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Thread: Which GS?

  1. #1
    rjhowe
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    Which GS?

    Hi All,
    I am embarking on what must be a well traveled road, a research project to determine which GS model is for me. I have a preference for airheads, but maybe because I have only owned a '78 R100/7, and currently own a K75s. I understand that some airheads have a transmission circlip issue, and are in need of an alternator upgrade. It is my uninformed opinion that the airheads are easier to work on than the oilhead models. I am also aware that some oilheads had final drive issues. I am interested in opinions, experiences, good and bad. What would you buy for under $10k and why, $7k? There appear to be many early airheads with relatively low miles for under $6k as the market seems to be softening. What resources are available to sort out the options? My concerns are weight, reliability, ease/cost of maintenance. I live in western Montana and am surrounded by thousands of miles of Forest Service roads. What am I missing? I am leaning toward the early R100 models, only because the R80s seem rare and expensive. Which models have what issues and what are the best fixes? Hopefully this hasn't been beaten to death or is a synthetic oil vs mineral oil topic.
    I am willing to be pointed in the right direction.
    Thanks in advance,
    Jeff

  2. #2
    look out!!! Visian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rjhowe View Post
    Hi All,
    I understand that some airheads have a transmission circlip issue, and are in need of an alternator upgrade.
    Late 80s, early 90s airheads had no circlip to hold the transmission output shaft in place. you can get a groove machined in, but what a pain!

    *all* airheads need an alternator upgrade if you want to run lights *and* heated grips *and* heated clothing, which i think would be good in montana.

    It is my uninformed opinion that the airheads are easier to work on than the oilhead models.
    they're both easy. unless the engine management system in oilheads goes, or the transistorized ignitions in later model airheads go.

    hall sensors in some oilheads have been known to be an issue.

    i would not worry about these.


    I am also aware that some oilheads had final drive issues. I am interested in opinions, experiences, good and bad.
    in the R1100 and R1150GS, there were some bad bearings in final drives. the seal in my 1150's drive started leaking at 70k miles, and when i had it repaired, the big bearing on the crown gear was about to go.

    i was glad that this was discovered in my garage and not somewhere in nebraska on the way to gillette last year.

    What would you buy for under $10k and why, $7k?
    for under $10, i'd get an early 2000s R1150GS. no whizzy brakes, that nice tall 6th gear (pure heaven on the highway, imo) and according to clement salvadori of rider magazine (and me, for that matter) the best motorcycle on the road.

    for under $7, i'd get an R1100GS... or, an F650. my preference is twins, but the F650s are very competent bikes.

    R100GS with Paralever drive shafts are nice, but the shaft only lasts 40k miles and cost a LOT to replace.

    R80G/S are great bikes, the best G/S, imo, but they're getting expensive to buy and long in the tooth. low mile bikes go for stupid dollars.

    I live in western Montana and am surrounded by thousands of miles of Forest Service roads. What am I missing?
    a LOT!!!

    ian
    Go soothingly through the grease mud, as there lurks the skid demon.
    ________________________________________________
    '67 Trail 90 || '86 R80 G/SPD+ || '00 1150 GS || '06 HP2e

  3. #3
    rjhowe
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    Thanks Visian, one more question what is the story with servo-assisted ABS? On which model years does this appear? Is it a problem in your opinion?
    Jeff

  4. #4
    looking for a coal mine knary's Avatar
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    You can find early and somewhat farkled 1150GS's for under $7k all day long. Awesomely versatile and easy to ride bike. Service is simple and mostly rare.

