Riding the 2014 Water-Cooled BMW R1200GS

It was Saturday, it was a beautiful spring day around these parts of the world, and the European Motorcycles of Western Oregon (EMCWOR) had a 2014 BMW R1200GS demo hanging out in front of the store. I had some time to kill while my Multistrada was being worked on the shop last Saturday, no need to twist my arm… I will take the BMW out for a spin.

2014 BMW R1200GS

2014 BMW R1200GS

The quality of the fit and finish remains the same with BMW motorcycles. The overall design and the ergonomics of the motorcycle shows the project team paid close attention to who adventure riders are and how this bike was going to be used. Well, they’ve been doing this for more than 30 years, they know who we are. They invented this segment of the motorcycle industry.

I had ridden the 2013 water-cooled model last year (see 2013 R1200GS report here), but that bike was a base model. This 2014 model had the fixings. I was especially looking forward to trying the Dynamic Electronic Suspension Adjustment (Dynamic ESA).

Dynamic Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA) as one of the modes

Riding Modes button: Dynamic, Road, Rain and Enduro

Dynamic ESA is not unlike what is available in the 2013-14 Ducati Multistrada and called Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS).  Although there are differences on the way these two applications work on the BMW and the Ducati.  More on that later.

Sachs Dynamic ESA

Sachs semi-active suspension, BMW calls it Dynamic ESA

Besides the riding modes, this bike had heated grips, cruise control, the ability to turn ABS off with a switch (instead of a convoluted menu driven process like in my Triumph Tiger), and a wheel-shaped control that operates the GPS.  The bike comes set up for a GPS (Navigator IV base).  It also has an ESA suspension adjustment (normal, soft, hard).

ESA adjustment, besides cruise control

ESA adjustment, cruise control, ABS switch, the wheel which controls the GPS, and the trip and info menu operation

This bike was equipped with the Garmin Navigator IV (Navigator V should already be available for sale).  The position of the GPS is great in terms of eye-sight. It probably could be set up a bit higher up for me; as it was, it partially covered the tachometer.  This bike comes with the spoke wheels option, a great asset for riding on rough roads.

GPS set up from BMW, with lockable base

GPS set up from BMW, with lockable base

With these specs this 2014 BMW water-cooled came from the factory set up for what we call adventure riding. From show room floor to your dreamed adventure ride, nothing else needs to be done. That’s one of the reasons this bike remains top of the heap on the adventure corner.  Another reason being how it performs on whatever terrain you define as adventure riding. And in the unlike scenario something goes wrong with the bike, you have BMW service and support basically on all corners of the world, including an unrivaled 3-year warranty.

But not everything is perfect… you have to get used to that beak. If Bauhaus applies, form follows function, there must be a reason for this odd shape, right? Or not. I have not discovered that yet.

The beak.

The beak.

And if you read my review of the 2013, there is the side stand issue.  It hinges from farther ahead on the bike when compared to my other bikes. I have to make a conscious decision to move my foot forward to find the tab to deploy it each time I park the bike.  But maybe all 1200GS bikes were like that?

The sidestand

The side stand attaches to the bike further ahead than other bikes

But it is all out of sight, out of mind when you get the bike going, you don’t see the beak, you don’t need the side stand. The red 2013 I tested last year was brand new. This white 2014 already had 750 miles on the clock when I took it out for a spin. This may explain why the motor of the 2014 felt more willing to rev than the 2013, although the 2013 was already an improvement over the 2012 and 2011 models I tested. First thing you notice is the typical BMW boxer exhaust note, but on these water-cooled bikes it sounds angry, goes well with the motor’s revised stance.

Nice exhaust note!

Nice exhaust note!

