On Sunday we did much longer ride and we switched bikes again. Now my impression on big GS somewhat changed.
I think what really affected my initial opinion is that the first time I rode GS I haven’t been riding all day. I just hopped on BMW straight away, and it surprised me.
This time I actually rode my Multistrada for good 50 miles in the twisties before switching to R1200GS right in the middle of out ride. If you ever switched the bikes like this, you know what a strange feeling it is to ride something different right away. You body and senses still remember your bike, and now you are on something different.
The second I got on GS I realized that it’s completely different animal from Ducati. Some people were referring to apples and oranges, I would say it’s more like oranges and potatoes - besides having two wheels these bikes have little in common.
Right away GS feels like a monster compared to Multistrada. It’s much wider and longer, and even taking it off the side stand revealed that it’s pretty porky. Once rolling, the sheer size of the BMW somewhat disappears, but you still get a feeling that you are on some sort of agricultural equipment. The bars feel very wide, and the second you click the bike into first gear you start wondering if this gearbox was designed in 18th century. The gears shift just fine, but it’s missing the sharpness of better gearboxes and the spacing between gears is huge.
Flicking the bike into corner reveals that while the bike itself inspires a lot of confidence, suspension is not up to task. In fact you have no idea what it’s doing, it provides zero feedback. It may be OK if you are just cruising around, but start pushing it and you always wonder when it’s going to give. I guess you will never know until you end up taking a sample of tarmac. The brakes are pretty good but you do not feel them much because of front end setup. I didn’t get too aggressive for above reasons so I do not know how they would do when being pushed.
If someone can point out more uninspiring engine, I would be surprised. If feels pretty much the same whether you are in 2, 3 or 4th gear no matter what RPM’s you are in. Most of BMW fans refer to this engine as a Boxer. Well, do not expect it to punch, and please call it FLAT because it is. It does it’s job of propelling you to desired speed just fine, but manages to do it with zero emotion.
R1200GS is a very comfortable cruiser. I absolutely loved how you do not feel any wind pressure on your chest. It has a bit more turbulence than Multistrada, but it’s easily solved with a set of earplugs. The seat is pretty good (the bike I rode was equipped with Touratech one piece seat) but the foot peg location is pretty awkward, the pegs are not where you expect them to be the first time you sit on the bike. BMW controls take a while to get used to them, but I actually like them, especially the turn signal buttons.
So it’s time to actually compare R1200GS to Multistrada. Even though these two are in similar segment of motorcycles, they couldn’t be more different.
Multistrada - quick, fun bike to ride that allows you to be aggressive of mellow depending on your mood. It will do pretty anything GS could do (short of single track trail) with a lot more flair and emotion. I think it’s twin in a car world would be BMW M3 (E36 body, 1995 - 1999) - fast, comfortable, stylish and sporty with enough comfort and refinement built into it to be your daily driver.
BMW GS - Some people refer to this bike as a tractor. Despite having some characteristics of the latter, it’s a little quicker than your average John Deer. This bike provides amazing versatility. You can commute on it, take it to the desert without the fear of causing big damage in case of a small drop, take it for multi day thousand mile trip or simply head for local canyons on the weekend. It will do everything with relative ease, while keeping you comfortable. It reminds me of Volvo station wagons - practical but not the driver’s cars.
I believe it takes certain personality to ride big GS. You are chill and relaxed. You never rush things. Everything you own it built to last. You do not get goose bumps hearing F1 car screaming at 17000 rpm’s. You want to experience adventure, but it’s mostly related to things you see and smell, and not the things you feel.
Multistrada owners are all kids at heart. We demand emotion from the bike - whether it’s good or bad, we want to feel that we are alive.
Both bikes are great at some things and not so good at others. It’s all about what you want from your ride. I wasn’t trying to slam GS or Multi, I love them all.
If I learned anything from this test ride, it’s that my Multistrada needs to be improved for more comfort. Everything else is just what the doctor ordered. Wind management project is in the works…….