RexBuck's Latin America
2011 BMW 800GS
This bike has suited me very well. I am a huge fan of the BMW 1200GS and GSA and that was my first choice. It rides amazingly well off pavement and goes like stink on the blacktop.
However, I decided something slightly smaller might be more appropriate for a largely solo long trip. In all honesty, I never wished I had a larger bike. Sometimes wished I had a smaller bike - particularly when in very soft ground or having to pick it up. Overall, the bike worked very well for me - a number of things were changed to make it more suitable. Here they are:
Stuff Added to the Bike
Seat: The stock seat on the 800GS is an amazing torture device. I could get about an hour riding in before needing a rest - 2 hours straight would make sure my lower extremeties were completely asleep and I likely couldn't walk for a day. Replaced with a custom seat from Rich's Custom Seats located just outside of Seattle. This is probably the best change I have made to the bike. A very professional business and highly recommended.
Windshield: I like the stock shield on the 800 during the summer as it is really small - almost non-existant. I looked high and low for a shield that stayed well below my field of vision, provided more protection than the stock shield and didn't cause a lot of buffeting. Settled on a shield from Madstad Engineering which is a great design. Has adjustable brackets so I can get it down low and allows air in from the bottom to keep things calm around the rider. I still keep it as low as possible and it still offers decent protection. Add the "Wings" on to the side to block even more air when really cold.
Side bags are Caribou Cases which are essentially Pelican cases hooked onto Hepco Becker racks. These bags are ugly but very functional. They are waterproof, sturdy (slide down the road without distorting and loosing their waterproof seal), secure (locked on), can be easily carried inside and side opening so everything can be quickly and easily accessed. The bags are designed with a nifty heavy cloth panel to keep the lid from opening all the way keeping all your precious crap in. Also, Caribou has a great locking mechanism that is the weak link if you happen to hit a rock or a tree and allows the bag to disconnect without bending stuff on the bike. The only thing I would change on this system is finding a way to make them narrower on the bike. If one were to install a narrower aftermarket muffler and have the left side HB bracket narrowed by about 3" then it would be a decent width. I may do this.
Softbags are by Wolfeman Luggage - Expedition Duffel that holds most of my personal stuff and Explorer Lite Tank Bag that sits in front of me. I am really impressed with the construction of their products and their sturdiness.
Tank Bag is also by Wolfeman Luggage - Express Tank Bag. Smaller but holds the stuff I need to get at quickly: Phone, wallet, flashlight, Leatherman, small camera, documents I need access to quickly, etc. Not waterproof but will stand some rain without leaking inside. Has a rain cover. Only problem is that it can be a bit irritating if you are standing for a long time. A couple of times I would just bungie it on the back to get it out of the way.
Top Rack: MOD by MotoOverland. Great and very verstile top rack. Adjusts forward and back, lots of holes and slots to help tie things down. Even has holes predrilled for the RotoPax bracket which allows the RotoPax to lay flat on the Top Rack and then stack bags on top of that.
Extra Fuel: One gallon Rotopax tank that sits on the top rack. The 800GS doesn't have a great fuel range for an adventure bike - my normal fuel range is somewhere between 350 kms and 375 kms. It can get as low as 300 kms if I'm riding at 130 - 140 kph on the freeway to 400 kms if I'm taking it slow and easy. Having extra fuel is an obvious necesity when extremely long distances between fuel stops but also, it's handy to not have to turn around to go back to the last fuel stop when the gas station you expected to be opened isn't. The Rotopax adds about 75 - 90 kms to my range.
Barkbusters handguards - protect hands and levers from trees, rocks and roads. Also offers some wind/rain protection on the hands. Provides extra protection to the handlebars when the bike is bouncing down the road on its side . . .
Kaoko Throttle Lock - Can give the right hand a rest on long straight stretches or when you need your right hand to zip something on your left side. Takes awhile to figure out how to set the thing without looking like a complete spastic but sure is nice to have sometimes.