Once in motion I immediately started playing with the settings.  I settled with Dynamic for the ride mode (options are Dynamic, Road, Rain and Enduro — this model could be set with Enduro-Pro as well). And the suspension was set to normal (choices are Hard, Normal or Soft), with the pre-load at “rider without luggage” (other options are rider with passenger and/or luggage). Settings can be changed using a couple of buttons in a very intuitive way. And you can change settings on the go, I closed the throttle, with the clutch in, and changed settings. The riding mode takes a few seconds to take effect, and it is all very clearly displayed.

Setting riding mode and suspension action

Setting riding mode and suspension action: dynamic mode, suspension set to normal, pre-load set to rider without luggage

On “Dynamic” mode the bike felt engaging, something I didn’t quite experience with the base model.  The motor revved smoothly with a touch of aggressiveness. Not a Ducati, of course, but it is plenty good, it never felt underpowered when I called it to action.  And like my previous ride with the 2013, it settles on a very nice touring mode at 4K RPM at 70MPH. At that combo you can cruise in comfort all day long.  And from there the bike still has enough torque to accelerate without the need of a downshift.

Plenty of power and disposition to make things happen in the twisties

Plenty of power and disposition to make things happen in the twisties

It is in the “Dynamic” mode that the bike feels more aggressive, and in that mode the fueling shows a bit of an on/off edge when coming off a start. Good for when you want to push it hard, but when coming to town or you’re tired and just want to take it easy, change it to “Rain” mode. In rain mode it is less engaging, in a Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jakyll way, the bike assumed a more compliant role, riding becomes effortless. I did not try the “Road” and the “Enduro” modes.  But I can see use for the Rain mode, similar to my Urban mode in the Ducati.

Great bike from all angles. If you don't stare at the beak, that is.

Great bike from all angles. If you don’t stare at the beak, that is.

The bike felt always ready for action, it was a willing partner to whatever you throw at it, it seemed. A true rider’s motorcycle, or a comfortable and compliant tourer, it depends on your mood or with whom you’re riding.  Unfortunately, once again I did not try it off pavement. But there is nothing there to make me think it would not work well on dirt and gravel roads.

Overall, the bike felt really planted on the road and on all types of curves and pavement irregularities.  The main change in the 2014 was the addition of a steering damper. I never felt the 2013 needed it, but I only rode it for 50 miles. There were reports where people noticed a head shake with the previous bike. In any case, if there was any issue there, the 2014’s steering damper should have solved it.

Steering Damper is standard equipment on 2014 models

Steering Damper is standard equipment on 2014 models

Overall, I liked the bike with the semi-active suspension better than the “analog” base model I rode last year.  I like technology, I enjoy the benefits of electronic assistance, so you should know there is a personal bias here. Both BMW and Ducati use Sachs technology for their semi-active suspension.  However, the Dynamic ESA in the BMW felt softer than its DSS application on the Multistrada. It could be that the BMW is geared more for comfort on its three modes (Soft, Normal, and Hard) while Ducati may have dialed their application to a more sport oriented mode.  Maybe there was more to the BMW settings then what I explored, perhaps I missed a few settings. Maybe I should take it for another spin. Yes, I need to do that. Maybe the shop should let me try it on a gravel road too. Right.

I forgot to mention earlier: this bike comes with LED headlight lights.

I forgot to mention earlier: this bike comes with LED headlight lights.

Having said that, the BMW felt solid at all times, and in my opinion, the Dynamic ESA felt more solid than the “analog” suspended base model I tested last year. I did not feel the Dynamic ESA was lacking anything compared to the Ducati DSS, and I actually wish the DSS had a setting where the suspension felt more comfortable and compliant on its softest setting for when I’m just touring.  Overall, both BMW’s Dynamic ESA and Ducati’s DSS, in my opinion, are the way to go for large displacement motorcycles. For me, there is no looking back to analog suspension on these big bikes.  Even KTM has joined this crowd!

Looks good in front of the Starbucks or a Winery in the valley or on a dirt road somewhere.

Looks good in front of the Starbucks or a Winery in the valley or on a dirt road somewhere.

