By Monica Holmes, New York, New York

Monica's height: 6 feet
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Monica and her 2008 BMW R 1200 GS.

The BMW R 1200 GS is one of the most successful production models for the company. BMW began as a producer of aircraft engines in 1913 and produced motorcycles before it produced cars. In 1921, it developed the M2 B15, also known as the first “Boxer” motorcycle. The production motorcycles began as the R series, and one of the most successful models was the R2 in 1930, which sold more than 15,000 units.

That tradition continues today. The R 1200 GS is one of BMWs most successful production models, with more than 100,000 units sold. The model is a dual purpose bike that can be ridden on the blacktop, busy city streets or dirt roads. The engine is an air/oil cooled, 1170cc, flat-twin four stroke with a six-speed manual transmission. The bike weight is just over 550 pounds, and it has a 33-inch seat height. The bike has an onboard computer and the ability to adjust the suspension at the touch of a button.

The GS was a natural fit for me. My first bike was a 2006 Suzuki V-Strom 650, and that was great for the first two seasons. When it was time to take a solo cross-country trip, there was no question about the bike I was going to ride. In my search for speed, power, safety and endurance, I kept coming back to the same bikethe BMW 2008 R 1200 GS.

In prepping for a ride from Manhattan, New York, to Los Angeles, California, I thought theR 1200 GSwas a little overkill. I was wrong. This is a big bike with an intimidating look. On my cross-country ride, the horsepower and torque got me out of some hairy situations. The heated grips kept me warm in the Rockies. The anti-lock brakes stopped on a dime, and the 5.3-gallon fuel tank with 45 to 50 mpg kept me going and going. The R 1200 GS loved the twisties in the Badlands and the mountain roads of the Black Hills. All of this with a very smooth ride, although with the occasional sore bum. For a solid week, I rode in the rain, and there were times when water was up to the foot pegs. With various construction sites along the way, there was a lot of loose gravel and grooved pavement. Whatever the situation, the GS performed like a champ.

Monica rode a BMW R 1200 GS from Manhattan to Los Angeles.

My biggest complaint with the BMW 2008 R 1200 GS was and always will be the seat. At 6-feet even with a 36-inch inseam, I do not have the standard complaint about the bike height, and I like the flexibility of the stock seat. The design allows it to be raised or lowered. However, no matter what position it is in, it just isnt very comfortable after a few hours of riding. With an MSRP north of $14,500, the bike could have a cushier seat.

During the trip, I became aware of other need-to-haves. Recently, I purchased an expandable top case that holds a full-face helmet or a full backpack and motorcycle cover. My latest purchase was an aftermarket windshield. The stock windshield is undersized for long-distance travels where you are sure to encounter stiff winds. The replacement should reduce the frontal buffeting.

All in all, I love the BMW R 1200 GS. It is a great motorcycle. The versatility of this motorcycle is unmatched. I ride in Manhattan and love the zippy feel in traffic. On the open road, this bike has proven it can go the distance in widely varied conditions with gusto. I have never felt safer or more confident on a motorcycle.

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4 thoughts on READER MOTORCYCLE REVIEW: 2008 BMW R 1200 GS

  1. Wow….beautiful bike! No doubt, BMW is in a league of it's own. Way to go. Ride on!

  2. It's great to hear how happy you are with your bike. I also have one, and am leaving soon for a trip to the Rockies, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. I'm in agreement with you about the seat. I know several owners who replaced their seats but it is an added cost. I'm curious about the higher windshield and if you like it. Let us know. Thanks.

  3. I just rode my 2008 R 1200 GS from Ann Arbor, MI to Niagara Falls, Ontario, for the Memorial Day weekend. It was my first trip on the bike (I've only had it about a month). I 'graduated' from a BMW F 650 GS and totally love the increase in horsepower and solid feel. I had a custom seat done for my 650 because the stock seat on it is far worse than the 1200. I may go the custom seat route on the 1200 as well. We'll see.

  4. I have a 2007 R 1200 GS and I love it. I agree with all comments. It is an amazingly versatile bike. I've taken it cross country, on the track, on the dirt, and it is nimble enough to ride around the city. I too would like to change the seat and windshield, but for now, they are adequate. Overall, I am a huge fan!

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