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Thread: OK, Why BMW and Why Buy New?

  1. #1
    Redd Bike GSRedd's Avatar
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    Jun 2009
    Scottsdale, Arizona

    OK, Why BMW and Why Buy New?

    Thanks to the loads of great advice I ended up with the following as my FIRST BMW bike:

    2007 BMW R1200GS with 25,327 miles. All maintenance up-to-date. Selling the bike as I'm looking for something new, just not sure what that will be. Sorry, no trades. Bike has the following:

    *Touratech 35L panniers
    *Touratech 33 liter top case (no mount)
    *Touratech locking windscreen spoiler
    *Touratech mesh headlight guard
    *Wunderlich Handle bar risers
    *Fastway Evolution pegs
    *Givi Touring windshield
    *Kaoko throttle lock
    *Sargent Seat (front)
    *Hepco Engine Guards
    *BMW front fender extender
    *BMW Tank bag
    *Wind deflectors from the GSA
    *New rear TKC80

    Detailed service record and I know the shop that has cared for the bike. They gave it 2 thumbs up.

    Many thanks for all of your help and yes, I will be at the Rally.

    Last edited by ReddBike; 04-22-2010 at 04:42 AM. Reason: Update

  2. #2
    Registered User
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    Dec 2007
    Reno, NV
    Ok, I'll go:

    1. Yes, they are high quality bikes. But they are no longer alone in this category. While I appreciate the quality, the essential motorcycling experience they provide for me is key.

    2. Yes, the parts can be pricey. Again BMW's are hardly alone in this, as I have gathered from speaking with numerous Japanese and Harley riders. Ditto labor. But, aside from headwork, transmission or FD rebuild, I do my own work. So I am generally not concerned about labor costs.

    3. Can't help you on new. My youngest bike just turned 26. All purchased used. I really cannot justify the cost and instant depreciation on new. Lots of good used machines out there. Your best warranty is your good maintenance and feeding; no abuse of course.

    4. I do not have Motard style tires on my bikes, so they are not at their best on dirt. But, as far as easy dirt, the heaviest BMW I have is 512# soaking wet, so they are not cumbersome behemoths on easy dirt roads here and there.

    If I wanted a new BMW, with more off pavement capability, lower maintenance cost, I would look really hard at the F800GS. I put a premium on lighter weight; while I am tall and can ride anything, riding is more fun when it is less work. And a premium on simplicity, as it tends to lower operating costs.
    I do love my old boxers, as I can ride them all day, with no complaints. Hence I am upgrading them, so they can work even better and longer.
    Last edited by jforgo; 04-19-2010 at 05:32 AM.

  3. #3
    Honey Badger Semper_Fi's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
    Kingston, NH
    My 2 cents

    Quote Originally Posted by ReddBike View Post
    1. OK, besides brand I know why BMW is the bike. Quality is my main link to the bike.
    Quality is there, so is fit and finish, and another thing not mentioned is the engineering involved in these bikes

    Quote Originally Posted by ReddBike View Post
    2. I hear loads of talk about the maintenance costs - high labor, high parts costs, etc. SOme feedback on this? You thoughts? What do you say when someone says "yeh, great bike but costs a fortune to maintain it".
    If you are mechanically inclined you can do almost all the work yourself with help from many sources, if your not mechanically inclined then you will need service by the local BMW dealer and that can be expensive, as with any dealership work , regardless of brand

    Quote Originally Posted by ReddBike View Post
    3. Used or new? If new does the extended warranty program justify its cost? Thoughts?
    I prefer new, because i know who and how it was beat on; as for extended warranty I am on the fence, when I get to that bridge will cross it

    Quote Originally Posted by ReddBike View Post
    4. I like easy off-road but really enjoy exploring the 2-lane roads and want to ride more trips - like from AZ to Alaska. 1200 GS vs. 1200 GSA? Feedback please.
    If it was me, I would get the GSA, it is a big rolling tank, which has its pluses and minuses
    2011 R1200 GSA Smoke Grey Metallic Matt
    2009 G450X White
    IBA #35651
    Rogue Moderator

  4. #4
    After riding Harleys for years, I became a new BMW motorcycle owner last October.

    Here's my take on your questions.

    1. The quality is definitely there. I'm impressed with this bike.

    2. I don't know what brand of bike these folks complaining about costs were riding, but the maintenance costs I've paid to date are comparable to what I was paying to have my Harleys serviced. First service for both my RT and last two Harleys was something under $400 each; the cost was basically the same.