Talking about KTM, I’ve been trying to schedule a test ride on the 1190 Adventure. First the local dealer told me I needed a chaperone rider, and since they didn’t have the staff to do that, I could not ride it at that time. Strike 1. Then I checked with them and they say they sold their demo. Strike 2. I saw an Orange 1190 Adventure on the floor but it is not a demo and their demo allocation is done for this year. Strike 3. This situation reminds me of the Long Way Round when Charlie wanted a KTM, but KTM did not trust they would make it to Siberia, or the Road of Bones, and cancelled the offer to let them ride the 950 Adventure bikes for which Charlie lusted so much. BMW had been approached before by the duo and BMW knew they were second option, but no problems, they gave them the bikes and well… the rest is history. Which, as history itself tells us, it tends to repeat itself. What?

So... would I buy it?

So… would I buy it?

The question is: would I buy the BMW? Like I said before when I tested the 2013 bike — if I were down to have only one bike, this bike would be a top contender for the job. I can say this with more conviction today than a couple of years ago with respect to the 1200GS:  I really like the revised character of the boxer motor associated with the water-cooled changes; the Dynamic ESA hit the spot for me; and although it is fun to customize a bike for your travel needs, the BMW R1200GS remains one of the few bikes ready to ride, from the showroom to your dreamed journey to the end of the world without basically adding any accessory.

If you are in the area, stop by at the European Motorcycles of Western Oregon (EMCWOR), take it for a ride and decide for yourself.

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25 Responses to Riding the 2014 Water-Cooled BMW R1200GS

  1. How comfortable are you with taking the MTS off-road? How “off-road” would you take it?

    • cesardagord says:

      Hey Rick,
      I haven’t taken my Multistrada off road yet. On my last trip to the coast I saw a sign to the Old Stage Coach road. This is a road I’ve been on the past with my other bikes, it has a good chunk of miles with very smooth gravel and it crossed my mind taking it there. On another ride closer to home I went past another known to me gravel road, and the thought again crossed my mind. Maybe one of these days I will take it out on a hard packed gravel road. What I’m not looking for is to do a thorough clean up of the bike after I’m done riding it on dirt roads. Or damage those road oriented Pirelli Scorpion tires on rocks and gravel. Bottom line, I did not buy it for dirt riding, and I will try as much as possible to stay away from the gravel temptation. Having said that, I’m sure it will perform reasonably well on hard packed gravel or dirt roads.
      Cesar

  2. João Müller says:

    e o preço???

  3. Pingback: Riding the new 2013 BMW 1200 GS | I'd rather be riding…

  4. kurt says:

    Reading through these replies. I;m looking for a new ride and ruled out the triumph based on how top heavy it felt, and the lack of techonology given its price/competitor options.

    That said, I am down to -and torn between- a Multistrada and a r1200gs. Seems like the r1200gs has some newer features that are a touch better integrated, and is better off road. The multistrada is a better sport set up….plus, with cruise control available in the aftermarket easily, the 2013 multi doesn’t give up anything in touring to the r1200gs IMO.

    How has your 2013 MTS been reliability wise? Any issues to speak of? I heard of lots of problems with some of the early (2010-2011) models, but so far 2013-2013 MTS’s seem to be all accolades…..

    So, you could only have one. A fully optioned/luggaged Multistrada or the same in the R1200GS…which one an why?

    • cesardagord says:

      Well… if I have to have only one bike, and these two are the only two options I have, no questions I would get the BMW R1200GS, the 2015 with the latest updates (BMW has made important changes to the 2014 and the 2105 as well). Why? Because I love riding on dirt and gravel roads. The Multistrada is not a gravel and dirt machine. The BMW does fine on dirt and gravel. I would buy the one with spoke wheels, and all the electronics package you can get, including the Enduro package.

