GS Cautions - What To Watch Out For
Problems associated with the GS?
Yes, there are.
Most of these problems stem from owner neglect. Since the GS keeps
on running no matter what you do to it (or don't do to it), people
tend to forget routine maintenance. If you're out to buy one, look
for signs of neglect. These include: black engine oil, low oil
level, seepage through head gasket (manageable) or barrel gasket
(expensive and time-consuming!), a noisy crankshaft (terminal!) a
noisy gearbox, a noisy camchain... you should have got the picture
by now. This may or may not be a reason not to buy it; much will
depend on your mechanical skills and your willingness to work on the
bike yourself. Most GS's are quite easy to work on.
then there's the problems with the electrics. Most of these can
usually be explained by the fact that these are usually old bikes,
which have been tampered with over the years.
There is one serious problem that probably affects all GS models:
the charging system. This problem, usually ascribed to the stator,
is in fact caused by the regulator/rectifier. You can read more
about this in "The Stator
This problem is so serious and so devastating that it contributes
greatly to the GS having a very bad name as far as electrics is
concerned -- as someone said "with an electrical system so bad
that it makes Lucas look good".
In general, this statement overdoes the case. The electrics I've
seen on non-tampered, garaged bikes are quite good, and in
particular on the GS1100E that I bought when it was 14 years old,
I've seen some wiring and fittings which have withstood the test of
time quite well. Mind you, if you buy any classic GS other than the
shafties, which has been carried through until 1986, it's likely to
be at least 13 years old even as we write this, and on any bike of
that age wiring and connectors are prone to suspicion!
Other than the electrics, there's nothing specific to watch for
that you shouldn't be aware of when buying any secondhand.
-Peter Huppertz (circa 1998)
If you have something to add on what else to watch out for...
that you feel should be featured here, simply put your question
in our forum under the GS Problems
topic. We will be checking out the forums often. If
we see a comment or suggestion that we feel everyone would be
interested in reading, we will notify you via email to let you know
that we would like to include it in this section.
The Stator Papers - the
primer tries to explain what may be wrong with your GS not
To get an idea of how GS's hold up, check out the Owners Registry
(see top menu bar) and see if the owners have any other information
on your make and model that may be helpful.