Update July 23, 2001
Why I don't like the GS!
It gets HOT in traffic! Very hot!
I had to ride the bike in thick traffic, in one of the hottest July afternoons, when temperatures soared to mid 30s..... The meteo said something like 37*C that day. It sure felt like 137!!!!!! The RID temp gauge went as high as 7 bars, and had me a bit worried! Did this mean the bike is only meant to be used on the really open road? Are we serious? And when I need to ride in the city should I take my..... car???? Are we serious?! It could be LIQUID cooled, easily and not destroy the looks and everything (just look at those lovely japanese cruiser V2's, which have hidden the radiators nicely, preserving that "air-cooled" look).
As for the sheer width of the bike, and its mass and weight... I just removed the rear grab handle, and just weighing it on my hand, told me a lot: It must weigh some 1.5 kilos, for SURE! And I'm only talking about the grab rail!!!!!! What is the rest of the rear rack weighing?! I don't even dare to think! Even the PLASTIC base that bolts on the rack, used when you intend to use BMW's topcase, is a HEAVY item!
What does this mean? It could easily be a 200kg motorcycle, if BMW had spared the liberal use of metal everywhere! And don't anyone tell me that they don't know how to use other and/or stronger and lighter metal parts everywhere. The width of the cylinder heads makes the bike almost useless in city traffic. There are times that I find myself queuing BEHIND cars, instead of making any progress, just to save myself from the "hard" words of fellow motorcyclists. I'm saddened to see ANY japanese 4-cylinder or even a "wide" V2 like the Varadero pass between cars, into a space that I simply dont dare go. It will not only make me go SLOWER, but it will also "burn" the motor (and my feet!), just idling behind those cars.
One serious and dangerous situation comes with the use of the switches. Come to think of it..... This motorcycle is not addressed to newbies.... Instead, its target group is people over 35 yrs old, which means, they will have a considerable number of riding years behind them, which means they usually come from other marques of motorcycles, which means, usually japanese, or anyway from a marque where they are USED TO normal switches. This is not building character, folks, this is a torture to have to THINK which button to press in an EMERGENCY when you need to honk, HERE and NOW, and not push the LEFT turnsignal. In a more comic sense, however.... I intend to turn right, fine... I switch the right turnsignal on, then I cancel it with my RIGHT thumb. I switch the left turnsignal, and ALSO cancel it with my left thumb!!!! (aka: horn!!!!)
Alas.... BMW themselves put the NORMAL switches on all the F650 models. WHY????? They should TRAIN the 650 users, in case they would switch to an oilhead, come the time they want to grow on cubic centimeters, like i did.... As for the price paid, I'd dare anyone to think, purely numbers: A Yamaha FZS1000 (which fulfills all the above gripes, ie. is narrow, light, watercooled, has normal switches) costs over a thousand Euros less than a new GS1150. And..... hmmm I think it's about easily as comfortable two-up and it's easily about 50% FASTER and quicker!
Did I mention the "reliability" issue? Is it serious consideration to have to TOP up the GS11 half a liter every 1000km's? I was told by the official service personnel that "your bike is still running in, and it won't stop using oil, until at least 20000km!" Are we serious?! ha! Even my 1997 Fiat Punto GT (a turbo model, with 136HP from ONLY 1400cc, never used any oil, never weeped, never missed a beat, and it now has 56,000km on it, [update October 2002: 72000km, still same thing!] half of them in the "burning" city conditions, the other half, being hustled really quickly on the surrounding hillsides. A FIAT, folks. Come on!)
I have a few more gripes, but some of these have been already addressed with the introduction of the R1150GS, like the on-off feel of the clutch, which became quite better in the 1150, and the need of the 6th speed, which was also "rectified" there. I've ridden a 20000km-old R1150GS, a demo bike used by the importers, and the bike was a marvel in these two concerns. As for its overall feel, it was really hard to distinguish the two bikes, be it the 1100 or the 1150. Also, these two are my only means of riding any oil- or air-head in my life.
But, what I mean with all this, is that even though I may not be a good rider, I have done a considerable amount of kilometers both on and off the road, with 5 motorcycles (4 japanese, one from each maker, and an F650), since 1978.
Does BMW want me to have TWO bikes?! OK, I am considering also a new KTM 200 EGS (the one with autolube) for city use (the modern day DT200?! )
(Update August 2001: I bought one!!!!)
Here you can see the effects of these wide cylinders on taxi doors in city use!