      Now, if I were only a street rider, though, I would pick the Multistrada, no questions about it. Why? Because it is unbeatable on the road. It simply is a lot of fun, especially when you start pushing it. Which means, if you are going to be cruising or touring only, maybe this bike is not your best choice.

      Having said that, both bikes are not exactly what you can call reliable machines. My Multistrada has been fine so far, but it is a more delicate machine than the BMW. It requires closer attention to the detail. And both bikes have more issues than Japanese bikes.

      Ultimately, what I always tell people is: if you are looking into a BMW or a Ducati, you are not buying based on which motorcycle is most efficient. The most efficient is a V-Strom or a Super Tenere.

      If you are buying a BMW or a Ducati you are buying based on your passion for the machine. Therefore, the only way to answer this question is to follow your heart, not your wallet. Ride them, if you haven’t yet, and make your mind based on how each of these bikes speak to you.

      Although on re-sale value, the BMW comes ahead of the Ducati. And ahead of the V-Strom and of the Super Tenere, and anything you put against it.

      So how’s that for a non-answer?

      • kurt says:

        hahaha

        Yeah thats absolutely not helpful! Just kidding.

        I do like both of them. They ride differently but both are fantastic. I’ve seen the multistrada do as hard a trail off road as I ever plan on doing, so that isn’t a huge concern. It really has come down to style and features. The Duc has a better engine and more power, is easily tunable with software and great sounding exhausts. the BMW is a little better interfaced for the rider.

        Both great bikes.

      • kurt says:

        oh PS- you seem to be more in the know. What are the changes coming for the 2015 models of each? looks like the BMW gets some color changes, shift assist as an option, keyless as an option, and the heavier crank mass from the GSA (which will make it rev slower…not good for a road bike imo) Any other changes/fixes?

        Any word on multistrada updates?

        cheers

      • cesardagord says:

        I don’t know any updates on the Multistrada yet. But the heavier flywheel on the GS would be a welcome addition. When I rode the 2014 on the “dynamic” mode, the fueling felt really abrupt coming from lower revs, and changing gears was tricky and clunky. When riding into town I changed to “rain” mode and everything, fueling and gear changes made sense as a good package. I believe the larger flywheel will smooth things out without too much compromise in the power of the more aggressive modes. I think you listed all changes for the R1200GS for 2015. There were changes from the 2013 to 2014 as well. I do think the 2015 should be the best water-cooled R1200GS yet. And I’m glad BMW has been reacting fast to problems. This is a change from the past, when we, the riders, were usually at fault… :-) That must be because the competition is finally making an impact. Good news for the consumer.

      • kurt says:

        Have you had a chance to use the Navigator V at all? Does it plot off road tracks/maps that you know of?

      • cesardagord says:

        Nope, I have not used Navigator V. But Dan Townsley from Globe Riders does excellent GPS reviews. Scroll down on this page I linked and you will see Dan’s review of the Nav V. I particularly like the features on the Nav V. But have not used it.

      • kurt says:

        Did test rides on the R1200GS and the Multistrada touring S today. I have to say the Ducati is an absolute cruise missile. That thing really hauls the mail. I think the BMW was a better “over all” bike…controls were a little better integrated/refined and it was more roomy/comfortable. Man does it hide its weight well. Just a real joy to ride.

        The Multistrada was unquestionably a superior road bike. The suspension on the bmw was floaty until i switched the ESA to ‘hard’ and the dealer said there is no way to adjust rear preload baseline? That if i need more rear preload for my weight i have to either always ride at 1+luggage or get a custom spring? Is that right? The Multistrada’s suspension was, IMO way better sorted. It wasnt as roomy or as comfortable but absolutely handled better.

        Tough call. Ducati dealer has a pretty ripping deal on a Granturismo MTS right now which is hard to pass up. BMW said 2014’s are done, earliest I can get one is this october after the 2015’s start coming out.

