Below is an email I sent to a friend shortly after I went through the process of buying a used 2014 GSW:
First to decide is new or used. I definitely was going used to let someone else take the hit off of the showroom floor. Then you need to decide Water Cooled or Air Cooled. First year for water cooled was 2013. The big advantage is an extra 15HP taking it up from 110 to 125, and there were a number of new technology pieces introduced. Big disadvantage is cost. There are a lot of Air Cooled bikes out there with fairly low miles for good money. For a 2013 with decent miles and the tech described below it’s hard to get away with less than $15K. I decided to go water cooled so I don’t have a lot of info on anything prior to 2013. And, I’m assuming you will want to spend some time riding dirt as well as street.
You also have the option of the GS Adventure. Biggest difference in my opinion is a larger gas tank for long treks and engine guards come standard. It’s heavier too. I decided against it.
• Get spoked wheels. Way more durable than the cast aluminum and necessary if you want to be off road on anything other than a maintained dirt road. The spoked have been described as bulletproof by some reviewers. When you buy one new this is a $500 upgrade. To buy used are $1000 each. I’m trying to find some used wheels either spoked or cast to keep a set of road tires on but they are big money.
• Anything after 2007 has ABS
• In 2011 they introduced Dynamic ESA which automatically controls the stiffness of the suspension depending on the riding mode (below) and it can also be adjusted based on the number of people riding and if you have gear or not.
• Most newer models have riding modes. The basic is Road and Rain modes. They work with the Automatic Stability Control ACS to control torque to the rear wheel if they sense a slip. An upgrade gets you Dynamic, Enduro, and Enduro Pro. Dynamic gives you faster throttle response and more active suspension. If you want to spend time in the woods on technical stuff you need Enduro Pro which allows you to shut off the ABS and ASC. Without it you can’t break the rear wheel loose.
• If it has riding modes it has the On Board Computer OBC which allows you to control the modes as well as display lots of information.
• GPS Prep – this is the wiring, bracket and a handwheel to accommodate a BMW GPS. I really love the handwheel on the left handlebar as you can zoom and navigate the menu without have to touch the GPS screen. You will find a lot of bikes have the prep which is a $250 option but few of them have the GPS unit itself, because they are $800. And, it’s hard to find them used. A much less expensive option is to clamp a garmin or something similar on.
• Guards – I’m expecting this will tip over at some point in the woods and so I wanted engine guards and tank/radiator guards. Quite a few bikes have engine guards, less so on the tank guards. They are about $700 to add both guards from BMW or aftermarket. Touratech is probably the best.
• Pannieres – Most bikes will have the back rack on it that comes ready to accept BMW Vario Cases. You can also choose to add aftermarket such as Touratech or others. About $700 for saddlebags and $300 for a top case.
• Auxiliary headlights – you’ll want these either from BMW or aftermarket. The stock headlight doesn’t have a wide field.
• Heated handgrips – Definitely. Most used bikes have them. Same with handguards, pretty standard.
• Cruise control – most bikes will have it. Nice to have.
• Daytime riding light is an option – I don’t have it.
• Lowered Suspension –You don’t want this. It’s for shorter people and it reduces suspension travel. You don’t need lowered seat either.
When I got serious about a couple bikes I sent them to Jim to take a look. He put me in touch with his dealer in VT who ran them through the VIN checker to see what they had for equipment coming out of the factory. Without this I probably would have bought one with a factory lowered suspension and not even known. And there are all sorts of combinations of packages and options and it can be hard to figure out initially but then you begin to learn what goes with what. And some of the people I spoke with had no clue what they had bought in terms of options. The guy I bought mine from had the Enduro Pro mode but didn’t realize there is a separate chip that needs to be added. They send it with the bike but make the owner plug it in so he/she is taking the liability of turning off the ABS and ASC.
I then learned that you can do the VIN check on your own.
But, you need to understand what the codes are. Below are the three years I was interested in.
2013 BMW R 1200 GS (Water-cooled) Info BMW MOTORCYCLES OF SAN FRANCISCO SAN FRANCISCO, CA (415) 503-9988
2014 BMW R 1200 GS Information BMW MOTORCYCLES OF SAN FRANCISCO SAN FRANCISCO, CA (415) 503-9988
2015 BMW R 1200 GS Information BMW MOTORCYCLES OF SAN FRANCISCO SAN FRANCISCO, CA (415) 503-9988
If you want to give it a try, the VIN for my bike is WB10A1100EZ185023 You only need to put in the last 7 digits to the decoder. Scroll down once the screen refreshes to see the options.
So I decided I wanted the following factory fitout:
Ride Modes Pro
On Board Computer
GPS Prep (minimum) hopefully GPS unit as well
And either with the bike or afterward would add:
L/R side Pannieres
I got everything I wanted factory wise (including the factory GPS unit), plus aux lights, pannieres, BMW hard rear top case, BMW soft rear bag, BMW tank bag. 2014, 4100 miles, Paid $17K. I bought engine/tank guards from Touratech and have a set of knobbies I’m going to put on after the May 7th VT ride. In truth, I had to drive to Iowa to get it and there is a longer story there. I started on Craigslist locally, then went to eBay, then expanded my search radius, then added in Cycle Trader, which is where I found this one.
One other note on year. BMW has a transferrable 3 year warranty so the 2014’s at this point usually have a year or so left. I’m about to use mine. There was a problem with a leaking seal in the water pump up until late 2013 when they changed it. Mine was produced in August of 2013. It affects about 1 in 10 bikes and mine is one of them. Doesn’t fail, just leaks. I went to the local dealer and they are going to take care of it for me.