Is the new liquid cooled GS Adventure better off road than the older oil-cooled one?
Yes, it is!
No, it’s not!
Who is right?
I can’t seem to find a decent answer. I could just buy a new one and judge for myself, but that day hasn’t come yet.
On road, I think there’s no doubt the new bike is an entire new generation of all around road performance. It’s clear they mean to compete more with the street touring segment.
For me, the answer is that it may be a better bike off road, but there are a few features that make it worse off road.
The best comparison I’ve seen was this video Touratech USA did with the new LC GS vs. the old GS (Adventure model hadn’t come out yet).
And then more recently there is this article from ADVMoto, which I found a bit disappointing. They showed the two bikes with different tires (street vs knobby), compared the new GSA to the new LC GS on an inclined hill on loose terrain when the article was supposed to compare to the old GSA and made mention of the new wider wheels making it better on-road but not addressing whether that made things better or worse off-road (I think worse).
Let’s not forget the psychology going on here either. Some might say I’m skeptical because I own an ’11 GSA and want to protect my resale value by not acknowledging the new GSA is better. But I think there’s an opposing psychology with new LS GS/GSA owners to justify their expenditure by denying the possibility it may not in fact be better off-road.
Let’s take a look at what some of the advantages off-road of the new GS might be:
- Higher snorkel that is better for deep water crossings
- Better oem suspension quality, as well as a longer swing arm that allows the suspension to operate more efficiently
- Retaining front wheel ABS off road makes for more confident cornering
- Active ESA keeps wheels planted when applying brakes (goes into soft mode)
- Narrower at the seat makes it easier to grip with the knees and contributes to a lighter feel
- Wet clutch better suited to high temps seen in off-road conditions
- Some sort of vague point about how the new frame geometry makes the bike handle better off-road (not sure why that is)
And the disadvantages:
- Taller gearing. Even with heavier mass on flywheel to aid in the low end, it’s still more prone to stalling at slow speed maneuvering and uphill starts. And it’s not the wet clutch; it’s that you have to use the clutch so much more.
- Wider wheels. The front is more likely to deflect, which is probably why it comes standard with a damper. It’s likely more difficult to handle in deep sand because of that. Wider rear tire spreads out force over wider area making cornering on loose surfaces more difficult (prone to skip rather than bite more so than a 150 width tire).
- Radiators are one more thing that can break off-road leaving you stranded.
- (Edit 5/10/17) First year and a half models had front tubes prone to cracking. They fixed for latter half of '14 models.
- (Edit 5/10/17) Now issues surfacing since at least Nov '16 of fork stanchion separation.
- (Edit 5/10/17) Other issues with transmissions failing.
What would have really excited me was if BMW had gone a bit bolder with the GSA (as KTM was with their 1190 R) and had made it with 21”/18” wheels and kept the lower enduro gearing.
What do you think?