        I guess I need to decide if I really want to hit places like Death Valley and the White Rim Trail on a bike or if that what the hooked up truck with the fridge in the back is for :-p

      • cesardagord says:

        Exactly, it’s a tough call when we want something instead of need something. :-) That’s why I have three bikes (my limit) and I wish I had four, five…

      • I’ve had 2 Hondas and 2 BMWs and only one has gone wrong, one time – my second Honda had an internal manufacturing defect relating to the clutch which left me stranded with a floppy clutch lever on day two (about 30 miles on the odometer)… oops. I don’t doubt that on a worldwide scale the Japanese makes are perhaps slightly more reliable overall compared to the Europeans, but on the other hand if you ever read the forums for any make of bike from any country, it’d put anyone off ever buying another bike!

        I’d say BMW top the charts for efficiency within their engine size categories – my first Honda was a 125cc which got about 80 mpg overall (in the city), my CB600FA averaged 42 mph (over an 800 mile trip), my F800GS averaged 60 mpg (over a 3,000 mile trip through the Alps) and my R1200GS averaged 50 mpg (over a 2,000 mile trip to Germany/Czech and back via France) – the latter two fully loaded 2-up with the brick-shaped panniers. I make no effort to conserve fuel on trips, I just go as I wish, so no hypermiling techniques or anything. The BMWs are at fairly lazy revs at the the 70mph motorway speed limit which no doubt contributes to economy (the Honda CB sat at around 6,500 rpm at 70mph).

        For reference the Super Ténéré 1200 is rated at 42 mpg out here and the new V-Strom 1000 at 49 mpg (rider alone in both instances). In your market all these numbers may differ of course due to slightly different emissions equipment and fuel composition.

        But in the end, as you mention, the best bike is the one you like the most!

      • cesardagord says:

        Yes, in the end, the best bike is the one you like the most. Some people make decisions about motorcycles based on spec sheets and their accountant. Motorcycles are a hobby to me, decisions are on the emotional side of the equation mostly and within a few parameters of reason only. It’s about the fun I get from them.

    • kurt says:

      thanks! cheers!

  5. I’ve had this bike for just over a year now (my build was within the first 50 of the 2014 update with steering dampener) and your review is pretty much spot on to my own experience – although your photo of the mode button should refer to riding modes, not ESA :)

    I ride it off road routinely – the Anakee 3s are rubbish in the mud/sand but, combined with the electronics, they do better than they have any right to on wet/dry dirt or gravel… this is also the first bike I’ve ridden that stops better on dirt/gravel with the ABS switched on (in Enduro mode). To answer your question about the beak, it quite effectively prevents muddy water spinning off the front wheel from catching the airflow at speed and spraying you in the face.

    A trick to stiffening the suspension further is to choose the rider + luggage setting alongside hard dampening, but I find the single rider setting with soft or normal dampening the best match for our horrible UK roads – if memory serves, your roads are much better surfaced.

    You can reduce the effort of changing riding modes on the go by selecting the new mode first, which gives you 5-7 seconds to pull the clutch and close the throttle – in practice you can change riding modes almost as fast as a gear change with this technique.

    I had the gear shift assist pro option retrofitted earlier this year when it became available and it truly transforms the bike, even off road, as the system enables up/downshifts to be performed without the clutch, and without interrupting the torque at the rear wheel. Combined with the slipper clutch and traction control, it works amazingly well for keeping speed under control on slippery descents off road.

    My only real complaint is the rather abrupt anti wheelie system – even in dynamic mode (which allows more altitude) it sharply reduces power which makes the front wheel abruptly come down. I would rather the system had softer intervention, floating the front wheel and gently putting it down. I certainly don’t ride like a hooligan (my last traffic fine was in 1997!), but the bike lifts the front wheel very easily, accompanied by the yellow traction control flashing like a schoolteacher’s wagging finger.