    3. If you can afford it, I'd go new. The most compelling reason for this, in my view, is that you're starting out with a full three year warranty. The other big reason, already mentioned, is that you don't have to worry about how badly it was hammered and/or how many times it was dropped before you got it.

    Regarding the extended warranty, you can normally buy one of these, without penalty, anytime during the life of your factory warranty. I'm going to wait till I have about six months left on my factory warranty. At that time, I'll probably buy an extended warranty, mostly because of the high cost of replacement parts. Whichever extended warranty you buy, make sure it covers the really big ticket items like ABS, ESA, etc.

    4. I can't offer any real help on this one as I've no experience with either bike. That said, my "WAG" would be that the GSA would be the better choice between the two for your intended use.

  5. #5
    Old man in the mountains osbornk's Avatar
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    Feb 2006
    Marion VA-In the middle of some of the best riding in the country.
    1. I don't ride BMs just for the quality. I ride them because they are unique and their engineering. I had a bunch of UJMs before I started buying BMW and found them to be reliable also.

    2. I don't think the parts prices are out of line with other bikes. I think a Suzuki I had had higher parts prices. I can't speak to labor as I haven't paid to have anything done to any bike I have ever had. (but I've only had motorcycles since the mid 70s and a scooter in the early 60s)

    3. I always buy used because I am cheap and mechanically inclined. If you are not mechanical and/or have not place to work on the bike, new might be the way for you to god. If you buy carefully and know what you are looking at, you will seldom a encounter many deal of problems. I would buy new if the bike I wanted was not available used.

    4. Being short in the inseam, I would get the GS with low suspension and low seat. The taller GSA and regular GS would be out of the question for me. The low GS would be the one bike I would buy new because used models are very rare or not available at a fair price.
    'You can say what you want about the South, but I almost never hear of anyone wanting to retire to the North.

  6. #6
    God? What god? roborider's Avatar
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    May 2007
    Raleigh, NC
    A lot of companies make great bikes that will last a long time. Honda certainly comes to mind.

    I don't think maintenance varies much from brand to brand. Dealer service is not cheap. But if you choose to do your own service, it is not expensive at all. An R bike is the easiest machine I've ever wrenched on. Aftermarket oils and fluids save a good amount, too.

    Buying used saves money. Buying new is a luxury. It is just a choice between yourself and your wallet (and perhaps your spouse!). I've bought both new and used, never gone wrong.

    Last edited by RoboRider; 04-19-2010 at 04:02 PM.
    Rob C. , Raleigh, NC
    '10 R12RT, R90/6
    2007 CBR600RR & 09 V-Star
    Suzuki DR 350

  7. #7
    Registered User fastdogs2's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Graham, NC

    OK, Why BMW and Why Buy New

    I have owned three BMW motorcycles over the past eight years:

    R1200C - bought used, a two year old bike with 6,000 miles on it. I rode it for another two years and 8,000 more miles. No problems with it. I sold it because I wanted a touring bike.

    R1200RT - bought new. I rode it for five years and put 16,500 miles on it. No problems. I wanted a bike for touring and the RT was definitely that.

    R1200R - bought new in Feb. I have 1,025 miles on it. I switched from the RT because the fairing didn't allow for ventilation in the heat and humidity. I also admired the basic style of the R. I love this bike.

    As for your questions:

    Quality - Yes, BMW has that, but so do other manufacturers. However, the other manufacturers don't offer some of the options/features that BMWs have, like ABS, hard cases that hold a lot and are easy to remove, Boxer engine, good MPG (high 40s to low 50's).

    Parts and maintenance - That is not much of a consideration for me. I have all maintenance done by the dealer, just like I do with my cars. I consider parts and maintenance a necessary part of vehicle ownership. If I start having recurring problems, I will get rid of the vehicle and buy another one. I don't continue to pour money into a vehicle that requires maintenance. I view the motorcylce as a "toy." I don't play golf and so I don't purchase expensive titanium clubs, greens fees, clothing or trips to exotic places to play or watch others play. BMW motorcycle ownership is my hobby and I spend what is necessary to maintain it.

    New or used - If you can find a good low mileage, used bike, I would go for it. I have bought new the last two bikes because I wanted the style and that was what was available. The three year warranty is a plus with the new bikes.

