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BMW R1150GS (1999-2005) Review

Published: 22 November 2006

Updated: 21 November 2014

"Handles brilliantly, will run forever and will cheerfully see over 200 miles from the tank"

BMW R1150GS motorcycle review - Riding

"Handles brilliantly, will run forever and will cheerfully see over 200 miles from the tank"

  • At a glance
  • Read more about the BMW GS range.
  • 1130cc  -  85 bhp
  • 37 mpg  -  205 miles range
  • Insurance group: 13 of 17
    Compare insurance quotes now
  • Medium seat height (840mm)

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

BMW’s R1150GS is heavy, pricey and relatively slow. It’s also an expensive, imperfectly finished motorcycle and the engine design is something Noah would recognise. On the flip-side the BMW R1150GS handles brilliantly, will run forever and will cheerfully see over 200 miles from the motorcycle's tank.

Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5

For such a tall machine the BMW R1150GS is blessed with extraordinary poise. The wide bars give you total control over the motorcycle in bends (no need to hang off like a monkey, here), the tyres grip like a drowning man and the brakes are phenomenally good. In the wet there’s probably no better bike than the BMW R1150GS to be on, such is the motorcycle's balance.

Engine 3 out of 5

Even really healthy BMW R1150GS' struggle to make more than 77bhp from the antediluvian air/oil-cooled Boxer twin. However there’s immense torque from this motorcycle – over 70ft lb, so hauling ass past lines of cars is simplicity itself, requiring no more than a twist of the motorcycle's throttle. That’s something of a blessing as the BMW R1150GS' gearbox is robust, but imprecise and agricultural.

Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5

Essentially the basic design of the BMW R1150GS means that, treated right, it’ll run forever. However, the paint on the motorcycle's cylinder heads flakes off, as does the finish on the forks, the petrol cap lets in rain, the downpipes go brown, the O-ring inside the oil filler cap breaks causing oil to seep out the seal and you really need to keep an eye on the BMW R1150GS' oil level.

Insurance, running costs & value 4 out of 5

BMW R1150GS owners love their motorcycles. They dealer service them on time, ride them kindly and don’t tend to behave in a manner prejudicial to the motorcycle's longevity. Add in the cult of the BMW R1150GS and you can see why used motorcycles command such high prices. Find a BMW R1150GS for sale.

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

Equipment 4 out of 5

Factory options for this motorcycle such as ABS, hard luggage and heated grips are well worth seeking out and there’s a raft of aftermarket stuff for the BMW R1150GS from crash bars to race-style exhausts to bolt on. Compare and buy parts for the BMW R1150GS in the MCN Shop.

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1999
Year discontinued 2005
Original price -
Used price -
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 13 of 17
Annual road tax £91
Annual service cost £340
Performance
Max power 85 bhp
Max torque 75 ft-lb
Top speed 130 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 12.1 secs
Average fuel consumption 37 mpg
Tank range 205 miles
Specification
Engine size 1130cc
Engine type 8v Boxer twin, 6 gears
Frame type Steel spine
Fuel capacity 25 litres
Seat height 840mm
Bike weight 229kg
Front suspension Preload
Rear suspension Preload
Front brake Twin 305mm discs
Rear brake 276mm disc
Front tyre size 110/80 x 19
Rear tyre size 150/70 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

1980: BMW R80GS introduced – 50bhp, 797cc air-cooled Boxer twin – the archetype giant trailie.
1987: BMW R100GS – 980cc, 60bhp, weighing 187kg. Bigger and better.
1994: BMW R1100GS – 1085cc, 209kg and 80bhp. Introduced the Paralever wishbone front end.
1999: BMW R1150GS released.

Other versions

BMW R850GS: 848cc, 70bhp – essentially a BMW R1150GS with the BMW R850R’s motor.
BMW R1150GS ABS: Identical to the BMW R1150GS, but with switchable ABS.