    Agree also – if I had to choose only one bike, this would be it… That said, for commuting I find myself reaching for my F800GS more often, as the softer and taller suspension, lower power (you can ride it at 90% far more often!), larger front wheel and narrower chassis make it an absolute yob in the city (and the taller handlebars are higher than the wing mirrors on most cars when filtering through traffic).

  6. Kurt says:

    Hey! Just an update….Took the MTS GT out on a test ride back to back with the new R1200gs. Ended up going with the MTS. A few reasons: The performance of the multistrada couldn’t be matched by the GS. The other big reason was that the ESA suspension is a moot accessory if you are over 185lb. BMW winds the coils for a 185lb max rider weight and there is no way to adjust preload to properly set sag unless you spend $2,000 on custom coils or $4,000 on custom suspension units (like touratech). BMW dealer told me at my weight to just always ride with it at “rider + luggage” and go to “2 up” mode if i added luggage on. Not the kind of answer I wanted on a $25k bike. The MTS can be adjusted for preload front and rear, has a much wider range of damping adjustability, and the suspension just flat out worked better as did the ride modes. Now that I have a few hundred miles on the bike, the gearbox has smoothed out considerably. I also didnt feel the 19″ front wheel was worth it for my riding. Any trail that would require a 19″ front wheel is the kind of trail I don’t want a ~500lb bike on….and anything short of that, the MTS can handle just fine. Still, what the MTS has over the GS is performance, it lacks in integration (cruise/GPS). I’m adding a navihalter mount and tuneboy cruise to round that out.

    Both great bikes, but the MTS was the clear choice for me. Thanks for the input!! :-)

    • cesardagord says:

      Great choice Kurt! As you know, I’ve been on that route myself. My choice for the BMW would continue for when I have to have only one bike, though – I really like a bike that can do ride off-pavement. But the Multistrada is an excellent bike, and I really enjoy riding mine.

      • Kurt says:

        the mts is a great all road bike….. its perfect for “bad roads” of all variety, where the GS does better as an “off road/light trail” bike. I think when i get stationed in Africa in a few years, I will do a custom coiled GS or GSA with TKC 80’s.

      • cesardagord says:

        Sounds like a great plan to me! And for your sake I hope it won’t be in west Africa and if there, that this current Ebola crisis will have been contained by that time.

  7. Evan says:

    After 10 years of riding a Ducati 999 I traded it in for the water cooled, 2014 R1200GS Adventure. A few weeks prior to that, I did a 600-mile ride with some friends who were on Goldwings (all on-road) and, because I still had the 999, I rented a 2011 R1200GS. That sold me on the BMW. I recently had a Multistrada for the day as a loaner bike while my GSA was in for routine service. I have not been on the KTM or the Triumph except for sitting on them in the showroom.

    The GSA is AMAZING off-road. Here in Arizona, we have a lot of spectacular Forest Service dirt roads, so being able to ride off-pavement is important. These roads can be beautiful, hard-packed, smooth, graded dirt or washed out, deep sand, rutted, jagged-rock-infested nightmares depending on recent rainfall and maintenance. I got dragged out on some of the ugly stuff my first weekend with the bike and despite my total lack of off-road experience, I was deeply impressed with the bike. It gave me a lot of conficence – maybe too much. I ultimately got exhausted, lost focus and dumped it a few times, but that was me, not the bike and the bike took it like a champ. For such a huge beast, it was remarkably forgiving and nimble. Even on the “street” tires (not the knobbies), it was surprisingly planted. Only in deep sand and sandy rutted areas did I really struggle and knobbies may have helped.

