Water cooled GS vs Tenere

Last night a buddy called me up, informed me that he had a GS for a few days.  I didn’t hesitate one bit, as I simply like to try new bikes.

I will write this two ways.  One being from a standpoint of a test.  The second, from an ownership standpoint.

The Test.  The GS, 23xxxkm on it, ESA, ABS, other bits on it (pretty sure it was a full load), stock metzeler ‘next’ tires.

My ST, 30xxxkm, tb pipe, clutch mod, mitas 50/50 tires.

Inital impressions of the GS.  Lighter off the stand, good seating position.  The clocks are busy, the rev counter is small compared to the display, I would prefer it the other way round.
Not sure what Bmw were thinking when they made the accessory headlight protector.  It looks like something from 1980 Communist Era Poland, that Stan slapped together before it got sent out for sale. 🙂

Switch gear is logical, and the windshield is adjustable with a knob, for height, and pitch, but in a set path.

Pulling away, the bike was in dynamic mode  (POWERRRRRRR!!!!!), and suspension in Road.  Oh my what a motor…power wheelies in 1st and 2nd gear, before the TC wakes up, and drops the hammer down on you, curtailing the fun.
Stock exhaust sounds great.  The throttle is odd.  At first nothing happens, then BAM! you’re off like a shot.  It does rev higher than the ST at speed.  About 4900 rpm at an indicated 120 km/h
Suspension is good.  I didn’t bother switching between the different modes, but it held well on a local twisty paved road.  No I didn’t take it off-road, but I’m sure it would do well there too.  Gone (I think) are the days of the shite TC that Bmw is known for, but I still think the Yamaha TC is better.
Brakes, are top-notch, very little dive under hard braking.


I rode the GS one way, and my buddy was on my ST.  After taking some pictures, we switched bikes, and I saddled up my blue beast.
Clutch switch on, TC off, and we turned them around for the ride home.
The biggest difference I can see is that the GS seems like it’s going faster.  The ST plods along, but when you look at the speedo, oh my, you’re moving.  To add to that, the ST feels planted, even on half knobbies.

We then decided to do a race!
We both took off from stand still.  I had him in the first 3 gears, at which point he pulled away.  Not much mind you (2-3 bike lengths) so I was happy about that.  Sadly, I later found out he was in road, and not dynamic (full power).  Again, keep in mind that I’m on a 50/50 tire, and he’s on street rubber, so that may of had something to do with it, or the 20 odd horse that the GS has over the ST.  I enjoyed the short ride home.  The ST has comparable wind protection, good seating position, and good road feel.

Ownership:  I have owned my ST from new.  I did not test ride it before I bought it (early delivery program).  I have no complaints about the bike, in fact I love it.  It impresses on the road, and shines off-road.  It works for me.  Reliability wise, besides the o-ring recall, and a couple of spokes coming off the rear wheel, it has been faultless. If I’m heading out on a 3000km trip  I never worry about making it home, or having to call a buddy with a truck.  The bike was a great deal (US purchased).  I did throw a bit of add ons on to it (protection, windshield, exhaust, luggage, and the odd thing).  Performance wise, I only did the clutch mod, and a slip on pipe.  I think for some extra power the gen 2 flash would probably put me around a true 105 hp mark, which would be more than sufficient, but it’s by no means a must. So not perfect, but damn close.  After 30 odd km, I would give the Yamaha a 9.5/10

GS.  The amount of horror stories that I heard first hand are plenty.  The local dealer is a bit of a collective twat.  The salesmen think they are somehow privileged to sell you these things….”what’s that sir? a new GS base, as advertised on the Canadian bmw site is 18500 plus this that and the other thing, and no….we cannot get you a stock one, you have to buy it with at least a few things on it.  How about 25000 plus tax, freight, crate disposal fee of $300, dock fee of $150, and documentation fee of $300″

Friend of ours were in the market for a new GS700.  We will call her ‘female hoser’  Said female hoser felt the 700 worked well for her.  So the hosers search started.  In Alberta, and BC, there was no stock 700’s to be had.  They ended up buying a fully loaded 700 for roughly 13 large.  They had no choice.  If you wanted a bike soon, you had to buy a loaded one.  If you wanted the bare bones…well, we can have one for you next year….maybe.

The next issue is the warranty/service dept itself.  Bmw frowns if you do your own work (oil change, valves etc…) yet when you bring it in, they don’t exactly do a stellar job of working on your ‘investment’

The biggie.  Reliability.  I know friends that have two GS800.  One of them is a permanent fixture in the back of the pick up truck.  Yes the rear wheel looks great on the 1200 with the single sided arm, but is it really necessary?  We’re not doing the 24 HRS of Lemans.  The most we change tires is every 8 km.  So why in the hell did they go back to the sssa?.  Strictly for looks, and for cred, Starbucks that  is 🙂


I could go and buy two tenere’s (from the US), for the price of a fully loaded GS.  In the end, it’s what works for you.
A  affordable, fun, easy to work on bike is the ticket for me.  The GS is flash, and fast, but to put up with the high initial price, and questionable reliability is not worthwhile.

Like captain rainbow says: “If you’re having fun, that’s what really matters”


6 thoughts on “Water cooled GS vs Tenere

  1. great read thanks I own a 2012 tenere as well.. great bike but the morons in the states arent buying them they mite discontinue the 2014 ….the jerks hear would rather ride harleys or some other jap cruiser crap

    • Ha ha! well, if it makes you feel any better, a bunch of us bought out of the states, and brought them up north. Great bike, cannot get enough of it. Regarding 2014, they are bringing out a redesign. It’s supposed to be shown on October 14th. Keep your eyes peeled.
      Don’t forget to subscribe, lots of nonsense to follow from me 🙂

  2. Heh, everywhere else in the world it’s the same. A fully loaded GS here (slightly less Down Under) is also priced at 2 times a Super Tenere for roughly USD 75-80,000 (we have crazy taxes here) and yet they still sell ’em by the craploads. Yes there may be a lot of owners around the world who experience no problems whatsoever after thousands of miles, but I doubt that claim since we all love to justify the things that we buy even with all the headaches that come along with them. Great to know that for what they are, one is not missing much for choosing an S10 over a GS.

    • thanks Gorga.

      Remember, Image is everything. Yes the GS has more get up and go than a Tenere (some of the power deficit can easily be clawed back with a full exhaust system, pcV tuner, and flash) Yes the valves are much easier to do (even though you need to check them more often on the GS). Yes it’s more expensive (roughly 50% more than a comparable tenere).
      but the sheer beating that I put my tenere through, it feels new, even at 70xxx km.
      You are correct in saying that we defend what we buy. I like my tenere very much.

      • Your last paragraph sums up my feelings about this particular class of motorcycles – the best ones are those that we don’t have any second thoughts about re: giving them a beating. In a perfect world I would get a WR250R and XT1200ZSE in addition to the ER6F I already have, and maybe a small van/truck to transport them around if needed.

      • Hi George.

        Give the WR250r a pass. Get a real dirt bike that’s plated. KTM EXC 350 or EXC 450 comes to mind. Perfect suspension right out of the box, and gobs of power. Get on and start wearing out the tires. I did buy a used EXC 450, and I think it’s the cat’s ass.

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