2013 BMW R1200GS, the Incomplete Homework?

This is not a hate-editorial, despite the fact that some of our readers will rather see it this way. It's just about the real facts: BMW has obviously not tested the new R1200GS as thoroughly as they should have... at least that's what decent folks get from all the "recalls" of late.
Some accused me of being a GS-hater and maybe I should start by saying that I really enjoy this bike. Ever since I rode the old R1100GS on nifty winding mountain roads, it's been one of the dream bikes, though I was never able to switch the nice rumble of the v-twin for the sweet, yet menacing hum of the boxer engine. Having said this, I really hope all the "you GS-basher" hate mail stops.

I am not mad at BMW, because the new big GS was not on my wish list. But when one spends, or is ready to spend, almost $19k on a bike, it's only natural to expect everything to work perfectly, isn’t that so?

A $19,000 bike might look like a dirt-cheap bargain for a billionaire, but for the rest of the common guys this is a lot of money. Yes, it's more expensive than a lot of new cars out there, not to mention getting a used one. So again, for this money, the customers have all the reasons in the world to demand that their ride is flawless, in case the old laws of trade are still in place.

In a way, it's good that these (already 4) recalls have been issued just before the bikes reached their new owners, especially as the last one was dead-serious, involving some bolts keeping the fork attached to the triple clamp. It was reported that under certain circumstances these bolts could come loose and... one of the fork legs would therefore be less attached to the bike, to be polite and try to be funny, too.

Well, call me whatever you like, but I'd rather not crash because one of the fork stanchions comes loose and makes the bike impossible to steer; so yes, in this respect, BMW was both thoughtful... even though I dare call this “lucky.”

Speaking to some other riders, another problem arose: what about the bikes which went around the world, with the altogether very nice “One World, One R1200GS” promo campaign? Sitting on it, one of the older guys said:

“It's an official event and they have 5 riders out there on those bikes, riding day in and day out. They can't have these guys crash and injure themselves (or even worse) because the bikes are or become faulty, no bike manufacturer could ever afford this.

I could almost vouch it's almost like in the Dakar: a bunch of mechanics see to the bike after a day's ride and mend everything for the next leg. It's promo and really, nobody wants $#!* happening.”

We almost considered the idea that some of the problems corrected before the bikes were delivered appeared during this round-the-world trip. This is only a speculation, of course, and without proper evidence, it's not worth a penny.

However, even if BMW learned of some potential problems with their new R1200GS during the “Ride of Your Life” event, this is still good for the customers: the fewer issues and potential hazards with the machine, the safer and happier everybody is.

Now, these kinds of things do happen with new bikes all the time, so BMW's plight is not the first and definitely not the last we'll get to see. What's strange is the fact that BMW allowed such a thing to happen to one of their best-selling bikes, the flagship adventure-touring machine extraordinaire.

Rumored, updated, renewed and long awaited, we really hoped the big GS was ready to ride hard out of the dealer's yard straight into the mountains, on the twisties and then deeper into the wild, on fire roads and through streams. Now it seems like the dream initial journey on the winding asphalt is (or at least was) not that dreamy.

I don't want to be mean, but I cannot help thinking about the late Kevin Ash crashing and subsequently dying while riding a test bike in South Africa. There is no evidence linking the death of the journalist and the recalls/ fixes, but all this raises some serious questions.

Other unexpected tankslappers on unsealed roads were reportedly heard of with the first test bikes... and these are problems that should be dealt with before anyone (save for the factory test riders) get aboard the bike.

I intend to skip (for now) delving deeper into the matter of KTM not sending their new 1190 Adventure to North America this year. But honestly, this is a great opportunity for BMW to try and sell as many new big touring bikes as possible, given the traditional rivalry between these two machines, so it may be that they were a bit too much in a hurry...

We can only hope to see the next week passing with no new recalls for the 2013 BMW R1200GS, lest suspicions grow to an alarming level. I still like BMW and appreciate their work, but homework is homework, and it needs to be done well.
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