BMW 1150GS and GSA Differences and issues.
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21 November 2007
These are really two different bikes which share many of the same components. The main and most obvious same bits being the engine and the instruments and panel. The GSA is known as the adventure and was introduced in 2002. The GS was first introduced in 1999. The things that are different are the wheels, the screen, the tank, the seat, the suspension, the rack(rear of bike), the luggage that will fit and some minor cosmetic panels. The gearbox is often different as well but not always. The wheels are generally interchangeable and it is largely cosmetic (coloured rims on the later GSA) The screen on the GS is adjustable easily and can be tilted up and down. The GSA is not adjustable. People spend vast fortunes on trying to get the screens correct for them. There is no one answer. For some people the original screen is fine for others they buy after market screens and muck around endlessly attempting to eliminate buffeting. Helmet shape body height riding position all seem to be factors but what is perfect for one identical twin will not be for another. Try a bike before bidding The most obvious difference between a GS and GSA is the tank size. The GSA is a lot larger. (33 litres against 22 litres I think). In either case it is a lot of weight to be sloshing around. If you are planning to tour areas where it is 400 miles between petrol stations then go for the GSA. If you are not then unless you are set on an adventure GSA because of the looks then do not worry too much. If you are riding with other bikes they will want to stop and fill up long before a GSA tank is empty but you will have to stop as well - which brings me on to the best piece of advice about a GSA tank is that YOU DO NOT HAVE TO FILL IT RIGHT UP. It is also hard to fill the tanks right up unless you drill small holes in the interior neck of the filler to let the air out of the top of the tank simply because of the design. I do not advise doing this unless you have seen what someone else has done The seat on the GSA is one piece and the GS two pieces. The can be adjusted for height (a little) but BMW and many after market companies supply lower or even higher seats. The seats are not interchangeable between the two models GSA luggage will not generally fit a GS and vice versa- the correct racks need to be bought. It is the racks that are the important bits. Metal luggage is often important to that "round the world" image. There are many different sorts and they nearly all cost several hundred pounds. They are worth having on any bike though people do find that they make filtering a little bit harder but after a few minutes you almost forget that they are there. The luggage is often sold separately as it adds little to the value of a bike. Luggage, be it BM's extremely good touring cases(black bulbous plastic) or after market cases fetch good prices on ebay as the are wanted by many people who already own GS's The gearbox on the 1150 has 6 gears. There are two sorts of gear boxes the most common one is identifiable by the fact that sixth gear is indicated on the gear indicator as an "E" not "6". E is for economy. The 6th gear is slight more relaxed if it is an E box but it is only a few hundred revs difference. The first gear though in the Adventure box (for it most frequently fitted to the GSA) is much lower and useful if you ever want to take the bike off road - though you may have to be a bit of an off road god to get any real use from it. The suspension on the GSA is higher than the standard GS and if you swapped then you would get a higher ride height. The suspension on the GS and the GSA is quite good but does wear out slowly. Experts, unlike me, reckon it is worn out by 30000 miles. You can get it rebuilt for less than £150. People like me though spend a fortune on Ohlins or Wilburs shock absorbers- it does make a difference and is a worthwhile extra to have. The mileage on 1150s is often not as important as the colour to owners. Some of these bikes have down over 400,000 miles. Yes 400,000 miles. Riders do not think they are even run in until they have done 20,000 miles. The engines often burn oil until around that mileage and then suddenly stop! It is notoriously difficult to check the oil level. There is an oil sight glass on the left and lower side of the engine - in front of the engine pots. When the engine is warm put the bike on the centre stand on level ground. Turn the engine off. Take your gloves and helmet off and wait two to three minutes or even five minutes then look at the glass. It should be full of oil. If it is half full that is ok. Just check it again later after running the engine again. Do not be tempted to fill it until you are certain that it is low. That may mean checking it several times! Oil hides in the engine somewhere. This sight glass is also a weak spot and has been know to fall out. It is just push fit and worth carrying one as a spare. It happens very rarely indeed but if you have one with you you wll never need to use it. There is almost always some corrosion around the front fork brace but it is not considered an MOT failure but more a cosmetic issue. One of the most popular colours for an 1150 is the Blue and white (Tesco value) coloured tanks- this option cost money and will reflect a higher price. I do not have this option in case you think I am biased There are any number of options for these bikes. Most owners spend loads of money on extras and fit GPS, crashbars and even loads of carbon. Almost all have heated grips - a wonderful invention. The ABS option is worth an article on its own. If it is there it makes the bike more desirable. If it is not do not worry too much. One of the most distinctive things about a 1150 GS are the lights. The large one is the dipped light. They are universally regarded as rubbish. This results in many 1150s looking like christmas trees with fog lights extra spot lights and in my case extra bright HID lights. (costs between £50 and 250 depending what you chose). Definitely a good thing to have - the road road presence they give you is amazing. These bikes are simply excellent and they are extremely reliable and comfortable for covering lots and lots of miles. Lots of people do take them on mega journeys. Though if you are thinking of lots of off road miles and rough tracks you will find that most people chose a lighter bike such as a Yamaha TT600 or kawasaki KLR or BMWs own 650GS (there will soon be an 800GS)- they then load then up with panniers etc. so you pays your money and takes your choice. The servicing of 1150s can be done largely at home but most are serviced by BMW dealers. It can be very fiddly and time consuming though. There are a number of specialist mechanics who service them. They are often as good or even better than BMW dealers. Surging and rough running is often(but not always down to poor servicing). The dual spark engines on engines after 2002 does not add anything to the performance and appear to be a "cleaner burn" issue. The spark plugs are different and expensive. Finally I cannot forget to mention exhausts. The standard exhaust is fine. It does not need changing but most people do. The catalyst convertor is very heavy and considered by most to be worth removing. It takes two people to remove it as it is too heavy for one person to remove on his own. Ebay is full of Y pieces to join the two down pipes to the silencer. These Y pieces need a hole to fit the oxygen sensor. The removal of the catalytic convertor may cause some backfiring on the overrun but as is the case with everything on the 1150 not always. I ran my bike for several months without a silencer but with a catalytic convertor. The standard silencer has almost no effect on the noise of the bike!! Its absence is not noticeable. Lots of owners buy an aftermarket silencer from Remus or akroprovic. Some of these so called silencers must have megaphones in them as they make the bike louder with them on than if there is not a silencer fitted! Though to be fair most people who put on an aftermarket exhaust also remove the catalytic convertor as it is clear that the cat is the silencer in the exhaust system. It is thought to give and extra 5bhp removing the cat. Being an owner I am biased - I cannot think of another bike that does all this bike does. It handles brilliantly. It goes and it stops. There are bikes that are better somethings but none that are better as a package. The foibles and there are many do not detract from the bike but help make it. I am sorry this is so long but I hope it helps you when looking at these bikes
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