    GS - I have never ridden nor owned one. I have a 29 inch inseam and the GS is just too tall for me. It has a 33 inch seat height and the GSA is 35. Make sure you have enough inseam to handle that tall of a bike. Those who ride them will say they bought them for that "trip" to Alaska, but probably ride them more on the street than on multiple Alaskan rides. We have folks here in North Carolina who buy four wheel drive SUV's so they can ride on the beach at the Outer Banks. Guess where most of their driving is done. If you want the capabilty to go off road, as well as, on the street, the GSA is the way to go. In German, the bike is called gelande strasse (GS) meaning it can go gelande (off road) and strasse (street). They are very capable bikes and those who ride them love them.

  8. #8
    We have owned 25 or 26 BMW's since 1977 and own 8 right now I think. Sometimes I lose count. I like BMWs. There are other brands I might consider, and in fact own a couple of Japanese small dirt bikes now. My preference for BMWs comes because the type of bikes they make suits the way I ride mostly: Long trips to town or long touring or months long moto traveling.

    It took years but I know and understand the mechanics of BMWs and how BMW does things. Note that I said "how" not "why" because the why still has me scratching my head from time to time. My tools, spare nuts and bolts, odd spare parts, and stash of spares all match/fit BMWs. Generally speaking for most things BMWs are easy to maintain relative to competitive brands. Service requirements are really no more demanding than most competing bikes. Parts costs are parts costs and some seem cheap and some seem silly costly. But that is no different for any other good brand.

    New or used is a very personal calculation that depends on you, your wealth or lack of it, your mechanical skills or lack of them, and several other factors. We have bought many used bikes and a few new ones. We seem to specialize in buying new first year models and sorting out the beta bikes along with BMW. K75, R1100RS, and F650 jump instantly to mind.

    I know several people who buy warranties: that is they buy a bike and keep it for 3 years, riding less than the 36,000 covered miles and then trade the bike in and buy a new one with a new 3 year warranty. Some of them have done this repeatedly for 10 or 20 years and it works. We tend to buy bikes (new or used) and keep them forever. Bikes with more than 100K are typical in our stable and a couple have or had more than 350K miles.

    There is no clear single answer as to what any other person ought to do - or there would be only one brand and a handful of models of motorcycles. You could rearrange chrome and paint schemes, and add lots of add-ons but the bikes would be the same. Not true so no one answer.
    Last edited by PGlaves; 04-19-2010 at 05:05 PM.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell

  9. #9
    Dum vivimus vivamus ted's Avatar
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    Mar 2003
    Mile for mile I found the maintenance costs to be similar to the Japanese bikes I had before my BMWs - the reason why I ended up spending much more in maintenance costs for the BMWs is because I rode them a LOT more than I ever did my Japanese bikes, and with more miles comes more maintenance costs.

    When I had my VFR700 I would put maybe 1,500 to 2,000 or so miles on it each year (May through September.) I did more than that the first month of owning my first BMW, an '88 K75S -- and that was October.

    On a similar note, I was bikeless for a decade after a pretty terrific dust up with a couple semis on the Delaware Memorial Bridge. It was finally time last December and I bought a nice, used 1994 K75RT. This last Saturday was the longest ride with it so far but man did it feel GREAT (my wrist is a bit sore, I think it will take a while to get the body back into bike mode.)
    "A good stick is a good reason"
    1994 K75RT
    Moto Pages

  10. #10
    Registered User
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    Oct 2005
    Whitefish Bay, WI, 3mi N Milwaukee

    Thumbs up good advice thus far...

    PLease consider buying a used machine that has substantiated maintenance records. IMO, a bike with some maintained miles on it is better than a garage queen with low miles (batt, seals, etc.).
    A ridden and maintained machine is a sweet deal!

    Be sure to check the FD.

    As far as DIY work, there are DIY'ers like Paul Glaves who can take apart a bike blindfolded, one hand tied behind his back and put it back together. Then there people like me who can change the oil and apply polish where needed.

    Others have shared with me that the new Hexheads are not as DIY friendly as other previous models. BMW, like Ducati and others, have made their new machines dependent on dealer servicing.

    You can still do a substantial amount of work (if that is your goal) on the oilheads (R11xx) in order to save money.

    Keep in mind that regardless of what BMW you select, there are many people on this forum who can help or refer you to places and sources.

    And just to give you an idea what is out there, here is "Site Mash" for used BMW's between 1996 and 2007. You can reset the parameters to your personal specs:
    (cut and paste)

    It pains me to say to this, but there are people in tough financial straights right now who HAVE to and NEED to sell a bike because they need cash. Often these bikes have low miles and the price is right.
    Ride safe,
    "What is beautiful is simple, and what is simple always works"....Kalashnikov, inventor of the AK-47.
    Current bike: 2015 Yamaha TW 200, modified for road/street use with tire, sprocket upgrades. "Center yourself in the vertizontal. Ride a motorcycle...namaste' "

  11. #11
    Still Wondering mika's Avatar
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    Aug 2004
    Fly Over Land
    4. Why limit your consideration to a GS or GSA?

