Touring Five Continents aboard the 2013 BMW R1200GS
Five unique tours in five continents with a new BMW R 1200 GS. “One World. One R 1200 GS. The ride of your life.” was the name of the game as BMW Motorrad sent five lucky winners off on the adventure of a lifetime.
One woman and four men made the cut from a starting field of some 12,000 applicants around the world and would get the chance to ride the touring enduro ahead of its official launch. The widest spread of terrain, altitudes and climate zones the world has to offer has ensured this tour has been an experience that will stay with the riders forever.
The decision as to who should embark on this voyage of adventure was handed to a jury made up of well-known bikers: Oscar-winning actor Adrien Brody, motor sport legend Jutta Kleinschmidt, Hollywood action star Rick Yune and TV adventure rider Charley Boorman.
From the worldwide pool of candidates, they selected a five-strong group boasting sporting ability, a thirst for adventure and a sense of daring. The successful candidates were BMW Motorrad enthusiasts from Italy, Germany, Spain, France and Great Britain. Each participant would go on to experience the “ride of their life” on a different continent; but only the R 1200 GS would complete the full, world-encompassing distance.
The tour got under way in Laos on 25 January 2013. Nine days later, the GS was handed over to the next link in the chain in New Zealand. After another eight days’ riding, the bike headed to South Africa, before being passed to the fourth participant, who had 10 days to explore the western USA. And, finally, the last member of the group set off across Europe not long ago for a date in Munich on 13 April. By then the R 1200 GS will have covered a total of 12,600 kilometres (approx. 7,800 miles) over the course of 44 days.
The final-leg rider, Britain’s Stephanie Rowe, will pull up at the BMW Museum some time after 15.00 hrs this Saturday to be greeted by a “One World. One R 1200 GS” end-of-tour event. The R 1200 GS – which was signed by the celebrity jury members before the tour – will be handed over to the BMW Museum as part of the celebrations. German tour participant Herbert Unger and jury member Jutta Kleinschmidt will be among those at the BMW Museum awaiting Rowe’s arrival.
It fell to 35-year-old Alessio Cigolini to turn the first wheel of the tour in Laos on 25 January 2013. The Italian and his support team promptly embarked on nine days negotiating rocks, gravel, dust and asphalted roads along the Mekong River and riding through mountains and jungle landscapes. Cigolini also forded more than a few rivers and explored remote areas outside Luang Prabang, something that was only possible with experienced guides from the region. The team made frequent stops along the way so as to get to know the Laotian people – who had welcomed them with such warmth – a little better. Alongside the beauty and fascination of the trip, Cigolini was faced with ample challenges and tests of endeavour. The rider and his new R 1200 GS were called on to negotiate exacting road conditions, with slippery wet slopes, tight hairpins and thick mist all in a day’s riding. However, by the end of his leg, the smiling Italian could reflect on the knowledge that he had just experienced “the most impressive and unforgettable week of my life”.
Tour New Zealand
Bavarian rider Herbert Unger took over the keys to the new R 1200 GS in Christchurch to cut a swathe through New Zealand’s South Island. First up for the 49-year-old were some enthralling stretches of road taking in the fishing villages along the coastline on the way to the mountains. A stop-off in Queenstown was then followed by “the toughest 18 kilometres [11 miles] of my life” across rivers and over mud-caked ascents into New Zealand’s distinctive mountains. Unger and the crew had the privilege of exploring some now famous backdrops on their bikes. Indeed, Castle Hills – a location used for the filming of “Lord of the Rings” – provided a suitably special end to a very special tour.
Tour South Africa
The 41-year-old Spanish rider Salvador Echevarria was given the chance to pilot the new R 1200 GS across South Africa – and make a variety of acquaintances with people and animals along the way. As a special surprise, a group of 40 GS riders had gathered in Cape Town to see him on his way and ride alongside him for the first 230 km (approx. 140 miles) of his trip atop the rocky cliffs overlooking the Indian Ocean. Cape of Good Hope National Park provided the new touring enduro with a stunning stage on which to display its all-weather capability and assurance on both rain-soaked roads and ultra-rough terrain. The Spaniard’s team also ventured along one of the world’s most famous off-road trails, just the other side of De Hell, where rocky tracks and vertiginous hillsides demanded absolute concentration and riding precision. Nature had laid on a truly extraordinary experience for all concerned.
“GS goes to Hollywood” was the message for 39-year-old Stéphane Gautronneau as he climbed onto the new R 1200 GS in Los Angeles for the first time. The successful French candidate had 10 days to soak up the western USA – canyons, surfing beaches and all. This was a journey of climatic extremes, over the peaks of Californian mountains, through desert scrub along the Pacific coast, picking his way over trails covered by snow, packed in mud and swirling with dust. The tour also took in cities including Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as ghost towns shimmering within the scorching heat of Death Valley. Gautronneau summed up the experience of a typically fulfilling day: “Riding a wonderful machine along this demanding road – that’s rock’n’roll!”
British rider Stephanie Rowe is the youngest of the competition winners – at 25 – and also the only woman in the field. Rowe’s tour began in Barcelona, launching rider and machine on a journey across the fifth and final continent of the “One World. One R 1200 GS.” expedition. The European leg of the journey will have taken Rowe through five countries – from Spain, across France and Italy, via Austria to BMW’s home city of Munich. Along the way she has already piloted the GS over precipitous Pyrenean mountain passes to the partly unsurfaced roads of the Languedoc and Auvergne in France. Once into Italy, her route leads through the rolling Tuscan hills and around the winding roads overlooking Lake Garda. There she will link up with fellow participant Herbert Unger, who will accompany the Briton over the Italy-Austria border and share the final kilometres of the tour with her through to the finish in Munich on 13 April. The pair will be met by a welcoming committee of visitors, organizers and other participants at the BMW Museum as the end-of-tour event gets into its stride.
The new R 1200 GS.
The “GS concept” has embodied sheer riding pleasure and the thirst for adventure for over 32 years. And the boxer-engined GS models have been particular effective ambassadors for the breed. This unique concept of a large touring enduro bike with a brawny engine captures the imagination of bike fans all over the world – in their hordes. BMW Motorrad’s most successful model was revised from the ground up to create the fifth-generation model, which was launched in October 2012.
- All-new drive system designed to deliver leading dynamics in the touring enduro segment.
- Capacity 1,170cc, rated output 92 kW (125 hp) at 7,700 rpm, maximum torque 125 Nm (92 lb-ft) at 6,500 rpm.
- Cylinder heads with vertical through-flow for even greater efficiency
- and performance.
- Compact air/water cooling for optimum thermal balance.
- Six-speed gearbox integrated into the engine casing, with wet clutch, anti-hopping function and less manual force required.
- E-gas for even better ridability, running smoothness and special functions.
- Freely selectable “Rain”, “Road”, “Dynamic”, “Enduro” and ”Enduro Pro” riding modes
- BMW Motorrad Integral ABS fitted as standard.
- Dynamic ESA semi-active suspension (ex works option).
- World’s first LED main headlight on a motorcycle, with integrated daytime lighting (ex works option).
- Optimised ergonomics