BMW R1200GS off to a bad start

Published: 26 May 2004

Peter Baker, 34, is running a 2004 BMW R1200GS for MCN this year. He’s one of the paper’s two Deputy Editors and has 20 years of riding experience.

His previous bikes include a Triumph Tiger 955i, BMW R1100GS, BMW R1150GS, Suzuki DR350, T140V Triumph Bonneville, Kawasaki ZZR600, Yamaha Diversion 900, Kawasaki KE125, Honda SS50 and Yamaha TDR250. He currently also owns a Ducati 748SPS.

He acquired the Beemer on March 22, 2004 and it had an on the road price of £9275. He has fitted BMW hard panniers (£395).

Here’s what his last long term test report had to say.

In its first 2656 miles, the bikes has been to Switzerland on a road test, bombed round Oulton Park race circuit, broken down and had bit’s snapped off by its ham-fisted owner.

When the bike arrived the servo brakes didn’t work either. After going through the problem with my local dealer (Balderstones 01733 565470) they traced it to the front brake light switch that had become unplugged, probably when the bike was tied down in the delivery van. This was causing the bikes on-board ‘brain’ to become confused, unable to complete it’s diagnostic process and cutting power to the servo. Simply plugging the switch back in sorted the problem. At the time I cursed the complexity of the electronics but after a tail light blew last week, I’ve changed my mind.

Traveling home one night, the dash warning light came on with a symbol to tell me the rear tail light had blown. When I stopped and checked, the light seemed fine, I cursed again but all was explained in the manual.

When the bulb fails, the onboard ‘brain’ recognises the circuit has broken. The brain then sends a lower voltage to the brake light filament making it appear like a tail light. The brake light works as normal, clever stuff.

Not so clever was the battery going flat after a three-day lay-up. After coaxing the missus outside in her dressing gown for a push start, the compression and lack of a hill meant I had to resort to jump leads. I haven’t been able to find out why the battery went flat and the next service isn’t due till 6000 miles so at weekends I plug in an Optimate battery charger through the Beemers accessory socket.

The Oulton Park MCN track day I took the GS on was an absolute hoot. The day before I’d fitted a pair of Bridgestone’s BT020 sports touring tyres (now available in a size to fit the Beemers 19 inch front wheel). With new tyres and not knowing the circuit, I tip toed round for the first session trying not to get in anybody’s way. In the second session I was getting the hang of the circuit, bike and the tyres. By the end of the morning I was hammering up the inside of people on the brakes using the full potential of the linked brakes and ABS. Miles more fun than wobbling round on a sports bike.