Scotts Steering Damper - Stableizes the steering. Handy on rocky or uneven roads where the steering can sometimes take on a life of its own. Also handy on the highway behind a truck when the dirty air is blowing you all over. In truth, I'm not a good enough off-road rider to take full advantage of the damper but it does seem to make life a little easier. Also raises the handlebars slightly which was perfect for me.
Beemer Buddies make the grips a tolerable size. I guess German Engineers have really small hands as I find all of BMW's grips to be about the right size for a small woman. But, maybe that's just me.
GPS: Zumo 660 which has been ideal for me. Shows where you are, if you've done some planning, where you want to go and tells you how to get there. Mine connects with a Sena Blutooth headset in my helmet so I can hear route instructions along with music. I have about 1000 of my favorite songs stored on the Zumo which provides some background music when I want. This unit has had the crap beat out of it for the past four years and keeps doing its job. When it finally packs it in, I'll likely get another. See the GPS and Maps page for a discussion of maps for the GPS.
GPS Mount: Touratech mount sits on top of the handlebar clamps and keeps my GPS in view. Is supposed to provide a little shock absorbtion also. Locking so I can leave my GPS on the bike when away from the bike for short periods.
Front Fender Riser: Another Touratech gadget. The line of thinking here is that the front fender is a bit close to the tire and with one of the brake lines running over it, there is no room for any give. Two things can happen: Real sticky mud can build up on the tire and soon stop the tire from turning - not an ideal condition. Also, the tire can pick up a large rock - wedging it under the fender. While the fender would break off, the brake line is very strong and can stop things pretty quick. Not a good outcome at speed . . . I can fall down without any help, thank you. The downside of the Riser is that one of the brackets has to be loosened each time you take off the front wheel - an extra couple of minutes but only a slight PITA.
Spot Lights - Denali D1 Spot Lights by Twisted Throttle. Single bulb LED lights. I chose these primarliy because they can be mounted inside of my SW Motech engine guards. Many of the available spot light brands seem can only be mounted in places that would be vulnerable to damage when the bike takes a nap. My bike is a narcoleptic. I mainly want to be more visable during the daytime so, use the wide angle lens which isn't much help at night. I may change one of the lights over to the narrower lens in case I get caught out at night. Initially, both lights were replaced under warranty within the first 6 months. No problems since.
Turn Signals - Replaced my rear turn signals with these spify LED lights from F800 Depot. Brighter lights for turning but also includes one row of red LEDs that come on with the brake light.
Crash Bars - SW Motech. Selected because they are stout and would provide a good buffer. They have - they are scratched and dinged but they have provided a solid base for the bike to fall on. However, because their main anchor points are the engine, there are situations where the engine guard can actually harm the engine. My engine is fine but I'm presently looking to replace them with something that does not anchor to the engine - maybe Touratech.
Radiator cover - Touratech. Appears to provide the sturdiest protection from flying rocks and branches without restricting air movement a lot.
Healight guard - BMW - clear plastic. Works well. Easy to clean once I figured out it just pops right off to get behind it.
Skid Plate - BMW - decent protection - covers back of engine and oil filter. However, it is a PITA to take off and put back on, which you have to do for each oil change. Really fiddely! Will be changing over to one of the more straigtforward designs such as BlackDog.
Foot Pegs: Pivot Pegz. Much more comfortable than stock pegs which are very narrow. I find them more comfortable when standing and easier to shift with. With wider (fore to aft) pegs, allowing the peg to rotate is almost a necesity.
Highway pegs: MFW Mastergrip Pegs and M10 Joint Bolt onto the SW Motech crash bars. Really nice if sitting all day to be able to stretch your legs out a bit.
Lifting handle: Wunderlich. When my wife bought her bike, it came with a whole bunch of stuff added. I tried to steal a bunch of stuff but the only success I had was this spify lifting handle. Helps lift the bike onto the center stand. Particularly helpful when loaded.
