 insuring the bike for full coverage and another $1,055.42 in gasoline. Service cost was $1398 for 6,12 and 18K mile maintenance.

  • $10,000 Purchase
  • $1055.42 in Gasoline (see Fuelly page)
  • $2500 in Mods
  • $900 in Insurance
  • $1398 in Maintenance
  • $149 for NH Registration (2016+2017)
  • $632 in Two sets of tires
  • – $1100 back in selling mods
  • -$10,000 back in sale
  • =$5,534 to own this bike for 17 months

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If I had forgone the modifications, I’d still be out $4134 or $243 a month for a machine that took me out into the woods every weekend, to and from work every day it was above 35F (even rain) and took me to and from Florida in 2016 and 2017 followed by a few weekend road trips up to Canada, Pittsburgh, PA and Maine.

With mods, that monthly cost is $325

That’s a lot of money to a lot of people. For  how much I used this bike, I do not have this feeling of the expense being out of this world compared to what I spend on my car or beer. The bike enabled me the ability to get away, go off road, see amazing things without a cage around me and I’m fully committed to being a motorcycle rider for a very long time even if I take a massive pay-cut and get a bike not capable of commuting, highway riding and off-road all in one.

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The main reason I sold the bike is because I felt that this is a point where the bike’s capabilities technically and its shortcomings are going to take much more investment than simply buying a new bike. It’s known that the old GS Adventure has a higher maintenance cost than the newest models simply due to maintenance intervals. It has 10 MPG less in average fuel economy, has a weaker crash & engine guard system, has a lower maximum weight for riders and gear, to get the road lit up, you have to blind people with aftermarket LEDs and you’re going to constantly be replacing rusted out parts along with the fact that any time you’re sitting in traffic, the cylinder heads are over heating. A lot of people enjoy this nostalgia and fixing a lot of these annoyances would just cost money but for what I was paying a month and what I had in savings, I could afford to modernize my ride, save money in future mods and maintenance and fuel and get a more comfortable bike for on and off road with a lot of the things I needed to take on any road.

I’m really happy that I sold the bike. The next owner has a boxer engine that will go well beyond 100,000 miles. It’s only 1/5 of its life on the odometer. The shocks are good, the body is in nearly perfect shape and it can be taken off road with a few caveats. They’re going to really enjoy it.

I wanted to be a creep and reach out to the person who sold me the bike but I know how weird that would be. I just want him to know if he ever reads this that I enjoyed the bike he sold me immensely. It made my 2016 and 2017 a blast and I hope to thank him in person one day. Although, removing all of his stickers to sell the bike took a few hours and a lot of Goo Gone. Stickers look cool but just do not do well on a hot metal box. Thick vinyl or magnets is where it’s at.

I wanted to leave you with a few photos of the bike for my own posterity. They are on Flickr for your viewing pleasure: https://www.flickr.com/photos/adamjackson/albums/72157684920567491