2016 BMW GS Trophy

2016 BMW GS Trophy Set for Thailand's Golden Triangle
BMW R1200GS set for BMW GS Trophy

Kicking off just a few short weeks from now, the 2016 BMW GS Trophy will take place in Southeast Asia. This year’s event is the largest GS Trophy to date, featuring 57 riders in 19 three-rider teams that represent 25 nations from all over the world. With these types of numbers, the GS Trophy is shaping up to be one for the record books. For a period of one week, the teams will get their fill of adventure riding, special skills testing and teamwork challenges.

Helping keep continuous coverage of the event are 21 embedded journalists that will be facing all of the same terrain the competitors will be navigating – so this isn’t exactly a picnic.

On February 28, all of the teams will set off into the rain forests within Thailand’s Chiang Mai province. The Chiang Mai province is an area with dense vegetation and a hilly landscape which means that the type of riding the teams will endure is sure to be tough.

The GS Trophy has always chosen tough terrain for its competitions, but by and large, the terrain has centered on longer trails through wilderness and mountainous regions. It also marks the first time that the GS Trophy has made its way into the Asian continent which has offered a very unique landscape. The event organizers have mixed things up a bit and with the help of route designer, Tomm Wolf, it is expected to be a much slower paced event with a greater emphasis on technical skill as opposed to endurance.

“The tracks we will ride will be dry and probably quite dusty and much narrower than those we encountered in Canada and South America,” Wolf says. “There will be more single track, up-and-down, enduro-type trails, rather than the wide forest roads of the previous GS Trophy. The speeds will definitely be lower and the trails will be more challenging to ride, but extremely nice.”

Due to the route and conditions, distances have been mapped to be a bit shorter. When it comes to making headway off-road, it isn’t necessarily the same as setting down miles on the highway. With reduced speed and a higher level of technicality, that means fatigue will be the main factor to consider. BMW has thrown another wrench in the works for competitors by having them compete in challenges that fit into the GS lifestyle. That means they’ll be forced to use navigation skills as well as wilderness survival skills to get by in a pretty inhospitable climate.

“With the technicality in the riding, the competitors will understand more than ever that this is not a race,” explains Wolf. “But given the climate – we can expect heat and humidity – and the advanced riding and sporting level of the competitors, we can be sure it will remain a tough competition.”

The Southeast Asia 2016 follows previous installments of the GS Trophy that were held in Tunisia in 2008, Southern Africa in 2010, South America in 2012 and Canada in 2014.

“The GS Trophy is a truly international event for amateurs from around the world, very much following the principle of the Olympics,” explains  BMW Motorrad’s organizer Mathias Horn. “The riders are everyday enthusiasts who through regional qualifiers have won their place in what will be an experience so rich and so exciting. With every GS Trophy the event evolves. This time we will find ourselves in the Asian continent and so the experience and the riding will be all-new. And we have three new teams as well, from China, from Southeast Asia and an International Female Team.

“We are especially excited to have a female team along for this edition. Women have always been a part of the GS Trophy, holding leading positions within the organization – and a few of these have in the past ridden along with the competitors – but this is the first time we’ll have female competitors.”

As we reported in December, the GS Trophy competitors will be riding an identically prepared fleet of 2016 R 1200 GS bikes. 114 in total will be covering the needs of riders, journalists, organizers and marshals as they traverse the hilly ranges of Thailand.

Not far off from what you and I would be picking up from the dealership floor, the bikes have a select amount of modifications to help them in their journey. All the GS motorcycles have been loaded with an aluminum enduro engine guard, crash bars, valve cover guards, headlight guards, wider foot-pegs, adjustable brake controls and a safety screw for the oil filler neck. Additionally, all of the bikes will be sporting Metzeler Karoo 2 tires for the trip.

“We’ve concentrated on equipping the bikes with what’s necessary to cope with the conditions in the GS Trophy,” says Markus Meissner from BMW Motorrad Aftersales. “Our bikes are already very well prepared as standard, and within the product range of Original BMW Motorrad Accessories we offer everything which is necessary to ride and master the GS Trophy.”

The GS Trophy starts and finishes near Chiang Mai, running from February 28 to March 5. BMW Motorrad will ensure the public have the best opportunities to follow the event.

The GS Trophy begins and ends near Chiang Mai, running from Feb. 28 to March 5. Most of us won’t be able to get out and see the event, so BMW Motorrad has taken all the steps necessary to cover the event properly which means that Ultimate MotorcCycling be delivering all the updates as they come in.

For live updates, follow the GS Trophy through Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and Instagram (#gstrophy) as well as on the website www.gstrophy.com.