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GSA - No Knobbies and take off the panniers

1276 Views 39 Replies 22 Participants Last post by  ajayhawkfan
I always swore I'd never buy an GS or a BMW for that matter although I've always secretly desired an R80 GS Paris Dakar and love the looks of the old R75 bikes. The reason for my distain of the GS was the perception that GS's were for "posers". Most had (have) knobbies, stickers of places the bike never went, new thousand dollar aerostich suits, farkles galore, and the bike loaded for a RTW trip during a weekend day ride (or to starbucks :)). However, I couldn't deny all the GS's at the Iron Butt Rallys back in the 00's.

Well, I own 2 BMW's now (RT and GSA). I put almost 8K on the GSA this winter going down to Baja from CO and back., with many excursions and side trips. My GSA had new Motoz Adventures on it when I bought it. The GSA is a pig compared to other bikes but so good at long distance variable terrain touring, mine is affectionately named "La Chancha Roja" (the red pig).

When I took off the almost bald, screaming & howling Motoz Adventure tires and put on a pair of Dunlop Trailmax Missions it transformed the bike and brought out it's full potential. And yes, I've ridden those tires on jeep trails here in CO (followed a moose down the road the other day) and they are plenty aggressive for that and for the bike's realistic capabilities with a competent rider.

Knobbies ruin what it does best and barely make it capable for the little time and miles one would need knobbies for, especially for low skill riders. Novice riders often compensate for low skill with aggressive tires but it's, mostly, not worth the trade off (unless riding primarily gravel and dirt but really how many actually do?). Additionally, panniers are a wind and performance suck. I see so many guys here in CO and surrounding states out for a day ride parked at various small town coffee shops and such with knobbies and huge panniers on their super clean GS's. It makes me cringe and park my bike around the corner.

WHY??? Why are people handicapping their bikes and perpetuating this negative stereotype? It's beyond me. Why leave panniers on the bike when you have no trip planned? Stack em in the corner and free up space in the garage! And enjoy the smooth sportiness of the GS, one of it's best characteristics.

The GS is SO DAMN GOOD at what it does!!! But let's not kid ourselves, it's not a dirt bike. My friend and former GS owner called it a utility knife. And I'd say my Norden 901 is a scalpel. The GS is a long distance TOURING bike for use on variable terrain. Sure it does other things well but let's be real and not try to make it something it's not.

And I see these posts of people complaining about poor mileage on FL to CA trips with TKC 80's. Stop it.

So please stop putting aggressive knobbies on this machine. Take off the panniers when your long trip is done. Enjoy the full potential of this truly amazing bike that rules the Big ADV segment for several damn good reasons.
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Hi, nice to read a Frank and honest article, although in the uk , the gs gets such bad press ?!, but how do they sell so many, secret comes out when you bite the bullet after years of denial, I wish l had brought one years, happy to have mine now 馃馃槑
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When your young you care about what people think. When your older you no longer care about what people think. When your old you wonder why you ever thought about it at all.
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When your young you care about what people think. When your older you no longer care about what people think. When your old you wonder why you ever thought about it at all.
馃馃槑
When your young you care about what people think. When your older you no longer care about what people think. When your old you wonder why you ever thought about it at all.
Maybe as a general rule but pertaining to GS owners??? Look at the demographics of GS owners, NOT young by any stretch of the imagination... and grey haired GS riders don't think about these things? Hard argument to make IMO.

I wouldn't discount the plethora of forum posts regarding knobbies on GS's (over 340 here) and the almost endless tire talk as apathetic. Or all the GS's with Knobbies on them. Add in the amount of money spent on GS accessories and the standard "uniform".

Riders of older KLR's and DR's are the ones who truly don't care what people think, but definitely not GS owners.
Maybe as a general rule but pertaining to GS owners??? Look at the demographics of GS owners, NOT young by any stretch of the imagination... and grey haired GS riders don't think about these things? Hard argument to make IMO.

I wouldn't discount the plethora of forum posts regarding knobbies on GS's (over 340 here) and the almost endless tire talk as apathetic. Or all the GS's with Knobbies on them. Add in the amount of money spent on GS accessories and the standard "uniform".