  5. #5
    look out!!! Visian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rjhowe View Post
    Thanks Visian, one more question what is the story with servo-assisted ABS? On which model years does this appear? Is it a problem in your opinion?
    Jeff
    i am not sure when the whizzy brakes started.... sometime around 2004.

    they're unnecessarily complex, a real pain/expensive to bleed and difficult to modulate on gravel.

    ian
    Go soothingly through the grease mud, as there lurks the skid demon.
    ________________________________________________
    '67 Trail 90 || '86 R80 G/SPD+ || '00 1150 GS || '06 HP2e

  6. #6
    Registered User theLuz's Avatar
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    1150 Adventure

    go for the R1150GS Adventure. It has a lot of things you might upgrade to (ss braided brake and clutch lines) and it has 2" more travel front and rear. Most (if not all) have a lower 1st gear which is MUCH bettter in the soft stuff. I think they look meaner than any other bike on the planet, as well. Good luck.
    the Luz

  7. #7
    Has the GS-Lust The_Veg's Avatar
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    The whizzy brakes got dumped for 2007 (and there are a few rare 2006's that were sold in basic trim without whizzy too, although they also lacked ABS, handguards and some other bits), so if you can find an '07 GS for $10K (perhaps not common, but certainly plausible in this economy), GO FOR IT! It's lighter and more powerful than the 1150, and less ugly than the 08-10 GS. Might still be in warranty too.

    Having owned both a 2007 GS and a 1995 R100R (which is just a lowered, prettier version of a GS), I'd have to say that the oilhead is easier to live with. MUCH less maintenance, and even though it has twice as many valves as the airhead, I find them to be quicker and easier to adjust because the setting doesn't 'drift' during torquing anywhere near as much.

    As for the final drive issue, if you find a nice clean well-maintained 1200 in your price range, it will probably be OK- either having been maintained well enough to prevent the problem (FD oil changed at 600, and the right viscosity used), or might not have developed it in the first place (or might even have already had it and has a new FD). I don't think that the FD thing is as big and bad as the interwebs make it out to be.

    Whatever you get, ride the living piss out of it and be sure to share your adventures with us!
    2012 R1200GS

    "If you can't fix it with a hammer, it's electrical." -somebody's dad

  8. #8
    R100GS, '89 Guenther's Avatar
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    Jeff,

    I think it depends on what you plan to do with the GS. Here a story:

    A few years ago crossing the border from Mexico I met a twenty-ish austrian on a R80GS. He just came - starting 2 1/2 years ago - from Austria, South Africa, India, Australia and on his way to South America. The R80GS had over 200 thousand miles on it and looked miserable. All those hands at remote places who bent, beat, welded, tortured that motozickle...but still running. According to this guy's story a GS1200 would have miserably failed to stay alive.

    Now tell us...where are you going with that motozickle?

    /Guenther

  9. #9
    JAMESDUNN
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guenther View Post
    Jeff,

    I think it depends on what you plan to do with the GS. Here a story:

    A few years ago crossing the border from Mexico I met a twenty-ish austrian on a R80GS. He just came - starting 2 1/2 years ago - from Austria, South Africa, India, Australia and on his way to South America. The R80GS had over 200 thousand miles on it and looked miserable. All those hands at remote places who bent, beat, welded, tortured that motozickle...but still running. According to this guy's story a GS1200 would have miserably failed to stay alive.

    Now tell us...where are you going with that motozickle?

    /Guenther
    Good post!


    I do not own a GS, but I will comment anyway, as this post points out an essential difference between the oilers and the airheads. Electronics. Carbs vs. fuel injection for example. I own an oiler and an airhead, and were I to go traveling in out of the way places I'd take the airhead. Closer to the civilized world, I would select an oilhead. On a day to day basis the oiler is easier to live with, but the electronics could prove problematic in the wilder regions, if a breakdown should occur.

  10. #10
    Registered User 88bmwjeff's Avatar
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    While I'm pretty up to date on the short falls and maintenance issues of the Airhead, I have no clue with regards to the Oilhead or Hexhead. What areas are of concern with Oilheads? Also, at what mileage would most bikes need "rebuilding/refurbishing" of items. As an example, there's a R1100 GS for sale locally for $3,500, but it has about 100k on the clock. I'm not saying I'm going to run out an buy this bike, but I am curious as to what potential items an owner would need to consider if they owned the bike?
    Jeff in W.C.
    1988 R100 RT (the other woman)
    "I got my motorcycle jacket but I'm walking all the time." Joe Strummer

  11. #11
    R100GS, '89 Guenther's Avatar
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    Jeff,

    you want us to tell you on a website what this R1100 GS with 100k miles needs next an when?

