BMW R 1200 GS Adventure | Review

BMW R 1200 GS Review

As a motorcycle journalist I am in the enviable position of being able to ride the entire range of offerings from virtually all the manufacturers. So it is with some perspective that I say; the BMW R 1200 GS is my favorite all-around motorcycle. That wasn’t always the case. Not all that long ago that I didn’t quite get the BMW GS motorcycles.

At one point, I thought BMW motorcycles were ugly ducklings, given to strange leanings by sentimental (read: conservative) riders. With all the beautiful, nasty, sleek motorcycles out there I couldn’t understand why anyone would choose one of the little baby Pachyderms.

So, what changed my mind? The press intro in South Africa for the new BMW R 1200 GS a few years back. Four days thrashing about in the bush and winding over mountain pavement and gravel fireroads gave me a new perspective.

I returned to South Africa a few years later to ride the new BMW 1200 GS Adventure motorcycle, traversing the famous Baviaanskloof. I’ve now racked up miles on BMW 1200 GS motorcycles on three continents–Europe, Africa and North America.

The longest stint was 30 days in Spain. One day we went from steep, winding mountain roads, to open freeway, stop and go traffic in a large city, and ended up running up a gravel road to see the ruins of a castle. It was sitting at that castle, watching the sun set over the plains of La Mancha, that I fell in love with the BMW 1200 GS. It was then I realized the versatility of the motorcycle. It does a lot, very well.

As for versatility and sensibility; a competent rider aboard a 1200 GS can keep pace with most riders on sportbikes in canyon twisties. The motorcycle is comfortable all day in the saddle, riding alone or two-up. It’s tall enough to be able to see over most standard cars (a plus in thick traffic) and it’s virtually bulletproof.

Add to that the simplicity of an air-cooled motor and shaft drive-which eliminates a lot of maintenance hassles on the road-and you have the makings for the essential peace of mind when traveling; either close or far from home.

Each time I’m graced with a BMW 1200 GS for a review I am swept up into giddy excitement and immediately start planning a trip somewhere. In fact, it recently occurred to me that I have the same fondness for the BMW 1200 GS that I had for my first motorized love: a Honda MiniTrail 70.

For me, I’m tending to reserve the new generation of sportbikes for the track and continually return to the good graces of the GS. Am I getting old – or just smarter? I’d be interested to hear your particular GS story.

Engine

Type Air/oil-cooled flat twin
(‘Boxer’) 4-stroke engine, two camshafts and four radially aligned
valves per cylinder, central balancer shaft
Bore x
stroke
101 mm x 73 mm
Capacity 1,170 cc
Rated
output
110 hp (81 kW)
at 7,750 rpm
Max.
torque
88 ft-lb (120 Nm)
at 6,000 rpm
Compression
ratio
12.0 : 1
Mixture
control / engine management
Electronic intake pipe injection / BMS-K+ digital engine
management with overrun fuel cut-off, twin spark ignition
Emission
control
Closed-loop
3-way catalytic converter, emission standard EU-3

Performance Fuel Consumption

Maximum
speed
over 120 mph (200
km/h)
Fuel
consumption per 100 km at constant 90 km/h
City: 43.3 mpg (4.6 l Euro)
Fuel
consumption per 100 km at constant 120 km/h
Highway: 51.1 mpg (6.1 l Euro)
Fuel
type
Unleaded super and
premium, octane number 91-93

Electrical System

Alternator three-phase alternator 720 W
Battery 12 V / 14 Ah, maintenance-free

Power Transmission

Clutch Single dry plate clutch,
hydraulically operated
Gearbox Constant mesh 6-speed gearbox
with helical gear teeth
Drive Shaft drive

Chassis / Brakes

Frame Two-section frame consisting of
front and rear sections, load- bearing engine-gearbox unit
Front
wheel location / suspension
BMW Motorrad Telelever; stanchion diameter 41 mm, central
spring strut, spring pre-load with 5-position mechanical adjustment
Rear
wheel location / suspension
Cast aluminium single-sided swing arm with BMW Motorrad
Paralever; WAD strut (travel-related damping), spring pre-load
hydraulically adjustable (continuously variable) at handwheel, rebound
damping adjustable
Suspension
travel front / rear
8.2/8.6
inches (210/220 mm)
Wheelbase 59.4 inches (1,510 mm)
Castor 89 mm
Steering
head angle
65.2°
Wheels Cross-spoke wheels
Rim,
front
2.50 x 19"
Rim,
rear
4.00 x 17"
Tyres,
front
110/80 R 19
Tyres,
rear
150/70 R 17

Dimensions / Weights

Length 2,240 mm
Width
(incl. mirrors)
990 mm
Height
(excl. mirrors)
1,525
mm
Seat
height, unladen weight
35/35.8
inches (890 / 910 mm)
Inner
leg curve, unladen weight
1,960 / 2,000 mm
Unladen
weight, road ready, fully fuelled 1)
564 lbs (256 kg)
Dry
weight 2)
491 lbs (223
kg)
Permitted
total weight
1,047 lbs
(475 kg)
Payload
(with standard equipment)
482 lbs (219 kg)
Usable
tank volume
8.7 gallons
(33 l)
Reserve approx. 1 gallon (4.0 l)
Technical data relate to the unladen weight
(DIN)

1)
According to guideline 93/93/EWG with all fluids, fuelled with at least
90% of usable tank volume
2) Unladen weight without fluids

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