The great outdoors – BMW R 1200 GS Long Term Test

PROJECT bikes are both fun and frustrating at times.
Fun because you get to ride them as your own without the hit to your wallet, but frustrating because of the time you need to spend on them during the project. Plus the fact you have to hand them back is always a downer.
Cycle Torque’s had plenty of such projects over our ten years, from bikes made to add some adventure to our lives to those made to race on the dirt or road.

Our next project bike will stay with us much longer than the six months we had with BMW’s R 1200 GS, and it will take us in a different direction than you’ve ever seen us do; watch this space.

But back to the GS.
To say this bike is a great all-rounder is doing it a major injustice. It is much better than that.
It’s no wonder they sell like hot cakes, it’s almost as if the bike can do anything, as long as you are up to it.
You might have kept abreast of the project so far, but the initial brief was to modify the bike with readily available parts to make it more user friendly for what we wanted to do with it, which was mainly tar and good dirt roads. Racking up decent touring miles, rather than tackle washouts and gullies was our desire.

With this in mind we set about giving ourselves extra luggage capacity and better rider protection. Initially the mods consisted of a few of BMW’s off the rack accessories, like the $135 headlight protector (fitted just after we copped a rock in the headlight), $436 engine/sump guard and $522 cylinder head covers. While we never had to crash test any of these products, they are solid enough to give you confidence in their abilities to do what they are supposed to. The bike came with a BMW accessory tank bag, and also a seat bag which wasn’t standard to the GS by the look of it but we were able to strap it on the the standard rack. Around the same time we received a Ventura rack and bag system which was easy enough to fit and carried enough gear for what we had planned.

Our BMW R 1200 GS long term test bike
We can see why the GS is so popular…


Of course you could go the factory panniers if you like but the Ventura system is a very cost effective option. with prices starting from $389. Next, Rod from Mototoys dropped in and gave us a couple of Ztechnik replacement windscreens, GPS handlebar mounts and mirror extenders. The standard BMW screen gave our regular six feet tall riders some decent helmet buffeting, so we didn’t bother trying the Ztechnik stock replacement screen ($245).

But when we put on the Ztechnik V-Stream taller screen ($289) it was a revelation. Now we could ride along with our visor up, pretty much regardless of the speed, with our eyes just peering over the top of the screen. The windscreen has wings attached to the top as part of its design, and these also helped keep the wind at bay. We selected one of the handlebar mounts for a GPS that Rod had dropped in, and it was quickly mounted to the ’bars.

On a recent five day trip across all sorts of country this device came in handy.
We were able to fit an iPhone to the mount and use it as a GPS. As we didn’t have a cover it was duly placed into the tank bag when the weather turned inclement, but if you are keen on going to out of the way places then gadgets like these can come in handy. Next was a trip down to see Rob Dunstan at Motohansa in Sydney where our GS was decked out with a host of goodies. Rob gave us some good tips on what works well on a GS. On went a comfort seat, cruise control, Mud Slinger rear shock guard, handlebar risers and Pivotpegz footrests.
At first we thought the Motohansa comfort seat was a bit hard, but it comes into its own if you are planning long days in the saddle.

The firmness of the seat just seems to give your backside an easier time, as if the standard BMW saddle is too soft. One good way of testing it is to do a decent ride one day with a standard seat, then do the same the next day with the comfort seat. We did and we found them to be chalk and cheese. These are exchange units, give Motohansa your standard seat and they hand over the reworked jigger, for a cost of course.

While not being lovers of cruise control on a bike, we nevertheless found the Wunderlich unit to work very well. It was fitted literally in seconds and the friction design worked very efficiently. We were able to test the Mud Slinger shock guard and it does what it says, we hit the mud and the mud stayed away from the shock. It also was easy to fit and even looks good, taking up the space behind the shock and giving it a tidier look in the process.

Next were the Pivotpegz and Wunderlich ’bar risers. Once you have used Pivotpegs you wouldn’t go back to a standard set. In fact the standard footpegs are ridiculously small in our opinion. Everyone who rode the bike with the Pivotpegz loved them. The extra bite and width is good for road riding but it’s when you hit the dirt they come into their own, allowing your feet to rotate when you are standing up and while negotiating decent hills in the bush.

Our BMW R 1200 GS long term test bike
Our BMW R 1200 GS long term test bike


The standard handlebars are too low for comfortable standing up riding, you tend to lean too far forward which puts you a little off balance and makes it harder to see where you are going. Mind you, as said before, this is in the perspective of a rider who is six foot. Shorter riders may not have the same issues with the height of the handlebars. Just the Pivotpegz and handlebar risers alone transformed the bike for off road riding.

For the tech savvy, Motohansa also sells the GS911 diagnostic unit which plugs in directly to your wiring harness under the rider’s seat. It’s an amazing little gizmo, allowing you to check faults and do a host of other things like balance the throttle bodies. If your bike won’t start or is running rough you can simply plug it in and find the fault, saving you plenty of time trying to diagnose it yourself. In essence if you want to home service your bike it offers you everything you need. For most of the six months we had with the GS it was fitted with a set of the new Pirelli Scorpion Trail tyres.

These tyres are more road based than aggressive off-road, and as such they give grip levels on tar way beyond what you would expect. The pleasing thing is the Scorpions are also very handy on the dirt. It was only in very muddy slippery conditions where it would have been nice to have tyres a bit chunkier in the tread pattern.
We covered around 4000 kilometres on them, and as you’ll see from the pics, there’s plenty of life in them yet.
Front tyres start from $205.

We didn’t get the chance to test a pipe on the R 1200 GS, but Cycle Torque has a few advertisers who sell full systems or just mufflers. We know a few GS owners who run aftermarket mufflers, including a Jardine which is sold by Motohansa, a Ztechnik, sold by Mototoys, a Venom pipe from MC Performance and also a Staintune.
Prices vary from brand to brand but they are all reasonably similar, starting from around $650.
And each owner is happy with their respective purchases.

Visit these websites to check them out:;;;

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