Motorcycle Types Adventure / Dual-Sport BMW R 1200 GS Adventure | Review

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.


Type Air/oil-cooled flat twin

(‘Boxer’) 4-stroke engine, two camshafts and four radially aligned

valves per cylinder, central balancer shaft

Bore x


101 mm x 73 mm
Capacity 1,170 cc


110 hp (81 kW)

at 7,750 rpm



88 ft-lb (120 Nm)

at 6,000 rpm



12.0 : 1

control / engine management

Electronic intake pipe injection / BMS-K+ digital engine

management with overrun fuel cut-off, twin spark ignition




3-way catalytic converter, emission standard EU-3

Performance Fuel Consumption



over 120 mph (200



consumption per 100 km at constant 90 km/h

City: 43.3 mpg (4.6 l Euro)

consumption per 100 km at constant 120 km/h

Highway: 51.1 mpg (6.1 l Euro)


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


wheel location / suspension

BMW Motorrad Telelever; stanchion diameter 41 mm, central

spring strut, spring pre-load with 5-position mechanical adjustment


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


travel front / rear


inches (210/220 mm)

Wheelbase 59.4 inches (1,510 mm)
Castor 89 mm

head angle

Wheels Cross-spoke wheels


2.50 x 19"


4.00 x 17"


110/80 R 19


150/70 R 17

Dimensions / Weights

Length 2,240 mm

(incl. mirrors)

990 mm

(excl. mirrors)




height, unladen weight


inches (890 / 910 mm)


leg curve, unladen weight

1,960 / 2,000 mm

weight, road ready, fully fuelled 1)

564 lbs (256 kg)

weight 2)

491 lbs (223



total weight

1,047 lbs

(475 kg)


(with standard equipment)

482 lbs (219 kg)

tank volume

8.7 gallons

(33 l)

Reserve approx. 1 gallon (4.0 l)
Technical data relate to the unladen weight



According to guideline 93/93/EWG with all fluids, fuelled with at least

90% of usable tank volume
2) Unladen weight without fluids

Ron Lieback
Ron Lieback
One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007, and is currently Online Editor at Ultimate Motorcycling. He is also the author of "365 to Vision: Modern Writer's Guide (How to Produce More Quality Writing in Less Time).

2021 Daytona Fantasy Supercross Tips (16 Fast Facts)

The Daytona Supercross is the midway point in the 2021 Monster Energy Supercross Championship Series. There are eight rounds in the book, and there...

BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy Comes To Europe For 2022

For the first time since its 2008 debut, the BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy competition will be held in Europe. Located above the northeast...

Ultimate Motorcycling Editor’s Letter, March 2021: Vive l’automatique!

Testing the 2021 Honda Rebel 1100 DCT for this issue reminded me of something fundamental—motorcycles need to be accessible to new riders. Although we’ve...

Lieback’s Lounge: FTR—The Savior From Winter Misery?

When I found myself cleaning the tire treads on my Multistrada 1200, I knew the winter madness had returned.

2022 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster First Look: New Fork and More

The 2022 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster gets a more responsive motor with additional midrange power from the vertical-twin 1200HT engine. The powerplant also meets Euro...

Avon Tyres + Blood Bikes = Motorcycles Saving Lives

We’ve all heard of blood banks, but this is the first time we have heard of blood bikes. Leicestershire & Rutland Blood Bikes is...