BMW R1200GS Adventure | Review

Motorcycle Review

For some reason, Hollywood, when searching for a robust motorcycle that personifies power and strength for negotiating the challenges presented in one of their cinematic post-apocalyptic worlds, have never utilized BMW's stout GS.

The iconic motorcycle would be the perfect mount to tackle decaying cities of fallen infrastructure and lawlessness. It's really a shame because the machine's purpose-built persona screams individualism with rugged leading man good looks.

Well, at least in the real world the GS has earned its stripes as a highly respected star of two-wheel adventure travel.

2010 marks the 30th birthday of BMW's signature, best selling machine. It's become a bit of a cliché to refer to the GS Adventure as the "Swiss Army Knife of motorcycles," but it's a fair assessment.

Since its introduction the GS (for "Gelände Strasse", which translates to terrain/street) has earned legions of devoted followers, creating an exclusive club of adventure-oriented enthusiasts.

To celebrate the GS's 30th, engineers have hopped up the stalwart Boxer engine with HP2 heads. The resulting boost in performance is deceptive if you're just looking at the spec sheet (110 hp/88 ft-lbs torque).

It's printed as about a five horsepower jump over last year, but the actual ride and response feels a great deal more significant. Improved fuel mapping has smoothed out the jerky low-end throttle of the traditional Boxer and the new motor delivers a true snap of response.

There's an audible, heightened growl with the 2010 model, which appropriately accompanies the increased visceral aspect of the pumped-up motor.

Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA) provides on-the-fly changes to accommodate whatever type of terrain you're negotiating.

The switchable ABS is growing on me, providing an added measure of security on the types of riding surfaces often encountered when venturing into unfamiliar places, such as gravel strewn, broken pavement, and especially when riding in dirty, wet conditions. The moment the wheels hit the dirt the ABS is cancelled.

Despite the Adventure's hefty profile, the bike is amazingly agile off-road. The trick is in allowing the GS to do what it does best; roll over terrain like a tank.

The sheer bulk of the machine allows it to easily traverse ruts, whoops, ridges, water crossings, etc. with a kind of pachyderm steadfastness. Relaxed and loose is the key, let the GS take all the abuse.

The GS Adventure has a distinct personality, exuding confidence and delivering performance that's in a category all its own (literally, BMW virtually invented the adventure realm with their prized motorcycle, which remains a fairly exclusive club).

The GS is finding a widely varied array of converts. Not surprisingly the machine is becoming the most common transition for riders moving away from large cruisers and sportbikes. With good reason. The GS is comfortable (for both rider and passenger) on long hauls with a relaxed seating position and decent wind protection behind the screen.

Also, the air-cooled motor and drive shaft eliminate a lot of concern when traveling long distances. With regard to canyon carving, a good rider on a GS will surprise many a sportbike pilot on canyon twisties. With the GS, no matter what you're doing or where you're going, you're never on the wrong bike.

The 2010 BMW R 1200 GS Adventure remains a class-leading machine with a purpose-built presence of de facto chic. I give it my vote to carry Arnold Schwarzenegger back into action as a Hollywood action hero in any post apocalyptic scenario they want to create when he steps down from his post as Governor. What do you say, Arnold?

BMW R 1200 GS Adventure | New Feature Summary

> New, even more dynamic drivetrain now with two overhead camshafts per cylinder and valves in radial arrangement.

> Increase in engine output by 5 per cent to 81 kW (110 hp) at 7,750 rpm and maximum torque to 120 Nm (88 lb-ft) at 6,000 rpm.

> Increase in maximum engine speed from 8,000 to 8,500 rpm with an even wider range of useful engine speed.

> Significantly better acceleration, torque and pulling power.

> Electronically controlled exhaust flap for even more muscular sound.

> Color variants of the R 1200 GS: Alpine White non-metallic, Magma Red non-metallic, Ostra Grey matt metallic, Sapphire Black metallic.

> Color variants of the R 1200 GS Adventure: Smoke Grey matt metallic, Brilliant Yellow metallic.

> Optional extras and accessories tailored to each model with BMW's usual high level of quality.

> New additional headlight in LED technology for the R 1200 GS (accessory).


  1. I’m looking at Western China, Northern Pakistan and Central Asia for a trip. Knowing people in various countries/cities seems a smart idea. In this way one can have certain special incremental destinations planned throughout the journey. I’ve come to believe that nothing beats the sight of an old friend combined with a nice shower (bath?) and a home-cooked meal, and a place to sleep in their home.


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