    In your two bike choice go with the GS, but I will put a plug in for considering a Roadster. New the R1200R used the R12 or R1150. The bike is very capable of all the range and roads you describe. There are others to consider in the lineup but I plug Roadsters.

    3. New used or carryover model is not the main consideration. I have purchased all three kinds and have had good and bad experiences. The good experiences have been when I took the time to find the right bike. There are subtle differences, real or imagined, even within the same model. Every bike is used when you take it from the showroom floor. It’s finding the right combinations of buying decision compromises that make the bike you buy the right bike for you.

    2. Motorcycles are not cheap to maintain properly. The dealers that I have used over the years were multi-brand dealers with BMW their smallest but generally most expensive model line. The shop costs were the same for BMWs and UJMs. BMW parts can be more expensive but UJM parts are not cheap either so the difference these days is more incremental than a quantum leap in cost. Judgment plays a role also. After the 600 mile checkup I do 99% of my own work. With my current R I talked with the mechanic before he did the work. He asked: Do you want the BMW oil (IIRC $8/qt at the time) or what we use in the shop that meets all BMW specs? The choice was simple. My rule of thumb is to buy BMW parts unless I purchase a off the shelf item that meets or appropriately exceeds BMW specs for the part. I spend the money for the BMW oil filter because I have not found one (come close but does not meet or appropriately exceeds) that meets that criteria that is cheaper. I have fuel line quick release things from Small Parts. Cheaper and met and exceeded what BMW had to offer. Motorcycles are not cheap to maintain properly but you can sensibly contain the costs.

    1. I’m a romantic. Every bike I have purchased from mini bike to my current Roadster has seduced me in some way. Deep thought and analysis will go into every bike purchase I make yet in the end it is bike lust that opens the wallet. Quality uniqueness and all the other things are what I use to rationalize the seduction.

    I am happy to hear that you are healthy and are able to ride once again. Cancer kept me off bikes for several years. I remember getting my all clear to ride, the search for an purchasing my first post cancer bike then picking it up and riding home in the rain alternating between giggling like a child and being terrified at what I was doing.

    Welcome to the forum and all the best to you in your return to motorcycling and the decision.
    Pass the mustard and UP THE REVOLUTION!

  12. #12
    Still plays with trains. tinytrains's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Torrance CA
    Make a list of the key characteristics you want in a bike.

    Then match up the bikes and buy the one that fits, what ever brand that may be.

    For me it was:

    1. Shaft drive
    2. Ease of maintenance
    3. Good handling
    4. Upright seating
    5. 500 lbs or less
    6. 200 mile range
    7. 30 inch seat.
    8. Anti-lock brakes.

    From this, the R1200R came up the winner.

    Last edited by TinyTrains; 04-20-2010 at 05:02 AM.
    1988 K75 Low Seat
    2009 R1200R Roadster

  13. #13
    Registered User mistercindy's Avatar
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    Feb 2005
    N. Dallas 'burb
    Quote Originally Posted by ReddBike View Post
    1. OK, besides brand I know why BMW is the bike. Quality is my main link to the bike.
    No doubt that the fit and finish on BMW motorcycles is better than your typical Japanese bike. I wouldn't say that's the case for the higher end Japanese bikes, like a Goldwing. Its also not true when compared to Ducati or Triumph.

    Personally, I like the way BMW's ride. BMW's, for me anyway, are confidence inspiring machines. Way more than any Honda I rode, and I was a Honda guy for 20 years. BMWs, more than any other brand of motorcycle I've ridden, feel like you're riding inside the bike, and not on top of it. It might have something to do with BMW's famous "sit up and beg" upright postition. Maybe they're just engineered that well. I really don't know. But BMW motorcycles give me a sense of control that I don't get from other motorcycles. The first time I rode a BMW airhead in 1984 I felt that way.

    On a less practical level, riding a boxer twin has an understated yet indescribable coolness about it. I remember riding in the famous ROT Rally parade in Austin in 2004. The streets were lined with people looking at one blurping cruiser after another. There were 40,000 motorcycles and we were crawling at 5 MPH or so, and I remember a kid pointing to my bike (an R1150R) and exclaiming to his dad "Hey! BMW makes motorcycles!" In the mid 80s those big cylinders sticking out of the sides really put the hook in me, and just maybe my bike put the hook into that kid in Austin!

