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Thread: Is a water cooled boxer for me?

  1. #1

    Is a water cooled boxer for me?

    Members, your help and indulgence, please.

    I consider my 1993 R100GSPD pretty darn new. It's the newest bike in the stable. But I recently had a chance to borrow a 2016 R1200 RT. Then I went to the dealer to look at the R1200GS and GSA.

    If you have input to these questions I am all ears:

    For either the RT or GSA - can you at least do the fluid changes yourself without undo drama?

    Reliability issues? I have well over 150k on my GSPD so I want to know how these bikes handle miles.

    Comfort of distance riding? I know the RT will be more comfortable on the slab - it IS a couch, after all. But how does the GSA do on long on-road transits?

    Anything else you wish you'd known before buying one?

    Thanks for your time!

  2. #2
    I would find a good used R1150 single spark and call it the perfect bike. Beyond tht I would call it tech for tech's sake and nothing but a problem. I am now a Ludddite.
    Last edited by PGlaves; 10-29-2017 at 02:26 AM.
    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

  3. #3
    Paul, thank you. That sums up my Luddite worries. I don't want tech, for tech's sake. If it's really useful, I'll take it, but my 2 valve boxer has served me well for many years. Any other opinions?

  4. #4
    Registered Schmoozer irish's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Madison, WI
    I loved my oilhead RT and love my wethead GS. Fluid changes are very similar but the wethead is easier with no separate gear oil to change. Valves are about as easy to check, no need to synchronize TBs, filters are easy to change. My RT with its Russell saddle and Cee Bailey windshield was better for long distance comfort and drier in the rain than my GS with stock saddle and windshield. That said, I like the stock setup and it is no problem to ride all day. My knees are bent less on the GS which is nice and I can rest my legs on the crash bars if I want to stretch out. Electronic cruise control is super nice for long rides. No mechanical issues at 16,000 miles. Love the handling. I had not planned to buy one but became obsessed with it after a test ride. I don’t really miss my RT, I feel like the GS does everything well.
    14 R1200GS, 02 R1150RT (retired)

  5. #5
    Just puttsin' OldNuke's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Let me indulge. My first GS was a 1990 GSPD. Yes it was simple and uncomplicated, but in the 92K miles I put on it, it went through 2 drive shafts, a top end job, carb and transmission rebuild.
    Went from the GSPD to a 2007 GSA. It was more tech, but stone cold reliable. Followed that with a 2014 GSA. Again, more tech,reliable plus great handling and ride.
    Compared to the GSPD, fluid changes are a breeze...especially the oil filter. Spin off and spin on. No more $2000 o-ring and metal washer headaches.
    I do my own maintenance and working on the GSA's is not that difficult. 12000 mile major service intervals are a plus too.
    As for a long distance road pounder, the GSA is an excellent choice. I prefer it to the RT. Only thing I added for my comfort was an aftermarket windshield.
    Took delivery of 2018 GSA last week and looking forward to more enjoyable miles.
    If you are vertically challenged, BMW offers a lowered GSA.
    Had fond memories of my GSPD, but the tech, reliability, ride and handling of the GSA's has won me over.
    Last edited by OldNuke; 10-16-2017 at 02:24 PM.
    When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

  6. #6
    Registered User AKsuited's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Southern Tier of New York
    Big feature of wethead boxers - no more splitting the bike in half to do spline lubes since these bikes have wet clutches, like most other motorcycles in the marketplace.

    My GS is more comfortable for me on long trips because it offers more legroom. I have a 36" inseam, have the GS seat in the upper position, and have a Sargent seat which is the equivalent of the BMW tall seat, since I had Sargent add an extra inch to the seat.

    And don't forget the cruise control on the wethead GSA - I don't know how I ever rode long distances on a bike without cruise control!

    My fleet: 2015 R1200GS, 2017 Toyota Prius Prime (plug-in hybrid)

  7. #7
    Addicted to curves azgman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    I have a 2017 R1200GS. In the past I have had a K1200LT, 1150RT, and 1200RT. The new WC motor, throttle-by-wire, Cruise control and dynamic ESA are all worthwhile improvements in my opinion.

    Good luck with whatever you choose!
    MOA #107139
    RA #28511

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by brookscooper View Post
    Members, your help and indulgence, please.

    If you have input to these questions I am all ears:

    For either the RT or GSA - can you at least do the fluid changes yourself without undo drama?

    Reliability issues? I have well over 150k on my GSPD so I want to know how these bikes handle miles.

    Comfort of distance riding? I know the RT will be more comfortable on the slab

    Anything else you wish you'd known before buying one?

    Thanks for your time!
    I went from an 04RT (108,000 miles ) to a 14RT and after 87,300 miles in less than three years I couldn't be happier with the bike as far as reliability,gas mileage and long distance comfort and being able to play in the twisties with confidence. Hands down the best bike I've ever owned. I don't have any experience with the GS model so I can't help you there but it's the same engine as the RT. Only one repair so far, the front universal joint on the driveshaft went on me at 73,000 miles, other than that one terrific ride.

  9. #9
    Barback King rapiddog's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Acton, SoCal just West of Hell

    Thumbs up One member's BMW moto legacy...

