BMW R 1200 GS: Expert Opinion by Faizal Sukree
Faizal Sukree’s Take on the R 1200 GS
Plus his experience with the bike in the BMW Motorrad GS Trophy 2016
Interview and pictures by Wahid Ooi Abdullah
Pictures courtesy of Cycle World Malaysia
We had just completed our review of the BMW’s amazing R 1200 GS LC Triple Black and came away mightily impressed. The bike seemed to be able to do it all. Still, what’s five days of urban, highway and weekend riding compared to the experience of those who have owned one of these beauties? We decided to ask around.
(Please click here for our review.)
There are countless numbers of BMW motorcycle owners in Malaysia with plenty of experience under their belts. But only one Malaysian has gone on to participate in the BMW Motorrad GS Trophy finals, thus far.
That person was Faizal Sukree.
His exploits with BMW motorcycles are far and wide. Besides the GS Trophy, Faizal trains BMW motorcycle owners on the intricacies of offroad riding, in addition to travelling around the world as a motorcycle guide. He’s a trained BMW Motorrad Offroad Instructor through the BMW Motorrad International Instructors Academy, besides being also being a trained tour guide through the BMW Motorrad International Tourguide Academy, both in Germany.
iMotorbike.com (iM): When were you first exposed to BMW’s motorcycles?
Faizal Sukree (FS): My first BMW motorcycle was the air-cooled R 1200 GS in 2007. I was really impressed with it. It was because I had wanted to explore Indochina and the travelling addiction took hold from there.
From that point I bought another R 1200 GS Adventure, F 800 GS, F 650 GS and so on. I’ve actually lost count of the number of BMW motorcycles I’ve owned. (Laughs.)
iM: That was supposed to be the next question. What’s the approximate number of BMW’s you’ve owned?
FS: Around 15. (We would like to note that our jaws hit the ground at this revelation – Ed.)
iM: What’s your favourite model?
FS: My favourite was the F 800 GS, actually. Reliable, easy to maintain, and its chain driven. My F 800 GS still has the same engine from the factory with hard-ridden 165,000km, through 82 countries in six continents.
iM: Since you’ve owned the air/oil-cooled model, how does the new air/liquid-cooled (LC) model compare?
FS: Honestly, I was initially skeptical whether the LC model could be better than the oil-cooled model. I’ve owned three oil-cooled R 1200 GS prior and I found them to be very good already.
I was there when BMW Motorrad Malaysia launched the LC at Genting Highlands in 2013. The bike looked nice, but I still couldn’t believe that BMW could produce a model that could be better than the oil-cooled. So the LC became the only bike that I didn’t buy during a launch.
Forward to 2015, while I was in Morocco at the time, BMW Motorrad Malaysia posted on their Facebook page that the next BMW Motorrad GS Trophy will include a Malaysian rider, under the banner of Team Southeast Asia.
I went home, prepared my GS for the qualifiers, and, I still couldn’t believe I qualified for the finals. I didn’t have any training and had been travelling around the world for the last three years up to that point.
So, it came to pass that the first time I ever rode the R 1200 GS LC was during the GS Trophy finals. In fact, I didn’t even know how to setup the bike. BMW Motorrad Malaysia, dealers and friends briefed me on which modes to use and so forth. The other GS Trophy participants were also very helpful.
I felt it was a good bike (the LC) after Day One. On Day Two, we had to ride down this single offroad trail which was very tough, almost like at Kemensah back here, and I found out that the R 1200 GS LC is an enduro bike! Then after covering 1200 kilometres at the end of Day Four, I concluded that the LC was truly good.
In the end, we finished 7 days of tough enduro riding and special tests, but I didn’t see one bike break down, or broken into two pieces. Each team had three riders and there were 19 teams in total, and every bike completed the event in one piece.
I was truly impressed and decided to check my bank account balance (laughs) and finally bought one after receiving an email from Germany, “You can come to collect your GS Trophy R 1200 GS…” for a special sum. The bike is now in Münich, Germany waiting to be brought home this July.
iM: It was awesome to have seen what you did with the R 1200 GS in offroad environments, but what’re your thoughts about how the bike will feel for the overland riders; the majority of them who had never ridden offroad?
FS: You can have a bike that completely covers all scenarios, but the R 1200 GS is the closest as an all-in-one motorcycle.
For example, the way the front Telelever and rear Paralever suspension reacts makes sense. If you tried emergency braking on the GS, the linked-brake system is the best. I’ve tried it.
While the R 1200 GS may make “only” 125 bhp and 125 Nm of torque compared to other open class adventure- and sports-touring bikes, I don’t need 160 bhp to tour around the world. Not everyone could handle a bike with 160 bhp on sand and gravel.
I’ll give you another example. I have a HP2 Enduro (one of only two units in Malaysia), which is 70 kg lighter than the GS LC, but I’d prefer to ride the latter.
iM: R 1200 GS owners always say that the bike’s weight disappears once you start moving. How true is that, in your opinion?
FS: Let’s not compared BMW’s (Boxer) flat-Twin with other makes, instead let’s just compare it to BMW’s own F 800 GS. One could really tell the difference. The centre of gravity (CoG) of the Boxer is very low down to the ground.
iM: What are your suggestions for new BMW riders?
FS: My recommendation is to go learn the full capabilities of your GS. For example, the front and rear brakes are linked in ROAD, RAIN and ENDURO modes, but only in ENDURO Pro, is the ABS off for the rear, while still retaining the function for the front. With ENDURO Pro, all you need to do is grab the front brake while heading down a steep offroad hill. The front is not going to lock up and since the rear brake is also activated, it keeps the bike stable.
In any case, any BMW motorcycle owner should sign up for classes, be it for on road only or both on road and offroad training. BMW Motorrad Malaysia has plenty of certified instructors, but in case you prefer those outside of BMW, you may also seek to participate in courses by other instructors. I guarantee that you’ll go away having learned something.