2019 BMW R 1250 GS Adventure Review w/ HP Style and Premium Package

Enjoying a bump in displacement for 2019, the flagship GS Adventure is responding to the challenge of the high-horsepower open-class ADV motorcycles from other manufacturers.

The 2019 BMW R 1250 GS Adventure didn’t get merely a bore increase—there’s more to the new top-end architecture and how it works. We took paved back roads, freeways, and gnarly jeep trails to find out how the new R 1250 GS Adventure works.

1. While the name indicates only a 50cc increase, the 2019 BMW R 1250 GS Adventure displaces 84cc more than the 1200 it replaces—a boost of seven percent to 1254cc. If you’re good with claimed horsepower numbers, that is reflected in a seven percent increase in peak horsepower at the same rpm. However, the big change is a 14-percent increase in peak torque—a considerable difference.

2. Going by claimed peak horsepower numbers, BMW is repositioning the big GS a bit. By moving the peak horsepower up to 136 horsepower, it leaves the aging 110 horsepower Yamaha Ténéré 1200 parallel twin behind, and settles just behind the 139 horsepower Triumph Tiger 1200 triple. The R 1250 powerplant still is a fair bit short of the V-twin hotrods of the class—the 158 horsepower Ducati Multistrada 1260 and KTM 1290 Super Adventure at 160 horses. Likely, BMW wasn’t happy to hear that the GS was down on power, even though it had plenty of power for true Adventure riding.

3. BMW upped the big GS’s displacement in a measured way. It’s always simple to either bore a cylinder or stroke the crank to get more displacement. BMW did both, enlarging the bore by 1.5mm and lengthening the stroke by 3mm. This gives the R 1250 motor a character nearly identical to its predecessor, except for the boost in power from idle to the rev limiter. Nothing was lost in the translation—except emissions—and everything was a plus. Estimated fuel consumption improved by six percent.4. There’s a secret weapon in that cylinder head—the ShiftCam mechanism. The ShiftCam is both relatively simple, and impressively innovative. The intake cam has two sets of cam lobes—Partial Load and Full Load—that an actuator switches between as demand changes. The Partial Load profile has a smoother throttle response, while the full load cam kicks in when hard throttle twisting commences. Part of the system staggers the opening of the intake valves at low rpm to improve combustion and power. Remember that it is a dual timing setup, not variable cam timing.

5. In practice, the ShiftCam system actuation is virtually seamless. BMW engineers managed to make it almost imperceptible when the 1250 motor is switching between cam profiles. In normal or aggressive riding, you simply will not feel it happening. I was able to repeatedly feel the actuation in a unique situation. Coasting down from high rpm—especially on a downhill—the cam feels as if it stays in the Full Load mode. As I slightly crack the throttle open as the engine speed dropped to near idle, I could distinctly and predictably feel a loss of engine compression braking as the power came back on—a bit odd and disconcerting.

6. The additional power produced by the 1250 is welcome on- and off-road. The power increase is everywhere from 2000 rpm up to sign-off at 9000 rpm. There is no downside to the 1250 motor, as it is fully usable and friendly in any power setting.7. There are two ways of looking at the power bump—both good. You can either say the 1250 motor is up between five and ten percent over the 1200 everywhere in the rev range, or that the horsepower is produced sooner in the rev range—anywhere from a couple of hundred rpm sooner near idle to as much as 1000 rpm earlier when hitting its stride at 7750 rpm. From 6250 to 9000 rpm, the 1250 makes more horsepower than the 1200 did at its peak. The 1200 peaked at 92 ft/lbs of torque, while the 1250 makes that much or more from around 4000 to 7500 rpm.

8. Although you might think you want to get a stripped down 2019 R 1250 GS Adventure, you want the $3500 Premium Package. We tested it with the Premium Package, which includes traction control, active suspension, a quickshifter (up/down), extra ride modes, heated grips, cruise control, additional LEDs, and saddlebag mounts. Don’t resist when your dealer steers you in this direction—the Premium Package is essential. We love the $575 Style HP option, but we won’t hassle you for passing on that if it’s not to your taste.

9. If you plan on taking the R 1250 GS Adventure off-road, the Premium Package is a necessity, not an option. The Enduro Pro riding mode makes it possible to use the Continental Twinduro TCK80s we had on the GS Adventure effectively. It also disconnects the linked braking and disables traction control so you can steer with the rear wheel. Other personalization options also become available. We got involved in some nasty 4×4 Jeep trail riding—sand, rocks, and hills—and the Enduro Pro mode and the TCK80s made it possible. On smoother dirt roads, the R 1250 GS Adventure came into its own with 60 mph speeds a breeze.10. Street riders will appreciate the Premium Package’s Dynamic Pro riding mode. You get all sorts of goodies, including cornering ABS, configurable traction control, and Dynamic Brake Control that prevents unintentional throttle application during hard braking.

