BMW R1300GS long-term test update two | Starting glitch delivers the first bump in the road

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It all began so well. And the good news is that all is well again. But in between was a period of some frustration. After a Friday of heavy rain, I popped the BMW R1300GS away in the garage, fully fuelled for the next day’s schlep to Towcester for our WoMCN Rider meet-up, but on Saturday morning, the GS was completely unresponsive.

Its inanimate state led me to suspect a dead battery in either bike or fob – but both proved to be in fine health. So, the symptoms pointed to a power button that had failed. 

After three and a half days dormant in a warm, dry garage, the GS suddenly decided that all was well and came back to life. Another two days of dry use proved faultless, and a quick visit to BMW resulted in no fault codes (not a surprise, as it never powered-on so couldn’t have even known it was being asked to), and the techs suspected an intermittent fault (possibly moisture-induced) in the switchgear. So, they replaced it under warranty. All subsequent rides have been faultless.

BMW R1300GS right hand controls and starter switch

While the GS was refusing to come to life, I used my 1998 Honda VFR800FiW to get about, and it highlighted one of the key points of genius in the GS: its semi-active suspension. As I was carving across Northamptonshire, I kept thinking the Viffer was having a bad day, bucking off nasty bumps and getting unsettled mid-corner.

But as my brain fully recalibrated, it dawned on me that the VFR was being completely normal, it’s the GS that’s doing magic tricks. It’s funny how fast it makes you forget what ‘normal’ is. Even riding the M1000XR recently highlighted how beneficial the GS’s Telelever ‘funny front end’ is in terms of stability under braking and cornering forces. 

With the GS firing up, I nipped north for a 150-mile lap of the Lincolnshire Wolds and to see the superb Evotech Performance gang (more on that next time), then topped that up the following day with a 250-mile loop of some of Norfolk’s roughest roads.

MCN Editor Rich Newland with the BMW R1300GS

And the GS was superb on everything from major A-roads to gravel-strewn single-track country lanes. The huge payoff that’s often missed is that you can ride so much further without fatigue nibbling at your synapses – which means you can indulge until you feel you really should stop. Much like pigging out an all-you-can-eat buffet.