Bmw R 1200 GS (2004-current): The integration of the big adventure bikes!

      Engine: The boxer twin, air cooled, 8 valves 1170 c.c. engine, delivers 110 bhp / 7750 rpm and 12.24 kgm / 6000 rpm (88.51 lbs ft/ 6000 rpm) torque, claimed figures.
     Actually 2000 rpm is the minimum threshold to get surge-free acceleration. To get satisfying boost, a minimum of 2500 rpm is required, according to the selected speed at the gearbox. The engine response is linear, providing instant boost in the whole range of the power band, up to the rev limiter at 8500 rpm.
     The top power is decent given the nature of the bike, very usable indeed. It will not set the roads on fire, however it will make the heart of an expert and fast rider to pump faster.
     Due to the operation of the flywheel, a torque to the right is produced playing with the throttle when the bike is stationary. The engine sound is discreet, yet beautiful twin. An indicative fuel consumption figure is 6.8 l/100km, or 41.5 mpg Imperial.
     Riding position: The height of the saddle is great, it may be adjusted between 850 and 870 mm, (33.5- 34.25 in), which will be adequate to taller than average stature riders. Rider is placed in and over the bike. Riding position is almost neutral, since minor alert is created to the rider. The hands are spread wide on the handlebar.
     Pillion is seated in a …noble way, quite higher than the rider, the saddle is soft, the handgrips just a hint narrower than ideal, the knees form a very natural angle.
     The dimensions of the bike are average for the standards of the category, that means large. The widest spots on the bike are the protective engine head covers and the cowls surrounding the fuel tank.
     The bike is comparatively light, 229 kg without fuel, (505 lbs), although the GS feels heavy. There are not many women around who could ride it safely.

     On the road:
Statically, the front suspension due to the Telelever single shock at the front, is literally incompressible, the Paralever single shock at the rear feels relatively soft. Due to the ESA optional, the suspensions may be adjusted in five preset combinations. A single side swingarm is equipped.
     OE tyres are Continental ContiTrail Attack with dimensions 110/80-19 at the front and 150/70-17 at the rear. They are considered to be a moderate choice on low friction factor roads, which could be replaced sooner or later. They are considered a decent touring choice though.
     In town, the GS is an easier motorcycle to use than what it is expected due to the bulk and the weight of the bike. ItĘs a user friendly bike given the standards of the category, asking for some compromises, mainly due to the bulk of the bike, less because of the weight. A rider who will seat comfortably on this saddle, will not face any problem.
     The user friendly throttle response and the playful character of the GS, make it an easier motorcycle to ride in town than other big adventure bikes.
     On downtown rides the dimensions of the GS will ask for compromises. Its not as easy as the F800GS for instance. The weight, which is comparatively low for the category standards, could result in a problem if the bike leans to either side stationary.
     Steering lock is very good, it will be very helpful to the rider on commuting.
     Filtering is relatively good, since the hand-guards are as high as high car mirrors, while the mirrors of the bike are as high as SUV mirrors. Additionally, the boxer engine will ask for some furthermore space on filtering, which requires just some familiarization.
     Street imperfections are absorbed really well, although large bumps get their way to the rider. Thus, this is an average score concerning comfort for the category standards.
     On B-roads the GS combines stability with a joyful character. Its not as genuinely agile as other rivals, although riding is very pleasant, providing as much agility as necessary and great confidence at the same time. The GS is a neutral motorcycle which will not distract the rider from admiring the scenery, although subconsciously, he will still be happy to ride! ItĘs a rare mixture of riding elements, which partially justifies the sales figures since this bike feels very consistent on roads like these.
     At the fast pace the wide handlebar makes a decent leverage, to change direction swiftly. Feedback to the rider is comparatively good, some familiarization is required to feel confident on the bike, specifically trusting the front end. This is not difficult, since the set-up of the bike provides confidence. It is a stable motorcycle, although stability on high speed riding is not top class. If anybody is ever interested in that. At this point the editor of this article hopes that he is not writing-reading these lines by himself…
     The engine performance which was decent so far, it will be simply satisfying to very fast riders. The neutral set-up of the motorcycle will be helpful to get all this power on the road, although no one would ever dislike 20 more ponies on tap. The traction control may be deactivated very easily.
    On the highway the seat is comfortable, the air protection is really good. The rider may tell that there is air flow all-around, however away from rider's body. Bmw have the experience to provide such a great air protection equipping a humble, easy to be adjusted screen! There is no vacuum or air turbulence noticed. The boxer engine disperses some air away from riderĘs feet. Bigger riders may install the larger Adventure screen, although  this is not proposed by Bmw.