11. The latest Hill Start Control feature is impressive. Using the IMU, it automatically puts the front brake on when you stop on a five-degree incline. You don’t have to do anything to release it, other than apply throttle. If you consider that an intrusion, you can make the hill start control manual (pull the brake lever in a couple of times at a stop to quickly to activate it), or turn it completely off. I loved it, and would manually apply it even on the slightest grades.12. While we think of quickshift as a street feature, it is a big help in tricky off-pavement excursions. Should you find yourself needing to shift up or down in a technical rocky sand wash, which we did, you will be thrilled to be able to smoothly do this without relinquishing a full grasp of the grips. On the street, it’s just a great convenience—we are getting to the point that we’re disappointed when a motorcycle doesn’t have this feature.

13. The addition of power can negatively impact handling and suspension, and that was avoided on the 2019 BMW R 1250 GS Adventure. BMW added the power so transparently, that the primary way you notice it is that it just accelerates more authoritatively and is more confident on the open road when passing at high speeds or in blustery winds. Associate Editor Jess McKinley went in great detail about the handling and suspension in his review of the last R 1200 GS, and it shares the same chassis as the 1250 GS, so we won’t repeat ourselves—what he said then still applies without exception.14. The new 6.5-inch colorful TFT dash is visually impressive, though not entirely intuitive. Maybe it will take a bit more time to get used to it. I can say that I am a fan of the Multi-Controller inside the left handgrip. Plus, it now interacts via Bluetooth with your smartphone via BMW Motorrad’s free Connected app. Be sure to have the dealer walk you through this powerful feature. GPS is a separate add-on unit, nicely integrated into the dash area.15. The 2019 BMW R 1250 GS Adventure has so many options, set aside a large chunk of time to go over them all with your dealer. Putting together the right package can make a big difference in how much you will get out of the motorcycle.

16. BMW took an already superb and iconic motorcycle and made it even better with the smooth application of additional power. It was no secret that the R 1200 motor was getting swamped by its larger displacement competitors. While BMW didn’t go for all-out performance, on a multi-purpose ADV motorcycle such as the 2019 BWM R 1250 GS Adventure, we think that is a good thing. Great just got greater.

Action photography by Kevin Wing Photography

RIDING STYLE

2019 BMW R 1250 GS Adventure Specs

ENGINE

  • Type: Horizontally opposed twin
  • Displacement: 1254cc
  • Bore x stroke: 102.5 x 76mm
  • Maximum power: 136 horsepower @ 7750 rpm
  • Maximum torque: 105 ft/lbs @ 6250 rpm
  • Compression ratio: 12.5:1
  • Valvetrain: DOHC w/ dual profile cams, 4vpc
  • Cooling: Liquid and air
  • Transmission: Constant mesh 6-speed w/ helical gear teeth
  • Clutch: Hydraulically actuated slipper
  • Final drive: Shaft

CHASSIS

  • Frame: Continuous tubular steel bridge-type
  • Front suspension; travel: BMW Telelever 37mm fork w/ central spring strut; 8.3 inches
  • Rear suspension; travel: BMW EVO Paralever and WAD strut w/ spring-preload and rebound-damping adjustable shock; 8.7 inches
  • Electronic active suspension: Optional (tested)
  • Front wheel: 3.00 x 19; wire cross-spoke
  • Rear wheel: 4.50 x 17; wire cross-spoke
  • Continental Twinduro TKC80 (as tested)
  • Front tire: 120/70 x 19
  • Rear tire: 170/60 x 17
  • Front brakes: Dual floating 305mm discs w/ 4-piston fixed calipers
  • Rear brake: 276mm disc, with dual-piston floating caliper
  • ABS: Standard (defeatable)

DIMENSIONS

  • Wheelbase: 59.2 inches
  • Rake: 24.5°
  • Trail: 3.6 inches
  • Seat height: 35.0 (standard) and 35.8 inches (high position); various optional seats down to 33.1 inches
  • Fuel capacity: 7.9 gallons
  • Estimated fuel consumption: 50 mpg
  • Curb weight: 591 pounds

2019 BMW R 1250 GS Adventure Colors:

  • Ice Grey
  • R 1250 GS Exclusive (Kalamata Metallic Matte)
  • R 1250 GS Adventure HP Motorsport (Light White/Racing Blue Metallic/Racing Red)

2019 BMW R 1250 GS Adventure Prices:

  • From $19,945 MSRP
  • From $24,020 as tested w/ HP Style and Premium Package