BMW GS Essential Buyer's
Guide - wBW
The Essential Buyer's Guide: BMW GS
by Peter Henshaw
Paperback: 64 pages
Dimensions (mm): 140 x 195 x 6.0
Publishing; (Feb 2008)
List Price: $19.95 (£9.99)
Review by "Burn"
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We have a ton of books queued up and ready to review in the
webBikeWorld library. I've
been having too much fun reading them and, as I'm sure you'll remember from
your High School days, it's a lot easier to read a book (well, sometimes
anyway) than it is
to write a book review.
But I have to get cracking (by the way Editor, how
did I become the Chief Book Reviewer around here??) so
first up is this slim -- very slim -- guide to buying
your first (or second) BMW GS motorcycle.
The "Essential Buyer's Guide" series has been popular
in the UK for some time. The books are published
by those wonderful folks at Veloce, who have brought us
all sorts of interesting reads over the years. In
fact, I also have a couple of other Veloce
published books in the queue: "Moto Guzzi Sport & Le Mans Bible" and
"The Ducati 750 Bible", both by the highly
prolific author Ian Falloon.
The Buyer's Guide series mostly covers
automobiles of various types (my favorite: "The
Essential Buyer's Guide to the Fiat 500 & 600"), but
they're starting to cover motorcycles also. Veloce
has an Essential Buyer's Guide for the Triumph
Bonneville and BSA 500 & 650 Twins, and probably others
on the way.
I'll get to the "Bibles" soon, but in the meantime, I
pulled The Essential BMW GS Buyer's Guide out of the
pile for several reasons, not the least of which is that
it should be an easy book to review because of its size!
The size of the book -- 64 pages, counting the index
-- is problematic at the price they charge. I'm
actually of mixed emotions on this one -- the list price
seems very high for what is essentially (!) the same
information one could probably glean from the Internet
before buying one of these very popular motorcycles.
But here's the good news: many webBikeWorlders have
suggested that we put a link to Amazon.com so they can
buy a copy of the books that we review. We sort of
resisted doing this for a variety of reasons, but
starting with this review, you'll find a link at the top
of the page where you can buy the book.
And Amazon is charging only about $14.00 currently
for the GS Essential Buyer's Guide, which I think is
much more reasonable, and at that price, you probably
should definitely get a copy if you're planning on
buying a GS...or even if you just want to learn more
about the breed.
The Guide does condense pretty much everything you
need to know into a handy size that you can take with
you when you're looking at a used example, although
you'll probably look a bit dorkish if you do. They
even included little check boxes that the potential
buyer is supposed to fill out: "Ex Gd Av Po" (Excellent,
Good, Average, Poor), but I'd leave that for homework
rather than doing it in front of the owner.
The BMW GS series (G/S = "Gelande Strasse", or
"off-road/street") was basically dismissed by the rest
of the motorcycling establishment when it first appeared
But BMW doesn't make a decision to bring out a new
model lightly, and they either got lucky or knew what
they were doing, because I'd venture to say that the GS
has probably saved the modern BMW company in many ways.
I've ridden an older R100GS but never owned one (and
someday soon I might), although I've owned a half-dozen
"Airhead" and "Oilhead" BMWs over the years. I
know BMWs pretty well, so there really wasn't much in
the book that was a surprise, but I could see where a
new-to-the-GS rider would benefit by having everything
from a brief history to a compendium of "What to look
for" in one volume.
The Essential Buyer's Guides follow a standard
format. For the GS, it starts with an introduction
and a chapter on "Is it the right bike for you?",
followed by "Cost considerations", "Living with a GS"
and going on to help with choosing the right model and
learning as much as you can "Before you view".
Some of the information is helpful, like the chapter
on the "Fifteen minute evaluation" ("walk away or
stay?") and the tips covering the various options that
were available on the bike.
The way it works is that the Guide starts off with a
quick "make or break" evaluation and then goes into the
detailed specifics of what to look for, covering
everything from paint and badges to suspension, engine
and gearbox. Obviously, this isn't going to make
you a Master BMW Mechanic in 64 pages, but I think it
does provide enough information to get you going.
And by the way, about 1/3 of those 64 pages cover
semi-filler (depending upon your point of view), like
"Auction Pros and Cons", "Paperwork", "Do You Really
Want to Restore" and "Paint Problems" and "Problems Due
to Lack of Use".
I haven't used an Essential Buyer's Guide to
actually purchase a vehicle, but I don't think this is
all I'd use to arm myself with information prior to
looking at a used example.
But here's the deal: I think that if you all of a
sudden got a jones to buy a GS without having been a BMW
owner or knowing little to nothing about the marque, the
book would be a very handy and -- dare I say it --
essential guide to get you The Knowledge.
For example, if I really was going to buy one of
those Fiat 500's -- or maybe a BSA twin, of which I know
nothing about -- I'd probably shell out the dosh for an
Essential Buyer's Guide to get me started.
The way I figure it, if I learned about one little
quirk of a particular bike -- something that is really
important to look for on a used example that may not be
obvious unless I knew what I was supposed to look for --
it could save me the price of the book and more.
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