Riders of older KLR's and DR's are the ones who truly don't care what people think, but definitely not GS owners.
I'm saying that I'm old and have a dirty GS with a lot of miles and knobies and no stickers on the bags I keep on most of the time. I keep water, tire repair kit, different gloves and an extra sweater in my bags when I'm not traveling. I don't know why you care what other bikes look like. Don't get the wrong idea as I'm a very friendly person and talk to everyone when I stop.
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What is great about the GSA is they it can be ridden and set up as a street bike with highway tires or more aggressively with knobbles based upon the owners likes and skills and the hell with what others think.

For me and my riding, I want knobbies and keep my aluminum boxes, covered with stickers, on unless I am going to encounter sand and/or mud, then I put on soft side bags.



I didn't expect mud on that trip. :confused:
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I'm saying that I'm old and have a dirty GS with a lot of miles and knobies and no stickers on the bags I keep on most of the time. I keep water, tire repair kit, different gloves and an extra sweater in my bags when I'm not traveling. I don't know why you care what other bikes look like. Don't get the wrong idea as I'm a very friendly person and talk to everyone when I stop.
I'm one to leave the panniers on the bike. If I'm out and about and have to pick something up the panniers are doing me no good sitting in the garage. I also could care less if people think I'm a poser or the worlds most hardocore rider. I could also care less if someone else want to spend the GDP of a mid-sized country on farkles, cloths and stickers from far away places and never take the bike outside of a 10 mile radius of home. Heck I don't care if people want to name inanimate objects thinking they have a soul. I think it's silly but that's their business.
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I like the panniers or side cases for two main reasons. First, I'm with PerazziMx14. They do no good in garage, it's nice to have the storage space when needed, and I really don't care what other's think. Second, they provide protection in case you drop your bike. It's happened once that I dropped the bike at low speed. and the pannier/side case prevented damage to the bike. Fixing and/or replacing the pannier/side case is far less expensive. So, they stay on.
The impetus of the post was start a discussion and get people thinking about HOW GOOD THE GS actually is when unencumbered of knobbies and two windsails (panniers). Why ride knobbies for the 1% you are gonna actually need them?

Please don't twist my words that I am disparaging anyone. I put poser in quotes, it's a real stereotype out there. I don't think anyone here can deny a certain perception persists about GS riders. I've met many interesting and widely divergent GS riders, so in reality GS riders are a super wide spectrum of people.

Four thoughts:
1. Knobbies aren't good on pavement, I don't think anyone can argue that. Trailmax, Motoz GPS,TKC 70, Mitas E07, etc. are WAY better than any knobbies on the road and provide surprisingly good traction off. How much miles on pavement do you ride vs dirt/gravel? I doubt most ride more than 90% paved/10% dirt. So why run a 30/70, or 20/80 tire? Most 50/50 do the job extremely well. For those few miles of the tough stuff (less than 1%), most people are sacrificing other 99%! Why? It baffles me.

2. Panniers don't help too much getting the bike back upright as the engine/crashbars that's where the weight is and completely sufficient to EASILY get the bike upright. I would rather not risk smashing my nice Jessie luggage, anything in the rear that may be damaged will likely cost less than one pannier. I've had a pannier rip right off in the high mountains of Mexico after a slow (kinda) speed crash, it sucks. Plus, panniers add extra weight, and if packed alot of potential extra weight. Pannier racks usually provide plenty of protection for exhausts and other parts.

3. The panniers don't do any harm in the garage, while on the open road they are windsails that decreases the overall the performance of the bike and, depending on perspective, the fun factor. And hard panniers create a potential danger hazard off road during a crash trapping a leg or even catching a leg during a dab (is a broken leg worth it?).

4. Negatives of Knobbies vs 50/50 tires. Knobbies have poor wet traction, increased vibrations especially on long distance rides, increased road noise, poor on road handling characteristics, and seldom last very long, and the cost to replace is high so poor value to mileage. A 50/50 may make one slow down or have difficulty riding the 1% of terrain.

