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Took a great trail ride with friends in Anza Borrego on Halloween. I dressed up as a guy riding too heavy a bike, who got stung by a cactus. Oh wait, that wasn’t a costume, that was reality!

Click the link below for some pictures.


I’ve had the GS now for a few weeks and have put about 1,000 miles on it on freeways, highways, backroads, twisty roads, dirt roads, and jeep trails. I wanted to give my opinion on a few things for those that are curious.

Engine: Responsive, torquey, efficient. Not as smooth as some engines, but not bad for a parallel twin. I get about 55 mpg in mixed riding, 60 mpg if I’m easy on it. Fuel range is about 230 miles to empty when you get 55 mpg on the tank. I ran it to 220 miles with a little gas left. The computer said I had 15 miles left.

Ergonomics: Excellent. I did swap the seat for a Sargent. I changed the stock grips for pro-grips as the stock ones were too narrow and slippery for me. The pegs and bars are in the right place for me.

Comfort: Good. Wind protection is minimal, but at least you get smooth air and no buffeting. I’ve struggled with buffeting on tons of bikes and this is a welcome relief. The ergonomics are good for all day rides.

Suspension: So-so. Knd of dissapointing for a $13,000 bike. The rear shock is just OK. The preload does adjust nicely for varying load conditions (passenger, luggage, etc). There is rebound damping adjustment. The forks are not that good. The initial response is harsh and then they blow through the stroke too easily. There is no adjustment. If you browse the forums the forks are the biggest complaint about the bike other than recall items like wheel bearings, etc.

Overall fit and finish: very good.

Brakes: very good. Switchable ABS – remember to turn it off when in the dirt!! Consequences can be severe if you do not.

Other thoughts. I like the instrumentation. Gear indicator, fuel gauge, mpg readout, temp gauge, etc. Heated grips work well, two settings.

Offroad ability. It’s there. The two things holding the bike back are suspension, and snatchy throttle response (on/off). On a rocky trail, it’s hard to apply smooth throttle at low speeds, so it’s kind of like riding a bucking bronco. There are some things I have done to help this, more on that later.

On dirt roads, this thing is a hoot. The engine has almost no freewheel, so it spins up fast and lets you roost like mad. It loves to throttle steer, even at high speeds. The bike is totally stable at 90+ on a dirt or gravel road. They nailed this aspect of the bike.

Compared to competition. Ok, that’s tough. I did own the KTM 950 Adventure. It was a great bike but I had some issues with it. I could not fix the wind buffeting. It got bad mileage and hence poor range. It was hard to work on. I did not have peace of mind re: reliability. It felt larger and heavier than the 800 does. The suspension was much better than the BMW.

There really¬†are no other bikes that compete. KLR? Yeah, love them. But 35 horsepower single cylinder compared to 85 HP twin? And nearly three times the price. Different universe. The KLR is about the same offroad but not nearly as good a streetbike. But it’s more simple and I would trust it more in a remote or third world environment. Cheap, easy to fix, don’t worry about dropping it, etc.

Why I bought the GS. I wanted a bike that was a good streetbike to start, and then had some offroad ability, more than you get on a vstrom, tiger, 1200GS, etc. Since I had already¬†had the KTM 950 this bike was the only other choice. I’m happy with my choice. I miss the Tiger 1050, but I will get less speeding tickets with the GS. The Tiger was a screamer. But in the end I need a bike that can leave the pavement.