Rear Shock: Yacugar from Ted Porter's Beemer Shop. The BMW suspension is less than robust, particularly if carrying a passenger and/or a lot of luggage. Apparently Yacugar is more robust than the more well known suspension brands and much easier to service. A noticable difference and has worked well for me.
Front Springs: Wilburs Progressive front springs. Still not adjustable but a better than stock. Better control.
Mud Guard: Maier USA - Keeps the mud and road crap off of your fancy shock.
Throttle Fix: Boosterplug. The 800GS can have a "snatchy" throttle. This plug n play gizmo fools the ECU into thinking the ambient temperature is a bit less resulting in a smoother throttle from idle. As an aside, my wife's bike has the Accelerator Module which does the same thing and is a bit cheaper.
Good places to buy stuff
When we are looking for very specific products, many times the local dealers don't have the wide variety of things to choose from. The internet is your friend. I do a lot of On Line shopping and most of the time while the products are not much cheaper, onine generally offers much better selection and more convenience. Many of the products above were purchased from the manufacturer or smaller retailer. Here is a list of the larger suppliers I have been happy with:
A&S BMW: The BMW dealer near Sacramento. Since I am in that area frequently, it is handy to pick up the odd part. However, they have also developed into one of the largest online BMW parts and accessories dealers. Get on their mailing list and they announce some nice online deals fairly frequently. I've bought a lot of stuff from them and have been treated well.
Revzilla: Great place to buy gear. Lots of selection and they put up tons of videos so you can see how different things work and what they look like. Starting to expand to products other than gear. Free shipping, phone support and free returns. Again, bought a lot of stuff and been treated well.
Touratech: If you have a BMW, hard to not have something from Touratech. Some stuff is unique, some stuff good, some stuff not so much. My experiences with them have been good.
Twisted Throttle: Handle a lot of the European products in addition to a few of their own. Generally good to deal with although have had a couple of times dealing with their technical support when it was difficult getting ahold of them. Their dealer in Canada is Avisious Cycle whom they recently purchased.
Motorcycle Superstore - Where I buy most of my tires. Like the others also carry a wide range of other products.
Amazon.com - Some gadgets, particularly electronic stuff can be had with decent deals (or at least free shipping) on Amazon. While Amazon is a frickin Amazon, they are great to deal with, prompt with their shipments and returns are painless.
Just so you don't think I completly ignore our local businesses, here are some local (Okanagan Valley, BC) who have treated me well
Bentley Motorrad - The Interior BC BMW dealer. Nuff said. Nice people, great mechanic. We've bought bikes from them, friends have bought bikes from them.
Rollin Rubber - If you want to buy tires locally and have them mounted for a decent price, go see Kim. Great little business.
Betta's - OK, not really in the Okanagan Valley, not even in Canada. However, Betta's is in Oroville, WA, just across the border on Hwy 97. Sometimes shipping to Canada is stupid expensive and it is worthwhile having stuff shipped to Betta's, and bring it across the line yourself. I've had a ton of stuff go through Betta's
Harley Stuff - OK, don't be hatin' on me . . . I own a Harley also . . . I still like it even though it doesn't get ridden as much as it used to
Kamloops Harley Davidson - One of the best motorcycle dealers I've run across. Never feel like you have to bring your own jar of Vaseline. They move a lot of product and, there is a reason why. Of course it helps that their nearest Harley competitor (who is actually closer to me than Kamloops) is a complete idiot and has no idea who his market is or what he is trying to sell, but that is another discussion.
Kreater Custom Cycles, Kelowna - While their main business is building custom motorcycles, they also service and stock Harley parts. Right next door to that other Harley dealer (mentioned above) . . . in Kelowna. Stocks Harley parts and accessories and are great to deal with.
Generally stuff I've added to my bike
Last updated Dec 7, 2013