Unless you live on a distant planet or have a predisposition to ignoring anything that includes the letters GS (in that particular order), you have probably heard growing noise about a problem that seems to be apparent in post 2014 BMW GS bikes. But, has anyone heard a response from BMW themselves in this time?
Well, according to increasingly vocal blogs and posts on Facebook and other social media, there appears to be a problem with the front forks of some BMW GS models. The problems have been called an accident waiting to happen, and in fact, there have been some rather spectacular accidents of late that involve the 'separation' of the front fork seals and other stanchion issues. The results - bikes that simply fall apart, dumping their unwitting riders face-down on the sidewalk and country paths.
The latest incident to make news has been from a rider that traveled to Zimbabwe with a group of friends and was rudely surprised when his front forks simply collapsed on him. Fortunately, this happened shortly after traversing a drop of a large number of meters into a ravine, but it still resulted in injury and vast repatriation costs for rider and bike. And the response from BMW.... Nada.....Nothing..
Whatever your opinion of GS riders and bikes may be, we can all agree that where a pattern of similar and repetitive incidents occur with the same brand or model, there is something to be said about terming the incidents 'rumour'. If it were not a problem, manufacturers in the United States would not be making aftermarket clamps to minimise the separation issue and social media would not be inundated with anecdotal evidence from riders as far-afield as India, Australia, the United States and South Africa. There is even a Facebook page with over 500 followers dedicated to the 'problem', so when will BMW issue a response?
Well, apparently BMW is looking at each case on an individual basis, preferring to treat the incidents as warranty claims rather than acknowledging that there is a problem far-wider than they want us to believe. Recently, Ford tried to ignore self-combustion problems with their Kuga range, and also chose to treat them as isolated and unrelated incidents, but we all know where that went don't we? Fact is, there is a case to be made for BMW to face this problem head-on and stop taking chances with the lives of loyal customers. What will it take to get their attention - a death? Add to this the deafening silence from motor journalists and the motor media in general - what do they know that we don't?
Speculation is that BMW changed the front fork design in the 2014 model either to save weight on what has become a heavy beast, or to improve rider comfort, but no-one really knows. Owners are reporting that some dealers are even voiding warranty claims if bikes show any scratches on their crash-bars on the basis that the bikes are being 'mishandled', but as any adventure rider knows, that claim cannot be justified for what is ostensibly the leading adventure motorcycle and belongs under the heading 'crap'..! C'mon guys, even the worst suspension system known to man - fitted on the KTM, handles anything that gets thrown at it, while the GS system fades into insignificance on urban roads. Really..?
So, if you are one of the many GS riders out there wondering whether to update your will before heading-out on your bike, know that you are not alone with this problem. We have heard of countless potential buyers delaying or cancelling their orders for new GS's until the problem is sorted out - or at least until they have clarity from BMW, so perhaps it is time for owners to get together and demand that the relevant Ombudsman instigate an investigation into the problems and force a recall before someone dies.
Maybe then BMW Motorad will pay a little more attention.