    If you have a couple of thousand $$$ in your savings account you can have any potential failure fixed that might be upcoming:

    - engine rebuild ( from what I heard/read less likely on the oilheads)
    - transmission rebuild (ditto)
    - drive shaft (yes, heard about that)
    - new rear drive (heard more about that)

    Or, maybe you can by extended warranty.

    Or, maybe take it to a good mechanic and let him check out the GS.

    But then, I am the first owner of my 21 year old R100GS with 115k miles and a box full of rebuilds/new parts. So what do I know about a R1100GS with 100k miles...

    /Guenther

  12. #12
    rjhowe
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    Thanks Guenther,
    So far the candidates are an 02 1150 GS with 35k and q 95 GSPD w/ 22k. What I aim to do is explore as many Forest Service Roads as I can in MT and ID from my home in Missoula. I'll do my share of highway cruising and grocery store trips. I would love to believe that I would ride to Patagonia turn around at the bottom and head to Alaska. Really there are so many great gravel roads here I want a bike to explore and enjoy them on. Whatever else I am able to do will be icing on the gravy.
    A visit to my mom's in the midwest, a blast through Glacier to Banf and Jasper, more gravel roads, and trips to the grocery store. So, airhead or oilhead? Both bikes are fine well cared for examples.

  13. #13
    R100GS, '89 Guenther's Avatar
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    Jeff,

    I try to keep my airhead engine below 4800 rpms = 75 mph on hot days (>80F). Otherwise the oil temperature gets a bit too hot (>280F) for my feeling. That is also my maximum cruising speed.

    I heard that oilheads don't have that problem (hot engine) and oilhead riders cruise at over 85 mph in hot weather I was told.

    Even though the airheads are easier to work on yourself...the oilheads seem to be mechanically more reliable. And the fuel injection system with all the electronics and sensors is more state of the art for better gas mileage and a lot better engine performance. But that extra "stuff" also seems to be what makes the oilheads more vulnerable.

    I test drove all the recent R1200s. And back on my R100GS I felt like on a good reliable quarter horse or, as the German BMW riders would say...a good ole rubber cow.

    I skipped a couple of rallies because of too many miles on Interstates. With an oilhead (R1200GS) I would most like have done these because of the faster cruising speed.

    Make sense out of this for your decision.

    Good luck!

    /Guenther

  14. #14
    From MARS
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    My two cents.

    If you live *miles* away from a dealer, like I do, buy the airhead. Chances are, you'll be able to keep her running and save the expense of mechanic's time. I am very comfortable with going out into the middle of nowhere on the PD now that I've had the transmission rebuilt, the drive shaft reworked, replaced the cables, cleaned all the electrical contacts, tuned the engine, put in a new battery, replaced the alternator rotor, ...... you get the idea. Most everything on an airhead will give you some warning of an impending failure; electronics, on the other hand, just quit.

    As the bikes continue to age, the electronics of the oilhead will become more of an issue and its value will continue to go down while the airhead will hold it's value if properly maintained.

    One added plus for the airhead: In case of nuclear attack, the airhead will still run.

    Tom

  15. #15
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    of course, to really confuse things, you could also consider one of these



    you'll have to drop more $ than you would on an R bike, but you'll also be losing about 50-100 lbs, and gaining "the most off-road GS ever." (their advertising department, not mine).
    i had a '88 R100GS , and the F8GS just blows it away in ALL performance categories.
    ultimately, there is no "best"- they all have their pluses and minuses. you just have to decide what works best for you.
    Ride Safe, Ride Lots

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