Owners' Reviews

5 owners have reviewed their BMW R1150GS (1999-2005) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your BMW R1150GS (1999-2005)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.6 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 4.8 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.6 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.6 out of 5
Equipment 4.8 out of 5
5 out of 5

Was buying a 20 year old GS a good idea?

15 August 2019 by Buckets

If you are looking for an all-round bike look no further

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
If it needs filling up, time for a break 180 - 200 miles? I commute 70 miles round trip so no chance for aches and pains to develop
Engine
5 out of 5
If plugs, TB balance, valve clearances or fuel system cleaning required, fuel consumption and vibration might be noticeable. Do this at least every 6000 miles and the problem doesn't materialise. Use the correct oil and keep it at the right level. Some riders get over 100,000 miles without major repairs
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
After 20 years of use there is a tiny bit of paint flaking on the cylinders. ACF50 keeps this at bay. Otherwise everything looks like a 3 year old.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Most jobs can be done by an experienced bike DIYer
Equipment
4 out of 5
For me panniers are a must. Depending on your height, you might get better wind protection from a higher screen. Add heated grips if yours doesn't have them. Standard panniers will not take my helmet so I needed a top case.
Buying experience

Bought privately from someone I knew had cared for it. Advertised price was higher than average but the mileage and service records supported that. Similar bikes with the same mileage (newer) were being sold for higher prices.

4 out of 5

Best all rounder ever!

11 July 2019 by Old Timer

Seat height is all that stops it being 5.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
All round brilliance, great handling and performance. No, it’s not a sports bike, but it does everything really well.
Engine
5 out of 5
Total reliability, could use a few more hp, but all you need for most occasions.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Seems to be bombproof.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Do my own servicing, only needed consumables.
Equipment
5 out of 5
Best road holding in the wet of any bike I’ve ever had, Metzeler Tourance tyres are great. Seat is a bit hard, and even on “low” setting is a bit on the high side, I’m average height.
Buying experience

Private sale.

5 out of 5

Keep coming back to 1150GS

22 December 2018 by Boxerystad

I have had about ten 1150GS and 1100GS. I have tried lots of others but keep coming back to these. I'm 6'3 and like big bikes. When I'm not having one I miss the size, the engine, the shaft driver, the easy maintenance, package possibilities and the feeling that it can take me as far as I want. It's strong, big and reliable.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
I can only afford one bike. I have had a couple of FJRs and Pans but the ergos with the GS beats them all. I really love the seating position. I can ride 7-800km/day and when I wake up the next morning I want to get right up an ride again.
Engine
4 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
The quality is great. When you are in the saddle with heavy rain, you're freezing, it's getting dark, I look down on the tank and see the BMW-emblem. It's a good feeling...
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
It's expensive to buy but cheap to own.
Equipment
5 out of 5
I love the boxer, but I miss about 30-40 horsepower for it to be perfect, to be honest. I think that's why I've tried the FJRs a couple of times. But after some months I long for the big GS again....
4 out of 5

06 June 2017 by andy

Great ride, handles well, you can ride for hours and hours in comfort , engine has lots of low down power, only fault gearbox clunky, still a great bike

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

best thing since sliced bread

02 June 2015 by Mark P

The old girl has now passed 200k still on the same engine & gearbox, aiming for another 100k at least!

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
-

Photo Gallery

  • BMW R1150GS motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1150GS motorcycle review - Side view
  • BMW R1150GS motorcycle review - Top view
  • BMW R1150GS motorcycle review - Side view
  • BMW R1150GS motorcycle review - Rear view
  • BMW R1150GS motorcycle review - Engine
  • BMW R1150GS motorcycle review - Brakes
  • BMW R1150GS motorcycle review - Brakes
  • BMW R1150GS motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1150GS motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1150GS motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1150GS motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1150GS motorcycle review - Riding
  • BMW R1150GS motorcycle review - Top view
  • BMW R1150GS motorcycle review - Front view
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