BTW, I have a GIVI tank lock bag that is super easy to remove and take with me and hold a lot. I also keep a dry bag on the back held with Rps if I stop and need storage.
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And for Kicks. Those with Knobbies on their GS. If you're not just back from or planning a upcoming long off road trip. How many miles a year do you ride your GS, how much of that is offroad, and how many miles are you getting out of your knobbies?
Why leave panniers on the bike when you have no trip planned? Stack em in the corner and free up space in the garage! And enjoy the smooth sportiness of the GS, one of it's best characteristics.
Isn't going out and fucking around for an afternoon, in and of itself a trip?

I don't have knobby tires on my GSA, because I don' t like hardcore off roading. I'll admit I'm not skilled enough and at almost 68 years of age, I don't plan on learning that.

I keep my panniers and tank bag on all the time. Like others have noted, there's tire repair kit, simple tools, windshield and visor cleaner, thermos of drinking water and rain gear. The rain gear never leaves the bike. Thunderstorms pop up out of nowhere here in the mountains.

What other people think of me when they see me on my bike is none of my business.
How did this article turn into a bar bawl , come on , a good readable article, yes some agree,some don鈥檛, can we agree we read and write on this forum because we ride gs 馃馃槑
Isn't going out and fucking around for an afternoon, in and of itself a trip?

No, it's not a trip, it's a day ride.

So you guys need two 30 or 40 liter panniers to carry: a tire repair kit, simple tools, windshield and visor cleaner, thermos of drinking water and rain gear?

Don't you have a tank bag?

I've yet to read someone say those big metal panniers help their aerodynamics and improve the performance of their bike but I fear it's coming soon.......

And this thread is not about what people think of anyone, I've tried to make that clear but many seem to want to make it about that rather than discuss the topics. If you say you don't care, then you most certainly do or you wouldn't be adamantly saying you don't and deflecting and diverting the discussion to supposed personal attacks. It's a poor argument strategy.
Brudenride, I respect your opinions, but I disagree with you regarding the parts cost. The Vario side case is $600 new, and a metal panier is about $1,000 each. If the muffler needs to be replaced, that's $1,300 to $1,500 to replace, and if the final drive gets buggered up, that's about $2,900. Granted those are new BMW prices and used versions may be available. But, I'll risk a $600 side case/pannier all day long over a muffler or final drive. Granted there are plastic protectors for the final drive that also help minimize damage.

That's just my opinion. Yours may vary and that's OK with me. We all accept different levels of risk.
Like they say opinions are like assholes.

Why don't you ride how you want and I will ride how I want.
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The muffler is covered with the rack that holds the pannier doesn't that provide protection?

I don't see how a pannier can cover a final drive unless it's mounted so low that you'd be hitting rocks riding. How often are final drives damaged in crashes, must be a pretty hard and fast crash to do so, and how often do panniers protect it from happening? That would have to be one hell of a crash to damage that final drive I would think. but perhaps I am wrong?

There's always an exception but to make a rule or decisions on exceptions becomes onerous and expensive and creates diminishing returns.
Why don't you ride how you want and I will ride how I want.
This discussion is not about anyone telling you or anyone else how to ride. If you'd like to discuss the topic then please present applicable discussion points.

It seems debate is dead, it's all about "me" and "you're offending me" therefore all your points are invalidated. WTF? Can't anyone present some valid points?
Burdenride: I'm just saying you can't judge a bike and owner by just looking at the bike in front of a restaurant. Right now I have knobies on and am practicing for a dirt trip. I had a set of TMM tires on before I went to Alaska last year to see how they would work out. Once I had Dunlop Roadsmart 3's on just to see how they felt. Sometimes my bags are on and sometimes they are off. While most of the time my bike is clean right now it's covered in dirt. You just took a snapshot and made judgements based on that one picture. I just don't think it's fair. Perhaps it's better that you parked your bike in the back.
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Please re-read my actual posts. Not judging anyone and don't care. MY POINT IS: THE GS IS GREAT. IF YOU DON'T NEED THEM TAKE OFF THE KNOBBIES AND PANNIERS AND LOVE HOW GOOD THE GS BECOMES.
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