BMW R1100GS (1994-1999) Review

Published: 22 November 2006

"If you had to bet on a motorcycle to get to Timbuktoo and back again the R1100GS would be it"

BMW R1100GS motorcycle review - Riding

"If you had to bet on a motorcycle to get to Timbuktoo and back again the R1100GS would be it"

  • At a glance
  • 1085cc  -  80 bhp
  • 45 mpg  -  250 miles range
  • Medium seat height (840mm)

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

On the face of it the BMW R1100GS isn’t a particularly convincing motorcycle to drop your cash on. It’s underpowered, expensive, looks ungainly and the gearbox is, frankly, poor. However, if you had to bet the house and kids on a motorcycle to get to Timbuktoo and back again (and show you a good time en route) the R1100GS would be it.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

BMW persevere with their queer paralever/telelever suspension arrangement, which basically means a wishbone and spring arrangement up front, and a centrally-slung shock and single-sided swingarm/shaft drive arrangement. Whatever, it works well, almost eliminating fork dive on braking – and what awesome brakes – sublime. ABS is worth having as it adds resale value.

Engine 3 out of 5

The BMW R1100GS's oil/air-cooled 1085cc Boxer twin struggles to make a genuine 70bhp at the back wheel, but that’s a figure almost equalled by the torque output. This, then, is a motorcycle for short-shifting not revving – a bike for punting you out of corners, not warp factor mph. With just five ratios the R1100GS is a bit buzzy in top, but other than a fantastical appetite for oil it's damn near unburstable.

 

Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5

Essentially the BMW R1100GS is as good as gold. However, peer closely and the finish is average at best – the forks peel, as does the paint on the the cylinder heads. The Preload adjuster on the rear shock seizes, the gearbox is notchy and selection is indifferent even when new.

 

Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5

Buy your BMW R1100GS, rack up 20,000 miles and sell it for a loss of just a few hundred quid. That’s the power of the GS brand – it conveys unburstability, endurance and safe-as-houses investment potential. Find a BMW R1100GS for sale.

Insurance group: 13 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 4 out of 5

BMW R1100GS owners are kit fetishists, so go for one that’s got ABS, hard luggage, heated grips, fender extenders and extra road lights. You’ll only be sorry if you don’t. Compare and buy parts for the BMW R1100GS in the MCN Shop.

 

Owners' Reviews

3 owners have reviewed their BMW R1100GS (1994-1999) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

We’re currently improving the way this section works, which means we’ve had to suspend the submission of new owners’ reviews for a short period. Please check back soon.

Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.3 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.3 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.3 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.3 out of 5
Equipment 3.7 out of 5
4 out of 5

My GS1100

14 July 2008 by stevecase

I love the sit up riding position but the injection makes what should be a good town bike not so good, the gearbox is w**k and its too heavy but the suspension flattens v.bumpy B-roads Read more

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 3 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
4 out of 5

this bike is a fantastic all rounder and improved no end by adding an after market exhaust

07 March 2006 by tishtosh

picked the bike up a year and a half ago with 9000 miles on the clock and added a remus exhaust which reduces the weight and makes it sound better than any bike on the road in my opinion.tried a taller screen as the standard creates a bit of... Read more buffeting around the head but didnt like the loud wind noise so now its naked with no screen and i much prefer it up to about 90mph. handles better than any other sports bike i've owned and gets 200 miles to a tank. holds its value well and never misses a beat.

Strengths

build quality,sound,comfort,handling.

Weaknesses

wheels and spokes corrode if not cared for.high bmw servicing costs.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

A SuperMoto with Hard Luggage!

31 January 2006 by markk75

When I was a despatch rider, I owned an old BMW R100/7. The handling and brakes were poor but I loved the 1,000cc Boxer engine. That was my 1st reason for buying the R1100GS - I love Boxers; just something about the noise they make, the torque they... Read more produce and maybe also the fact that no other bike manufacturer uses that horizontally-opposed twin cylinder layout. Reason No 2 was the look of the bike. Love it or hate it, no other manufacturer has produced a bike so individually ugly-pretty since the first models were introduced in the mid-90's. Reason No 3? It HANDLES. Despite the 19-inch front wheel and limited choice in tyres, you can sling the thing around like a super-moto. BMWs demand a smooth riding style, but once you adapt to Ze German Vay, you WILL give anything else on 2 wheels a run for its money on A and B roads. The GS isn't a hard-core off-roader and it's no luxo-tourer either, but it was the 1st Adventure Sport bike, and it's still the class leader.

Strengths

Front suspension, ABS brakes, engine, versatility

Weaknesses

Poor finish, BMW dealer service costs

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
Read all 3 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1994
Year discontinued 1999
Original price -
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 13 of 17
Annual road tax £80
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 80 bhp
Max torque 72 ft-lb
Top speed 122 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 12.7 secs
Average fuel consumption 45 mpg
Tank range 250 miles
Specification
Engine size 1085cc
Engine type 8v Boxer twin, 5 gears
Frame type Steel spine
Fuel capacity 25 litres
Seat height 840mm
Bike weight 209kg
Front suspension Preload
Rear suspension Preload
Front brake Twin 305mm discs
Rear brake 200mm disc
Front tyre size 110/80 x 17
Rear tyre size 150/70 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

1980: BMW R80GS introduced – 50bhp, 167kg, air-cooled, Boxer twin. The absolute daddy of the giant trailie genre.
1987: BMW R100GS released – now making 60bhp, weight is up to 187kg thanks to stronger frame, new forks and bigger, better brakes. Discontinued 1993.
1994: BMW R1100GS launched, discontinued 1999 (replaced first by R1150GS and then the R1200GS).

Other versions

BMW R1100GS ABS: Otherwise identical barring Advanced Braking System.

Photo Gallery

  • BMW R1100GS motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1100GS motorcycle review - Side view
  • BMW R1100GS motorcycle review - Instruments
  • BMW R1100GS motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1100GS motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1100GS motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1100GS motorcycle review - Rear view
  • BMW R1100GS motorcycle review - Exhaust
  • BMW R1100GS motorcycle review - Brakes
  • BMW R1100GS motorcycle review
  • BMW R1100GS motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1100GS motorcycle review - Instruments
  • BMW R1100GS motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1100GS motorcycle review - Side view
  • BMW R1100GS motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1100GS motorcycle review - Side view
  • BMW R1100GS motorcycle review - Instruments
  • BMW R1100GS motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1100GS motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1100GS motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1100GS motorcycle review - Rear view
  • BMW R1100GS motorcycle review - Exhaust
  • BMW R1100GS motorcycle review - Brakes
  • BMW R1100GS motorcycle review
  • BMW R1100GS motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1100GS motorcycle review - Instruments
  • BMW R1100GS motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1100GS motorcycle review - Side view