    Having rescued two R100GSPD's and also had an '05 and '10 R12GS, the wethead GS is worlds apart no cliche' intended.
    I loved all my airheads and the R100GS platform definitely a favorite.

    I always figured a camhead (or other) GS would always be my fate, because I could work on them. Wetheads, out of my league and wrenchability (I thought).
    But in reality, motor-wize it's still pretty accessible, no worse than any oilhead.

    I had my 2010 GS for a couple years (plain Jane non-ESA etc.) and spent loads of time and money making it right for me. Shocks, exhaust, seat, yadda-yadda.
    After riding it to Utah and back, thought it was very capable, at my age I realized that comfort was now top priority. Running 500 miles days actually gave me calluses on my throttle hand.

    When I got back I sold everything, parts, bikes, et-al and had enough to go buy a new 2017.7 GS.
    All I can say is this is the best motorcycle and best boxer I've ever owned.
    I don't have to do a thing to it. Not the seat, not the pegs, not the pipes. Just a few personal touches as needed.

    For me it's just a marvel. Perfect, and descriptively more BMW 'automotive' than BMW moto.
    I am so happy and feel so fortunate (and safe) riding this bike.
    It checks all the boxes, suspension, safety, cruise control, comfortable seat, plenty o' power, shifts like no other boxer, and handles like a dream.

    Nice thing is I don't have to wrench on it, but I will be able to do the services when the time comes.
    Not looking back...

    "...the burble of my exhaust unwound like a long cord behind me. Soon my speed snapped it, and I heard only the cry of the wind...." Larry of Arubia

  10. #10
    Registered User captainmarko's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Las Vegas, NV
    My '15 RT is the best bike I've ever owned.


    I sold my 6 month old 2014 Goldwing at an $1,800 loss just to get my RT after a test ride.

    It's that good.

    Just did a IBA 1,571 mile BBG in 23 hours. Comfortable and cruising the whole time.
    Sleep in the trees and keep your knees in the breeze.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by brookscooper View Post
    ...I consider my 1993 R100GSPD pretty darn new. ...Reliability issues? I have well over 150k on my GSPD so I want to know how these bikes handle miles...
    I also have a 93 GSPD albeit with fewer miles.

    When did you have the transmission redone? You know, to add the missing circlip on the output shaft. Any other damage that needed repairs?

    How many drive shafts have you been through?

    Upgraded charging system?

    I met a feller in Arkansas a couple of years back that had over 300k miles on his airhead GS. His transmission failure resulted in a $5k repair (by a BMW dealership) whilst he was on the road. He'd been through several driveshafts (around 60k miles per as I recall). Don't recall about the charging system.

    The airhead philosophy is simpler is better.

  12. #12
    Addicted to windshields Realshelby's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Houston, Texas
    "Ignorance is bliss, tis folly to be wise" said one Luddite to the other........

    There is a price to be paid concerning "tech". It can take a while to iron out the function, reliability, and maintenance. Think back to when electronic fuel injection first became common in vehicles. Now that part of new cars is FAR more reliable, easier to repair or maintain than the old carburetors.

    I think the Liquid Cooled Boxers are now reaping the benefits of "tech". Best bike I have yet owned. NOTHING has gone wrong. Very easy maintenance and little of it.

    We tend to remember the best of old times and forget the rest. Compare your charging system. How about setting and cleaning points and having to change spark plugs often. Don't tell me your carbureted Boxer starts up cold and runs better than a LC Boxer. Then there is the power difference. Don't try to compare braking. I could go on, but there really isn't any point. If you want to ride your Boxer, the LC is better in every way. I still appreciate antique stuff for what it is. Nothing like the feel of them.....for a short ride. Then you want back on the new stuff.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Northern VA
    As great as the RTW is, a potential downside to latest bikes is that their components are so complex and parts are so expensive that a catastrophic failure out of warranty likely would be crazy expensive to repair. D-ESA shock replacement? Ouch.

  14. #14
    Addicted to windshields Realshelby's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Houston, Texas
    Actually the ESA shock replacement isn't much more expensive than a "standard" shock. As for complexity, I think the newer bikes are MUCH easier to diagnose problems with and find a fix the first time compared to older bikes without computers that would tell you what is wrong. This new LC Boxer is significantly easier and faster to do major repairs to should they be needed. I have had an Oilhead split apart for a clutch........

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Bridport Vermont
    It really depends on what you want. Only you can make that call.

    The simplicity of the /6 an /7. You can fix anything. But to my memory the overall reliability, over the road, was/is about the same as the newer bikes. Just like any other 60s/70s/80s bikes. Anyone have any hard data on this...not just antidotes???

    On the current (or future) wet heads. Very, very few have the knowledge or the tools to diagnose or work on the electronics.
    The engines are more complex, the EAS suspension is complex, etc etc. the bikes cost more to buy and fix.

    My perceived reliability of my wet head is the better than my old /7, my old oil head. i.e. no problems in 28k miles vs problems with the old bikes..just my sample of one antidote!

    The WetHead performance is FAR better that any of my older bikes. Better more usable power, better handling, better suspension, new features, cruise control, ABS, Sability control, tire pressure monitoring, integrated GPS and data.

    To me it is a no brainer. Love the new wet head.

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