    I would say that engine guards are a MUST accessory and the stock skid plate is a bit laughable if you really get into some rocks. For street or graded fire roads, it shouldn’t matter much. On one of my big “offs” I did end up striking a rock with the valve cover, puncturing it and causing a substantial oil leak. My riding companion patched it with JB Weld and, after bending the brake pedal back into position, we managed to limp it out of the back country where we found a rancher who gave me a quart of oil (totally not the right oil for the bike, but better than nothing). I put another quart in it at the next town (30 miles or so) – again, totally the wrong oil and not even the same as the rancher gave me. The bike made it another 100+ miles home and never complained. Interestingly, the seemingly fragile auxiliary lights were unharmed despite many easy drops and a couple of big offs. They are set just right in the crash bars and were totally untouched, through multiple drops, even in the deeper sand. The brake and clutch pedals are nice steel, instead of aluminum, so when they bend, you can just bend them back into shape and ride on. I bent the brake lever well past 90 degrees and it went right back into place with a little persuasion from a ratchet handle. No ill effects at all from that.

    The suspension and the spoke wheels are seemingly indestructible. My inelegant riding surely abused them beyond what a better rider would have done and there were no ill effects. Even quads and true dirt bikes were having trouble on this “road” but the big beast held its own as long as I did my part. Unlike previous GS models, the instructions now call for leaving the bike in one of its modes rather than shutting off the ABS and ESC manually. Enduro mode greatly reduces the amount of intervention from the ABS and ESC (while still leaving you a little safety net) and Enduro Pro shuts it all off completely, leaving you to your own devices with no net. Enduro is supposedly aimed at good, graded dirt roads ridden with the street tires or something similar. The owner’s manual recommends Going to Enduro Pro (which has to be enabled with a hardware fob that comes with the bike but not installed) for technical terrain with knobby tires. The dealership will install it for you at the 600-mile break-in service (which is just a change of both the engine oil and the final drive oil (in the drive shaft housing).

    Riding around town on it is a dream. It’s sporty and responsive in Dynamic mode with the suspension set to stiff. The boxer motor puts the center of mass so low that it feels much lighter than it is and inspires tremendous confidence in the sharp, first-gear mountain curves and when maneuvering at very slow speeds (e.g., parking lots and stop lights). At times, I almost believe that I could leave the side stand up and just get off the bike and it might not fall over unless there was a breeze. I exaggerate, of course, but that’s how it feels. 2-up riding is effortless if you set the suspension mode accordingly. The lower weight distribution is obvious, even just sitting on the BMWs in the showroom. Sit on the Triumph and the on the BMW and there is no denying that the Triumph feels more top heavy. My wife sat on a 650 Sertao, the F700, F800 and then the R1200GS. She complained that the first three all felt too heavy. Then she sat on the 1200 and said that she preferred this lighter bike. I could not convince her that the 1200 was MUCH heavier than the others.

    I’m a big Ducati fan, but the Multistrada did not impress me as much as I hoped it would. It’s not really an off-road bike, though it has an “enduro” mode. It felt much smaller and sportier than the BMW (because it is) and it was a blast to rip around town. It really felt like a Monster with a taller wind screen and panniers.

    The really hard-core off-road guys who want a big adventure-touring bike but plan to spend the majority of time in the dirt tend to favor the KTM. Every review I have read says that the KTM is head and shoulders better than anything else when it comes to hard, technical, off-road riding but it is not as great as the BMW on the pavement. The BMW is at its best when pavement touring and doing less technical off-road riding (fire roads, gravel roads, etc.). The Multistrada is really a sport tourer. The new Yamaha Tenere gets excellent reviews but I have not even seen one in person.

    My only gripe is the very tall height of the GSA. They make it in a low suspension model now, as they have done on the GS for several years, but you give up quite a bit in the suspension for that. I can’t stand flat-footed over it – more like on the balls of my feet with the seat in the lower position. I may have to switch to a”Low” or “Extra Low” seat from Touratech to try to bring me down another inch or so. I have about a 31-32″ inseam. On a less stable bike this might be uncomfortable, but it has not been a huge issue yet, even riding 2-up.

    Hope this long rant fills in a few blanks for anyone looking to buy.

    • cesardagord says:

      Nothing like a first hand account. We especially thank you for enhancing this review with the description of your off-road experience, something we have not done with this bike in our review.

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