Long-Term Update: Over 7,500 miles and the bike has the scratches and dings to prove it!

WRIST: Aaron Frank
MSRP (2013): $19,520
MILES: 7,737
MPG: 41
MODS: A 230-pound, neon-green stablemate

Unlike many of you, I didn’t ride dirt bikes as a kid. Until recently—until this giant GS appeared in my garage, in fact—I could probably count on both hands all the times I had willfully ridden off road. That’s all different now. I’ve got just over 7,500 miles on this GS, and maybe as many as 20 percent of those miles represent actual off-highway miles. And the bike has the scratches and dings to prove it.

With previous long-term testbikes I would ride hundreds of miles in search of perfect pavement; now I ride hundreds of miles for an opportunity to escape the paved planet. I recently aimed Herr GS toward the geological gem that is Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where I added a few hundred more off-road miles to the odometer. The UP is crisscrossed with countless signed ORV trails, logging roads, and graded forest highways open to plated dual-sport motorcycles, and I explored as many as I could in 48 hours, encountering ankle-deep sand, axle-deep mud, rocks, roots, ruts, and everything else you’ll find on a proper off-road adventure.

I am constantly amazed at how capable BMW’s latest GS is off road. Slow down and choose your lines carefully and there’s nothing this bike won’t bulldog itself over, around, or through. The key words, however, are slow and down—edge a muddy rut or push the front in deep sand at anything above a fast walking pace and this top-heavy, 580-pound bike is going down and going down fast; a foot dab won’t do anything except send you to urgent care.

After picking this beast up by myself for the 10th time that weekend (repeated crashing has proven certain “farkles” like Wunderlich crashbars and folding shift lever and the proper SW Motech hand guards to be anything but superfluous off road; take that, Cook!), I began to plot the perfect accessory to add next: a lighter, more off road-capable stablemate. Which is how I became the new owner of a “lightly used, low-hour” 2011 Kawasaki KX250F, complete with a dual-sport conversion kit and Michigan title. Weighing less than half as much as the GS, it should be significantly less likely to end up upside down on the trail and easier to pick up when it still does. Now, if only its highway manners were even close to the BMW’s…