We bought the GS in early 2006 in used condition from a friendly salesman at a time when these bikes were almost impossible to find, such was the worldwide demand. It had very few K's on the clock and had spent most of its short life in the workshop undergoing warranty work. The original owner had received a new bike for his troubles, and we got one that was nearly new. We couldn't really afford a new GS, but a test ride had certainly impressed us both, so that when we were offered this bike at a discount price, we couldn't refuse. The pillion seat is actually well designed (will wonders never cease!), and was a major selling-point. The shaft drive was the feature I craved most.
The R1200GS was voted International Bike of the Year when it was released in 2004. It's the most versatile production bike in the world, as far as I'm concerned. I've modified it slightly with a custom-fitted Yoshimura muffler, lower windscreen, HID lights, Odyssey battery and, as usual, a home-made rack (see my dedicated R1200GS page for details). By now it's an amazing bike that just can't be beaten for two-up touring over dirt and twisty mountain roads. It handles superbly and the twin-cylinder boxer engine has bags of mid-range torque (112Nm), plenty of power (75Kw) and excellent fuel economy (21 km/ltr). On the other hand, its electronics are too-clever-by-half, and I can't work on everything myself. But that's progress.
It took me a while to get used to the engine. You can't just lug this thing down to idle speed and pull away smoothly. The flywheel is light for the sake of responsiveness and minimising the longitudinal torque reaction. This, together with the cams, makes the engine fussier, like other highly-tuned modern twins. The gearbox has six pairs of cogs in it, and the whole set feels close and sporty. The sound is great, reminiscent of a propeller aircraft engine. I really like it now, though I was worried I might miss the old off-beat V rhythm at first. The flat-twin, 360-degree tone is soothing and mellow, and less wearying than either a four or a V by the end of a long day when you're sick of everything and just want to be home... and you've got 200k's to get there through the hills.
Cows love the sound of the GS in flight too. Seriously. It's got a distinct moo effect that always turns plenty of heads in the herd. This is a bike that gets me noticed.
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Winter at Mount Worth State Park, Victoria