     Apparently the six speed engine will take the load to overtake without down-shifting. Thus, the GS is capable of serious and comfortable mileage, as an example its such a comfortable bike at a speed of 160 km/h (99.4 mph) on the highway. At a speed higher than that, the engine revs do feel increased, otherwise rider will not have a problem cruising at an even greater speed e.g. 180-200 km/h (112-124 mph). For a 1200 c.c. bike, rider would expect more relaxed engine operation. The top speed of the bike is close to the 210 km/h (130.5 mph) indicated figure. Tank range lies between 250-300 km, (155-186 miles), depending on the travelling pace.
     Carrying potential is superb. As an example, the pillion seat could be dismounted from the bike, a rack is revealed, enlarging the carrying surface. Pillion gets the opportunity then to travel by bus, learning first hand the local habits…
     On dirt roads, the GS is comfortable, the linear engine response is very helpful. A change in suspension adjustment is required, while feedback to the rider lacks compared with top class standards. The dimensions of the bike should not prompt for any relaxing to average stature riders, only in case of dry, flat and used paths. Adjusting the saddle to the lowest position is helpful in any case.
     The combined, ABS brakes equip two 320 mm rotors at the front together with four piston calipers and steel braided lines. At the rear a 220 mm rotor together with a two piston caliper are equipped.
     The front brakes provide powerful decelerating power, actually rider can feel the front wheel tending to lock, in case of emergency brraking, he may hear it as well! The initial bite is good, while there is no pulsing whenever the ABS is actuated. Thus the front brakes are superb given the character of the bike. Due to the Telelever system, the diving of the front is decreased on excessive braking.
     The rear disc brake provides average stopping power, average feedback and pulsing to the rider if the ABS is actuated. The ABS may be deactivated.

     Model history/versions/optional/reliability/quality build: The GS was introduced in 2004, replacing the smaller in terms of engine capacity and heavier by some 30 kg (66.14 lbs), R 1150 GS, which was changed completely then. Generally speaking the Bmws and especially the GS at that era were perceived to be comfortable, heavy, yet peculiar, due to the Telelever and other stuff equipped. Since then the GS became an iconic bike, with the best sales of the category, that rivals were struggling to compete.
     The second successful effort by Bmw to surpass the Japanese challengers equipping exactly the same weapons though, was the S1000RR. Presumably, the Japanese manufacturers will be more sceptical from now on whenever Bmw introduces a competent bike.
     The GS was revised in 2006, 2008 and since 2010 the engine became more powerful, providing even better torque, as some modifications from the HP2 Sport model were introduced.
     An Adventure version is also available, where, if a rider feels very big for the base model, this bike will suit him better! That was a joke. The Adventure is a GS version aiming to dirt roads, suspensions travel is longer, the saddle is higher, 890/910 mm (35.04-35.83 in), larger screen, larger 33 l fuel tank, standard engine protection. Actually except from the increased bulk compared with the base model, the weight is also greater by 27 kg (59.5 lbs) full. On the road air protection and comfort to the rider are improved, the Adventure feels more luxurious and impressive.

     There is an indicator switch on the right and left sides of the handlebar, a cancellation switch at the right. From one point of view this perception makes the bike slightly more complicated without any apparent reason. It requires a very short period of time though to familiarize with, so its not really a problem.
     The bike tested was equipped with a centre stand, ABS, ESA elecronic adjusted suspensions in five preset modes, three for tarmac use, two for dirt roads use. Thus its easy for the rider to change spring preload and rebound damping.
     Additionally the ASC is a traction control, operating in two modes, one for on-road, another for of-road use. Asking for the ASC optional, the bike has to be equipped with an ABS.
     The optional list for the GS is really long. Thus, owners who canĘt afford to buy everything they see, have to be more selective with their demands, e.g. the heated grips are not a must to warm climates, especially if a rider doesnĘt travel on winter time! The LED indicators are standard.
     Concerning reliability, there have been several recalls. Some cases have been heard concerning  the shaft final drive or the shocks leaking oil. In any case its better to choose a bike provided with a service book solely  by Bmw official service shops. Usually the Bmws are kept in mint condition, no matter the mileage. Thus, they are a bit expensive, although the price is preserved well, selling the bike. Build quality is excellent.

     Comments: The rpm meter initially looks like an ordinary alarm clock. A legendary manufacturer like Bmw, producing an iconic motorbike, could have equipped a smarter rpm meter.
     From the other hand, the German unusual design perception looks nice to many riders around, hence this comment may be subjective. As an example, the editor of this article didnĘt really fancy the factory looking design in motorbikes, which could be the case for the rear of the bike, as well as the top case which could belong to the neighbor plumper… Its one of these jokes again…
     ‘he test of the GS was conducted in 2012, the Triumph Explorer 1200 was the only bike of the category which had not been ridden at that era. Therfore, compared to the rest of the bunch, the R1200GS is the most integrated bike to use, according to the established standards of the category. She is a bike combining many advantages at the same time, she does not excel overwhelmingly in any area in particular, surpassing the needs of the mythic average rider of the category.

Price ABS, ASC,ESA: 17955 Euros

+ A good bike on any terrene

- Increased engine revs at a speed higher than 160 km/h on the highway.

More, specifications

Thanks to the motorcycle shop A. Panagiotopoulos S.A. – BMW Motorrad Hellas, tel.+302106046940, Kanari 9, 15344 Gerakas-Athens, Greece, for the test ride.


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