    Honestly, I can't explain why, after I rode that airhead in 1984, it took me nearly 20 years before I bought a BMW. Brand loyalty to Honda, I guess.

    Quote Originally Posted by ReddBike View Post
    2. I hear loads of talk about the maintenance costs - high labor, high parts costs, etc. SOme feedback on this? You thoughts? What do you say when someone says "yeh, great bike but costs a fortune to maintain it".
    I have over 70,000 miles on my R12GS and other than regular maintenance its been largely trouble free. One large thing (console replaced while still in warranty because the clock crapped out), and a couple of small things, but that's it.

    I do have to say, however, that I spend more on maintenence than I did on my Hondas. But then, I never rode my Hondas more than 2,000 miles per year. I've owned two BMWs, and the least I ever rode one in a given calendar year was 8,000 miles. I typically ride my 12GS 15,000 miles per year. With more mileage comes more maintenance. But almost all of it is in the form of the regular 6,000 mile services, tires, the occasional bulb, etc...

    Quote Originally Posted by ReddBike View Post
    3. Used or new? If new does the extended warranty program justify its cost? Thoughts?
    I've never bought a new motorcycle. I just can't justify it. I look for a bike that's low mileage, with legitimate service records, and some factory warranty left. That's how I bought my R12GS. It was in October of 2005, and the bike had 12,000 miles on the clock with 20 months of factory warranty left. I've ridden it nearly 60,000 miles and I have no intention of parting with it anytime soon. Heck, a few months ago (at ~66,000 miles) I finally replaced the stock shocks, which started leaking, with a set of Ohlins. I wouldn't have done that if I didn't intend to ride it for at least several more years.

    Quote Originally Posted by ReddBike View Post
    4. I like easy off-road but really enjoy exploring the 2-lane roads and want to ride more trips - like from AZ to Alaska. 1200 GS vs. 1200 GSA? Feedback please.
    Others may disagree, but in my opinion, the most meaningful differences between the GS and GSA are weight and range, and I'm sure you know about both of those. The GSA is also a bit taller than the GS, and the GS is a tall bike, so if you have a short inseam its something to consider. Do a search here and on the GSpot forum at and you'll find lots of discussion about one over the other.

    Personally, I have the regular 12GS, but my riding is exclusively in the Continental USA where gas stations are common enough that the 220 mile range is fine. Besides, on longer rides I like to stretch my legs every few hours. I also like the lighter bike. But, I'll be the first to say that if I rode a lot in Mexico, Central or South America, NW Canada, or Alaska, or even the less populated areas of Utah, Montana, or Wyoming, where there are a lot of miles between gas stations, or if I became a dedicated Iron Butt rider, then I'd sell my GS and get a GSA. I know some dedicated long distance and/or Iron Butt riders, and those that ride GSAs love them.
    Last edited by mistercindy; 04-20-2010 at 01:13 PM.
    '05 R1200GS
    Former owner of an '03 R1150R
    BMWMOA #113847

  14. #14
    Registered User stkmkt1's Avatar
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    Sep 2008
    Tremont, IL
    I would like to respond specifically regarding the GSA. I see several people have recommended it in the posts above. Here is my two cents for what it's worth.

    I bought a new GSA in May of '09. I ride it quite a lot. Every time I get a big uncontrollable smile on my face. But I must be realistic in one very important area. I have a 30" inseam on a good day. My dealer sold me an "extra-low" seat of of the low-suspension "R" model which fits me quite well. I'm not completely flat-footed with both feet down, but am fine with one down. With both, I'm a just not quite flat footed.

    I bought the bike because I like the looks, I like the way it handles, and I love the huge gas tank. I will more than likely spend over 99% of the time on tarmac. I just replaced the back tire last weekend and had 13,640 mile on in (Bidgestone Battlewing). SO as you can see, I'm not hard on a bike.

    The GSA is a great bike, I love mine. But it is a tall bike and folks like me with the short inseam must always be aware of that height. But as long as you keep that in mind, - what a great bike.
    '09 BMW 1200 GSA, 2013 BMW 700GS, 2000 Goldwing SE, '09' V Star 950, '09 Honda Rebel,
    '77 Honda 750A. Holding at six til I get new garage built - need more room for more bikes!

  15. #15
    Has the GS-Lust The_Veg's Avatar
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    Sep 2003
    Atlanta 'burbs
    Everybody should buy a new bike at least once in their life.
    2012 R1200GS

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

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