An honest motorcycle review: The 2018 BMW R1200GS (lowered rallye spec)

Review TL;DR:

Along California’s Lost Coast, getting those engine break-in miles.

About this review

  • Favorites and fails
  • Lowered suspension — is it for you?
  • Riding impressions in a variety of conditions (even snow!)
  • Frustrations and praise for the new TFT
  • Should you actually off road this?
  • Can this be the only bike in your shed?
  • Road journals of my first 1500 miles
  • Farkles and mods
  • Maintenance and costs
Fresh from the dealer!

Favorites and Fails

Lowered suspension

Not pictured: Some very rough and steep unpaved roads just before this spot.

Riding impressions

At home in the backroads.

Should you actually off road the 1200?

  • Picking it up. This thing is gonna go down. The physics here are pretty simple. Weight+speed = tons of inertia. Even with a 50/50 tire like the TKC80, that inertia needs to be dealt with. A lighter bike places less weight on the tires, thus it recovers more quickly.
  • Being alone. I just couldn’t imagine feeling safe or comfortable in a rough stretch of wilderness without a someone to help get out of a bind (due to the weight and size). This is a stark contrast to my KTM 690, where I’ve never worried about such things.
  • Tight maneuvers. The 1200 is a wide bike. It’s a heavy bike. It’s got a lot going on. Trying to navigate it through ruts, trees, or other types of close-in wilderness would be trying for all but those few enduro super-stars on the YouTubes. You know the ones. The ripped dudes who race professionally. ADV bike manufacturers pay them to show off each time a new bike gets announced. They make everything look effortless and perfect… In reality, you are going to be cussing and stuck, and hopefully not trapped under the bike.

Can this be the only bike in your shed?

Early trips and experiences

Lost Coast to CA 36

This panorama will not stitch cleanly, but the chaos is true to form for the roads over here!
All packed up for a good trip!
I’m so happy to be able to carry everything I need on the bike to produce images like this!
The lost coast offers magnificent views everywhere you look. Sometimes I think surely, a dinosaur must be just around the corner!
Ride video from a section of the Lost Coast
Surprise Zebras on the Lost Coast. Glad to have my 100–400mm in the trunk for this shot! (yes, of course this photo has to be in black and white!)
You’ll never see more than a few hundred feet ahead before the road disappears behind a curve.
Seriously, roads do not get better than this.

The Sierras in Snow and Rain

The fun part of the route!
One of the many Sierra reservoirs that keep California from drying up.
We’re both pretty cold, but having fun! The BMW didn’t blink once!
Witness the snow starting around 51:00
Scenes from just a ways down the Easter side of Sonora Pass.
Hwy 89, just up above Topaz Lake.
Lake Alpine off Hwy 4.



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