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What I Hate About BMW

Eric Hall


There are many things I love about BMW Motorrad that I will cover in a separate entry, but for now I'd like to just talk about what I HATE! :angry:

Well, hate is a pretty strong word. Dislike. Disappointed. Let-down. Maybe that's more appropriate.

Maybe it's mostly a function of who I am and what my expectations are from that particular brand. I'm more of the "adventure enduro" rider than the guy who might take his GS/GSA on some very nice graded dirt road for a mile or two in a national park once a year. I've heard something like 90% of GS/GSA owners never even take them off road. Maybe it's just asking too much for them to act in a way that pleases such a small part of their market?

Let me start with their abandonment of off road racing. I don't think since their last Dakar in '01 BMW has done anything with racing off road. I guess that's not entirely true if you consider the HP2 in '06. But since then what?

I remember chatting briefly with some guy from BMW USA at the GS Trophy competition in Moab in '12 and he didn't seem all that excited to be there. I would have thought a marketer from BMW getting the chance to be at an event like that would elicit more excitement, curiosity and inquisitiveness.

When their new LC version engine came out with its wider wheels and radiators I was like c'mon, what are these people thinking?!! I did not see any way these bikes were going to be better off road. Better on road for sure. I've since tempered my thoughts there (better OEM suspension, enduro mode w/front abs) but it is a fact the lower enduro gearing isn't there anymore.

What really bugged me was this video where I see "scarf boy" pointing out the various design lines and contours on the new GS. This had me thinking, "I bet this guy has never ridden off road in his entire life!" I'm less bothered by scarf boy than I am the scarf boys they seem to be marketing to nowadays.

Alexander "Scarf Boy" Buckan at 1:49

Then was their "One World, One GS" promotion. This was a contest where they opened it up to the entire world, soliciting entries from GS riders everywhere. I even filled out an application :) They would pick five winners who would each take a GS for a week or two in some exotic location (e.g. Laos, Europe, Africa, etc...). The idea being the same bike would be transported to each region for the next winner to ride. When the winners were picked, I was not the only one who was stunned to find guess what? They picked one winner from each of the EU5 countries: Germany, Spain, France, Italy and the UK. More like "One Continent. One GS."

What I finally realized after talking to many others about this is that BMW sells A LOT of GS's in Europe. These bikes are ridden by 40-50 something affluent urban businessmen (scarf boys) who may commute on their bikes a few days a week and whose idea of adventure is riding down for a weekend in Marseilles (not that there's anything wrong with that). Even their celebrities they picked to be a part of the promotion were a complete joke with the exception of Charley Boorman. They seemed to be marketing to the urban pop/hipster crowd.

Their most important customers are those dealer networks from those countries. Their goal was to drive awareness in their key market but what they were essentially doing is giving the rest of us across the globe their middle finger. This is not a minor thing, but something I feel they need to remedy. There are a lot of good riders here in the US, Australia, Africa, Canada, Mexico, South America, etc...

Now to give them credit, they have done this GS Trophy competition every two years now since '06, so I guess there are still a few inside the company who feel it's important to have at least some kind of dirt credibility. However, it seems to me a lot of the events at these competitions aren't even based on the bike, but on the brute strength and ability of each team to cooperate. How quickly four guys can lift a GS over a log doesn't seem the least bit relevant to what a GS is capable of. Another beef was while I think they did a great job this last time of covering the event with daily videos and score updates, coverage in the past made it seem as if they wanted to keep it a secret or something. It was weeks or months before we ever saw anything come out of the South American GS Trophy. That's a lot of money to spend on an event; one would think they'd want to leverage that as best they can via YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc...

I look at all the new stuff coming out like the maxi-scooter, 9-T, S 1000 XR, etc... I will smack the person in the face who decided to classify that as "adventure." :lol: It's a BMW Multistrada (also not an adventure bike). What ever happened to the smaller dirt bikes like the X Challenge? The HP2? Why not make a lighter GS with a 21" front wheel or even 18" rear wheel? It's like they really want to push us dirty hillbilly off road cousins to the back yard away from their more desirable house guests. We'll just be out here playing in the dirt. Don't mind us!

I'm telling you, we "adventure enduro" riders will be riding KTM's in the near future! :lol:

What do you think? What is it you hate about BMW Motorrad?


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A lot of people have been saying KTM is going the same way too with their 1290 Super Adventure and all the Super Duke street bikes.  But at least they're still active in racing and you can buy a smaller bike to have a blast on.

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I think you answered the reasons, it's a business, and 90% don't ride dirt,Demographics & Sales first. Selling a dream, dreamers don't necessarily live it, but somewhat an illusion of a lifestyle......

On the flip side, if you compare to KTM (or other) they are race focused. The range of bikes they offer proves it.

I'm Beemer bias but not into the new water cooled for one simple reason, the lack of low gear in them. HP2 is my enduro ride and oil heads (05-13)are still the best GS's.But hey, whom am I to judge, the market speaks for itself.

My complaint would be the cheap crap they sell the bikes with i.e skid plates. 25k $ and tinfoil protection. That's not just Beemer.....

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I had thought at one time that I would be buying a water-boxer as soon as they started to hit the used market. But a couple of things bothered me, as mentioned above. Why no lower enduro-type gearing? And why would they switch to a wet clutch, when the dry clutch was very good, with a big friction zone?
I've decided to get as much life from my '06 as possible. And after a ton of mods and upgrades, I'm kinda stuck with it anyway (unless I want to take a bath selling it). That's fine, I'm committed to it.
It really does seem as if BMW is moving away from the real off-road scene, especially racing. Kinda sad. The GS was once the "go-to" bike for world adventure. The new GS could be that, too, but it doesn't seem as if BMW is promoting it that way. And it's true, more than 90% of riders will rarely, or never, see any serious dirt. That doesn't mean the bike shouldn't be built for it. It SHOULD mean a more agressive design and marketing strategy. That 90% figure was shrinking in the past couple of years, but I'm not so sure if that trend is continuing. It's kinda like the big SUV's. Very few people take them off road. And if BMW pushed harder for their clients to ride real adventures, then the feedback they received would hopefully push them to go back to the drawing board and reintroduce the dry clutch and enduro gearing, and maybe lose some weight. Or at least revive the other bikes that are more dirt oriented like the HP2.

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One more thing is that there seems to be a HUGE gulf between one's experience at a BMW car dealer vs a BMW motorcycle dealer.  Not sure why that is but it's maybe something they can work on.

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